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Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition review: What makes the new fitness tracker special?

Stragglers. The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition is a new fitness tracker that complements Huawei's extensive wearable portfolio. Our review of the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition explains what the improved model has to offer in terms of special features.
Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition Test Report

A few weeks ago Huawei presented the "new" Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition (SE for short). The approach is a bit strange. After all, the new model is not an offshoot of the Huawei Watch Fit 2 (starting at about 115 Euros/~$124 on Amazon Germany), that was only released last year but a special variant of the Huawei Watch Fit, released in 2021, for which there was also already a "new" version.

Whether this latecomer makes sense or not might be helped by a look at the innovations as well as the price classification, which are some of the topics in our review of the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition. Among other things, the new variant is equipped with more accurate and extensive tracking according to Huawei.

In terms of price, Huawei offers the new Watch Fit Special Edition for a recommended retail price of 99.99 Euros (~90 Euros on Amazon). This positions the new tracker at least 30 Euros (~$32) cheaper than the MSRP of the new 2nd generation, which features a larger AMOLED screen, among other things. The new SE model fills the gap between the simpler Huawei Band 8 (approx. 50 Euros/~$54 on Amazon) and the Watch Fit 2, and is more or less a fitness tracker on the verge of becoming a smartwatch.

Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition
Processor
unknown
Display
1.64 inch, 456 x 280 pixel 326 PPI, capacitive, AMOLED, glossy: yes, 60 Hz
Storage
4 GB Flash, 4 GB 
Connections
Sensors: 6-axis IMU sensor (Accelerometer sensor, Gyroscope sensor), Optical heart rate sensor
Networking
Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
Battery
180 mAh Lithium-Ion, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 216 h
Operating System
Huawei HarmonyOS
Additional features
Charging Cradle, 24 Months Warranty, fanless, waterproof
Weight
21 g ( = 0.74 oz / 0.05 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)
Price
100 Euro

 

Case and features - Simple plastic case and silicone strap

The new Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition presents itself with a plastic case (polymer) and a silicone wristband and is available in three colors: black, pink, and green. The fitness wristband is pleasantly light at 21 g (~0.7 oz) and can be tightly fitted to wrists with a circumference of approx. 13 to 21 cm (~5 to 8 inches) thanks to its strap and classic thorn clasp.

The look is sporty and identical to the Active version of the original Huawei Watch Fit. At the time, we had the more expensive Elegant variant with a stainless steel case and a fluoroelastomer strap in the test. The more visually appealing version is not available in the new Special Edition.

Setup and operation - familiar wearable fare

Scan QR code
Scan QR code

As with all Huawei smartwatches and trackers, the Huawei Health app is required to set up and manage the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition. It is available for iOS and Android, and of course Huawei's EMUI.

There is access to a whole range of watch faces via the app, which can be loaded there for free or for a fee. Huawei talks about more than 10,000 pieces that are available. Ten watch faces are preloaded on the watch. Installing additional apps is not supported.

At the beginning, the app guides the user through the setup in German, which did not cause any problems in the test and starts with "scanning" a QR code on the wristband with the smartphone camera (picture on the right). An account has to be set up beforehand, if not already available. The screenshots below provide a few impressions of the setup process.

Set up
Set up
in a few
in a few
Steps.
Steps.
Device page
Device page
in the app
in the app

On the right edge of the casing is an elongated button that supports touchscreen operation and leads to opening and closing the menu. The user then navigates through the menu in the usual manner with swipes up and down as well as tips. The menu gives access to installed apps like sports tracking, alarm clock, weather, music control, flashlight, find smartphone and more.

Horizontal swipes on the home screen provide scrolling through various customizable widgets. Activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, weather and more data are accessible here at a glance. A vertical swipe down brings up a menu with quick access to important functions. A swipe upwards leads to the smartphone notifications.

Users who have already had a smartwatch from Huawei or another manufacturer on their wrist will quickly find their way around. The following video provides a few impressions.

