Huawei Watch GT 2e smartwatch review with comparison to the Watch GT 2
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Connectivity - Watch GT2e without LTE
The Watch GT 2 was released by Huawei last fall in a 46 mm design and a smaller 42 mm case. The larger one, which we previously had in for review, is roughly the same size as the Watch GT 2e. Unlike the Watch GT 2, the Watch GT 2e's metal case is slightly angled towards the straps, which makes it fit better on narrower wrists in particular. Although the watch strap is thicker than usual in the connection area, it's suitable for the Watch GT 2 or even the almost identically built Honor Magic Watch 2 due to its 22 mm width; this can be seen on one of the pictures with a black strap for the Honor smartwatch.
For the original strap, Huawei uses fluoroelastomer, a material that is also used by Apple for its sports straps since it's considered to be particularly resistant to sweat. With two additional punched rows, the Lava Red and Mint Green bands have an even sportier look than those in the Graphite Black and Icy White colors.
The watch is operated via the touch display and two flat buttons on the side. These are round on the Watch GT 2, but they can't be rotated in order to move through menus faster. The display can be activated by raising the arm, but when the always-on display is turned on, it initially only shows the stand-by screen. To see the actual dial, you also have to tap the screen. Thanks to AMOLED, it's also easy to read in the sun.
The first difference that isn't related to the design is revealed in the data sheet: With the same processor, a Huawei Kirin A1, the Watch GT 2e has only half as much RAM as the Watch GT 2 at 16 MB. There was no indication of any noticeable weaknesses in the test. Nevertheless, more memory is naturally better, for example, when you want to view and compare past training data on the watch.
The biggest difference by far is Bluetooth telephony. In contrast to the Watch GT 2, the Watch GT 2e has neither LTE nor a microphone or speaker.
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Setup and handling - Music even without a smartphone
The Watch GT2e is charged by induction via a small magnetic charging adapter. You don't necessarily need a Huawei smartphone for the setup, but you do need the app Huawei Health, which is also available for the iPhone. Android phones also need the Huawei Mobile Services app in version 4, at least, but you can only get an older version in the Play Store. The apk file of the current version can be found on the Internet, but the process of searching it, downloading it and installing it on the smartphone results in an unpleasant additional effort.
If both are connected to each other, you can continue the setup in the app for the most part and change the dial, activate sleep tracking and set parameters to control heart rate monitoring, for example. The exception to this is the assignment of an app or function to the bottom button so that it can be launched directly, since this can only be configured exclusively on the watch.
The smartwatch's operation is intuitive: Horizontal swipe gestures open the notifications and the quick access panel, which can be used to activate silent mode with a few taps, for example, or to temporarily switch the display on for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. If you swipe left or right on the display, information on fitness, weather and a music player appear.
Like the Watch GT 2, the Watch GT 2e has 4 GB of storage for media. Slightly over 2 GB can be filled with music to be listened to via a Bluetooth headset even without a smartphone. Alternatively, the player also controls the volume on the smartphone and the music app currently active there like Spotify, for example.
Both worked well in the test. You can also access the player during a workout by swiping to the left from the training monitor.
Within the health app on the smartphone, you can choose which notifications the smartphone should forward to the watch. The watch signals incoming notifications and stores them until you have read or deleted them on the watch - the latter is only possible for the sum of all notifications.
A quirk that was already confusing on the Watch GT 2 hasn't been eliminated by Huawei on the Watch GT 2e: Notifications often appear multiple times in the list, regardless of the app that sends them. Furthermore, there's no way to reply to them using the Watch GT 2e.
Without a radio module, a speaker and a microphone, things look fundamentally bad for the Watch GT 2e in terms of telephony. When a call comes in, the watch at least shows the caller ID and a button to reject the call. Even using a headset doesn't change this, whether it's connected to the watch or the smartphone; rejecting the call remains the only option available. For everything else, including sending a message to the caller, you have to pick up your smartphone.
