Huawei Watch GT 3 SE smartwatch in review: Is the barely cheaper offshoot of the Watch GT 3 worth it?
Huawei positions the new Watch GT 3 SE as a cheaper sports version of the well-known and already tested by us Huawei Watch GT 3. According to the recommended retail price of 179 Euros (~$179), this is also fitting, as the sports version is noticeably cheaper than the Watch GT 3 with an MSRP of 209 Euros (~$209).
However, the prices for the Huawei Watch GT 3 have already dropped quite a bit, so the price difference is smaller. For example, the black Huawei Watch GT 3 Active Edition with a sports strap is already available for around 175 Euros (e.g. at Amazon). Thus, it hardly costs more than the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE, which has hardly dropped in price so far. The differences between the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE, which is available in the two colors Graphite Black (black) and Wilderness Green (gray), are very limited compared with the Active Edition of the Huawei Watch GT 3, which is available in two sizes.
This raises the question of who the new model is suitable for and how it can stand out from the well-known smartwatch.
Case and features - Lighter and more massive than the Active Edition
The new Huawei Watch GT 3 SE is only available in a size with a diameter of about 46 mm and is thus not suitable for thinner wrists. The casing is a bit more angular and bulky than the sports version of the Watch GT 3, looks more robust overall, and is reminiscent of Huawei Watch GT Runner in many ways (from about 140 Euros at Amazon).
There are red contrasting elements and clearly visible numerals around the non-rotating bezel, which gives the watch a sportier look. On the right, it also comes up with a round and an elongated button. The implied crown in the form of the round button can be rotated, but cannot be used here for scrolling and the like - a pity.
Thanks to the polymer fiber case, it is a bit lighter at 35.6 g without the wristband. The total weight with the wristband is 54 g. The watch is held on the wrist by a sturdy and exchangeable TPU wristband with a width of 22 mm. It fits wrists with a circumference of about 14 to 21 mm and rounds off the sporty look. Besides the sensors discussed in more detail below, Huawei also installs a speaker and microphone in the casing.
Setup and operation - Familiar fare via the Huawei Health app
As usual for the manufacturer's smartwatches, the setup is done via the Huawei Health app. The process is well explained in the app, which is available for iOS and Android (download via QR code and not the Play Store) as well as HarmonyOS and establishes a pairing of the smartwatch with the smartphone via Bluetooth. The process was successful in the test with an iPhone 13 Pro.
Various settings for the smartwatch can be made via the Huawei Health app, for example, which health data should be collected regularly. It also allows firmware updates and access to additional watch faces, among other things. Ten of them are installed on the smartwatch out of the box. Convenient: information about the respective power consumption is available for the individual watch faces.
Like the Watch GT 3, the SE version has two buttons on the right side. The upper round button opens the menu, while the lower one gives access to the sports functions. Swiping to the right or left across the touchscreen navigates through various tiles, including heart rate, SpO2, activities, weather, and more. Which information displayed here can be selected in the settings.
Telephony and notifications
Thanks to the built-in microphone and speaker, the smartwatch can also be used for making calls, but only in conjunction with a paired smartphone. The quality is sufficient.
The smartwatch also informs about notifications on the smartphone within seconds. However, only the first few lines of emails can be read, and emojis and the like are not displayed correctly. The app can be used to specify which messages should be synchronized with the watch and which should not. There were no problems here in our practical test.
As with the Huawei Watch GT 3, iPhone owners will have to live with a few restrictions in the SE model as well, since the features are not fully available. Among other things, this applies to direct replies to messages on the smartwatch as well as importing music. Thus, it is best to combine the Huawei smartwatches with a smartphone from Huawei with HarmonyOS or an Android device.
Like the Watch GT 3, the Watch GT 3 SE also supports the AI Voice Assistant, but it requires a Huawei smartphone, which was unfortunately not available for the test. Access to Google Assistant, Siri and the like is not possible.
Health and fitness - Many functions, but no ECG
While you have to do without the ECG function of the more expensive Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro (from approx. 290 Euros at Amazon), the SE model with its optical sensor on the back provides many important and common health functions. In addition to the 24-hour heart rate measurement, these also include the determination the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), activity recordings, sleep and stress tracking, and breathing exercises. The evaluations are performed directly on the wrist and in the Huawei Health app on the smartphone. Data can be synchronized with Apple Health and Google Fit.
The smartwatch displays the daily activities in familiar colored rings. Three of them inform about the achievement of daily goals in terms of steps, sports activities and regular standing up during sedentary activities.
Heart rate, heart rhythm and blood oxygen saturation
As befits a sports smartwatch, the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE can measure heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. It can measure both health data manually as well as automatically on a regular basis, although the latter is of course at the expense of battery life.