Telephony and notifications

Huawei does not include a speaker and microphone, so the model does not support Bluetooth telephony. However, incoming calls can at least be pushed away and answered with quick replies under EMUI and Android (not under iOS). Notifications from the smartphone are reliably forwarded to the watch, and they can be activated and deactivated in different categories via the app.

Voice assistant

Voice control via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or another assistant is not supported by this wearable. It simply does not work without a microphone.

Health and fitness - accurate sensor and usual features

As usual for a fitness tracker or an inexpensive smartwatch, the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition monitors heart rate, SpO2, sleep, and stress. In addition, there are various other health and fitness features like activity goals, stress, menstrual calendar, Running Ability Index, and breathing exercises. It is not possible to synchronize the data from Huawei Health with Google Fit or Apple Health.

Activity Objectives

Activity tracking
Activity tracking

Like almost all rivals, Huawei's Watch Fit SE wants to encourage an active life and offers the usual activity targets, some of which can be set individually in the app. Steps per day, getting up (during sedentary work), and activity minutes are tracked.

The closer you get to the set values, the more the familiar rings (or a cloverleaf) build up. If you want, you can also have your own stress level monitored by the fitness wristband.

Heart rate, heart rhythm and blood oxygen saturation

The basic functions of almost all fitness wristbands and smartwatches include monitoring of heart rate and blood oxygen content (SpO2). Both can be monitored around the clock if desired.

In terms of accuracy, inexpensive models sometimes have to make do with less, most recently in the test of the Amazfit Bip 3 Pro (approx. 70 Euros/~$76 on Amazon). Huawei, on the other hand, does not show any weaknesses. This tracker measures the pulse reliably with its optical heart rate sensor on the bottom.

Compared to a Polar H10 chest strap as a reference device, the deviations in the performance pulse were less than one percent, which is excellent in this price range. The course of the curves (see graphics below) is also almost congruent. Both values were even completely identical in the resting pulse.

The SpO2 measurement is a bit worse. However, the deviations of a good 6% in the duel with the Braun Pulse Oximeter 1 as a reference are also okay. One outlier value in particular is conspicuous and spoils an even better rating.

Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition
Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition
Braun pulse oximeter 1
Braun pulse oximeter 1

Sleep tracking

Sleep tracking on tracker
Sleep tracking on tracker
and in the app
and in the app

Among other things, Huawei promises improved sleep tracking for the SE edition thanks to TruSleep 3.0. However, it is difficult to understand the improvement without a direct comparison of the old version.

The sleep detection was reliable in the test. An evaluation of the sleep quality and the sleep phases is rudimentary on the tracker's display and detailed in the smartphone app.

Training recording

Compared to the first generation, Huawei has added some new training modes like basketball, soccer, and e-sports. The Special Edition now comes up with over 100 sports modes. Depending on the sport, different key figures are tracked, e.g. distance covered, average and maximum speed when cycling, the number of steps when running, or the moves on the rowing machine.

After the workout, the tracker and the app provide a comprehensive analysis in the usual manner. With GPS, the distance covered can also be tracked precisely in the app. In addition, the sports wristband provides data on training load, recovery time and VO2Max. Thanks to its water resistance of up to 5 ATM, the wearable can also remain on the wrist during swimming and other water sports.

Tracking
Tracking
a
a
Bike tour
Bike tour
on the
on the
Wearable
Wearable
Evaluating
Evaluating
a
a
Bike tour
Bike tour
in the
in the
Smartphone app
Smartphone app

GPS and navigation

The GPS tracking worked quite accurately in the practical test. The deviations in the course of the route and the distance covered during a bike tour were quite small compared with the Garmin Venu 2 as the reference model. There was only a larger discrepancy in the altitude meters covered.

The downside, however, is that it often took quite a long time to establish a connection, sometimes over a minute. That is annoying when you want to start a sports session, for example, but have to wait for the equipment first. The tracker cannot be used for navigation.

