A capable running watch with a standout screen, but there are some compatibility concerns and charging is slow
- Great screen
- Good tracking abilities
- Nice design
- Compatibility issues
- Few smart features
- UKRRP: £259.99
- EuropeRRP: €299
- Long battery lifeHuawei claims you can get 14 days worth of usage from a single charge under typical usage conditions
- Dual-Band Five-System GNSSThis wearable offers a wide variety of location-tracking systems
- Lightweight designDespite its large 1.43-inch display, the watch only weighs 38.5g
Huawei may no longer be a key player in the smartphone market, due to the sanctions imposed upon it by the US government, but that hasn’t stopped the manufacturer from releasing smartwatches that are a far more plausible product due to less need for full Android integration.
This one is designed specifically with runners in mind; this laser-focus makes it inappropriate if you’re looking for a general smartwatch, but how does it stack up if you’re roadrunner with a one-track mind?
Design and display
- Sturdy but somewhat stylish design
- Excellent screen
The Huawei Watch GT Runner goes for the look of a traditional watch, with a round face, and you’ll find a crown, a speaker, and a button on the right side. You can use the button and crown in some contexts, but for the most part this watch uses touchscreen input.
The casing feels strong and sturdy, but the gloss of the metallic finish keeps it looking like a presentable timepiece rather than a mere piece of sports equipment. That said, I wouldn’t opt to wear this particular strap in more formal settings, as the lurid lemon piping might stick out a bit at a job interview. A more subtle black version is also available, and this one is probably the best option if you want a more versatile look.
The design feels robust but it’s also lightweight at 38.5g, and doesn’t feel like a drag on your wrist when you’re running or just out and about. It is water resistant to 5ATM, and it certainly had no problems when I wore it under a hot and steamy shower. There’s even a “Drain” function on the watch in order to evacuate excess water.
The 1.43-inch AMOLED screen is definitely the highlight of this wearable. It’s very sharp (with a 461ppi resolution), it’s colourful, and very bright — the latter of which is especially good on a running device when you’re out in all weather and need to see the display. You’ll struggle to find a better quality screen on any wearable device, regardless of price tag. There is also a gallery of watch faces to choose from, with a different selection health metrics visible on each.
One slight design problem was that I did sometimes have to make an exaggerated movement of the wrist in order to cause the the display to illuminate when it was in standby, or else I simply gave in and clicked one of the side buttons to light up the screen (which is not always-on by default.)
The design of this watch is good, being both robust and presentable, and the screen is excellent.
- Few smart features
- Compatibility problems
The first thing you’ll have to do with this watch is download the app and sync the device to your phone. This is a fairly standard operating procedure for most wearables, but it’s a little trickier with this one than with most.
Due to Huawei’s position in the tech world, you’ll have to scan a QR code on the instruction manual to access the app, rather than just heading to the App Store or Play Store; from there, you’ll have to download the Huawei Health app via your browser, swatting away security warnings in the process.
Once set up, you’ll notice that there are relatively few “smart” features on this watch compared to the likes of the Apple Watch 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. There’s not a big app store to choose from, which holds it back from being a multi-functional smartwatch but is not necessarily a huge downside for runners in itself.
What I did find disappointing however, was its lack of compatibility with some popular fitness apps. As the saying goes: “if it didn’t happen on Strava, then it didn’t happen” — and if I’d been using this watch alone then I’d have seemed very inactive indeed, as it is not compatible with this fitness social media app. For a lot of people this won’t be a big loss, but I that apps like these give me healthy doses of encouragement and competition, and for me and plenty of other runners it would be a dealbreaker not to have this function available.
The watch does pull through some notifications from your phone; primarily calls and text messages. In my experience the calls always came through reliably, accompanied by strong vibration feedback on your wrist to draw your attention, however not all the texts I received seemed to register on the watch for some reason. More to the point, I tend to use WhatsApp as my main messaging app, and this was incompatible with the watch anyway. Again, I don’t consider this as a complete dealbreaker on a primarily fitness-focused watch, but do take note that smart functionality is heavily limited.
You certainly shouldn’t buy this watch if you’re looking for an all-round smartwatch that deals with both your workouts and your day-to-day life, and the backdoor installation process for the app feels a little uncomfortable.
- Good fitness tracking capabilities
- Effective sleep mode
The watch is packed with fitness-measuring features, including 24/7 heart rate tracking, sleep tracking, SpO2 monitoring, and more. But the clue of this watch’s overriding function is its name; it’s for runners, and runners only. So with that in mind, I took it on a few long-distance runs to see how it held up.
With Dual-System Five-Band GNSS, this watch claims to have excellent location tracking. When I selected my Outdoor Running workout, it generally connected after 10-15 seconds, and this snappiness meant I wasn’t standing around too long waiting to begin my workout.
I once tried starting a run without selecting the option on the watch, to see if autodetection would kick in, but this didn’t happen even after having covered 1km at a decent pace, so I’d recommend you always select the workout rather than waiting on the watch to do it for you.
