The Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a whole lot of watch for your money. It’s still a predominantly fitness-focused device though. This is more of a sports watch than a smartwatch. Those sports features on the whole work well, and you do still have that great battery life that beats the likes of what Apple, Samsung and Wear OS watches can offer.
- Comfortable to wear
- Plenty of sports features
- Solid battery life
- Smartwatch basics
- Some features not compatible on iPhone
- Review Price: £159.99
- 46mm case
- Huawei Lite OS
- 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 resolution AMOLED screen
- 14 day battery life
- 5ATM water resistant
- Built-in GPS
- Heart rate monitor
- 4GB storage
The Huawei Watch GT 2e is a new edition of the Watch GT 2 smartwatch that landed in 2019. While retaining a lot of the same features as the GT 2, Huawei is making this new version more suitable for exercise.
Along with some changes in the design department, it’s also bringing a few new extras to ramp up its sports tracking prowess. All at a lower price.
Design and screen – The Huawei Watch GT 2e is a well made, attractive smartwatch
Unlike the GT 2, the 2e only comes in the one size. It’s the same 46mm sized case as featured on the largest GT 2. That’s also available in black stainless steel or stainless steel case options. There’s the same numbered bezel ring surrounding the touchscreen display, and it now weighs 43g compared to 41g. So not the kind of difference you really notice when you compare wearing the two.
Where Huawei has made changes is in the band and the physical buttons. The strap is now a similar kind of perforated kind that you can find on some Apple Watch straps. That strap is now more integrated into the design to create a more fluid look. If you want to switch out the bands for another colour, there’s a pin mechanism to make that a very easy thing to do.
Huawei is offering straps in four colours in total with your pick of black, red, green and white bands. We had the red option to try, which is a typical go-to colour for sporty watches. Though we imagine the green and white options might offer something a little louder and eye-catching.
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The other big change is the new flatter buttons, which sit closer to the casing. That’s a big departure from the more traditional-style look on the GT 2’s buttons. It helps to create a more streamlined look. More importantly, the increase in surface area means they are easier to press, which is handy when things start getting sweaty.
Around the back is where you’ll find the heart rate sensor and the SpO2 sensor, which has now also been turned on the GT2 and offers the same insights, which we’ll get into later. It’s perhaps no real surprise to find that the GT 2e also receives the same waterproof 5ATM waterproof rating, making it suitable for pool and open water swimming and a post-workout shower.
In terms of the display, you’re getting the same 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 resolution AMOLED screen as the GT 2. You’re still getting something here that’s bright, offers accurate colours and strong viewing angles. It’s a great screen to absorb workout metrics in real-time and show off those watch faces too.
Bottom line, it’s still a really nice smartwatch to wear. It’s slim, not too heavy or bulky. The new strap invariably gives it a more sporty look, but retaining the same watch case it holds in place means it still offers a well made, attractive design for the price you’re paying.
Battery, performance and features – Some nice improvements, but still a mixed bag
Improving battery life on its smartwatches was a big factor for Huawei. When it moved to its own Lite OS operating system from Google’s Wear OS, it was finally able to deliver that.
Like the GT 2, the 2e promises up to 14 days in typical use from a 455mAh capacity battery. That usually means not using power-intensive features like all-day heart rate monitoring, putting GPS to regular use and keeping that screen cranked up to full brightness. Thankfully, it’s still a solid performer as far as giving you weeks as opposed to the day you used to get on Huawei’s smartwatches pre-Lite OS. GPS tracking doesn’t drain the battery in any really undesirable way with a 30-minute outdoor knocking just 5-6% off the battery.
If you are willing to disable features, you might not make full use of, like continuous heart rate monitoring, stress tracking or which app notifications you receive on the watch, that two weeks is definitely achievable.
Performance-wise, we don’t have any complaints about how Lite OS runs. It’s still powered by Huawei’s Kirin A1 chip with a bump in RAM from 2GB to 4GB. The GT 2 wasn’t particularly laggy or sluggish in any way, and things perfectly smoothly here too.
A lot of settings are offloaded to Huawei’s Health companion app, making it largely a really easy watch to navigate. There’s no app support, so you’re stuck with what Huawei has to offer in features much like before. Things run nice and smooth, and you’re always one swipe away from those core features.
Speaking of those core features, it’s the same as what we got on the GT2, and that means it’s pretty baseline. You can view notifications (iOS and Android), though they are not actionable, which may well be enough for people. There’s 4GB of external storage, though that works out to about 2GB for you to pile on some of your own music. So you can pair up some earbuds and take music out and about minus your phone.
It still doesn’t, unfortunately, let you sync offline playlists from third-party music streaming services. If you want the most complete experience, it’s clearly better to pair with an Android as opposed to an iPhone, as features like storing music don’t work.
There’s no smart assistant, payment features or support for third-party apps as we already mentioned. You do get watch faces though, and it’s a nice bunch too. There’s a nice mix of analogue-style and data-packed digital options. There are also some more fun ones to opt for like its Graffiti and Comic, which do a better way of hiding away your fitness tracker stats.
