Huawei makes serious waves with their wearables. Their devices are well designed, beautiful and functional. The new Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is a step up on previous models while keeping all those characteristics.
To me the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is the ultimate tracker. Thanks to its design and materials it can be used in all sorts of social activities - from structured workouts to dinner - keeping track of vital signals. It can be used as a training coach, a stress monitor or a sleep tracking device. It can help you keep track of your health, thanks to its built-in heart and oxygen saturation (SpO2) measurements.
The question is really: does it do it well?
And that's where the "design" and "functional" part comes in. The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is really simple to use, respond quickly to on-screen taps and most importantly has a very long battery life (depending on how much you use it, of course).
Out of the box I was impressed with the materials used on this new version. I mean - this is a 46mm watch with a titanium case, sapphire glass and a skin-friendly ceramic back. The "Nebula Gray" version I received here came with a grey/brown leather strap that goes with blue, grey and brown suits, jackets, shorts and jeans (a silicone strap option is also available).
The 1.39 inch AMOLED screen with a 454 x 454 pixels HD screen is gorgeous and you can select from hundreds of watch faces with all sorts of information - most of these are free and can be downloaded from Huawei via the Health app, with a growing collection of paid-for watch faces supplied by third-party developers - also available through the app. You can easily change the watch face by touching the screen for a couple of seconds and scrolling through those already on the device, or install new ones through the paired Huawei Health mobile app - which is also used to set some options, store historical workout and health data as well as synchronise some of this data with Google Fit and Huawei Health Kit - and from there to other platforms that might interface with these services.
Another neat feature is the OneHop - when using a Huawei smartphone you can use NFC to quickly connect and transfer a photo from your phone gallery and have that used as the background of a basic watch face. Using it is easy: select a photo in the gallery, touch the watch to your phone and a cropped version of the photo will be used as the background, with date, time and steps shown over it. You can customise colours and position and have multiple photos used as background. Very neat.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro can monitor your heart rate in two modes: Smart or Real-time. The main difference is that Smart will adjust the frequency of measurements depending on your activity - this means it will use a bit less battery than the always-on, Real-time option. You can set alarms that will alert you to high or low heart rates within a moving ten-minute window.
The SpO2 (oxygen saturation) levels is another interesting feature - and I know it works because the last time I visited my GP we checked the readings from the watch against their own instruments. Unlike the heart rate, the SpO2 levels are measured on demand and don't have an option for always-on. Never mind - it works well when needed and in these COVID-19 days, it can be a health indicator to watch for.
You can also monitor the stress levels stats by calibrating the watch, which you do by answering a few personality questions while your heart rate is being measured. Once this baseline is established the watch will take stress reading every 30 minutes or so - if you are not exercising. Results are available on the watch itself or via the health app. And if your stress levels seem high, the Huawei GT 2 Pro watch has an option to guide you through breathing exercises that can help you get things back on track.
Sleep tracking is another feature that helps you keep an eye on your health. You can see last night's results on your watch if you wear it to bed, and much more complete analysis on your smartphone through the Huawei Health app. The analysis will show you daily, weekly, monthly and yearly data, all broken down into deep, light, REM and awake stages - including naps. Each day will have insights into time spent on each stage, how that influence the sleep quality score and how to sleep better through it.
Another feature that goes with sleep tracking is the Do Not Disturb. The screen on the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will turn on when you bring your wrist up so setting an automatic Do Not Disturb schedule is great so it won't buzz with notifications at night and won't disturb you with a bright display at night.
I wish it had an ECG function - seeing the device now has a ceramic back I'd be working on ways to make it work as other smart trackers (Withings Move ECG) and smartwatches (Apple Watch). Time will tell, but it is not this time.
As I mentioned, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will automatically turn the screen on when you bring your wrist up (or when you push one of the buttons) but it also offer a limited selection of low-energy always-on watch faces. These are useful if you wear it in situations where you want to check the time but won't be moving the wrist up - like when working in an office and writing/typing. Although there's an option to keep the more sophisticated watch faces on for up to five minutes, the always-on low-energy option uses less battery (and don't risk burning the display).
The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will notify you of incoming calls but more importantly, it will allow you to answer the call without having to get your phone out of the pocket or bag, thanks to its built-in speaker and microphone. You just have to touch the appropriate icon on the screen when a notification comes in to answer the call (or reject it) and talk on your watch like Dick Tracy used to. You can place calls but only to a pre-determined contact list that you manage from the Huawei Health application.
Other app notifications are also available - you select from the app list which should also send notifications to your watch and these will appear almost instantly. I mainly have instant messages and a couple of other notifications set, which is pretty useful.
A built-in barometer is used to determine altitude and also used to monitor air pressure so you can be notified of sudden air pressure changes, that could indicate a storm is coming or changes in weather. At the same time, the watch will synchronise weather forecast from your phone so you can always know what to expect in the days ahead, which is great when going outdoors.
With 4 GB memory, you can store music tracks directly on your watch and pair Bluetooth headphones to it - this way you can exercise with music even if you don't take your phone with you. Those paired Bluetooth headphones can also be used when answering the phone calls I mentioned earlier.
Transferring music from the phone to the watch over Bluetooth is not the fastest operation but you can just do it while charging the watch (as it will use a bit of the battery). Alternatively, you can set the watch to control the phone music instead - and this will allow you to control the music app you have playing on your phone, including Spotify or the phone's default music player.
Talking about its Bluetooth connection, it seems to have a good range - I can walk to the front yard and leave my phone behind inside the house while still getting notifications. It also allows a "Find my phone" function - which when activated from the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will ring your phone, even if it is silence.
While not a full smartwatch with mainstream apps, Huawei has built a framework that allows small apps - mainly puzzles and relaxation apps to be installed. Nothing too exciting at the moment as there is no big name app in there but there are possibilities. The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro runs on Huawei's LiteOS instead of the Wear OS touted by Google.
And then there's the fitness tracking - I have already touched on health signals like heart monitoring, SpO2, stress levels monitoring, sleep tracking but exercise ("workouts") are another level. The data being tracked allows you to see information on the route taken (with maps thanks to its built-in GPS), including duration, average speed, average heart rate and performance indicators such as aerobic and anaerobic effect with insights that will let you know if you need to increase the exercise level and what's the recovery time after that workout. It will also measure VO2max and indicate what is your cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance capacity levels.
A feature called Route Back allows you to quickly visualise your way back to a starting point after an outdoor workout
There are hundreds of options to track - I kid you not, it includes things like Latin Dance, Body Combat, Parallel Bars, Tai Chi, Archery, Horse Riding - even Laser Tag and Tug of War. You can also track swimming workouts - the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is water-resistant to 5 ATM (although I highly recommend you swap the leather strap with a silicone strap, like the ones you find on other models or the model option).
If you are a golf fanatic you will be in for a treat - I have not personally experienced it but the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro now tracks your golf performance including data on swing speed and frequency.
As mentioned earlier you can get up to two weeks battery life with the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro. Recharging the watch is done via wireless, so you don't have to worry about dirty contacts. The magnetic base makes sure your watch is correctly position and the with a USB-C port means you can use your existing wall charger or plug it to a laptop if needed. Recharging is pretty quick and you wouldn't be without your watch for long.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro will be available in New Zealand retail (PBTech, JB HiFi and Noel Leeming) from 6th November, with an RRP NZ$ 549.