Once I started pounding the pavement, I was pleased to see the watch face offering me a range of useful fitness metrics at a glance; it’s packed with all the information I needed to see as my running got underway, including elapsed time, distance covered, pace, heart rate, and time.
On top of the visual display, this watch also makes extensive use of the speaker to share information with you during your run. This form of feedback will not be to everyone’s tastes, but this option certainly makes exercise information more accessible to people who may be long-sighted or have other visual impairments but would prefer not to wear glasses when working out.
Sometimes this is useful, such as being informed of your time, pace, and heart rate after each kilometre that you’ve run. However, I found the “smart companion” feature to be useless; intended to be a virtual running partner, in my experience this imaginary runner lagged behind me, but I was still regularly informed of its progress every kilometre or so.
I was also irritated when the watch told me to pick up the pace after just two minutes elapsed time when I was pacing myself for a long run. I know my body better than the watch does, and sure enough later on it then told me to slow down — despite the fact I had maintained a steady pace throughout. Personally, this was merely annoying as I knew better than to blindly follow the watch’s instructions; however for beginners, it could be very discouraging if you were to exceed your manageable pace based on the watch’s recommendations and be unable to complete your target distance as a result.
You can also set a maximum heart rate limit for the watch; every time this is exceeded on your run, then you’ll get a visual and audible notification on the watch. If you’re concerned about pushing yourself too hard (especially for health concerns), or just want to keep your heart rate within a certain zone, then this is a handy addition.
Each time I went out with this watch, I wore the Garmin Forerunner 245 on my other wrist to compare the distance logged. Here’s how the two compare across several running distances:
|Run 1||Run 2||Run 3||Run 4||Run 5||Run 6|
|Huawei Watch GT Runner||6.06km||6.41km||12.28km||11.30km||16.09km||4.94km|
|Garmin Forerunner 245||6.18km||6.09km||12.29km||11.09km||16.36km||5.10km|
Using these times along with the routes outlined on the post-workout maps, I found the two watches to have comparable levels of accuracy; you certainly can’t take either as gospel truth, but both give a good indication of the distance that you’ve covered. The Forerunner 245 was generally more reliable, giving me similar recorded distances each time I tackled them, but I’d say the Huawei Watch GT Runner has more accuracy in heavily built-up areas.
The minute that your workout ends, you are prompted to measure your recovery heart rate, and it’s useful to see how quickly your heart rate can return to normal after an intense session.
When you’re looking back at your runs after completion, you should find the app to be a handy companion. It’s got plenty of fitness measurements (albeit I’m always somewhat sceptical of how well a smartwatch can accurately calculate complex metrics such as VO2 Max), but there’s a handy explainer by each of them so you can learn more about your health and fitness. Sleep tracking is also present on the watch, and I found that it recorded my sleep patterns very accurately.
Overall I found the running features to be a mixed bag; auto-detection didn’t work for me, the smart companion seemed redundant at best, and some of the in-activity running advice seemed misguided to me. However the watch face is informative, the audio output adds accessibility, the location tracking seemed reasonably accurate, and the companion app is packed with information.
- Long-lasting battery
- Charging is slow
Despite offering a brilliant and bright screen, the Huawei Watch GT Runner still delivers very good battery life, even when working for every hour of the day. I found that the watch could get me through eleven days of constant use and regular exercise before needing to be recharged. That’s lower than the claimed two weeks from the manufacturer, but it’s still a very good level of endurance.
When you do plug it in, don’t expect rapid re-charging. Having left my watch on a dead battery, I got home eager to go out for a run – finding the device unresponsive, I plugged it in for fifteen to twenty minutes, thinking that might get me enough juice. However the GPS conked out after about six minutes of running (without telling me), and the resulting 10km run was underestimated by about 1.2km in total. Other fitness trackers are good to go after a short burst of charging, but not this one — it takes over an hour and a half to get fully topped up.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a fairly reliable running watch that’s got a brilliant screen.
Not if you highly value smart features and app compatibility, or if you need your watch to charge up quickly.
Huawei’s uncertain position in the tech market can often put its products between a rock and a hard place. This one is far more usable than the smartphones, but its lack of compatibility with popular messaging or fitness apps still do hold it back from its potential.
The screen of the GT Watch Runner is truly brilliant, and overall the fitness features are good too. I’d take a look at watches like the Garmin Forerunner 245 before buying this one, as it’s a bit cheaper for a similar feature set, but this is a decent option.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main smartwatch during the testing period
Side-by-side GPS comparison with our best scoring smartwatches
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Yes, it’s compatible with both – however, to download the latest version of the Huawei Health app you’ll need to scan the QR code that’s on the included instruction booklet rather than using the App Store or Play Store
It’s available in Black (with grey highlights) or Grey (with yellow highlights)
Yes, it is water resistant to 5ATM
GPSAn abbreviation of the Global Positioning System, which uses satellite communication to pinpoint your location. Some smartwatches are able to achieve this communication without the use of a smartphone.
An alternative to GPS that was originally developed in Russia. In the absence of GPS, some smartwatches can utilise the GLONASS framework to determine a user’s location.