Fitness tracking – Accurate data, as well as useful recommendations and advice
The Watch GT 2 already packed some pretty solid sports and fitness tracking features, and much of what you get there is here too. Huawei has added a few new things, that will no doubt make its way to GT 2 at some point too.
There’s the same array of sensors including built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor. It’s now added a SpO2 sensor, which has started to appear on more smartwatches including ones from Garmin and Fitbit. In terms of the data it pushes out, it’s measuring blood oxygen levels, that if low, could indicate a medical issue.
It’s also a useful metric to check on for anyone that spends a lot of time working out at high altitude. The data appeared to be in line with the same feature on a Garmin Fenix, though what we preferred was the detailed explanation as to why the data is useful. That blood oxygen data though doesn’t appear to be stored anywhere inside Huawei’s Health app though so it is only designed for on the spot measurements.
Related: Fitbit Charge 4 review
When it comes to tracking itself, it’s the same process of pressing that action button in the top right-hand corner, selecting your activity and getting moving. You’re getting the same sports modes as the GT 2 covering the likes of running, cycling, swimming (pool and open water). There’s also some outdoor-centric options like hiking, and there’s still also a triathlon mode.
Huawei has decided to increase the number of activities that can be tracked, covering more niche sports and activities. So a scroll the new options shows it’s now got tracking options for the likes of spinning, boxing and ballet. There are also some new fun options like frisbee and kite flying, just don’t expect to get complex metrics about your throwing or flying technique.
The performance of those features is a bit of a mixed bag. GPS signal picks up for outdoor tracking did take a bit of time to lock in initially, but did improve over time. Distance tracking was generally in line with a Garmin running watch but did on a few occasions overreport distance by about 0.4/0.5 miles. That meant metrics for running like pace and cadence were skewed. On the whole, it was a good experience, though. For running indoors, some of the additional metrics like pace seemed quite off-putting us at a significantly slower pace. Once calibrated, it did become more reliable.
If you want to factor heart rate monitoring into your training, then you do have that option too. There’s no support for pairing up an external heart rate monitor, which is a shame as the performance isn’t fantastic. We found that even outside of high-intensity interval training, it posted higher average and maximum heart rate readings against a Polar H9 heart rate monitor chest strap. If you care about HR for exercise, you might feel disappointed based on our experience.
While heart rate monitoring can have its moments from an exercise tracking point of view, things are a lot better when it comes to continuous tracking. Compared to a Garmin watch and a Polar heart rate monitor chest strap, that resting heart rate data was a lot more reliable.
Along with manually tracking workouts, Huawei does offer the option for the watch to automatically recognize when you’re doing certain activities, a bit like what Fitbit and Samsung do on their smartwatches. It currently works for indoor running, walking and the elliptical machine, though we struggled to get it to work.
One thing to factor in with sports tracking is that data is made to live inside of Huawei’s own app. There is the option to save GPS files, so you can export them to other apps like Strava, for instance. That’s a much more fiddly way to display data in other apps when Garmin, Apple, Fitbit and others make it a whole lot easier to do.
The Watch GT 2e does also pack fitness tracking features too. It’ll count steps, monitor sleep and continuously track heart rate. There’s also stress tracking, which has to be enabled from the companion app. It also requires doing a calibration test to get it set up.
Step tracking tended to be within 200-300 steps of a Garmin fitness tracker, though reviewing that data in the Health app is a bit fiddly if you want to review trends over weeks and months. Huawei has gone big on sleep data offering a rich breakdown giving you a sleep score and insights based on your quality of sleep.
From an accuracy point of view, there wasn’t anything wildly off with the data. What’s really nice here though is the effort to understand the data along with useful sleep recommendations and advice.
Should you buy the Huawei Watch GT 2e?
The Huawei Watch GT 2e isn’t an Apple Watch, and it simply doesn’t offer the same mix of smart and sports watch features as Apple and some of its rivals. It also doesn’t give iPhone users the full experience, so it’s definitely more an option for Android phone owners.
It does offer big features that you’d usually pay more money for. Take the same £160, and you’re looking at the likes of the Fitbit Versa Lite edition or something like the Garmin Forerunner 45s. You’d have to pay £40 more for the Apple’s cheapest smartwatch, the Watch Series 3.
If you care about serious sports features, the GT 2e will definitely have appeal, particularly for Android users. It promises more reliable tracking than Wear OS watches and that vastly superior battery life. It’s just a shame it doesn’t work with third-party fitness apps.
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The Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a whole lot of watch for your money. It’s still a predominantly fitness-focused device though. This is more of a sports watch than a smartwatch.
Those sports features on the whole work well, and you do still have that great battery life that beats the likes of what Apple, Samsung and Wear OS watches can offer.
Despite some gripes, the GT 2e is still a solid sporty fitness watch option to consider.
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