- Nice, light design for running
- Useful running software features
- Good for a week's worth of heavy training
- GPS accuracy lacking despite new antennae
- Lacking third party support
- Average smartwatch experience
The Huawei Watch GT Runner is a repackaging of its existing Watch GT3 aimed at runners.
Since it moved away from Google's Wear OS, Huawei's GT series has emerged as dependable sports and running watches.
Like the Huawei Watch GT 3, it runs on Huawei's HarmonyOS, but it's added a more run-friendly design and made a notable hardware tweak that should make it a more accurate running companion.
Given the remaining standoff between the US and Huawei, it's not clear when or if it will be available Stateside as has been the case with other Huawei's other new smartwatches so far.
It's substantially more than the standard Huawei Watch GT3, for a device that shares most of the same features. It's also in direct competition with the Apple Watch SE and sports watches like the Garmin Forerunner 55, Forerunner 255 and Polar Pacer Pro.
It seems like a bit of a gamble to take on established players like Garmin and Polar, so was Huawei right to make the move? We've been putting in the running time to find out.
Here's our comprehensive verdict on the Huawei Watch GT Runner.
About our review
All of our reviews adhere to our strict in-depth testing policy. We test every aspect in-depth and benchmark against key competitors so you can make an informed choice. You can read our editorial policy to find out why you can trust Wareable reviews.
Michael Sawh is Wareable's running and testing expert and has reviewed nearly every fitness wearable over the last decade.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Design, fit, and screen
With the sporty Huawei Watch GT2e, Huawei has already played with a more fitness-friendly look, but that Watch still felt like a standard Watch GT with a sportier, breathable strap. It's a different story with the GT Runner. This feels like a sports watch in weight, look, and comfort.
There's just the one case size option with the 46mm-sized polymer weighing in at just 38.5g when you don't factor in the stretchy, ventilated silicone strap connected to it that uses a traditional watch buckle to keep it in place.
That weight gives it something similar in heft to Garmin's Forerunner 245, so it's a comfortable watch to wear. However, 46mm cases will be large for some wrists.
With the strap, we'd say you need to play around with the tightness because at times what felt like a comfortable fit felt a little tight during runs. You might need to go down a notch more than usual.
Huawei offers it up in grey and black looks, and our grey case with grey and yellow strap inner certainly felt like an attractive sports watch to wear.
There are two physical buttons with the top one getting you into the main menu screen, where you can choose to display features in a list of a grid. The bottom button, or 'Down button' as Huawei calls it, gives you a shortcut to workout tracking as default, but you can change its use in the watch settings.
The screen is a lovely 1.43-inch, 466 x 466 resolution AMOLED touchscreen display, which can be used in an always-on mode. That's the same screen setup found on the 46mm Huawei Watch GT3 and the results are similar. It's a sharp, bright, colorful screen that responds swiftly to swipes and taps and there's no screen lag to deal with here.
When you're not running with it, or things get sweaty, Huawei has slapped it with a 5ATM waterproof rating, which makes it good to be submerged for up to 50 meters depth and there is swim tracking onboard here too.
It's a surprisingly good-looking sports watch, that's been comfortable to wear during runs on the whole and it's the strap and case that makes that possible.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Running features
As we said, everything you can do on the Huawei Watch GT 3 from a tracking perspective, you can do on the GT Runner. That includes the same workout modes and it still offers its running courses as well.
A lot of what we experienced on that front reflects our time with the Huawei Watch GT 3. So what we are going to do here is focus on the Runner's running-centric features, most of which we have seen or were announced for the GT 3 and the GT 3 Pro, but weren't all available to test at launch.
We'll start by saying that the general running experience of using the Runner is solid overall. It's not perfect but does feel like a mostly enjoyable watch to run with.
There are outdoor, indoor, and trail running modes and there are pre-run settings at your disposal to do things like chase down a distance or time-based goal, for instance, turn on the auto pause or follow routes.
