Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Review: The most luxurious smartwatch hardware, but software is still limited
I have been reviewing Huawei consumer products for half a decade and there’s a clear leitmotif that runs through all my reviews: impeccable hardware that is usually the best looking and well-built in its product category, but the software experience doesn’t quite keep up if compared to top rivals. And even though Huawei’s new smartwatch series, the Watch GT 3 Pro, makes strides towards improving the software end, it’s still not all the way there. Whether it’s the titanium or ceramic model, the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro looks absolutely gorgeous and makes Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 feel cheap by comparison. But there are just things the Galaxy Watch 4 or the Apple Watch 7 can do that Huawei’s smartwatches still cannot, like the ability to access an English voice assistant or respond to notifications in a dynamic manner.
But perhaps that’s just me being a nitpicky reviewer because Huawei’s smartwatches are selling well, moving 42.7 million units globally in 2021, according to research firm IDC. And while this number still trails Samsung and Xiaomi (48.1 and 54.4 million respectively), it marks a 35% year-on-year growth for Huawei compared to the 3.8% and 7.9% growth for Samsung and Xiaomi respectively. The Apple Watch of course still sits far above at the top of the mountain, having sold 161.1 million units in 2021, but the Apple Watch, with its iOS lock-in, is basically a different beast all to its own.
This means Huawei’s smartwatches are the third most popular wearable for Android users and it’s growing faster than everyone in this space. The Watch GT 3 Pro could continue this trend because even by Huawei’s already high hardware standards, this is in my opinion the best looking and most premium smartwatch series.
Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro: Pricing and Availability
The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro comes in either titanium or ceramic models and is on sale now in mainland China and beginning May 30 in select European and Asia regions, including the UK, Germany, Singapore, and Malaysia. Sale platforms include Amazon UK and Huawei’s online store. Pricing is listed below (in Chinese yuan, Euro, and British Pound).
- Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition (46mm) w/ leather strap: ¥2,688/€369/£299.99
- Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Titanium Edition (46mm) w/ titanium strap: €499/£429.99
- Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Ceramic Edition (43mm) w/ leather strap: ¥2,988/€499/£429.99
- Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro Ceramic Edition (43mm) w/ ceramic strap: ¥4,688/€599/£499.99
Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro series: Specifications
|Specification||Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro|
|Dimensions, Weight, build||
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About this review: This review was written after two weeks of testing both titanium and ceramic models of the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro provided by Huawei. Huawei also covered my travel to Milan to attend the product launch. The company did not have any input in this review.
Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro: Design and Hardware
- Classy design with premium materials
- Bright and vivid OLED screens
- A bit too heavy to wear for workouts
- Bands may not fit every wrist perfectly
Both models of the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro feature sapphire crystal glass covering their 466 x 466 OLED screens (1.4-inches for the 46mm titanium model and 1.3-inches for the 43mm ceramic model) and a ceramic backside. It’s the material between which the front and back sandwich that differs: the titanium model uses an aerospace-grade titanium frame, and the ceramic model uses ceramic. Both models come with either leather straps or bands that match the body material.
The watches, particularly the titanium model I handled, feel hefty and weighty compared to say a Fitbit Sense or Galaxy Watch 4, weighing a bit over 90g with the band (the watch itself is 54g). The ceramic model is smaller and about 10g lighter. The switch to solid lugs instead of the open lug design seen in the Huawei Watch 3 or the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro adds to the feeling of a larger watch.
The all-ceramic model is the star of the show — ceramic watches are considered more luxurious than metallic watches — and it does look visually striking with the gold trim around the frame and the butterfly clasp. But for my wrist and the clothes I wear, I prefer the titanium model.
Both watches have a crown that is both clickable and rotatable, as well as a separate button. I find the latter button to be unnecessary, as the crown plus combination of swipes and taps is more than enough to navigate through the watches’ HarmonyOS-powered UI. The crown features texture ribbings and looks particularly classy on the titanium model.
The titanium band features a deployant buckle clasp that provides a satisfying click whenever it locks around my wrist. The nature of these band designs, however, mean they may not fit every wrist type (there’s more room for adjustment with typical buckle-and-hole type straps). It also takes a bit of time to get them in the right size: the titanium band features small switches inside each band link that sets them loose. The switches are so small it took me over five minutes just to remove a link for a tighter fit. The ceramic model takes even more work, with its band containing micro screws that require a specific tool (a miniature-sized screwdriver that’s included with packaging) to remove or add a link. It took me well over 10 minutes of fiddling to get the ceramic model closer to the ideal fit. Both watches come with extra links for those with thicker wrists. If you need numbers, Huawei says the titanium models can fit wrist sizes from 140mm to 210mm, while the ceramic model covers 130mm to 190mm.
Needing to remove or add links to get the right fit is absolutely normal in the luxury watch space, by the way, and enthusiasts may even enjoy this process. But for me, it was a bit of a hassle, and you need to make sure you have ample lighting and a flat clean surface to fiddle with the ceramic band, as the ceramic band’s micro screws are minuscule.
And despite all that fiddling, the ceramic model doesn’t fit my wrist perfectly. It’s either a bit too loose or a bit too tight, as my wrist size fits in between the size of one link. The titanium model, however, fits my wrist just about right. For normal day wear, and particularly when I attended some press events, it added a bit of flair to my otherwise plain style of dress. However, the watch is a bit too heavy to wear for workouts in my opinion. A shame, because the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro is quite good at tracking activities. More on this later.
Both watches feature a loudspeaker and microphone, which allowed me to take phone calls through the watch on my wrist. Huawei did not specify the chip powering the watch, nor the memory or battery size, but rest assured, they’re more than powerful enough to handle the watch’s UI. Battery life is particularly impressive, with the titanium model able to last up to two weeks on a single charge and the ceramic model up to seven days.
