Despite many voices opposing its growing ambitions in the United States, Huawei confirmed the Watch GT, its latest smartwatch that debuts several major changes compared to its predecessors, will be launching stateside on February 19.
The wearable appeared on Amazon and can already be pre-ordered, starting at $199.99. If the all-black variant doesn't mesh with your style, you can also buy one with a Stainless/Brown strap which will set you back an extra $30. The former is officially advertised as the Watch GT Sport, whereas the latter is called the Watch GT Classic.
This is a high-end smartwatch series in most respects; it comes with a 1.39-inch Super AMOLED panel, built-in GPS connectivity and a 420 mAh capacity battery allowing up to a month of standalone operation, depending on how "smart" you expect your wearable to be at different points throughout the day.
One feature that makes the Watch GT stand apart from its rivals is its operating system of choice - Huawei ditches Google's Wear OS in favor of a proprietary solution called LiteOS. In terms of watch faces and connectivity, the change doesn't require any significant compromises on a user's part but it naturally means the number of apps available for the Watch GT is much smaller.
On the bright side, 5ATM water-resistance is part of the package, as is a heart rate monitor and a robust software suite designed for monitoring a broad range of fitness activities, as well as sleeping patterns. As far as having a digital workout companion goes, the Watch GT series appears to be as good as they come and it's also far from the most expensive option on the market, which is precisely how Huawei chose to advertise its new product family.
Still, the company's decision to bring the Watch GT stateside is somewhat surprising in the sense that it's currently facing strong opposition to its Western ambitions. Its primary issue is the U.S. government that already outlawed the federal use of its wireless equipment, on top of pressuring wireless carriers and retailers to drop its products, which is what most recently happened with AT&T after the network operator dropped the Mate 10 lineup in early 2018.
Right now, Washington is going after Huawei executives and is currently trying to extradite its Chief Financial Officer MEng Wanzhou from Canada. Ms. Wanzhou is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, with the development hence carrying strong political connotations. She's accused of bank fraud as part of her alleged activities to break U.S. trade sanctions placed on Iran, with both the 46-year-old executive and Huawei itself dismissing those charges as frivolous.
The fact that Huawei continues to launch products in the U.S. is a strong signal that no amount of political pressure can force it to fundamentally change its product strategy; while a smartphone can hardly be a commercial success in the country without support from the wireless segment, wearables are a lot more diversified in terms of distribution and those launched as Amazon or brick-and-mortar exclusives can still sell relatively well, which is what Huawei is hoping for with the Watch GT range.