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HONOR Watch GS 3 Review: Using It Felt Like Traveling Back In Time

AH HONOR Watch GS 3 review featured
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The HONOR Watch GS 3 will seem very familiar if you've used Huawei watches in the past.

HONOR Watch GS 3
€219.90
Rating
star star star star_empty star_empty
Pros
  • It's well-built, sturdy
  • Sharp and vivid display
  • Solid performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Plenty of workout modes
  • Good heart rate sensor
  • Good GPS performance
Cons
  • No rotating crown
  • LiteOS is behind other watch OS'
  • Notification system needs work
  • SpO2 was buggy
  • No voice assistant
  • No NFC payments (global model)
  • No wireless charging

HONOR supplied us with the HONOR Watch GS 3 review unit, but didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see this review before you. We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks before forming an opinion.

The HONOR Watch GS 3 is HONOR’a latest smartwatch, and it… well, feels familiar. As most of you know by now, HONOR was made by Huawei, and was Huawei’s company until a while back. Huawei was basically forced to sell it in order for HONOR to have access to Google services, and avoid the US ban. Why is that important? Well, the HONOR Watch GS 3 feels like a Huawei smartwatch… from a couple of years ago.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. Huawei has been making some great watches for a while, but after using some of the company’s newer offerings, I cannot help but feel like this watch is older than it is. Its notification system, for example, feels like it has been pulled from Huawei’s watches from a while back, the same goes for some other parts of the OS, and even for its charger. I’ll elaborate more below, of course. So, let’s see what the HONOR Watch GS 3 has to offer, let’s review it.

The HONOR Watch GS 3 is a sleek-looking watch

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The HONOR Watch GS 3 is made out of metal and plastic, and it’s a round smartwatch. There are two buttons on its right side, and they are fairly clicky. Do note that a rotating crown is not a part of the package, though. A speaker is also included on this smartwatch, and the watch is using a standard connection for watch bands. You’ll need a 22mm watch band to attach it to this watch, in case you’re wondering.

It comes in three different variants

Having said that, the watch comes in three different variants. It’s available in Ocean Blue, Classic Gold, and Midnight Black. In other words, these are silver, bronze, and black-colored watches. Each of them comes with a different strap. The first two come with a leather strap (blue and brown ones, respectively), while the black variant includes a silicone strap. The watch feels really premium overall, to be quite honest. It feels well built, and its bezels are not too thick at all.

This watch is not small at all

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For clarity, I’ve used the ‘Classic Gold’ variant of the watch for over two weeks. I used its leather strap for most of that time, and I have to say it feels really well-made. I didn’t have any issues with it, nor does it seem worn yet. That’s not surprising, though. The watch measures 45.9 x 45.9 x 10.5mm, and weighs 44 grams (without the strap). It’s a rather large watch, so keep that in mind.

HONOR offers three different strap options

We’ve already talked about the watch straps on the watch, you can choose between leather and silicone ones, depending on which variant of the watch you grab. Along with the watch, though, you’re also getting a charger. To be more accurate, this is a charging cradle, or a charging stand, whichever term you prefer. It’s very similar to the ones Huawei has been shipping with its watches. Do note that this one does not support wireless charging, though.

Wireless charging is not supported

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This charging cradle comes with some pogo pins, and they connect to the back of the watch itself. This is not a problem at all, as the watch will magnetize itself to this charger. You’ll need to clean the connectors from time to time, though. When they get dirty, the charging can get iffy. That’s the case with all devices that include pogo pins, though. The charging cradle itself is white, regardless of which variant of the watch you get. The same goes for the included cable.

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The display is more than good enough

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Is the display any good? Well yes, it is. The HONOR Watch GS 3 includes a 1.43-inch AMOLED display. The glass on top of it curves on the sides, and using it feels really good. Considering that there is no rotating crown on the watch, you’ll be touching that display all the time. It does get smudged up, but not more than any other display out there. There is some sort of coating on top of it, though.

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It’s quite sharp, and the viewing angles are good

The resolution of this panel is 466 x 466, which is a really good resolution for a smartwatch, and rivals the best out there. The viewing angles are also really good, and the colors on the display are popping. We’re looking at a 326 PPI here. The display was also quite responsive to the touch, though not to the degree of some high-end Huawei watches I’ve used recently (like the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro). Still, that won’t be a problem at all, as the touch response is really good. I don’t have major complaints on this display, to be quite honest.

The performance was great, software could use some work

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The HONOR Watch GS 3 is fueled by the Apollo4 processor. That chip did a really nice job day-in-day-out. I didn’t have any issues with lag, or anything of the sort. It was quite snappy, to be quite honest. I used the watch for reading notifications, controlling music, checking the weather, and fitness-oriented activities. That chip worked in collaboration with LiteOS, which Huawei used prior to HarmonyOS. So, the similarity to Huawei’s past watches is not a coincidence.

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The HONOR Watch GS 3 uses LiteOS

Considering this is not Android, nor is it HarmonyOS, you don’t exactly get access to an app store or anything of the sort. You’re stuck with what’s installed on the watch, and for the most part, that will suit users. HONOR included everything a smartwatch needs on this thing, basically, unless you’re adamant to use a third-party fitness service or something of the sort. If that’s the case, this is not the watch for you.