Health and fitness - Wearable with SpO2 measurement
If you are looking for a Smartwatch or, in principle, a wearable to keep a better eye on your own health, you will find good companions in both Huawei watches, because the training software, analyses and reports are almost identical. Huawei shows colorful visualizations for the status related to achieving self-defined step and movement goals, heart rate and a stress analysis during the day as well as the quality of sleep at night. To view the charts, you don't need to open an app first; they are part of the information that can be accessed from the dial through swiping gestures.
Now that Huawei has also enabled the SpO2 sensor for the Watch GT, both watches not only measure the pulse but also the oxygen content of the blood. In the test, the Watch GT 2e's measurement was consistent with that of the family doctor.
There is a pleasing amount of sports available for workouts as well as a multilevel beginner training for runners. The barometer also provides the altitude profile for outdoor training records. It's included in the charts, which can be viewed directly on the watch after the workout.
Even past training sessions are stored on the watch for quite a while. We couldn't make full use of this in the test, but the Watch GT 2e still had the eight workouts completed in the test period in its storage after two weeks. The health app on the smartphone combines up to three parameters of a workout in one chart and provides additional weekly and monthly overviews.
Since it's still not possible to install additional apps on Huawei's watches, connections to Strava or similar community platforms from the sports sector are missing. The health app doesn't offer an interface to export the GPX data either.
In terms of movement and training, there is another difference between the two watches: You can activate workout detection on the Watch GT 2e. At least at the time of testing in October, the Watch GT 2 didn't have this, and we don't know of any update in this regard. Maybe Huawei has simply decided to grant its sports watch a plus point here.
What does the automatic workout detection do? The detection doesn't automatically start a recognized workout, but instead, it shows a reminder to start tracking your training in case you forgot to do so. Huawei limits the recognition to running, walking, cross-training and rowing. When doing body weight training, the reminder did not work, but it possibly would in other types of sports with a regular movement pattern performed over a longer period of time. In our test, the watch had to prove itself twice during a brisk walk, and it did this well. In both cases, the workout was detected after pretty much 10 minutes. If you accept the challenge and start tracking, the kilometers you have run up to that point are not included in the record.
The reminder to start the timer when you walk a longer distance is motivating and was well received by the author. In view of the supported sports, however, it's probably rather rare that active athletes forget to start the timer before a workout, provided they do so in principle.
We couldn't discover this function in the Watch GT 2; Huawei might be pushing it through an update - unless the company deliberately wants to give its sports watch a plus point here.
Battery life - Enough for two weeks and beyond
Huawei states that the battery lasts for two weeks even if you wear the watch day and night without disabling the heart rate monitoring or night-time sleep tracking. Therefore, if you don't wear the watch at night and disable sleep tracking, the battery will last even longer on one charge. On the other hand, the frequent use of GPS will reduce battery life, for example, if you walk to work every day and also track this movement regularly.
Verdict - Nice sports watch
The Watch GT 2e made a good impression in the test. The case shape, through which the soft strap fits well, makes it a comfortable accessory. When comparing the Watch GT 2e and the Watch GT 2, looks and wearing comfort could definitely be criteria; especially since the original price difference of at least 60 Euros (~$67) has already dropped to about 20 Euros (~$22). You can now get the Watch GT 2 online for about 169 Euros (~$189) instead of 229 Euros (~$256) as before, while the Watch GT 2e's price hasn't dropped much yet in comparison to its MSRP of 169 Euros (~$189) since it's currently just under 150 Euros (~$168).
Functionally, apart from its 32 MB memory, which is twice as large as in the Watch GT 2e, the Watch GT 2 is also ahead because of its telephone module. This certainly weighs more than the Watch GT 2e's workout detection, if this feature doesn't become available to the Watch GT 2 with an update.
Furthermore, the software and hardware are largely identical. This includes the 4 GB of storage for offline music, the SoC and the sensors, especially the new one for SpO2 measurement, which Huawei has also enabled in the Watch GT 2.
On its own, the Huawei Watch GT 2e convinces with appealing charts, which can also be easily read on the display.
The great battery life of both Huawei watches is in contrast to the limitation to the preinstalled apps and functions. There's no app store in the background where you can download additional functions or even apps that you also like to use on your smartphone. If you're interested in that, your options are the Apple Watch and the watches running on Wear OS, which hardly last more than two days; the watches from Samsung might be another alternative as well.