Those routes can be imported through Huawei Health app as GPX files, whether that's something you've downloaded from the web, or via third-party apps such as Komoot. It's nice and straightforward to do, letting you quickly import that route over to the watch.
Huawei Watch GT Runner lets you follow routes on the watch
During a run, you can swipe through screens to see data fields, music controls, and the pretty basic navigation features, which offer a back-to-the-start mode.
Sadly, you can't adjust the data fields and the navigation is pretty basic too.
You're following a blue line that will point you back in the right direction. There's real-time voice feedback, but we turned that off almost immediately.
It's quite a grating voice to hear out loud, and a bit embarrassing when you're out in public without headphones.
Training plans and coaching
It's nice to see that Huawei offers an interval training mode here too, where you can set your training sets, rests, and repeats and schedule in the warm-up and warm-down sections too.
It would be nice to have the option to set these sessions up on the app as it can be a touch fiddly to do on that small watch screen.
Along with the courses Huawei already offers runners as introductory sessions to run/walk, fat burning, and HIIT-style run workouts, it's now also adding something it's calling AI running plans.
These AI running plans essentially feel a little bit like a riff on Garmin's Coach, where you can find some beginner plans already available or you can have a plan built for you.
To build that plan, you'll be asked about things like your total running distance in the past month, and your best performance at the chosen training distance in the last six months, and you'll be asked to pick the days to run.
Then the plan is generated and sent to the watch. The training plan is displayed on a dedicated screen on the watch where you can see your training for the week. If you're due a session, when you go to track a run, the session will be suggested.
The plans adjust based on sessions logged to make sure you do enough to chase down your goals as well.
The experience across the watch and app to explain sessions and let you know about upcoming sessions is pretty well executed. However, one quirk is that plans don't seem to be supported if you use treadmill or trail running modes.
If you were looking for a Garmin Coach-style feature outside of a Garmin, then Huawei's AI plans do a pretty good job of it.
Huawei is talking a big game when it comes to tracking outdoor runs and offers dual-band, five-system GNSS support, which was present on the Huawei Watch 3 and we've seen similar support on the Coros Vertix 2, while Garmin's Fenix and Epix watches offer multi-band GNSS modes.
What this dual-band, five-system GNSS mode means is that it's capable of using extra signals from supported satellite systems to improve outdoor accuracy.
That's also coupled with Huawei moving the antenna on the GT Runner to receive those signals at the watch lugs, which it says reduces interference and enhances that accuracy.
Distance tracking compared: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and Fenix 7 (right)
We put it through a series of runs with the Garmin Fenix 7 with its multi-band, GNSS mode including runs in areas with tall buildings where signal interference can be a problem.
Before looking at the maps, the distance tracking generally always came up short against the Fenix 7 for us.
Outdoor run tracking accuracy: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and Fenix 7 with multiband GNSS (right)
A closer look at the maps shows with the GT Runner didn't plot routes as accurately and still did on occasion show routes running through buildings.
So, it's not super accurate from our testing in those more challenging environments for locking onto a satellite signal – and that's a shame given the antennae technology Huawei has added and means that people might be better off with the standard GT3.
VO2 max and training data
Running Ability Index or RAI is Huawei's way of giving you a sense of your running ability. It's based on historical running heart rate, distance, and frequency of training.
It then scores you on a scoring system that seems to go from 40.7 to 85.3 for some reason.
Based on our running, it put us at a 46.8, giving us an A-level score on its RAI index, and suggested we'd be fit enough to run a 3.30 marathon.
Having run a 3.26 marathon late last year and currently deep into training for a spring marathon, that index score seemed about right.
There's a dedicated card (watch screen) you can dedicate to RAI, which is easy to understand and it seems if you put the right data in, it can give you a sense of where you're at with your running.
That RAI can be found in the training status section of the watch where you'll also find training load, training index, VO2Max, and recovery insights. There are also predicted times for 5km, 10km, half marathon, and marathon times. Our times didn't feel wild out for our level of training either.