GNSS Lake Circumnavigation
GNSS Lake Circumnavigation
GNSS Turning Point
GNSS Turning Point
GNSS summary
GNSS summary

Display - AMOLED, but unfortunately quite dark

Subpixel
Subpixel
In the sun
In the sun

Like the Huawei Watch Fit, the Special Edition also features a 1.64-inch AMOLED panel, but unfortunately without an ambient light sensor. The screen has a resolution of 280 x 456 pixels and offers a detailed display with over 300 PPI without visible pixels.

The brightness can be adjusted via a virtual slider on the screen, but it does not reach particularly high values with a peak of just under 300 cd/m². All comparison models like the Huawei Watch Fit 2, the Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro (about 70 Euros/~$76 on Amazon) and even the cheaper Huawei Band 8 achieve higher rates. However, reading is possible even in direct sunlight in most cases. AOD (Always on Display) can be enabled if desired.

We also noticed flickering due to PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation) at a relatively low frequency, which can cause discomfort for some users when looking at the display for a longer period of time (and makes taking pictures of the display more difficult).

Huawei Watch Fit Special EditionHuawei Watch Fit 2Huawei Band 8Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro
Response Times
PWM Frequency
119
59
-50%
118.9
0%
Screen
95%
38%
82%
Brightness middle
283
553
95%
391
38%
516
82%
Black Level *
Total Average (Program / Settings)
95% / 95%
-6% / -6%
41% / 41%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 119 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 119 Hz (worst case, e.g., utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 119 Hz is very low, so the flickering may cause eyestrain and headaches after extended use.

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 17909 (minimum: 5 - maximum: 3846000) Hz was measured.

Performance and runtime - short charge period every few days

Huawei does not provide any information about the processor installed in the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition. However, it does its job sufficiently fast and enables smooth operation. There is 4 GB of memory available for installing watch faces.

Battery life

Huawei specifies the runtime of the 180 mAh battery with a maximum of 9 days as well as 6 days in typical use. This also matches the impressions from our test. It is significantly less than the second generation of the fitness tracker due to the smaller battery.

However, the endurance is of course always dependent on the intensity of use. If you activate all health trackers around the clock, turn up the display brightness, and also frequently track sports sessions, you will have to pick up the included USB charging cable every few days. The charging process only takes about one hour.

The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition
The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition
charges quickly
charges quickly

Pros

+ accurate pulse and SpO2 measurement
+ high resolution AMOLED
+ Sleep and stress tracking
+ over 100 sport modes
+ waterproof up to 5 ATM

Cons

- quite dark screen
- no NFC

Verdict - There is not much "special"...

The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition was provided by the manufacturer for our test.
The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition was provided by the manufacturer for our test.

With the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition, Huawei wants to close the price gap between the Huawei Band 8 and the Huawei Watch Fit 2 with another model. With an MSRP of 100 Euros (~$108), this also succeeds on paper. Compared with the first generation, the SE version offers a few selective improvements, but they are limited.

Overall, the Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition is a solidly equipped fitness tracker that scores with its accurate heart rate measurement, among other things.

However, it also reveals a few weaknesses in the test. These include the not particularly bright display and the sometimes long waiting time when establishing a GPS connection. It lacks NFC, which would have been a nice feature to offer real added value compared to the original model.

Whether the new fitness tracker will really prevail compared to the only marginally more expensive successor generation Watch Fit 2 with a larger and brighter AMOLED, longer battery life, Bluetooth telephony and a few other advantages is at least doubtful. After all, the price difference is currently not very big, especially in stores. From our point of view, the surcharge for the Huawei Watch Fit 2 (from about 115 Euros/~$124 on Amazon) is worth it.

Price and availability

The Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition fitness tracker is available in black, pink, and green and costs 99.99 Euros (~$108) according to the recommended retail price. The wearable is available from Huawei and other retailers.

Transparency

The present review sample was made available to the author as a loan by the manufacturer or a shop for the purposes of review. The lender had no influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > Huawei Watch Fit Special Edition review: What makes the new fitness tracker special?
Marcus Schwarten, 2023-08-27 (Update: 2023-08-27)