Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: What's different?

How much do you gain from going for Huawei's first true HarmonyOS watch?
Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series
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The Huawei Watch 3 marks the return of the hugely popular smartwatch series that was one of the leading lights back in 2014.

The follow-up to the Huawei Watch 2, which launched back in 2017, is the first to run on the new HarmonyOS operating system.

But between 2017 and 2021 Huawei has focused on other devices. It's had huge success with the Watch GT 2 series. That series consists of:

Both the Huawei Watch 3 and the Huawei Watch GT 2 series look set to still be available for now, but with the watches sharing many software features, how do they actually match up?

We've spent plenty of time with all of the GT 2 series watches and have already spent some testing time with the Huawei Watch 3 to get a better sense of what these smartwatches offer.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: Price

We'd say it's pretty important to talk about price here because there some quite substantial price differences with these two Huawei smartwatches.

We'll start with the Huawei Watch GT 2, which started at £248, but is now available for around £160. There's also the Watch GT 2e, the sportier option of the GT 2 series, which launched at £189.99, but can now be found for around £110.

There's also Watch GT 2 Pro and that comes in at £299) and the Porsche Design Watch GT 2, which unsurprisingly, is the priciest at £629.

Compare that to the new Huawei Watch 3, which has a confirmed price of £349.99 in the UK (which translates to $500) while the Huawei Watch 3 Pro comes in at £499 ($700).

Due to the ongoing trade issues in the US, getting these watches Stateside is a little trickier so we are having to deal with converted prices to get a sense of how much they might cost. Previous editions have landed later in the US, but at lower prices.

It also puts the Huawei Watch 3 in the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 realms of pricing while the cheaper GT 2 watches sit around the price of smartwatches like the Amazfit GTS 2. So it's competing at both end of the smartwatch market here.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: Design and screens

Huawei Watch 3

Huawei Watch 3

Let's start with the Huawei Watch GT 2, which comes in 42mm and 46mm case sizes that offer stainless steel color looks and are built from metal and plastic. You'll get fluroelastomer bands, but you also have the option of smarter leather and Milanese-style bands to swap in too.

You get four different colors for both sizes with screen sizes differing for the two different models. The 42mm option has a 1.2 inch, 390 x 390 AMOLED touchscreen while the 46mm version has a larger 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED screen.

Moving to the Huawei Watch GT 2e, which features in a 46mm model only and offers the same stainless steel colors and mix of metal and plastic in the case design. Huawei offers more workout-friendly fluroelastomer and TPU bands and matches the 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED screen used on the largest GT 2 watch.

Huawei Watch GT 2

Huawei Watch GT 2

Then we move to the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro that features a 46mm titanium case, ceramic back and features a sapphire glass display. So, a bit of an upgrade on the case materials here. It comes in black or grey looks and uses the 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED screen too. Last up is the Porsche Design GT 2, which takes that same 46mm profile and wraps it up in a similar titanium frame as the GT 2 Pro with some small Porsche Design design flourishes.

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro

With the Huawei Watch 3, you're getting Active, Classic and Elite edition watches that also measure in with 46mm cases and use stainless steel and ceramic in the case. So there's less of the plastic you have on some of the cheaper GT 2 watches.

It also has a larger 1.43 inch AMOLED screen with a higher 466 x 466 pixel resolution and there's no doubt that the Watch 3 is a better looking smartwatch with a better screen. However, they're all excellent performers – so the Watch 3 is a big step up in price for a medium improvement.

The Watch 3 Pro grows that case to 48mm and uses a mix of lighter titanium and ceramic in the watch case. It uses the same display as the Watch 3. There's also leather and titanium bands on offer to give it that more formal look.

All of these watches offer the same 5 ATM water resistance rating, making them safe for swimming and showering with. They also offer physical buttons to accompany the touchscreen displays, though the Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro offer a rotating crown with haptic feedback that's clearly a nod to the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch.

We don't think the GT 2 or GT 2 are bad lookers, especially given the price. The Huawei Watch 3 and the Watch 3 Pro along with the Watch GT 2 Pro and Porsche Design will give you nicer case materials and one that are a better match for smarter attire.

On the whole though, these watches are all really well built. The rotating crown on the Watch 3/Watch 3 Pro may well appeal if you yearn for an Apple Watch-style navigation experience, but we don't think there's one watch here that for the price doesn't offer a good, strong look that's nice to wear 24/7.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: Smartwatch features and OS

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro v Huawei Watch GT 2e

Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro

The big deal on the Huawei Watch 3/Watch 3 Pro is the arrival of HarmonyOS, the operating system that Huawei is seeking to run on a host of different devices so they're able to communicate with each other. So in the case of the Watch, it will be able to seamlessly connect with devices like action cameras and even smart scales.

On the Huawei Watch GT Series, we've known that these watches have been running on LiteOS, but Huawei tells us actually that HarmonyOS has been there too, it's just now bringing it to the forefront. That could mean these GT series may end up getting fully moved over to HarmonyOS in the future.

Until that happens or does happen, both operating systems work with Android and iPhones, though across the board, the experience is going to be better and fuller using it with an Android phone. So for instance, you miss out on the richer music features and the ability to take calls when these watches are paired to iPhones.

Huawei Watch 3 and app launcher

Huawei Watch 3 and app launcher

In terms of smartwatch features, all of the GT Series watches offer the same features. So you can view notifications but you can't respond to them. There's 2GB of music storage, a speaker to handle calls, microphone. Payment support is not available outside of China.

On the Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro, you have a new-look UI that unsurprisingly feels heavily influenced by what we've already seen on the GT series watches. It does include a new Grid launcher, that isn't currently available on those GT watches.