Those training load, index, and recovery insights are no longer powered by the Garmin-owned Firstbeat, which was previously the case on the previous generation Huawei Watches. The Training index, which looks at the progression of fitness and fatigue, actually felt reflective of our training. In one run, we'd completed 10km but it felt very leggy and tired.
The index suggested fatigue was increased. We've also been running with Garmin to see how recovery insights compare. It generally suggested longer recovery periods, though didn't feel excessive, but did generally suggest resting for long periods.
Huawei is also including a lactate threshold test, which you'll need to do outside and will help you get a sense of whether you're training over overdoing it.
It's a feature we've seen on Garmin and Polar watches and if you're looking at your training on a more focused and serious level, this is a test that would be of good value to do regularly.
Overall, in terms of what Huawei is offering for runners, it's promising a lot of the promised tracking accuracy, training features, and insights you'll find on rival Garmin, Polar, and Coros running watches.
As far as executing those features goes, it does most of those things well enough. Crucial to many of the training insights though is heart rate, which we'll get into next.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Heart rate accuracy
Huawei has made a lot of noise about the heart rate sensor its latest watches have come packing. The Runner features its TruSeen 5.0+ optical sensor setup, which uses eight photodiodes, has two light sources, and has a curved glass lens to reduce light interference. Huawei also says it's using a new AI algorithm to filter out noise signals and claims improved heart rate monitoring at high intensity compared to its previous sensor.
It claims measurements are on par with chest strap monitors, with a 97% accuracy within 10 bpm. A rather big thing to mention here is that you can pair an external heart rate monitor and that's big news.
This support also rolled out to the Huawei Watch GT 3 and it's good news for the heart rate fuelled features and insights on this watch. So how did the Runner fare?
We'll start with our run tests and we used the Runner against a Wahoo Tickr X chest strap monitor paired with a range of Garmin watches including the Fenix 7 and the Epix. We found it delivered that promised accuracy within 10bpm, but we usually ask for better accuracy than that during steady running sessions – and the Huawei Watch GT Runner produced an average performance.
Heart rate monitoring compared: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and WahooTickr X (right)
On steady-paced runs (screens above), it was roughly 10bpm out of a chest strap, which does ring true with what Huawei claims in terms of accuracy you can expect from the GT Runner.
Although we usually see Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, and other devices get much closer.
Interval HR monitoring compared: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and WahooTickr X (right)
In an interval track session, it was within 5bpm on average heart rate and matched the maximum heart rate, but the graph that accompanied those numbers didn't exactly tell the story.
During running interval sessions, we saw differences beyond 10bpm accuracy.
For continuous monitoring, we wore it against a chest strap monitor and the reliable continuous monitoring on the Oura Ring 3. Resting heart rate readings were within 5bpm of the Oura Ring 3 and chest strap monitor.
The heart rate monitoring performance wasn't horrendous or as bad as we've experienced with previous Huawei Watches.
What's important here is that you can now pair up an external sensor, and we had no problem doing that with the Wahoo Tickr X and a Polar chest strap, which means you're getting the right kind of data pumped into the watch to make the most of heart rate-fuelled training features.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Fitness tracking and sleep tracking
Away from running, you're getting everything the Huawei Watch GT 3 from a fitness tracking and sleep tracking perspective. That includes its new Healthy Living clover, to get you thinking beyond hitting steps, and that targets 8 hours of sleep.
As a fitness tracker, there's a dedicated widget on the watch to monitor daily steps, your logged exercise time, and the time you've managed to successfully stand to stop your inactivity alerts from buzzing you.
Comparing daily step counts, we found there was a difference of 4,000 steps on some days, which is quite a sizeable difference, and we had the general sense that Huawei was overestimating step counts.
Daily step counts compared: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)
We've already mentioned that Healthy Living Clover, which when set up in the Health app will send notifications to the watch to drink some water or to smile more. It doesn't feel as nagging as it sounds and if you like the idea of making sure you're keeping up with positive daily habits during the day, the Clover feature does an okay job of it.
