The Huawei Watch GT2 has plenty of good sides, and one not so great one. As a disclaimer, I've used this watch for well over two weeks before I wrote this review. It has been on my wrist for the whole duration of my day, and on several nights, so that I can check out the sleep tracking function. I don't have a habit of wearing a watch while I sleep.
The Huawei Watch GT2 did great in most aspects, but it failed in the notification department, at least in my opinion. This review ended up being a bit longer than I wanted it to be, but I wanted you to be really well-informed before making a purchasing decision. That being said, let's kick things off, starting with the design of the Huawei Watch GT2.
Design is one of the best aspects of the Huawei Watch GT2
The Huawei Watch GT2 offers great build quality. This watch is made out of stainless steel (with a little bit of plastic), and it looks great. It is easily noticeable that Huawei paid some real thought to the looks of this watch, so let's start with the basics.
This watch features a circular display, and there is some bezel around it, but not that much. We reviewed the 46mm variant of the Huawei Watch GT2, and have been provided with both silicone and leather straps, more on that later. Just to be clear, there are Sport, Classic, and Elite editions of this watch in both 42mm and 46mm variants. This is the 46mm Classic Edition.
The watch feels extremely solid, it really does feel like it could be dropped quite a few times, and be perfectly fine afterwards. We do not recommend you to do that, though, of course. This is not a rugged watch, by any means.
Connection points for the watch band are angled downwards, and that only contributes to the overall design. Those connection points do not take away from the design itself, like is the case with quite a few other smartwatches out there.
The Huawei Watch GT2 is also quite thin. This is one of the thinnest smartwatches we've seen, and the best of all, that doesn't affect the battery life. We'll talk more about battery life later on, but spoiler alert, it's great.
The watch is also quite light, and that goes for the watch bands as well. Both the silicone and leather watch bands are extremely light, and yet they feel high quality. The watch itself weighs around 41 grams, while the smaller variant weighs in at 29 grams. This is without a strap, though, so keep that in mind.
My favorite thing about this design, other than how thin and light the watch is, are its buttons. There are two physical buttons on the right, and they're the best ones I've used on a watch. It's not even close.
Both of them have the 'T' letter shape, or a 'mushroom' shape, if you will, in lack of better words for it. They're both made out of stainless steel, and are extremely tactile. There's no way you'll press these by accident, they do require a sufficient amount of pressure in order to avoid that. On top of that, both buttons are placed really well, so the chances of you pressing down on them by accident with the upper portion of your hand are minimal.
All in all, this is one of my favorite watch designs. The watch does feel high quality in the design department, while it's also quite thin at the same time. The buttons are great, and the watch bands are spot on as well. There's really nothing to complain about here, presuming you like light, metal-made watches, that are also thin, of course.
The performance is really good, but the software needs work
Don't get me wrong, the software is good, but… it's not great. The two main issues I have with the watch are the way it handles notifications, and the fact it doesn't allow you to customize much of its software.
Let's go over the good parts first. The performance is really good. This watch is powered by the Kirin A1, which is Huawei's new processor for wearables. This processor also fuels the FreeBuds 3 fully wireless earbuds that the company released recently.
Now, that chip is obviously plenty powerful for this watch. We did notice a stutter here and there, but that will hopefully be fixed via a software update. The most stuttering we noticed when calling upon a music player via a special shortcut.
You can create a shortcut for a bunch of actions on this watch, simply assign the bottom physical button for that purpose. I assigned the watch's music player for that purpose, and it did not load as fast as I'd liked, though didn't happen all the time. In general, the performance is really good, and I really don't think there's much to complain about here.
This smartwatch comes with Huawei's very own software on top. Google's Wear OS is not pre-installed here, and many would say that's a good thing. Well, that's up to you, really. Huawei's software on this watch is good, but it needs work.
Quite a few notification-related issues are present
The way the watch handles notifications is especially irritating, especially if you've used Tizen or Wear OS before. Notifications do come in time, and that part works great, but… there are issues.
The watch will not sync its notifications list with your phone, at all. So, if you read some of those notifications on your phone, and remove them… they'll still be on the watch. You also cannot swipe away and dismiss specific notifications from the list of notifications on the watch, you need to tap on a specific notification first… and then swipe it away.
If you want to dismiss all notifications on the watch, you can do that, but you'll need to scroll through them all first. The 'Clear All' button is placed below all notifications, and if you have many of them, that could take time.
