The Apple Watch is the best selling smartwatch ever for a host of reasons. But the competition is improving and the Huawei Watch 3 is set to challenge the Series 6 with the all-new HarmonyOS operating system.
These two smartwatches offer to put smartphone features on your wrist along with monitoring your health and fitness and much more.
We've lived with both watches and while we are still finishing up our testing of the Huawei Watch 3, we've got a good idea of what it's capable of so far.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Pricing
How much will it cost to get your hands on these two smartwatches? While you could pick up one of Huawei's GT 2 series watches on the cheap, things have changed for the new Huawei Watch 3. Here's how the numbers match up:
- Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS only): From $399 (40mm)
- Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS and LTE/Cellular): From $499 (40mm)
- Huawei Watch 3: ¬£349.99 (around $500)
- Huawei Watch 3 Pro: ¬£499 ($700)
While you're able to grab an Apple Watch from most territories, it's not the same story for Huawei's smartwatches. The ongoing trade issues in the US means it's going to be tricky one to pick up Stateside. So for now, we've converted pricing to give you a sense of what it might cost.
That being said, the two smartwatches sit roughly around the same price, which means you'll be spending a significant amount of money to own one.
Huawei Watch 3 v Series 6: Alternatives
There are also some obvious alternatives if you want to save some money.
The Apple Watch SE comes in at $279 but forgoes some key features you'll find on its bigger brother. You won't get an always on display, there's no ECG or SpO2 sensor. Also, you won't get the premium case materials.
On the Huawei side, the Huawei Watch GT 2 is a much cheaper alternative. You will find it for $160 so around half the price, although it's no where near as premium in terms of design.
However, there's no support for LTE, and the screen isn't as good as the Watch 3. Battery life is much better ‚Äď on par with the Watch 3 in low power mode. However, the sports and health tracking is pretty much the same, save for the temperature sensor and upgraded TruSeen 4.5 heart rate monitor.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Design and screen
One's round and one's square. Let's get that out of the way first. Both of these watches offer high quality screens and case materials that you'd expect to pay a bit more money for. We think both of these watches are lookers, but it really does come down what you prefer in terms of watch design.
The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in 40mm or 44mm case sizes and you have the option of aluminium, stainless steel and titanium case materials. The titanium one will cost you more money. With the 44mm Series 6, you're getting a 368 x 448 pixel resolution always-on Retina display. The smaller 40mm Series 6 packs a 324 x 394 pixel resolution Retina display and that's also the always-on kind too.
With the Huawei Watch 3, you're getting just 46mm case size option, but there's also the Watch 3 Pro that grows that case to 48mm. Both feature the same 1.43-inch, 466 x 466 pixel resolution AMOLED screen, though there's currently not an always-on display mode. You're getting a stainless steel case and ceramic case back with titanium case offered on the pricier Watch 3 Pro.
Both of these watches offer removable straps, though it's Apple that has a richer collection of its own bands that you can choose to match up with its Watch. Huawei also offers its watch with leather, metal and workout-friendly fluroelastomer bands, but you definitely get more variety with Apple's official band options.
Outside of using the touchscreen to interact with these watches, Apple uses a single physical button and its Digital Crown with haptic feedback and Huawei mirrors it with the same setup, though it's called a Rotating Crown on its watch. If you want to shower or swim with either, both carry 5ATM water resistant ratings letting you submerge them in water up to 50 metres depth.
These two watches offer very different looks on your wrist. We'd be inclined to say the Apple Watch and the case materials and screen feels a little nicer, but the Huawei is a good looking smartwatch too, The screen is sharp and brighter and it's a nice size too. Whichever one you go for, we think you'll be largely happy with what you get from a design point of view.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Smartwatch features
When we're talking about smartwatch features we're talking about what these watches have to offer in terms of mirroring features from your phone. So communication, handling your music and photos, helping you pay your way and giving you apps.
For us, it's an Apple Watch win on most fronts here. Yes, it does only work with iPhones, but what that gets you is rich messaging support where you can respond to messages and notifications. You can make calls and have the option of LTE connectivity do to that without your phone. You can stream music and now store music offline from services like Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify. You can also use Apple Pay to make purchases, store boarding passes and tickets on it and you have access to Apple's App Store, which is brimming with apps.
On the Huawei Watch 3, things aren't so impressive. At least, they're not right now. You have notifications, but you can't respond to them. There's a built-in music player, but you can only store music on the watch that you own.
If you own an iPhone, you can't make use of those music features though. That also applies to accessing Huawei's paid watch faces too. You do have LTE support, but you don't have payments. Huawei has also brought its AppGallery to its watches too, but it's not exactly brimming with apps just yet.
What is there on the Huawei works fine and its new HarmonyOS operating system is a slick operator in general. As smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 6 with watchOS running the show is more fully formed and has a lot more going for it right now. Even if you pair the Huawei Watch 3 to an iPhone, you're getting an inferior experience to what you'll get pairing it to an Android phone.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Sports and fitness tracking
Both of these smartwatches are well built for tracking your fitness and activities like running, swimming and cycling.
The Huawei Watch 3 has a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS. You'll need to pay extra for the Huawei Watch 3 Pro to benefit from new dual-channel GPS technology Huawei claims is more accurate at tracking outdoor workouts than Apple's Watch. It will be getting navigation support to bolster its usefulness outdoors, but that hasn't been rolled out yet.