Harmony OS puts a big focus on third party apps. Huawei recently launched third party apps for the Watch GT 2 series but there's only one so far. Huawei has promised a much more vibrant ecosystem for Harmony OS on the Watch 3, but the launch selection has nothing of note. So while apps via the launcher are a tick in the Watch 3 column, there's no real world reason to make this a buying decision right now.

The Watch 3 has a larger capacity for storing audio to listen without your phone nearby, but there are no streaming services currently signed up for offline syncing.

It offers eSim support to offer LTE functionality and you get access to Huawei's Celia smart voice assistant.

You do have direct access to Huawei's AppGallery app store directly from the watch and you do also get notifications of course. Though again, you can't currently respond to them.

So as things stand right now, the Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro offer a richer smartwatch experience than the GT Series – although the real world benefits are questionable until the app selection improves.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: Sports fitness and health tracking

Huawei Watch GT 2e

Huawei Watch GT 2e

Huawei has offered a really strong set of features to track exercise double up as a fitness tracker and now it's offering in the way of monitoring your health.

All of the GT 2 series watches offer built-in GPS, Huawei's optical heart rate monitor with over 100 workout modes. There's also the ability to track swimming in the pool and open water and automatic exercise recognition for running and walking (indoors and outdoors), elliptical workouts and indoor rowing sessions. The GT 2 Pro additionally offers a Route Back feature to offer additional navigation support for runs and hikes.

If you take your training a little more seriously, it also offers its running courses with voice guidance to help introduce more structured training to your running time. The Watch GT series includes anaerobic training effect, VO2 Max and recovery time insights powered by the now Garmin-owned heart rate analytics firm Firstbeat. That means you're getting Garmin-level insights on a smartwatch that costs just over £100 –while the Huawei Watch 3 uses its own algos.

Huawei Watch GT 2e showing Firstbeat data

Huawei Watch GT 2e showing Firstbeat data

As fitness trackers, you're getting 24/7 activity monitoring, rich sleep tracking, all-day stress tracking and blood oxygen measurements too.

On the Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro Huawei has retained largely the same user interface for its sports and health tracking features and offers all of the same modes too. It does also add some desirable new extras. There's still over 100 workout modes, but there's now 19 professional sports modes as opposed to the 15 on the GT 2 for richer exercise metrics.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: What's different?

Huawei Watch 3

There's still also automatic exercise recognition for 6 activities. You've got built-in GPS, but the Watch 3 Pro also offers a dual-channel GPS feature that Huawei says can deliver superior GPS accuracy compared to other smartwatches.

Huawei is also adding Petal Maps in the coming months to bring full navigation features to the watch. It's also teased the arrival of navigation apps like Komoot to suggest it's going to bring extra mapping features to the Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro.

On the health front, you're additionally getting a skin temperature sensor matching a sensor that has started to pop up on Fitbit, TicWatch and Amazfit smartwatches.

Huawei also includes its newer generation TruSeen 4.5 optical heart rate sensor that promises more accurate heart rate data accuracy than the GT 2 series watches. There's now also added safety features with SOS and Fall detection modes added mirroring what Apple and Samsung offer on their smartwatches.

Huawei Watch GT 2

Huawei Watch GT 2

When it comes to viewing data away from the watch, it's over to Huawei Health to do that. Huawei is though starting to open things up on the Watch 3/Watch 3 Pro by adding the AppGallery to let third party developers build app support for the watches. That support has already rolled out for the GT 2 series as well, but there's no high profile health and fitness apps added just yet.

We found sports and health tracking on the whole very good on the Watch GT 2 series and our early testing time suggests it's more of the same on the Watch 3 too. The big extras on the Huawei Watch 3 are the extra health sensors, that beefed up GPS accuracy (on the Watch 3 Pro) and the potential for much richer navigation features too. The core experience though feels similar, so spending less doesn't necessarily mean you're getting a really inferior experience in our eyes.

Huawei Watch 3 v Huawei Watch GT 2 series: Battery life

One of the main reasons Huawei ditched Google's Wear OS was to offer more in the battery department. With its GT 2 series it delivered on that promise.

Whichever GT 2 series model you go for, you can expect to get up to 14 days of battery life. In our testing experience, you'll get in excess of a week even with continuous heart rate monitoring, stress tracking and regular use of GPS. Cut some of that stuff out, and you'll get near the full 14 days.

On the Huawei Watch 3/Watch 3 Pro, things are handled a little differently. In full smartwatch mode, you can expect around 3-5 days. Huawei also outlines that typical battery life when paired to an iPhone in this mode is 2.5 days.

There's additionally an ultra-long battery life mode, promising up to 21 days of battery life which does still allow you to have heart rate monitoring enabled, advanced sleep tracking, spend 90 minute of GPS tracking turning on the screen 200 times day. It restricts some app usage, mobile data, Wi-Fi. That gives you something akin to a scaled back GT watch.

Verdict

We've broken down what the Huawei Watch 3/3 Pro and the many Watch GT 2 series watches have to offer, so which Huawei watch should you go for? As mentioned, we are still finishing up testing on the Watch 3, but we've already got a good idea of what it offers over the GT watches. Here's what we think.

Buy Huawei Watch GT 2 series if...You want an affordable entry to Huawei's sports tracking and like the idea of having a couple week's of battery life. Buying a GT 2 smartwatch offers a huge saving in cost, and only a modest reduction in available features. You can spend more for more high grade materials on the GT 2 Pro and Porsche Design model, but essentially the core features are the same.

Buy Huawei Watch 3 if...a better looking, more wearable smartwatch. The screen and design is superb, and it's one of the best smartwatches for Android smartphone users. The Watch 3 does offer improved smartwatch features – LTE support and access to Huawei's Celia voice assistant – although perhaps those won;'t be of interest to the majority of users. What's more, at launch, the app selection doesn't seem a reason to buy.