All that is old is new again

Patrick

Generally, new tech arrives when there’s, well, new tech. Software typically just comes along for the ride. With the new Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro it seems to be the other way around: Huawei had some new software ready and released a watch on which to show it off. There are precious few differences between the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro and the GT 2 or 2e before it. Let’s dive into our Huawei Watch GT 2 review.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review notes: I’ve been using the GT 2 Pro for a week, mostly on software version 10.0.1.64. On the morning this Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review went live, the watch received an update to Lite OS version 10.0.1.66. The current review covers only what I had access to during the review period but will be updated with additional information in the days to come. The Watch GT 2 Pro was provided to Android Authority by Huawei.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro vs GT 2 vs GT 2e: What’s new?

Huawei Watch GT 2e GT 2 Pro and GT 2 on one arm

Brass tacks, the biggest difference here is the addition of wireless charging to the Pro and the use of some new build materials.

The GT 2 Pro gets wireless charging and fancier build materials including titanium, sapphire glass, and ceramic

The Pro’s exterior housing (pictured center, above) is slightly different and marginally larger and there’s an updated heart-rate setup on the back. Other than that, choosing between the Pro, the regular GT 2 or the GT 2e is mostly going to come down to which style you prefer, the price, and how badly you want titanium, sapphire glass, and ceramic on a smartwatch.

Related: The best smartwatches for any budget

Design and hardware

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro workout heart rate 128

The Watch GT 2 Pro will be very familiar to anyone tracking Huawei’s GT 2 series. The Watch GT 2, GT 2e and GT 2 Pro are basically the same watch with different exteriors. All three could have come out at the same time a year ago, pitched as a regular, sporty, and classic version of the same product and nothing would be different.

As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of chunky watches and I like the GT 2 Pro styling as I did the 2 and 2e before it. It’s not huge on my wrist but it might prove a little bulky for some.

The GT 2 Pro design is a mix between the GT 2 and 2e. It has enclosed lugs like the 2e but uses the same button style as the GT 2 (now with etched grooves).

The GT 2 Pro design is a mix between the GT 2 and 2e but inside they’re all the same

NFC is enabled for international units, but door-unlocking and contactless payment support is still restricted to Chinese units.

Like the GT 2, there’s a pretty impressive speaker on the GT 2 Pro. Bluetooth 5.1 provides up to 150m in range if you want to leave your phone in your bag. You can answer or reject incoming calls on the watch, control music playing on your phone (or stored locally on your watch), and listen to music on paired earbuds. The 4GB of storage affords just over 2GB for your own stuff.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro music playback controls

Going for a ride with just my watch and earbuds is one of my favorite features of the GT 2 series. I’m not sure why you’d play music back over the speaker – it’s more for calls in my opinion – but the option is there if you need it and it gets pretty loud for a smartwatch. Call quality is stable and clear, as is music playback over Bluetooth.

The black fluoroelastomer strap is very similar, as is the bezel size. The diver’s watch bezel decoration has been toned down a little on the Pro, removing the numerals in favor of a more minimal aesthetic.

There’s also a Porsche Design version that comes with a titanium strap and Porsche Design branding on the top bezel, along with additional watch faces and some red accents. Another Classic variant comes with a gray-brown leather strap. The version pictured here is the Sport version of the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro.

Titanium, sapphire glass, and ceramic

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro ceramic back and sensors

There’s definitely a premium feel to the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro. I like wearing it more than its predecessors and appreciate some of the little changes that have been made. But you have to go looking for them and it’s far from a “new” product. I certainly wouldn’t say the Pro is worth upgrading to from an existing GT 2 device, but if you’ve liked those but wanted better materials or wireless charging, the GT 2 Pro is an easy sell.

There’s definitely a premium feel to the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro

The use of sapphire glass on the front (and over the heart-rate sensor on the back) is good news for scratch resistance. Ceramic on the back certainly feels nice on the skin and doesn’t slide around as much as previous plastic backings. Titanium is strong and durable. These are all nice materials to have in a smartwatch but are hardly make or break in terms of functionality and feature-set unless you’re, like, really into what your watch is made of.

Wireless charging and battery life

Wireless charging is the much more mainstream selling point here. The Watch GT 2 Pro promises the same 2-week battery life as its GT 2 siblings. It takes around two hours to fully charge the 455mAh battery with the included 5V/2A wireless charger. The Smart Power 2.0 optimizations will hopefully come to other GT series watches in time.

