A sportier version of the Watch 3, the Watch GT 3 also uses Huawei's new HarmonyOS operating system. This makes it a real connected watch without neglecting sports.
A sort of sporty Watch 3 without Wi-Fi, NFC and eSim, the Watch GT 3 is the successor to the Watch GT 2, GT 2e and GT 2 Pro. It also abandons the LiteOS operating system of the latter for the more recent HarmonyOS that Huawei is gradually deploying on its devices, including its latest smartphones since it is forbidden to use Android and other Google services.
The Watch GT 3 comes in two sizes: 46mm and 42mm. The first one is designed for wide wrists (from 140 to 210 mm circumference) and has a rather masculine look even in the different finishes of its variants (brown leather or steel). The second size is better suited to thinner wrists (130 to 190 mm) and is more particularly aimed at women with its white and gold leather finishes.
This difference in size logically translates into a lighter weight for the 42 mm version, which weighs only 35 g without bracelet (for a thickness of 10.2 mm), while the 46 mm weighs 42.6 g (11 mm). If the components are the same, it is the battery capacity that suffers from the smaller size of the Watch GT 3 42 mm, the autonomy being reduced to 7 days, against 14 days for the 46 mm version.
Ergonomics and design
The Huawei Watch GT 3 42 mm is very much inspired by the sleek design of the Watch 3 of the same size. We are therefore faced with an elegant and sober watch, whose shiny black plastic case is encircled by a steel bezel of the same appearance. The front is entirely occupied by a glass with curved edges, protecting the 1.32-inch (~3.35 cm) Amoled screen.
Smaller than the 46 mm version (1.43 inch), this screen nevertheless benefits from the same 326 dpi resolution and can therefore display as much information with great finesse. We still appreciate the perfect depth of blacks offered by Oled technology, making the 4 mm edges of the screen almost invisible when information is displayed on a black background.
The screen also offers a good brightness that adapts automatically thanks to a sensor in order to remain well readable in full sun without dazzling in darker places and at night. We can only deplore a lack of responsiveness when turning on the screen when we orientate our wrist to look at the watch. A solution can be to activate the Always on display mode (called "sleep dial" in the watch settings) to keep the display at reduced brightness all the time, but this consumes more power and therefore reduces the autonomy by several days.
As far as comfort is concerned, the Watch GT 3 knows how to be forgotten on the wrist. Light, it weighs only 57 g with its 20 mm silicone strap. The latter is very flexible and does not irritate the skin, even when wet. However, it can be changed without any problem since it uses the standard of the watch industry.
Based on the Watch 3, the Watch GT 3 keeps its small crown with haptic feedback inspired by the Apple Watch. Pressing it allows you to return immediately to the main dial or to access the cloud of apps whose presentation is also very similar to that of Apple.
Rotating the crown allows you to zoom in and out of the cloud to better view and select the application of your choice. You can also turn the crown to scroll through the information if you do not want to use the touch screen or if wet hands or gloves prevent you from doing so, for example.
Like the Watch 3, the Watch GT 3 is now equipped with HarmonyOS, Huawei's new operating system that we were able to test in version 126.96.36.199. An evolution of LiteOS, the system used on the manufacturer's previous watches, HarmonyOS is intended to be an alternative to Apple's watchOS and Google's WearOS. Its operation is inspired by these two systems. A sideways swipe gives access to the watch's widgets: heart rate, SpO2, activity circles, weather, moon cycle or sleep display their main information to quickly consult the data that matters most. These widgets can be configured via the Huawei Health app.
Scrolling down from the main dial brings up a pane of shortcuts: settings, drain (to drain water from the speaker after the watch is submerged), search for phone, do not disturb mode, alarm, keep screen on. If you slide your finger from the bottom to the top, you can access the notifications sent by the phone, arranged in chronological order and by application.
As far as embedded apps are concerned, we find the essential of what we are entitled to expect from a connected watch. Third-party applications are rather rare, unfortunately, with Huawei offering only about thirty in its AppGallery at the time of writing. No Spotify or Deezer, for example, or even sports apps like Strava or Komoot. A negative point for a connected watch. Note also that some applications only work with a Huawei smartphone, such as Petal Maps for navigation or even voice assistance.
Music management, meanwhile, requires an Android smartphone. You can transfer songs in different formats (MP3, FLAC ...) to the watch to listen to them during a sporting activity without having to bring your smartphone. The sound is then broadcast via Bluetooth to headphones, a speaker or directly to the speaker of the watch.