All the sensors one would expect from a pricey smartwatch are here, including optical heart rate, SpO2, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, and magnetometer, the latter allows the compass function to work without an internet connection. The heart rate sensor has been upgraded from the non-pro Watch GT 3 or last year’s Watch GT 2 Pro: it now features eight photodiodes for supposedly more accurate detection.
The Watch GT 3 Pro are rated IP68 and 5ATM, meaning you can definitely take these for swimming indoor pools, and even diving in the sea up to 30 meters deep.
Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro: Software and Features
- Runs on Huawei’s proprietary HarmonyOS
- Colorful UI with aesthetically-pleasing animations
- Anemic third-party app support
- Allows canned responses to text message notifications — better than before, but not enough
The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro runs on HarmonyOS, and it’s a responsive UI with colorful graphics and smooth animations. The watch works with Android and iOS devices, but you must download the Huawei health app to pair.
Herein lies problem number one: due to the US government imposed sanctions, the Huawei Health app you’d find in the Google Play Store is outdated and won’t connect to the watches. You must instead install a newer version of Huawei Health either via Huawei’s AppGallery or via an official Huawei link which you can access by scanning a QR code on the watch’s setup screen.
Needing to install apps from a third-party source requires a few additional steps like granting permission in Android and a major hassle in iOS, so right off the bat, the setup process for the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro is more complicated than smartwatches from brands with a firm presence in the West like Fitbit, Mobvoi, Samsung, etc.
Once you do pair the watch, the Huawei Health app works fine and does a good job of providing me with relevant information. There are dozens of free watch faces to choose from (and a lot more that cost money), and some look quite nice. But only a couple of these watch faces provide interactive complications (meaning you can tap on a part of the watch face to access a feature).
Judging the third-party app situation here depends on point-of-view. If I compare it against a Galaxy Watch 3 or a Fitbit Versa 3, which don’t have great third-party app support anyway, then it’s not that bad. The only app I miss from other Android smartwatches is Google Maps. Huawei’s maps alternative, Petal Maps, is okay in certain cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, but really lacking in Milan and, I assume, California where I grew up. If I compare Huawei’s app situation against the Apple Watch (the gold standard in wearables still), then the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro will feel limited.
It’s the same for the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro’s lack of a digital assistant. This is a huge loss for someone used to an Apple Watch, because you can ask Siri to do a myriad of things, and the Apple Watch is so smart at detecting voice commands that you often don’t even have to touch the watch to begin asking Siri to do things.
But are you really losing out on that much if you’re coming from a Samsung smartwatch? Because even to this day, the Galaxy Watch 4 still doesn’t offer Google Assistant (it’s supposedly about to change soon, but I haven’t received it, nor have most of my peers in the tech reviewing community) so you’re stuck with Bixby, and Bixby isn’t that good.
Responding to text message notifications
A big gripe I had with Huawei smartwatches in the past was that even though it could receive notifications, it doesn’t allow me to respond or interact with them. Between WhatsApp, WeChat, Slack, and Signal, I get over 100 messages a day, and a watch that lets me respond directly on the wrist (instead of needing to pull out the phone) saves me a lot of time.
I’m happy to report that Huawei has improved matters a bit by giving us the ability to choose from a list of canned responses. These responses are customizable too (inside the Huawei Health app), so I have set a few phrases I say often, which helps. But this is still not as good as just letting me respond with whatever I want directly on my wrist, which Apple and Samsung’s smartwatches let me do.
In Huawei’s defense, this is something very, very few Android watches get right. Fitbit and Chinese Android brand smartwatches also don’t let me respond dynamically, and while WearOS does, most WearOS devices on store shelves now run on an underpowered Snapdragon 3100 chip that can’t handle voice dictations properly. The only smartwatch for Android that allows me to consistently respond directly on the watch is the Galaxy Watch 4. So Huawei’s problems are not specific-to-Huawei problems. But it’s still annoying.
Fitness and Health Tracking
I have been wearing the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro for two weeks and I am impressed by how accurately it tracks my data. The step count is accurate from what I can see, and the watch even accurately detected a rise in my skin temperature between days when I traveled from moderately warm Milan to extremely hot Singapore.
One evening, I used the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro to track my bike ride, while leaving my phone in a locker, and the Watch GT 3 Pro’s GPS did an accurate job of tracking the path and distance.
The Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro also does a very accurate job of tracking steps, as it’s able to identify a real step vs when I’m just moving my wrist or cycling.
Should you buy the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro?
With the titanium model starting at what is equivalent to $400 and the ceramic model at $599, the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro is pricier than most smartwatches for Android, including the Galaxy Watch 4. However, the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro is made of much more premium materials than Samsung’s smartwatch. The ceramic model pricing also seemed very high to me at first, until I did some research and realized that ceramic watches are traditionally priced much higher — well into four digits. If we look at it through this lens, then Huawei’s ceramic GT Watch 3 Pro is actually the most affordable ceramic watch yet.
While I like the look and feel of the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro (the titanium model in particular), the inability to respond dynamically to notifications or use a reliable voice assistant holds it back for me. Right now, because the Galaxy Watch 4 also doesn’t have a good digital assistant, I can justify using the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro over it, but when Google Assistant finally arrives on Samsung’s wearable, then it will have too big a software edge for me to not switch back.
If you don’t care about responding to notifications or using a digital assistant, then the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro does a good job everywhere else, and again, I like how it looks more than not just Samsung’s watch, but also other smartwatches I’ve recently tested like the Skagen Falster Gen 6.
Whatever the case, Huawei is going hard on wearables, and the Watch GT 3 Pro is the company’s most polished offering yet.