Huawei has always been a price challenger, and it shows once again that it does not compromise quality with price. The latest Watch GT 2e (“e” for Energy) is a sport version of the Watch GT 2 with an even lower price point of S$218. If price is of any indication of the feature list, then I’m here to share with you why it does not apply to the Watch GT 2e.
Unboxing and Design
This is not the first time I am using a Huawe/Honor wrist device. I last reviewed the Honor Band 4 and was so impressed with the feature and price that I bought it after completing the review. I am already getting the same impression after 3 days of reviewing this Huawei Watch GT 2e.
Two colours are available in Singapore – the light green strap with 316L-grade sandblasted stainless steel body and the red strap with black body and numbered bezel. The strap has a removable spring and you can swap with any 20mm straps. They feel comfortable to wear that I am happy to wear it whole day, even to sleep.
The third-party straps might not appear as seamless as the original, but it still look very classy and leaves behind its sporty origin. I could wear this for formal events.
The charging dock uses a removable USB-C cable which is good so that I can carry the dock around and share the cable with other devices.
The underside of the watch is plastic and comes with 4 sensor windows. The Huawei Watch GT 2e has several sensors built-in: accelerometer, air pressure, geomagnetic, gyroscope, and optical heart rate sensors.
The watch is rated 5 ATM, meaning it is waterproof up to 50 metres underwater, but not for diving.
There are 2 buttons that are nicely flushed but large enough to operate with them. The top button either opens the menu or brings back to the watch face. To go back to previous screen, swipe to the right. The bottom button is a shortcut key which you can customise. During workouts, the bottom button toggles between screens to show you data, or you can just swipe up and down. On the standby screen, swiping left-right shows the favourites app info which can be customised under the display settings, but the info does not have actions to tap and load the apps to drill down into the details.
There is lag when operating the buttons and screens, scrolling speed is slow and not smooth, so just be patient with it. Basically, if you take your time to browse, you are ok. But if you expect to scroll like a smartphone, then you will be sorely frustrated by the response.
Huawei Health App (requires Huawei Mobile Services 4.0)
You may have better experience with the Huawei Health app, as it presents all the data captured on the watch and presents the data nicely, so I find that I don’t need to fiddle the watch that much, hence I can overlook the UI lag. The Huawei Health app provides extensive information from the activity data captured from the watch – from your workouts, to your whole-day heart rate, stress level and your sleep health.
There are nearly 200 watch faces to choose from and download through the same app. Huawei is developing a rich watch face market to include new custom and motion designs. For now, it may not be limitless compared to other brands where there is a community of watch face creators, but I think the number of available watch faces are good enough to cover most people’s basic needs. Personally I prefer a digital face look because analog hands sometimes obscure the details.
If you have a Huawei smartphone, the Huawei Health app would have been pre-installed, and you are ready to connect the watch to the phone. If you are using a non-Huawei Android smartphone, you would need to install Huawei Mobile Services version 4.0 onwards. Oddly, the Google Play Store does not have the latest version during my review period (but I’m sure we could guess why), and the only official source is from Huawei AppGallery, which is also not available on Google Play Store.
So, I visited the Huawei Community portal and found one post where the Huawei support staff posted the URL to sideload the Huawei Mobile Services. Here is the link to the thread and here is the direct link to the APK.
Huawei is not alone in the need for companion apps to make the smartwatches work. Samsung has had this all this time, but at least the app prompts to install them through Google Play Store seamlessly. In this case, it seems there is a problem with Huawei pushing the latest app versions to Google Play Store, which is a major issue that they need to address because none of the non-Huawei smartphone owners could start connecting the smartwatch to the smartphone without going through the manual process.
Extensive Health and Workout Tracker
While the overall UI experience is not as reactive or customisable as other brands, the list of activities and workouts that the watch can track is enormous. It supports 15 professional workout modes including eight outdoor activities (running, walking, mountain climbing, hiking, trail running, cycling, open water swimming, triathlon) and seven indoor activities (walking, running, cycling, pool swimming, free training, elliptical machine, rower). In professional workout modes, the smartwatch provides comprehensive monitoring that can track 190 types of data. The screens also provide real time stats, and if you connect wireless earbuds directly to the watch, you can hear voice prompts on the stats too. You can even challenge your previous workout records to improve yourself.