When it comes to sleep tracking, it's a pretty rich experience in terms of the data you can capture. Along with sleep duration, it'll break down sleep stages, give you a sleep score and look at breathing quality too.
We put it up against the Oura Ring 3, one of the best sleep trackers we've tested, and found that the sleep duration captured was generally longer, and the breakdown of sleep stages was very close to what was captured on the Oura.
Sleep tracking compared: Huawei Watch GT Runner (left) and Oura Ring 3 (center and right)
Along with steps, sleep, and that clover telling you to smile more, you can monitor skin temperature, and stress (Android only) and continuously monitor blood oxygen, though at the expense of battery life with the latter enabled.
Like the GT3, the temperature data didn't feel hugely accurate or offer any actionable insights around the metric. The stress monitoring was a little more useful thanks to the largely reliable continuous heart rate tracking.
Again, though, it feels like Huawei is a little behind in terms of pulling these extra wellness insights together to help you put the insights to good use.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Smartwatch features
The GT Runner runs on Huawei's Harmony OS, so that means you're getting most of what Huawei has to offer on the smartwatch front. If you want LTE, you're going to need to get the Huawei Watch 3, but pretty much everything else you get on the Huawei Watch GT3 and Watch 3 is here on the Runner.
It's Android and iOS friendly, and we spent our testing time with it paired to a Samsung Android phone and didn't experience connection, pairing, or syncing issues.
The Huawei Health app still feels a bit busy, but it's the place you'll need to go to dig into your data, set up training plans, tweak settings, and access Huawei's AppGallery app store.
That app it's fair to say, isn't brimming with many apps of the running variety. If you're hoping that Strava support is there, it isn't. What is there is slow to get onto the watch as well? We downloaded the Petal Maps app and it didn't transfer over to the watch instantly.
You can share data with Komoot and Adidas Running officially and there are workaround apps like HealthSync to share with some other third-party apps like Strava, but this isn't the kind of app support to rival what Apple and Google can offer.
On the watch, we'd say the smartwatch experience is generally good. Notification support works well with third-party apps and from an Android phone, you can respond to notifications with emojis and default responses.
The weather widget, Celia smart assistant, and music controls are strangely dedicated to one screen, which sort of works in a way, but gets crowded if you start using the music controls and it throws on another set of controls below the music player ones.
The built-in music player only works with music you own and has to be uploaded via the Huawei Health app. We couldn't access the Celia smart assistant as its reserved for Huawei phones, but you can add custom cards (widgets) and change the launch feature for the bottom physical button.
If you like your watch faces, there's a decent handful preloaded and there's a store to get more, but these extra faces all cost. Some are as much as $5/£5, which seems a bit excessive.
The Huawei Watch GT Runner isn't the best smartwatch. There are smartwatches with better apps, payment, music, and watch face support.
Notifications feel like the standout feature here and if that's your primary concern here and you own an Android phone, then you'll feel well served.
Those seeking for a richer smartwatch experience and a well-supported app store will be disappointed.
Huawei Watch GT Runner: Battery life
Any good running watch needs to give you the kind of battery life that holds up well under GPS use and generally doesn't have you charging it every few days.
Huawei suggests that 14 days is typical to use, but doesn't specify GPS battery life numbers. In heavy use, it suggests the GT Runner is good for 7 days. Based on our heavy usage experience, tracking 3-4 outdoor runs a week (including a long two-hour run), with notifications enabled and the screen not set to always-on, it was good for that week's use.
With one hour of outdoor running, we saw an 8% drop-off. That would suggest a battery life of around 15 hours. Garmin's Forerunner 245 manages 24 hours without music streaming while the Polar Vantage M2 manages 40 hours, so it's not matching the competition here.
We think you could get two weeks, but you'd have to be doing significantly less GPS-based running every week and not use the screen in always-on mode to get there. That week in heavy usage puts it around what you'd get from the Garmin Forerunner 245 and offers a few more days than the Polar Vantage M2.
How we test