Huawei is launching the Huawei Watch GT 2 Sport Edition in New Zealand - a new version of its already classic Huawei Watch GT bringing some improvements that are sure to be welcome by many.
Huawei made a big splash when launching the original Huawei Watch GT in this country, pairing it with its superb Huawei P30 smartphone series - which I consider to be at the top of the range smartphone. Back then people noticed a lack of storage and music control but were happy with the one week long battery life.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 certainly expands on this. To start, it retains some of the design elements of the original series. It looks like a watch and it does a good job at that. The matte black body colour, with a new glass face that makes the bezel-less design very attractive allows you to combine the Huawei Watch GT 2 with different straps and match the event at hand - in my case I swap the original silicone strap with a brown or black leather straps depending on the situation. This allows you to use the watch for both social or casual activities, including sports.
Before you buy it, know what you are getting: this is not a smartwatch in the sense of being able to run apps you install from an app store. The Huawei Watch GT 2 is an activity-tracking device which is really good at showing the time and has lots of smarts built-in.
Having said that, it is a well featured activity tracking device. Take a look at the workout session - it support multiple different running courses with guides for you e.g. Beginner Run/Walk "Start with a mix of fast walking and jogging to ease yourself into a running routine." to Fat Burn Advanced "Further enhance your fitness with longer durations of low to medium intensity aerobic training" and others such as Aerobic Endurance Run, Long Slow Distance Run and so on. And yes, the Huawei Watch GT 2 is water-resistant to 5ATM.
It also has other activities such as Outdoor/Indoor run and walk, Outdoor/Indoor cycle, pool/open water swim, climbing, hike, trail run, triathlon, rowing and a custom "Other" where you set the parameters for your activity. And for those times you need time to yourself, it allows you to set quiet times on schedule so notifications and the auto-wake up won't kick in.
You manage the watch through Huawei's own Health app, which keeps a record of those workout sessions. I did not see a way to copy these to a backup location though so you rely on having your smartphone to keep historical records. You can also use the app to set alarms, or calibrate the Huawei Watch GT 2 for stress test levels - as well as keep a history of those. The Health app also allows you to set notifications that will appear on your watch. Simply select which apps will be allowed to appear on your watch and you will be able to see these notifications, including the text, directly on its screen,, with the ability to scroll through messages or clear the queue. Unfortunately there's no option for reply, even with custom or pre-defined messages.
On the new features front, we start with an extended battery life - thanks to Huawei's low power consumption Kirin chipset, the watch now lasts up to two weeks (with the 46 mm model I have reviewed). And that's despite weighing a very light 41 grams.
This new version can now store - and play - music directly on your wrist. Thanks to 2 GB of available storage you can have your mp3 files on you even when you can't have your smartphone. If you have Bluetooth headphone/earphones you can pair these with your watch too, so you can listen the stored music directly. And if you have your smartphone on you, then you can still control your music (for example Spotify) through the watch with options to play, pause, skip to next/previous track all controlled from your small screen.
Also new is the call controls (which is only available on the 46mm version I've tested) allowing you to receive and place calls from your wrist. And with built-in speaker you don't even need to take your phone out of the pocket - answer on your watch and listen/speak through it too. Obviously you don't want to break etiquette and use its speakerphone in a public place - keep using your Bluetooth device connected to your phone for privacy!
The 1.39 inch AMOLED display is very bright (and you can change its brightness from 1 to 5 or set it to automatic), supports slide and touch gestures - which you can use to interact with the watch, in addition to two buttons on the side of its body. While the top button allows you to access a menu - with options to start a workout session, access workout records, heart rate, activity status, sleep, stress, breathing exercise, air pressure and more (I will talk some other options later), the bottom button can be programmed to give you direct access to the functionality you use most.
I have tried the breathing exercise a few times - it is kind of fun. You can set duration from one to three minutes and set pace to slow, medium or fast. You follow the on-screen instructions to inhale and exhale - at the end of the exercise you get a summary with your heartbeat stats and overall performance.
Even with the flexibility of having a custom button available, access to the main functions is easy - slide your finger left-to-right (or vice-versa) and the screen will cycle through the watch face, heart measurement, stress measurement, weather, music control and full day activity tracker.
One thing still missing in action here in New Zealand is the watch face store. With 2GB storage I feel this watch has potential for a lot of customisation and the watch face would be the first thing. This is a feature available in some other markets but with no launch date for New Zealand as yet.