The watch also supports 85 customised workout modes that cover six categories of sports: extreme, leisure, fitness, aquatics, ball games and winter sports. The activities range from street dance to parkour, rock climbing to yoga, and ballet to boxing. While users are enjoying their favourite sports, the watch will record key data such as duration, calories burnt, heart rate interval, exercise progress, recovery time and more, providing users with scientific exercise planning and generating an infographic with the data.
After every workout, there will be massive amount of data captured and presented in dozens of screens. Important information like training effect, recovery time, VO2Max helps you determine the effectiveness of your workout. Apart from workouts, the watch measures heart rate, stress level, steps, calories burnt throughout the day, and also monitors your sleep activity at night. A new feature is the SpO2 to measure the blood oxygen saturation, an increasingly useful indicator during this COVID-19 pandemic.
The activity stats cannot be exported, but it gets synced to your Huawei ID and stores in the cloud. I can even retrieve my activity records of the Honor Band 4 I reviewed over a year ago. You can also link the data to Google Fit and MyFitnessPal.
The watch displays app notification which you can pick from the Huawei Health app. It will display the notification content but there is no way to act on it, not even delete it. Comparatively, smartwatches like Samsung lets you reply through canned messages or even type with on-screen keyboard. You can also delete the message which will sync to the smartphone app, or choose to open the message on the smartphone to carry on the message.
One thing I like about the Huawei Watch GT 2e which I hate on the Samsung Gear is that I can easily disconnect and reconnect the watch to another smartphone without resetting the whole watch and set up all over again. I also get to keep the data stored in the watch and sync to the other smartphones. That makes it so easy for me to pair the watch to my various smartphone review units as they come.
Like all lab tests, the realistic battery life would never be 2 weeks. Yes, you can probably make it last that long, but that also means you have to turn off a lot of the real time tracking or keep the watch minimally in use, which defeats the purpose. Based on my usage of continuous smart tracking (steps, heart rate, stress level, calories, sleep), 2 running sessions a week, and 1 software update, the watch easily lasted more than a week (30% remaining after 8 days and counting), and I’m quite happy with that already. In fact, I feel uneasy not to charge the watch every day, but it’s liberating. If I were to own the watch, I would simply charge it during my daily bath routine, and wear it for the rest of the 23+ hours.
The Huawei Watch GT 2e has a very attractive proposition: it is relatively inexpensive, looks and feels premium, lasts up to 2 weeks, and comes with everything that a casual wearer would need to track all aspects of their daily activity. For serious fitness guru who needs a stronger set of metrics captured, I’m sure they already have their favourite brands – like Garmin, Polar, Fitbit – and you pay for what you get.
I’m actually quite happy with wearing the Huawei Watch GT 2e whole day and night. It feels well-built, excellent battery life, and has a strong brand to back the after-sales servicing and software support. I can overlook the sluggish UI as I don’t really interact with the watch extensively. I just wear it to capture my stats, act as a silent alarm to wake me up, and to look good as a timepiece. Note that there is also the on-boarding roadblock with regards to installing Huawei Mobile Service manually on non-Huawei devices, but I overcame that.
At S$218, I am not expecting the Huawei Watch GT 2e to be superior in tracking accuracy or usage versatility, but it exceeds my expectations at the price and does a lot of things reliably well for a non-competitive fitness enthusiast. If you look hard enough, you could even buy one brand new at 20% discount.
- Inexpensive but looks premium
- Extensive tracking metrics
- Long battery life of more than 1 week
- Easy to switch phones without resetting the watch
- Waterproof (5 ATM)
- Sluggish UI
- Limited customisation and interaction , e.g. cannot install apps, read-only notification
- Relatively limited watch faces compared to others, and with no additional customisation like changing colour, replace complications