In combination with the integrated microphone, the latter also allows the watch to be used to make phone calls. Our correspondent hears us well as long as we are in a fairly quiet environment. The maximum volume, however, is not very high and distortion occurs quite quickly.
The Watch GT 3 works in conjunction with the Huawei Health application on iOS or Android. If we find it directly in the Apple App Store, it is unfortunately no longer updated in the Google Play for Android (we only find an old version from July 2020), forcing us to install it manually. To do this, we can choose to install only Huawei Health after downloading the installation file in apk format (from Huawei's official website, which is accessed via the smartphone's browser), or place Huawei's AppGalery on our Android smartphone to then install the apps of our choice and keep them updated more easily.
Once Huawei Health is in place, getting started is much easier. All we have to do is pair the watch via Bluetooth by following the steps displayed on the screen. Synchronization with the application is done automatically afterwards. However, we encountered some disconnection issues with the iOS app, forcing us to disconnect the watch to renew the pairing process.
The Huawei Health app is classically presented with a main tab that is very health-oriented by default, revealing a summary of activities and measurements made with the watch: number of steps and duration of exercise, latest activities, heart rate, sleep tracking, SpO2 value, stress... Information displayed in the form of tiles that we can rearrange and from which we are able to access more details.
Huawei Health stands out here by integrating a Sanitas health program designed to encourage us to take care of our bodies and well-being by setting goals for sleep duration, hydration, breathing, physical activity and even a daily smile (via a selfie to record).
A second tab is dedicated to exercises and training programs. There, the user can follow the progress of the training program he or she has activated, and start other activities without using the watch.
The third tab is dedicated to the devices connected to the app, in this case the Watch GT 3 that we have set up here and for which it is possible to download new dials.
Finally, the fourth tab is dedicated to our personal data.
Still young, Huawei Health sometimes lacks stability and still suffers from translation problems, some texts being displayed in Chinese. Huawei must take care of its internationalization if it hopes to really break through beyond its own land.
Uses and precision
The Watch GT 3 may be a connected watch, but it focuses on sports and is equipped with several functions and sensors already found on the Watch GT 2 Pro. In addition to the inevitable heart rate sensor, we also benefit from a dual-band GPS chip and a barometric altimeter.
However, we were disappointed with the accuracy of the geolocation. We noticed several stalls and the trajectory seems to be smoothed out. Nothing dramatic, but we expected better from a chip that was supposed to be better than the one in a classic Watch 3.
The Watch GT 3 also offers a navigation function that allows you to return to the starting point. Useful if you don't know the place too well and you want to go back quickly or turn back.
To go further, Huawei has equipped its watch with a voice coach. Activated by default, it may surprise you during the first training sessions, but it can be useful if you want to follow your pace, the distance covered or your heart rate without having to look at the watch, during a split run for example. However, it only speaks English and tends to be chatty.
In conjunction with the Huawei Health app, the GT 3 also allows you to follow a training program, in the spirit of what Garmin, Suunto and Polar offer, for example. You set your goals and desired days of activity to establish a training schedule, the watch will check that you are on track. However, this lacks flexibility, as the program does not adapt if you miss sessions.
As far as the heart rate measurement is concerned, we observe very good results for linear races, at a regular pace, the curve generated by the GT 3 being very well aligned with the one obtained with our Polar H10 chest belt, which serves as a reference.
It's a different story in split runs... The GT 3 takes a long time to detect the right heart rate at the beginning of the run, largely underestimating the number of beats per minute. We noticed this behavior on two different races, the second one even showing a particularly high deviation of about 20 beats per minute!
It is all the more strange that on this second race, the variations of heart rate are well followed, contrary to what we noticed during the first one. A capricious behavior, to say the least.
Half as autonomous as the 46mm version, the 42mm Watch GT 3 can still run for seven days, according to Huawei. We confirmed this result with moderate use in connected watch mode, without activating the Always on mode that keeps the screen on, but with notifications and most of the functions active by default, including sleep tracking.
The autonomy drops if you multiply the sports outings with GPS, but we can reasonably expect a small week of use with a more sustained use.
Recharging is done by induction with a magnetic base inspired by the Apple Watch, to be connected to a smartphone charger. Count 1 h 10 min for a complete charge.
Elegant and versatile, the Huawei Watch GT 3 is appealing to casual sportsmen and women who want to enjoy the refinements of a connected watch. However, it suffers from the limitations of HarmonyOS and is not as complete as an Apple Watch, nor is it quite up to the level of more sporty watches, such as the Garmin Venu 2.