It's promising 100 workout modes and 19 professional modes, which will give you additional metrics. So, the likes of running and swimming are covered in those professional modes dishing out metrics like cadence (for running) and stroke recognition for swimming.
You still get the Running Guides that featured on Huawei''s Watch GT series watches to offer structured training sessions new runners can follow and receive voice guidance. For those that take training a little more seriously, you can also benefit from getting aerobic and anaerobic training load insights and generates VO2 Max scores.
It does also function as a fitness tracker too, letting you track steps and active time along with sending you inactivity alerts when you're been sitting down for too long. You're also getting sleep monitoring with Huawei capturing sleep quality, breaking down sleep stages, generating sleep scores and tracks breathing quality too.
Flipping over to the Apple Watch Series 6 and you're getting many of the same things. Built-in GPS with the ability to follow maps, a heart rate monitor, pool and open water swim tracking and a raft of different workout modes with Apple adding modes for activities like dance and functional training. You also have a wealth of third party apps to make use of here as well and the very impressive Apple Fitness+ service where the Watch is at the heart of the service.
As a fitness tracker, it's all about closing those rings and you can share and view progress with other Apple Watch users in a really nice way on the Watch. Apple has now added its own native sleep tracking app, which largely focuses on accurately capturing sleep duration, but there's a bunch of third party sleep tracking apps if you want richer metrics.
If you're thinking of turning to one of these smartwatches to track your exercise, we'd say the Apple Watch Series 6 offers a more reliable and accurate experience. We've found the GPS tracking and particularly the heart rate monitoring delivered more reliable results on the Series 6 compared to the Watch 3. While the UI and general software and tracking experience is strong on the Huawei, we found it struggled for heart rate accuracy and was just slightly off with GPS tracking too.
They're both solid fitness trackers and when it works, Huawei's sleep monitoring offers far more advanced data than Apple's right now comparing the two native sleep apps. Apple's activity tracking feels a bit more motivating as far as keeping you moving and the experience on the watch of keeping a check on those stats seems nicer too.
The Apple Watch Series 6 edges if for us in this section, but the Huawei Watch 3 is also a solid performer. Particularly if you're using it as a fitness tracker and monitoring sleep time.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Health features
If you're coming to these smartwatches looking to them to monitor your health, then we'd say there's one clear winner and that's the Apple Watch Series 6.
It's the one with a clinical grade ECG heart rate sensor to help detect signs of atrial fibrillation and its optical heart rate monitor is built to help fire out high and low heart rate alerts. Apple does also include a blood oxygen sensor, but it's not stated as a feature to be used for health purposes currently.
It also wants to keep tabs on your mental health with its Breathe app and make sure you pay attention to your hearing health with the addition of its Noise app that measures audio levels in your environment. You can connect a wealth of third party health monitoring accessories for glucose monitoring and blood pressure monitoring too. Plus, you have a wealth of apps that want to tap into those health-centric hardware features.
While Huawei has made breakthroughs with ECG sensor technology and its watches in China, that feature hasn't broken out to other countries yet. You're getting Huawei's TruSeen 4.5 optical sensor, which delivers continuous heart rate monitoring and on the spot readings.
It also enables continuous stress tracking too. That TruSeen sensor also offers SpO2 measurements to match Apple. Though, like Apple, it's not designed for serious health monitoring. One sensor you do get on the Huawei that you won't find on Apple's smartwatch is a skin temperature sensor and can detect when it's high. Again, it's not a clinical grade insight, but it might offer an indication that something's not quite right.
Ultimately though, if you care about monitoring health from the wrist, the Apple Watch Series 6 has the upper hand. It might not be able to track skin temperature, but it does have one of the best heart rate sensor setups you'll find on a wrist-based device.
Huawei Watch 3 v Apple Watch Series 6: Battery life
The Apple Watch battery life numbers simply hasn't changed since the original Watch. Apple states 18 hours and while in real world testing it can muster longer than that, you're essentially getting a day of use. You're also getting 6-7 hours of GPS battery life depending on whether you have LTE in play too. It also takes 1.5 hours to charge from 0-100% and that charging speed is important if you're planning a quick top up before bedtime to track sleep.
With the Huawei Watch 3, you're getting the promise of 2-3 days when using it in full smartwatch mode, so with all the features in use. When it's paired with an iPhone though, that same mode drops it down to 1.5 days, so roughly what you'd expect to get from the Apple Watch.
There's additionally an ultra long battery life mode, which pushes that battery to 14 days. Unlike a lot of power saving modes, you can still do a fair amount in this mode. You can still receive notifications, track workouts and biometric data like heart rate and skin temperature.
So if you want more battery life, it's the Huawei Watch 3. Even if you have to switch to that secondary battery mode.
So, now you have all the key details, do you go Apple Watch Series 6 or Huawei Watch 3? We think they are both good smartwatches in different ways, but we think they are going to appeal for different reasons. Here's our take.
Buy the Huawei Watch 3 if...you want better battery life (in ultra-long battery mode), an attractive round watch and richer sleep tracking.
Buy the Apple Watch Series 6 if... you care more about health features, want payments, a fully stocked app storefront and you want richer messaging and communication features.