Reviewing the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro

I have to admit, maybe I set my expectations a little too high for this watch.  It looked so pristine, and classy.  Maybe, I hadn't come down from the high of reviewing the TicWatch ... add those into the overall review and unfortunately the Huawei watch was a big let down for me.

Let's dive in:

First up, let me just be clear on this, what they sent me was their standard model of the GT 3 Pro, a model we technically can't get in Canada, as we have only available the Titanium or the Ceramic models, that being said, the only major difference here is the band.  I did find the one I have here for $550, whereas the others you can get from most retailers for about $700 (with the freebie of the earbuds).

So, automatically it's definitely a jump in price.  The TicWatch was just about half of the similar model.  But let's keep going.  What do we get for this:

  • 1.43" @ 466x466
  • 4GB storage
  • IP68
  • rotating crown button
  • NFC
  • Speaker
  • 530mAh (8 - 14 days)
  • HarmonyOS 2.0

On paper it looks awesome.  High resolution, no flat tire, IP rating, good battery, could do tap to pay, and it has a speaker.

It's the last spec that really has me pausing.  The unfortunate situation between Huawei and ... well, North America, means that it can't really integrate or use Google services.  This led to them developing their own OS based off of the AOSP, and without Google Play, you can't get all the apps.  I experienced that with the Huawei P40 a while back.  It was really limiting, especially if you're a Google guy like me.

But let's go further.

So first up, I thought I'd try the Wear app and see if I could just make it go... 

I was teased.  It wouldn't ultimately connect.

To connect it to my phone, I would need to get the AppGallery (they say you can use the Huawei Health app in the Play Store, however, it's not updated to have this watch in its devices)

... to get that you download it, but then have to update it, and then have to add in HMS Core, and then you can finally download the Health app it needs for pairing.

Oof... way more steps than when trying to connect the FreeBuds with just the AI Life app.  They should have done just that.

Logging in to Huawei it would give all sorts of warnings that certain items wouldn't be synced with the cloud and other features (like the tap to pay) aren't available in my country.  Let alone I couldn't remember my password for it and trying to get it to reset it was just an issue.

Not boding well.

Eventually, I just give up and loaded it onto my Huawei P30 I have kicking around and it was WAY easier.

And that's about where the 'easy' stopped.

Using the device fine.  It feels solid, I like the charger that makes it really easy to connect.

The crown felt good and rotated just nicely to make you feel this was an absolute premium model.  And you knew it was Huawei as it was on the band and on the clasp.

But eventually, it's up and running, the Huawei Health app controls it just like the WearOS app controls settings for Android Wear devices.

It feels a little archaic, a little out of date, tbh, and has a persistent notification about the steps and just saying it's 'connected' that's a nuisance to me.

Okay, but let's focus on the watch.

It's laced with Huawei everything, which is understandable.  And the interface looks somewhat familiar to Wear OS users.  (tho' when you go through your notifications you don't swipe them away, you have to slide them a bit to get the trash can option).

The big noticeable difference is the 'app tray'.  You click the crown to bring it up and it's got a mimic of the Apple Watch interface of an array of app icons.  Cool, except it's just a bit of veneer.  It literally is an image of the apps available and your zoom in or out and tap the app you want.  

It feels really clunky.

But, let's use it for what I want to use it for.  I want to go for a bike ride, and it tracks it like a champ. 

I left my P30 at home and it measured all the distance (so GPS works well independently) and my heartrate etc...

Really appreciated in the workout mode is how it auto pauses for you, like if I got stuck at a bad red light, on others your average speed drops.  Here, it recognized that you're stopped and pauses the workout until you move again.

I also liked how after the workout it actually gave me the notification for a recovery time and did it want to measure the recovery.

It was bang on to what my phone measured for Google Fit.

And that's the rub for me.  With Huawei, it just lives in Huawei.  If I ever want to use this data elsewhere, I'm going to have to go through all the AppGallery and Huawei ID on any other device.  Fit just works everywhere for me, no thinking involved.  Let alone, it was saying that it couldn't sync fitness data to the cloud based on my location.

The lack of Google really killed the experience.  Because of the loose integration with notifications, like some fitness bands, the notifications are just barebones.

I could see I got a Gmail notification, but no context.  Then some notifications would just keep doubling up and not clearing.  The fact that if I cleared a notification from my phone and it wouldn't mirror on my watch was just an outright nuisance.

Add on top of that the limited amount of apps available to the watch just made me want to end the review earlier than I normally give something.

It is a great watch, solidly built, feels super fluid in responsiveness, just it's really feeling like it's lacking some core 'oomph' to it.

Even for the speaker, it had clear music playing options for it, so you know it was meant for something serious...

I wonder if you can get a custom ROM for this.