Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review: Optimized design and improved software, but hardly any hardware changes.
Equipment and operation
The changes to aesthetics are great: Huawei protects the 1.39-inch OLED with sapphire glass, which is slightly beveled on the sides. The titanium and ceramic case is clean and high quality. The watch is waterproof up to 5 ATM. The Watch GT 2 Pro Sport has a black fluoroelastomer (rubber) strap, and the Watch GT 2 Pro Classic has a gray leather strap. Our test Classic watch also came with the fluoroelastomer strap, but this does not seem to normally come with that version of the watch.
With GPS, Bluetooth 5.1, and numerous sensors, including one that measures blood oxygen saturation, the premium watch is well equipped as a companion for sports and health analyses, though there is no temperature sensor. However, anyone who had hoped for LTE or NFC-compatibility for mobile payments will be disappointed.
With the Kirin A1, the CPU in the new premium smartwatch hasn't changed since last year.
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What is new, however, is a charging adapter without pin connectors. The Watch GT 2 Pro is the first and, at the time of this test, only smartwatch from Huawei that has wireless charging technology.
The smartwatch is used via the full touchscreen and two round buttons on the side. While the lower button can be linked to a function, the upper button displays a dial or pulls up the app menu.
So that the smartwatch can store music instead of just playing it from an attached smartphone, the Watch GT 2 Pro, like the Watch GT 2, has 4 GB of flash memory, which, according to Huawei, can hold up to 500 tracks.
Software - Huawei App Gallery required
To set up the watch, you need a Huawei account, which you can create during the watch's set-up, and the Huawei Health app. The health app can be installed with an iPhone without any problems. The Android version also requires Huawei Mobile Services (HMS Core), the current version of which has not been available in Google's Play Store for a long time. One way to install the complete software is to download the Huawei App Gallery from the website consumer.huawei.com/de/campaign/mobile-services.
Once the app is installed and the watch is set-up, both can quickly find each other. If you already have a compatible smartwatch and have synchronized it with the Health app, you must first disconnect the smartwatch. The health app can then manage both and switch back and forth between them if necessary; however, it only synchronizes with one of them at any given time so, for example, it will only send notifications to the currently paired wearable.
The health app is used to decide which messages the smartwatch receives, whether a disconnected Bluetooth connection triggers a warning, and whether the display is automatically activated when the user's arm is raised. The device-specific parameters also include movement reminders, options for sleep monitoring, and the interval and alarm limits for measuring the heart rate. In addition, the health app records personal information such as age and weight, which Huawei includes in its health and fitness analyses.
Anyone who has a smartphone with at least version 11 of the Huawei EMUI interface can control their phone's camera remotely via the smartwatch. When connected to other smartphones that do not have this interface, this function does not even appear on the watch's app list.
In addition to exercise programs and analyses of health and fitness, tools like timers, stopwatches, and location-based weather, moon phase, and tide reports are provided by the smartwatch.
Telephony and notifications
Huawei still does not offer an LTE-compatible model. You can still make calls via the connected smartphone, though. The integrated loudspeaker of the watch or a separate Bluetooth headset are ideal for calls.
The Watch GT 2 Pro does not display images and emojis any better than its predecessors. It is unbelievable Huawei has still not fixed a software bug that causes text messages to appear several times on the watch since it was a bug on some of their past devices as well.
Health and Fitness - Manual SpO2 Measurement
Not much has changed in regards to the health functions of the Watch GT 2 Pro. Huawei activated SpO2 measurement for the Watch GT 2 in April, and the Watch GT 2e, which was presented in spring, came with this functionality out of the box. Huawei does not automatically record blood oxygen saturation; it has to be activated via the app menu. Like all other recordings, the manually recorded values are entered in a daily log. The fitness watch, on the other hand, measures heart rate and daily steps around the clock and, if desired, regularly reminds the user to move.
Huawei uses its own apps for health analysis: TruRelax analyzes stress levels and TruSleep analyzes sleep. In addition to light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phases, the sleep log evaluates a user's breathing quality, but, unlike some other devices like the Fitbit Charge 4, it does not provide any specific information about irregularities in breathing.
New driving range mode
For the first time, the smartwatch has a driving range mode that records swing speed, back swing and swing (in seconds), and swing speed (in meters per second) when teeing off.
While the driving range cannot be recorded on the Huawei GT 2 Pro, this functionality was also not available with the new Honor Watch GS Pro, at least at the time of this review. The winter sports cross-country skiing, skiing, and snowboarding, which the Honor smartwatch supports, are also supported by the Huawei GT 2 Pro. When skiing and snowboarding, the app asks to record not only heart rate and average speed but also the user's maximum gradient.
Both watches are the first of their competition to offer route guidance, and this worked well in our test. However, it is limited to backtracking navigation, i.e. navigation back to the starting point of an activity that already started. It can guide users on foot or, as you can see in our test, on a bike.
Those who plan their tours in advance, especially those who want to participate in a circuit, will probably not make use of this feature. Honestly, it would normally be more useful to just import a route planned with a smartphone or PC as a GPX track. Huawei does not offer that, nor does it offer GPX export functionality, which users have wanted for a while.
The watch functions similarly with its automatic recognition while running or using the cross trainer or rowing machine. Unfortunately, those who do these workouts will sometimes forget to start the timer at the beginning of the workout. The watch will encourage the user to log their route as an activity when they walk quickly, which is a nice feature.
Runners of various skill levels can find running courses in the exercise app in order to improve or start running regularly. During the exercise, the watch provides information in English on the user's heart rate and information about the exercise like distance; this displayed information changes based on the type of exercise.
If you want to improve your performance, the Huawei device can help you out: It provides your VO2max value and determines the effects of exercise. It also provides a recommended regeneration time based on how much aerobic and anaerobic exercise you have done. Using these values, you can focus on improving your performance or endurance.
Battery and runtime - Smartphones can help with reverse wireless charge
The Watch GT 2 Pro is the group's first smartwatch to feature wireless charging technology. A magnetic charging button is included for charging. Alternatively, you should also be able to use a smartphone to charge the phone using wireless reverse charge technology. The 455 mAh battery was fully charged in the test using the adapter supplied. After five minutes, it reaches 7% of its total capacity, which, according to Huawei, is enough for 10 hours.
Huawei states the runtime is 10 days on a full battery charge. In our test, when we put the watch under slightly higher than average load by listening to music, calling people, taking pictures with the remote camera, and using about 2 hours of GPS tracking, we averaged only 3.5 to 4 days of runtime on a full battery charge.
Huawei has further refined the design of its premium smartwatch. The Huawei smartwatch is far removed from the rugged design of the Honor Watch GS Pro, but with materials such as sapphire glass, ceramic, and titanium, it is quite well-built.
Design, high-quality materials, and a long service life make the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro attractive.
It is slightly disappointing that there have been almost no changes to hardware when compared to its predecessor, the Watch GT 2. The processor and functionality of the sensors have remained the same, and owners of the older smartwatch can now also measure their blood oxygen saturation. Wireless charging, especially since it can be used with compatible smartphones, is a plus, but thanks to the watch's good battery life, this feature is not that significant.
The new goodies mostly come from the software: route back, driving range mode, skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing are all now supported. With the exception of driving range mode, both Huawei and Honor use the same program. It is quite possible that these new features will start to be supported, at least partially, on older watches.
Confirmed information on whether Huawei will establish an app store for its wearables was not available at the time of this test. It remains to be seen whether a new concept will affect the memory and performance of the current watches.