The watch also doesn't group notifications together. So, if you receive notifications from a number of different applications, you won't be able to see them in one place. You'll need to go through your notifications chronologically.
There's also no way to respond to message notifications, at all. That goes for everything. So, if you want to send a quick 'OK', or a thumbs-up emoji perhaps, you can't do that. Such features will hopefully be implemented soon. Speaking of emoji, you can't see them on the watch if someone sends them over, at all. That goes for emoticons as well. You won't even see what you received, but will only see a blank message instead.
Speaking of received messages, you can't see you have unread messages (or notifications in general) on your home screen, regardless of the home screen setup you're using. The watch will notify you that a message has arrived, when it arrives, and if you raise your wrist, you'll be able to read it instantly. If you don't do it immediately, and raise your wrist, you will have no idea that an unread notification is available until you swipe from the bottom up. There should be some sort of an indicator on the home screen.
Icons are also an issue, for some apps. The watch will not present the right icons for some apps. For Facebook Messenger, for example, the correct icon was represented on the watch. For Viber, not really. The watch used a generic messages icon for some reason.
The Huawei Watch GT2 works with any audio player on your phone, but it needs a few tweaks
I've also had issues when it comes to running music directly from the watch, without firing up a music app on the phone. I haven't had such issues with Tizen nor Wear OS. I could simply open up the music widget on the watch, and a song would start playing from my cue on the phone.
Well, even if the correct app is set as the default music app, the Huawei Watch GT2 refuses to play it. Things would, maybe, be different with Huawei's very own music app, but I tried out this watch with the Play Music, as that is my default music app. Considering the way Play Music operates, I really don't have the luxury of using some other app at the moment, so… that was kind of annoying.
Also, I've encountered some issues while listening to a podcast. I use Pocket Casts app for my podcast needs, and when you fire it up, you'll have a running widget in your notification shade. Similar to the one you'll have if you listen to music. Interestingly enough, several notifications appeared on my phone regarding that podcast, the moment I started listening. I fired up Pocket Casts, and four notifications were there notifying me that I'm listening to a podcast. I don't know why four appeared, and not one, but there you go.
Now, that was not the only problem, for the whole duration of my listening time, those notifications stayed at the very top of my notifications cue, on my watch. So, whenever I received a new notification, I could not see it by raising my wrist, as the Pocket Casts notification would appear. I would have to open up the notifications cue manually, and scroll all the way down.
Huawei will hopefully introduce more customization features via future updates
When it comes to the customization, you do have quite a few watch faces to choose from. The thing is, you cannot really edit them. You cannot add new functions to a specific watchface, nor rearrange the order of existing ones.
These are features that are possible on the Wear OS, though it took a while for Google to make them available. So Huawei will hopefully follow suit, and keep updating this watch with such functionality.
Another customization-related issue that I noticed is the fact you cannot edit widgets on this watch. You can scroll through a bunch of widgets left and right from your home screen. You'll find a music player there, a widget for heart-rate, and so on. But there's no way you can edit those, not even though the company's application.
Other than that, the software is really good. You can swipe from the bottom up to access your notifications, while you can do the opposite to see quick toggles. It's a somewhat similar setup as on Wear OS in that regard.
Other than the notification system & some minor software issues, this is a great watch
The raise-to-wake function also works really well, as you'd expect. It's sensitive, but just enough, not too sensitive. It does, of course, wake up when you don't want it to, at times, but that's what happens on every smartwatch.
Notifications arrive immediately to your wrist, with no delays. The watch synced perfectly with my phone, so I had no issues when it comes to receiving notifications, not whatsoever.
It's also worth pointing out that the haptic feedback from the watch is really, really good. You can even tweak it to your preference in the Settings, but you'll never miss a notification, as you would on some watches. If you feel like the default setting is too strong, you can always tone it down.
Battery life is amazing on the Huawei Watch GT2, you'll forget you even need to charge it
Battery life on this watch is… well, amazing. That's not an overstatement whatsoever. Huawei says that this watch can last you about two weeks of use (the 46mm model, the 42mm one will last about a week less), and that's not a lie. Now, truth be said, the battery life will depend on what you're doing with the watch in all that time. If you're using an always on display option, which is available, the battery life will take a hit.
