Huawei Watch GT 2e REVIEW
Huawei Watch GT 2e REVIEW
The latest Huawei smartwatch benefits from great battery life but PAT PILCHER isn’t so stoked on its unfortunate omissions.
The third version of Huawei’s Fitness Tracking watch, the GT Watch 2e is finally here. Having reviewed its earlier siblings, I was keen to see if the 2e improved on earlier designs.
The 2e takes what was already a well-priced piece of hardware and trims features. The thinking behind this seems to be about keeping costs down and a focus on battery life and fitness tracking. Where the GT Watch 2 was $349, the GT Watch 2e comes in at a wallet-pleasing $299.
In the bells and whistles department, lots are going on. It packs a crisp and vivid AMOLED display, GPS, heart rate and SPo2 monitoring. Like earlier GT watches, there is a multitude of workouts built-in.
Design-wise, Huawei has continued to refine and tweak the GT Watch’s look and feel. Where the GT2 was available in two different sizes, you can have any size you want with the GT Watch 2e – as long as it is 46mm. From a design perspective, Huawei has made it look less like a military watch. It’s sleeker, and dare I say it, modern looking. The strap on the previous model uses a traditional watch fitting. On the 2e, the strap merges with its case. While it makes for a comfortable fit, the straps are silicon. For many (myself included) silicon straps cause skin irritation. The straps used on the GT2 were leather. While the 2e can take a standard watch strap, its silicon strap feels cheap and seems a bit of a backward step.
The crowns got tweaked too. Instead of rounded studs, there are now two flat rectangular buttons. These have tapered edges, which helps to prevent accidental activation. The 2e’s body is plastic and steel while glass sits atop. There’s a faux bezel marked out like a diver’s watch. As the bezel is part of the watch face, it’s only decorative. The design looks and feels both light and slim. It won’t catch on shirt cuffs and is pleasing for both casual and sporty types.
“Its silicon strap feels cheap and seems a bit of a backward step”
The 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen is both responsive and crisp. It has a 454 x 454 (326ppi) resolution. In use, it was bright and readable under direct sunlight. You can choose to have an always-on display. Doing so might save you from having to make dorky wrist flicks to wake up the watch, but it comes at a cost to battery life.
With the 2e, Huawei has added a bunch of new workout modes. These range from Skateboard and Parkour through to Bellydancing. All the usual workouts are there, including swimming. The watch can take a dunking up to 50 metres but isn’t designed for scuba diving. All told, if there’s a workout you’re wanting, odds are good that the Huawei caters for it.
The 2e detects up to six types of workout and will automatically start recording your performance. It’ll give a potted summary of your efforts on its small screen. After synching workout data to the Huawei health app, you can also check it out in more detail on your phone.
The Huawei PR bumf says the 2e has a SpO2 sensor, which measures the blood oxygen saturation to tell you how well you are absorbing oxygen. While this could be a boon with the Coronavirus lurking, I couldn’t find it until I did a firmware update.
Like previous GT watches, the 2e uses Huawei in-house developed silicon. This time it’s a Kirin A1 CPU, built from the ground up with wearables in mind. The 2e also has 4GB of RAM. Instead of WearOS, it uses Huawei’s own LiteOS. The user interface of LiteOS is intuitive and there’s almost no learning curve.
Its top crown gives you access to the watch menu and does double duty as a back button. The bottom stud is by default configured to access the many workouts stored on the 2e.
Swiping left or right takes you to calories burned, heart rate, stress levels, weather and so on. Swiping up displays a listing of notifications and swiping downwards shows quick settings. More detailed information is accessible via the Huawei health app.
A gripe levelled at previous GT watch versions is their lack of Smartwatch apps. This still applies to the 2e, as with LiteOS you’re limited to what apps Huawei has pre-installed. That said, there is some smartwatch functionality. You get phone notifications and a good selection of watch faces from the Health app.
The big thing about this set up is that like earlier GT watches, you get a staggering two weeks of battery life. This is nothing to sneeze at. WearOS and Apple’s watch both need daily charging. Your mileage will vary. With heart-rate monitoring, GPS and music playback, battery life dips to eight days. This is still seven days better than Apple or Android Wear watches. Charging is a doddle and simply involves slipping the 2e onto a proprietary charging cradle. It’ll recharge to full in an hour.
Given its stellar battery life, I don’t see the lack of apps as a showstopper. If I had to choose between third-party apps I’d never use and battery life, I wouldn’t be choosing third party apps.
“Like earlier GT watches, you get a staggering two weeks of battery life”
Some functionality got cut to keep the 2e’s sticker price affordable, however. Unlike the GT 2 watch, the 2e has no built-in speaker or mic. This means no receiving or initiating calls on your watch when paired with your phone. This strikes me as a bizarre omission given how handy the feature is.
The GT 2e is a curious beast. Manufacturers build in features to pull in new users and to get existing users to upgrade. Huawei has instead chosen to remove the function with the broadest appeal. Despite its solid battery life, many GT watch fans will see the lack of speakerphone as a backwards step. Because of this and the bundling of a cheapish silicon strap instead of leather, the GT Watch 2e gets 7/10.