Determining the SpO2 value takes just under 30 seconds and is only done when the smartwatch is held still. A few measurement attempts failed during our test period, but overall they were reliable.
The accuracy of the heart rate sensor could be a bit higher according to our impressions in the test. Compared to a Polar H10 chest strap as a reference device, the watch showed a downward deviation of almost four percent (51 to 53 beats) in the resting heart rate, which is still within limits. The watch also displayed significantly lower values on average in the performance measurement, sometimes falling short of the chest strap's value by more than ten beats.
Thus, the difference of almost ten percent at the end of the measurement is quite large, as a comparison of the curves also shows. According to our impressions, we do not recommend the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE for accurate measurements during sports.
Those who also wear the smartwatch at night can benefit from the sleep tracking Huawei TrueSleep 3.0. The watch itself provides rudimentary information, such as the length of sleep. Detailed information like sleep phases is available in the app.
The smartwatch offers over 100 different sports modes. The most popular sports can be called up directly in the menu via the bottom button, and the displayed list can be customized. Thanks to the water resistance of up to 5 ATM, the smartwatch can also be worn during water sports.
Depending on the selected workout, the watch then informs about the important parameters. While the heart rate is always measured, sport-specific key figures are added. For rowing, for example, it recognizes the number of strokes. When running, cycling, etc., it records distance, speed (current, maximum, and average), and duration. After the workout, all relevant measurement data can be viewed in various analyses - both on the wrist and on the smartphone via the app.
In addition, the wearable offers the Huawei Running Ability Index (evaluation of the user's running performance), an evaluation of the training load, the evaluation of the recovery, and the determination of the VO2max value.
GPS and navigation
According to Huawei, the wearable has a high-precision GNSS positioning chip with five systems supported. Similar to the heart rate measurement, however, the GPS detection of the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE is not quite as accurate as we would have liked. Here, it competes against the Garmin Venu 2 as the reference model.
The measurement of the cycling route is generally decent, but the deviations are quite large, especially in corners and curves. The data recorded with regard to the distance covered (deviation of about 170 m or 2 percent) and average speed (0.3 km/h or just under 2 percent) are within limits.
The recording of the altitude profile did not work as well. Here, Huawei's smartwatch outputs a significantly lower value of only 10 meters than Garmin's 75 meters. We also noticed that the initial connection via GPS took quite a long time (30+ seconds). That can be annoying at the start of a workout.
Display - Great and bright AMOLED
As in the 46 mm Watch GT 3, Huawei also installs a 1.43-inch round AMOLED display with a touchscreen in the SE variant. It has a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels and thus a high pixel density of 326 PPI. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.
The screen is also easy to read in direct sunlight thanks to a good 500 cd/m². If you want, you can activate an always-on display option in the settings, but you will have to reckon with a shorter battery life.
Performance and runtime - Smartwatch lasts up to two weeks
Unfortunately, Huawei does not provide information about the installed processor and memory. However, the system runs smoothly overall and without annoying waiting times.
The battery of the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE has a capacity of 455 mAh. Thus, it does not differ from the Huawei Watch GT 3 with the same size of 46 mm.
Subjectively, the SE edition even scores a bit better in terms of battery life. The manufacturer promises up to 14 days, which can also be achieved with infrequent use. The battery should be recharged about once a week during intensive use, which proved to be realistic in our test. Charging is done with a USB-A cable that is about 80 cm long and holds magnetically to the watch. A charger is not included.
Verdict - Good smartwatch, but ...
Huawei positions the Watch GT 3 SE as a sporty smartwatch. In the end, it offers virtually the same functions as the Huawei Watch GT 3.
The Huawei Watch GT 3 SE masters the actual core competence of sports tracking with over 100 sports modes, but it is unfortunately not always very accurate in terms of heart rate and GPS performance measurements in our test.
We would have hoped for a bit more from a sporty smartwatch. However, the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE does a good job in many aspects in our test, even though it is not free of criticism. Among other things, it offers a bright AMOLED screen, many features, and a convincing battery life.
In the end, the question remains why you should buy the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE when the more sophisticated Huawei Watch GT 3 in the Active Edition (in two sizes) is available for a little more money and the equally light and in many respects also identical Huawei Watch GT Runner which is even available for less. Apart from the slightly different, but subjectively less chic design, the SE model hardly provides any arguments in the test that can set it apart from the other models.
Price and availability
The recommended retail price for the Huawei Watch GT 3 SE is 179 Euros and can be ordered for this price directly from Huawei. At Amazon and some other stores, it is already available for around 160 Euros.