The charging puck is much the same as the old pogo pin version but “wireless” because it has no pins. For most people, charging the Pro will be the same as it was on the older watches with pogo pins. The difference comes with that portion of users that have Qi wireless chargers around the house or those that have a Huawei phone with reverse wireless charging capabilities.

Wireless charging will make more of a difference to those with Qi chargers at home or a Huawei phone with reverse charging

On the software version I was on for most of the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review period, the Pro was using around 10% battery life per day, meaning only 10 days battery life compared to the 14 that’s claimed. It’s possible the last-minute software update will affect battery life so I’ll update this review if it does.

To give you a sense of my usage, I had the always-on display disabled (which normally halves the battery life to a week). I had do not disturb mode set from midnight to 8am, meaning no screen activations throughout the night. I went on a few long rides and walks tracking my activity with GPS and did some gym workouts as well. I also had automatic stress, sleep tracking, and heart-rate monitoring enabled. I played music from the watch via FreeBuds 3 as well as streamed from my phone over a Bluetooth connection. I would consider this fairly normal usage, so 10 days of battery life is a little shy of what I expected (and I’ve consistently gotten on other GT 2 series watches). Again, this might change with the latest update.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro software

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro quick settings

Huawei’s Lite OS is a very lean wearable platform, designed to maximize battery life. While I appreciate its simplicity, some of my colleagues have balked at its lack of advanced features and third-party app support.

To each his own I suppose, but it must be made clear that the Watch GT 2 Pro does not offer a comparable smartwatch experience in terms of software as, say a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (but, I’d argue, its fitness tracking is better).

We’ve covered Lite OS in detail in every other Watch GT review we’ve done, so I’ll be brief. The layout is simply:

  • Horizontal screens: main watch face, heart rate tracking, stress monitoring, weather, music playback, activity dashboard
  • Swipe up: notifications (two at a time, expandable to full screen, read-only/no replies)
  • Swipe down: quick settings (do not disturb toggle, screen-on toggle, find my phone, alarm, settings shortcut)
  • Swipe left: “back” button
  • Top button: app picker from main screen, “home” button from within menus
  • Bottom button: workout tracking shortcut but can be customized to any shortcut

Using the app picker not only provides access to some apps not available as home screens but it also gives you slightly more detailed information than you’ll get as you swipe through your main screens.

If you access the weather, for example, from within the app picker you’ll be able to swipe up to see the hourly outlook for the current day, the forecast for the week ahead, sunrise and sunset info over several days, moon phase, and tidal information. That’s a very handy addition I hope gets back-ported to other GT 2 devices via an update.

Huawei’s LiteOS is a very lean wearable platform, designed to maximize battery life

If you’re paired to the Watch GT 2 Pro with a Huawei device running EMUI 11 you can use the watch as a remote shutter for the camera. You can also apparently transfer photos from your Huawei phone to the watch (for use as a watch face) simply by tapping the phone to the watch. While I’m assured NFC is enabled on the watch I was using, I was unable to get this to work, so it may require an update to function. Neither of these features are available to iPhones or non-Huawei Android phones.

Fitness tracking

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro workout heart rate 141

The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro tracks activity and exercise well. It also features reliable sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, and stress-level tracking, which can be enabled continuously or disabled to increase battery life (the advertised two-week battery life assumes all these features are enabled).

SpO2 monitoring is back and a 24/7 SpO2 monitoring setting is coming soon. SpO2 readings are apparently 50% more efficient on the Pro so, hopefully, this won’t impact battery life too much. Again, we’re not yet sure if this feature will come to previous GT 2 watches.

On the fitness tracking side, there are 19 main activities (12 outdoors, seven indoors) covering all the usual stuff like walking, cycling, and swimming. Six of these activities can be auto-tracked (this can be disabled in Settings > Workout settings). I found auto-tracking to be semi-reliable, sometimes taking quite a while to recognize a walk, for example, and sometimes not kicking in at all.

New activities added in the Pro include skiing modes (including snowboarding) and golf (including the driving range). I can’t say I had much access to snow during European summertime lockdown purgatory for this Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review, so I was sadly unable to test the accuracy of this. Same for the golf, in which sport I unfortunately do not partake.