Now, I’ve mentioned that there are two buttons on this thing. The top button acts as a menu button, and a home button, while the bottom one is customizable. You can set it to launch the music player, your fitness menu, or whatever else you want, basically.

The notification system is one of the main pain points of LiteOS

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The notifications on this watch are not grouped, while you also cannot respond to them via the watch. That’s just the same as it was on Huawei watches while Huawei was using LiteOS. The notifications system is much better on more modern Huawei watches, though it could still use some work. HONOR needs to change this, or move from LiteOS, as notifications are one of the main reasons why people use smartwatches. They were basically instantly pushed over from my phone, though, so I had no issues there.

There are a number of customizability options that you can delve into on the watch. You can set a number of widgets, for example, so that you can access various different functions easily.

I’ve had no connectivity issues while using the HONOR Watch GS 3

Let’s talk about the connectivity a bit. You’ll need the HONOR Health app in order to connect this watch to your phone. That’s the first thing that you’ll need to get, to start using the watch. That being said, the watch supports Android 8.0+ phones, while you won’t be able to connect it to iOS, it seems. HONOR states on its official website that iOS is not supported. Truth be said, it says “OTA version available” next to that statement, but considering I don’t have or use an iOS device at the moment, I was unable to test it.

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This smartwatch comes equipped with both WiFi (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0. I didn’t have any major issues with connectivity. In my two-week testing, the watch did disconnect twice. So that’s worth noting, but other than that, there were no issues. Also, it reconnected on its own immediately. I’ve used it in collaboration with the Pixel 4a and Vivo X60 Pro+ smartphones, in case you’re wondering.

The HONOR Watch GS 3 is good fitness / health companion

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The HONOR Watch GS 3 has a lot to offer in the fitness department. It is well-equipped with sensors, and has a ton of sports modes. This watch comes with an eight-channel PPG heart rate sensor, with frequency tracking. AI heart rate algorithm is also included in the package. HONOR actually says that heart rate accuracy is over 97 percent. That’s something I was not able to test, of course, but it did seem to be quite accurate.

SpO2 sensor is also included

As far as SpO2 goes, well, it worked well enough. The readings were similar to other wearables I’ve tested, though do note that I had some problems with it. I kept getting the message that I’m wearing the watch wrong, even though it was placed really well on the hand. It was not loose or anything. Those messages came at random times as well, which was odd. I had to restart the measurements every time that happened. So, this seems to be a bug.

The company’s HONOR Health app is really useful

You can get plenty of information via the company’s application, which also looks really similar to the Huawei Health app. That’s not a bad thing, as Huawei’s Health app is excellent. You’ll be able to see your exercise history, and heart health. Sleep info, SpO2 info, and more. Speaking of which, sleep tracking wasn’t the most accurate in my testing, but that’s the case with basically every wearable. It’s accurate enough, I’d say.

There are over 100 workout modes included here

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When it comes to workout modes, this watch is well-equipped. The HONOR Watch GS 3 supports over 100 workout modes. That includes 85 tailor-made workout modes, and over 10 professional workout modes. The watch can also auto-detect some of those workouts, by the way. I’ve only tested running and bicycle riding, and the watch did a good job in both of those occasions. It’s also worth saying that GPS worked really well. HONOR included dual-frequency GNSS here.

The HONOR Watch GS 3 offers great battery life

First and foremost, do note that the watch includes a 451mAh battery. When it comes to the battery life, the HONOR Watch GS 3 is a true champ. HONOR rates this watch for two weeks of typical usage, and we can see that being true. During my testing, with basically all sensors fired up, I was able to get around 9-10 days of battery life on a single charge. This is not exactly typical usage, so an extra two 4-5 is definitely a possibility, but with lighter usage. Regular users won’t bother with many of the functions I’ve used, at least not all during a single use cycle.

It will take you less than an hour to charge it

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What about charging? When you place the watch on the charging puck HONOR provides, you can fully charge it in less than an hour, which is not bad at all. A quick 5-10 minute charge can ensure that you don’t have to charge it for the rest of the day, that’s for sure.

The speaker is definitely loud enough

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The HONOR Watch GS 3 does include a speaker, and a microphone. So, you can technically use this watch to make phone calls, as long as it’s connected to your smartphone. The speaker does get quite loud, which is a good thing. The quality is not great, though, as this is a smartphone speaker after all, but it’s good enough to make phone calls. You can easily use it to talk to someone while walking around.

Its microphone is passable

The microphone, on the other hand, is passable, but don’t expect the same quality you’d get out of a microphone on a phone, of course.

The watch doesn’t offer a voice assistant

One thing that many of you are probably wondering is if a voice assistant is available here. No, it’s not. You won’t be able to access Google Assistant or Alexa… or any other assistant for that matter.

The HONOR Watch GS 3 may be worth the money, for some of you

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So, at €219.90, is this watch worth the money? Well, there are some other options on the market, but it all depends on what you need from a watch. If you need third-party apps, or want to respond to messages from your watch, this is not the watch for you. Also, the notification system needs work.

If you want a nice-looking watch, that has excellent battery life, and handles its fitness duties really well, you may want to consider it. It would be a much better deal under €200. HONOR does discount this watch from time to time, though, so you may want to look out for those deals over at HiHonor.com.