If you're heavy on fitness, and you keep using the watch's fitness functions, GPS, and a heart rate sensor constantly, the battery will last you a bit less than two weeks. Me, personally, am not that big on fitness, nor anything of the sort. I simply tried out all those functions for review's sake, and didn't really use them afterwards. So, in my case, the battery actually crossed the two-week threshold, and I was astounded.
I'm used to Wear OS and Tizen watches, and battery life on those watches is nothing to brag about. Wear OS devices usually have to be charged up every day, while Tizen is somewhat better in that regard, and can provide you 2-3 days of battery life. Once again, if you're heavy on the fitness side of things, you'll see weaker battery life on those platforms as well.
If you do treasure great battery life, and really don't want to recharge your watch often, the Huawei Watch GT2 is the way to go. This watch lasts and lasts, and when do need to charge it, you'll need to attach it to the magnetic dock. Unfortunately, the watch does not charge wirelessly, it has connection pins on the bottom, and the charging dock does seem a bit cheap. Considering you won't be using it that often at all, very few people will care.
The watch doesn't really charge all that fast, but not many people will mind considering how long it lasts. It will charge up fully in a bit less than two hours, so you can simply put it on a charger at the end of your day, and pick it up in the morning. After that, simply forget about charging it for about two weeks.
Fitness, heart rate, calling quality & more
When it comes to working out, you have plenty of choices on the Watch GT2. Do note that this is not a fitness watch, first and foremost, it's an all-around watch. So, if you're looking for a fitness watch, you'll need to look elsewhere. That being said, the Watch GT2 does a good job when it comes to fitness, at least what I've been able to test.
As already mentioned, I'm not really into fitness, but I do run on occasion, and have taken this guy for a spin. It did a really good job in the navigation department. This watch does have a GPS built-in, and it's quite accurate, if I may say. It also did a good job of measuring my heart rate while I was running, no issues there.
When it comes to other workout options, I've never really tried them. You do have a lot of them here, though, and it would take an age to test them all out. You have 13 pre-installed running courses that you can try out, along with separated workouts of various other types. Those workouts include: outdoor run, indoor run, outdoor walk, indoor walk, outdoor cycle, indoor cycle, pool swimming, open water swimming, climbing, hiking, and quite a bit more. For each of those exercises, you have some additional functions that you can delve into.
In terms of sleep tracking and walking measurements… well, it did an okay job. It managed to keep things relatively accurate when it comes to the number of steps I've taken on a specific day, though do note that it does sometimes pick up random hand movements as steps. Sleep tracking went well as well, it was wrong on several occasions, but overall, it did a good job. I've never really used a watch which was extremely accurate when it comes to sleep tracking, so… yeah.
The watch also comes with quite a few pre-installed watch faces. Unfortunately, you cannot edit those watch faces, at least not much. You cannot set specific touch points, or tiny action widgets on them.
The watch does come with a compass, and a built-in weather app. A stopwatch is here as well, as is the alarm and a timer. You also get a Flashlight option to activate the flashlight on your phone.
The Huawei Watch GT2 does come with a speaker, and a microphone. So, you can technically use this watch to make phone calls, but you shouldn't. I've never seen a watch that does a good job in that department, without a phone, and that is the case here as well. The Huawei Watch GT2 is far from the worse watch for making phone calls, but the speaker is tinny, and the microphone is not all that great as well. Callers on the other side did say I sounded "muffled". So, there you have it.
So, what's the verdict?
The Huawei Watch GT2 is a great watch. You should avoid it if you care much about notifications. The whole notifications system on this watch does not work very well at this point in time. This can be fixed via a software update, though, every single issue I've listed. But, at the moment, this is really not a good watch for receiving notifications and acting on them.
For everything else, though, the Huawei Watch GT2 does the job, and it does it really well. Build quality here is great, and so is battery life. This is one of the prettiest watches I've used, in my humble opinion, and also one of the more durable ones. I've dropped the Huawei Watch GT2 twice, by accident, and that did not leave a mark at all. On both occasions, it dropped on a hardwood floor.
Most of you will be able to get around two weeks of battery life with this watch, and the display on it is also really, really good. It is visible in direct sunlight, and not many people will find complaints there, at all. The Huawei Watch GT2 is a bit pricey, though, so… it's up to you to decide whether it's worth it or not. In our opinion, though, this is the best alternative to Tizen and Wear OS smartwatches.