Regardless of what type of sport or activity you engage in, the GT 2 Pro can track it. There are close to a hundred other fitness, exercise, and activity tracking options available in an overflow menu, running the full gamut of physical activities. From aerobics and pilates to belly dancing and ballet, roller skating or Tai Chi, you can record your data.

Regardless of what type of sport or activity you engage in, the GT 2 Pro can track it

The Watch GT 2 Pro offers over a dozen running courses that can guide you through introductory, fat-burning, HIIT, and endurance regimes for different results. All workout settings including target times, distance, or calories burned can be set, and you can tweak the reminders you get within workouts. Pro tip: when you unbox the Watch GT 2 Pro, immediately start and pause a workout and lower the volume of the voice coach so it doesn’t start yelling in the middle of a public workout.

Huawei Health

The Watch GT 2 can provide a simple overview of your tracked activity but the real data mine comes in the Huawei Health app which has been recently refreshed with a new interface. You can access detailed breakdowns of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activity for step count, heart rate monitoring, SpO2, sleep tracking, stress levels, and more.

Huawei has also tweaked the heart-rate sensor on the back of the Watch GT 2 Pro. It now uses a 6-in-1 LED to “better converge light” for more accurate heart-rate monitoring and SpO2 detection. According to Huawei, “combined with AI smart heart rate algorithms, heart rate monitoring is now faster and more accurate.” In my experience coming directly from the GT 2, my heart rate was about the same as I’ve come to expect and SpO2 levels were identical, so I didn’t notice any difference in the accuracy of the reporting but your mileage may naturally vary.

Stuff I didn’t get to test

Because of the last-minute software update, there might be some software differences, battery life changes, or feature additions I wasn’t able to test. Of those I’m aware of, they include the continuous SpO2 monitoring, NFC photo transfer, and Route Back (where the GT 2 Pro can provide you a GPS-enabled route back to where you started from in case you get lost while hiking).

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro specs

  Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro
Display 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen
Resolution 454×454, 326 ppi
Memory/storage 4GB ROM (2GB available), 32MB RAM
Battery capacity 455 mAh (2 weeks est.)
Wireless charging
Sensors and components Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Heart rate sensor (PPG)
Barometer
Ambient light sensor
Capacitive sensor
GPS
Bluetooth 5.1
Microphone
Speaker
Water resistance 5 ATM
Compatibility Android 4.4+ and iOS 9.0+
Dimensions and weight 46.7mm x 46.7mm x 11.4mm
52g (without strap)
Material Body: titanium, ceramic, and sapphire glass
Strap: fluoroelastomer/leather/titanium

Value and competition

The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro price will be €329 (Sport) and €349 (Classic), with availability starting this month. That’s a pretty steep price considering the Watch GT 2e offers a lot of the same experience and is currently on sale for €145/£140 and the Watch GT 2 is €179.99/£170. (Update: Huawei Germany has a lower Watch GT 2 Pro price listed for both the Sport and Classic version of €299 with a free body fat scale as a bonus until October 2. Huawei France has both models at the same price but with a free pair of FreeBuds 3i.)

Outside the Huaweisphere, for around a hundred bucks less you can get a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 or a Galaxy Watch 3 for just a tiny bit more. If you’ve got an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 3 is only €210 and the brand new Apple Watch Series 5 is only €409. They might not have quite the same build materials but they offer far more features for less money. Whichever way you cut it, the Watch GT 2 Pro has stiff competition on all sides.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review: The verdict

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro sapphire glass watch face

The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is not a new smartwatch but it does bring some new features to the table. Wireless charging might not be life-changing but it’s a nice upgrade. The improved build materials are nice to have but don’t significantly change what the watch can do. Depending what software features are back-ported to existing GT 2 series watches, the purchase decision amongst them might come down to styling and price.

I’m a fan of the Watch GT 2 Pro as I have been of the versions before it. I appreciate the simplicity of the software, the excellent battery life, and the build quality. But the pared-back software will be a deal-breaker for some, the lack of third-party app support a continual problem, the limited advanced features available on non-Huawei phones a drawback, and so on.

The GT 2 Pro is not a smartwatch in the broader sense of Samsungs and Fitbits and so on, but within the refined scope of the Huawei watch ecosystem it’s still a nice piece of kit, even if it’s not particularly new.

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