Huawei has added another product to its lineup of wearables available in New Zealand with the launch of the Watch GT 3 Pro.
The company gave me a review unit to play with to see what I made of it.
At just shy of $700, the GT 3 Pro is competing directly with the $730 Apple Watch 8 (but not the Ultra, which is more than twice that) and the $750 Samsung Watch5 Pro.
Before we get into it, the elephant in the room needs addressing: No, there is no improvement in the interoperability between Apple or Android smartphones.
Apple continues its closed-system approach and Google continues its restrictions, so Huawei’s options are limited.
As mentioned in my last Huawei review, features like "Do not disturb" won’t sync between your device and the watch.
Unlike other brands, there is no cellular option available and it doesn’t have GPS.
Anyway, let’s have a proper look at this bad boy.
Just before I wrote this, I was in the office break room and a colleague said, “That’s a nice watch!” And he’s not wrong.
The GT 3 Pro is an impressive-looking watch that, for the most part, wouldn’t be out of place at any formal function.
Having checked out some of the latest devices coming out of Huawei, I feel the company has really upped its physical design game and I’d argue that it edges ahead of Samsung in many respects.
The biggest selling point of the watch is the one to two weeks' battery life – 8-14 days depending on use, to be exact. That is astounding and industry-leading by miles.
The thing does take an age to charge, but when you're doing so only once a week, it’s not that big a deal.
The 1.43in Amoled screen is large and looks stunning behind the tough sapphire glass.
It's housed in a thin titanium case with a ceramic back that is also surprisingly light, which means it fits comfortably on the wrist and doesn’t feel awkward when you're exercising.
The strap I was supplied with is made of a resilient fluoroelastomer plastic. There are metal and leather options, but the matte finish on the plastic band means it doesn’t look cheap at all.
There are dozens of watch faces, with options ranging from classic "black tie" watch style to full-on gauges and meters, and everything between.
Most will cost you a few bob, but you'll likely find something you like among the freebies.
The only thing that possibly brings the GT 3 Pro down is the matte finish on the case, which makes it look slightly cheaper than a shiny one might.
Although Huawei exceeds itself in tech (more to come) and hardware design, it lets itself down in software design. To be clear, the software is not bad; it’s just not that good, either.
On the watch itself, running Huawei’s Harmony OS, it can be a little unintuitive to navigate.
As an example, the quick-access menu has six options that are not customisable. One of them is the alarm, which for the most part is a set-and-forget kind of deal, whereas I’d much rather have the timer, which I use constantly when I’m cooking.
While you can use GT 3 Pro as a Bluetooth speaker for taking calls, there is no voice assistant (Siri, Alexa, et al) integration.
The Huawei health app is similarly clumsy, and it can be tough to find what you're looking for.
Updates are painfully slow. A 400-megabyte update took more than two hours to download, transfer to the watch and install. A 140MB update right after that took nearly as long.
Part of that is the limitations of Bluetooth, but the fact that the watch is unusable for that whole time is a bit annoying.
The user interface has that "designed by engineers" feel that sacrifices usability for functionality – it can be a pain to get it to do anything, but it can do everything.
Now we get into the cool stuff. For starters, the GT 3 Pro has an IP (ingress protection) rating of 68. The 6 is the highest level of dust protection and the 8 is the second-highest level of water protection, meaning it can be fully immersed for a length of time.
For long term, it can go down to 30 metres but is rated up to five atmospheres (5ATM), meaning it should be able to get to 50 metres for short periods.
In the promo material, Huawei uses free-divers because the watch has a built-in barometer and altimeter, as well as a built-in capability for training breath-holding.
And when you’re done, blast out any excess water with the drain button.
It has more exercise-tracking options than you can imagine, from golf to swimming to snowboarding, and automatically picks up when you're running or walking and turns that information into calories burned.
It can measure heart rate both optically and by taking an electrocardiograph through your fingertip.
Plus, you'll find all the usual features like sleep tracking, silent alarms, goal tracking, compass, pedometer and so on.
As an extension of an Apple or Android smartphone, the Watch GT 3 Pro gets a thumbs-down from me.
But as a watch and a fitness tracker, I would give it a big thumbs-up.
Who would I recommend it to, at $700? Someone who wants something a bit flash-looking that can take a bit of roughing it; who's active and wants to track it all; who wants it as a separate accessory, rather than as part of a tech ecosystem; who doesn’t want to have to constantly think about battery life.
That likely won’t be everyone, and may not even be the majority, but I think there are a few people who would like this watch more than they might expect.