The Huawei Watch Fit is perhaps best described as a fitness tracker that could pass as a smartwatch as well.
This certainly isn't Huawei's first attempt at a merging the two wearable worlds. Back in 2017, it launched the Huawei Fit, though the 2.5 out 5 Wareable review score we awarded it tells you all you need to know about what we thought about that effort.
So having had more luck with its Huawei Band fitness tracker line and most recent Huawei Watch GT2 smartwatches, Huawei has taken another stab at the hybrid.
As the name suggests, it's a device built for fitness, serving up 24/7 activity tracking, a heart rate monitor, built-in GPS and many of the features that you'll find packed into Huawei's smartwatches.
The Watch Fit debuts animated workouts, which are designed to keep you moving when you need a brief break from staring at a computer screen or when you have a bit more time to exercise.
At $110, the Watch Fit is cheaper than the Fitbit Charge 4, but still pricier than slimmer fitness bands like the Garmin Vivosmart 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Fit. On paper, it appears to offer more for your money than all of those devices.
We've been living with the Watch Fit to find out if Huawei knows how to make a good fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid. Here's our comprehensive verdict.
Huawei Watch Fit: Design and screen
Some people who've spied the Watch Fit on our wrist have described it as an Apple Watch that's been stretched and it's easy to see why.
There's elements of Apple's design ethos here, but it's also very reminiscent of Samsung's Gear Fit range too.
What you get is 46mm case that measures in at 10.7mm thick and weighs 21g. The case is made from polymer and you have your pick of black, silver and rose gold (pictured) colors.
Does it feel as luxurious as an Apple Watch? No, it does not, but then we never expected it to be. This is in an entirely different price bracket. For the money, you're getting a pretty attractive-looking wearable that's been comfortable to wear during the day, during exercise and at night.
That case is paired up with a matte silicone strap that comes in graphite black, mint green, cantaloupe orange or sakura pink.
These straps are removable, though they are tricky to do. Most importantly, we can report they haven't caused any skin irritation issues in our time with it.
Huawei has slapped on 5ATM water resistance rating, which means it's safe to submerge in water up to 50 metres depth. That means you can go swimming with it and shower with it on.
There's just one physical button to break up an otherwise streamlined look and there is of course that touchscreen display.
You're getting a 1.64 inch, 456 x 280 AMOLED screen, which is sharp and colourful.
The display on Huawei's smartwatches are great and that doesn't change on the Watch Fit. It's bright and easy to view, whether that's outdoors or submerged in a pool.
You don't have an always-on display mode, though the gesture to wake support is pretty good here and is some consolation. The not quite full screen look worked for us. If you didn't want a full smartwatch, the Watch Fit is a good compromise. Huawei's software is mostly well optimised to that reduced screen estate and it doesn't feel a challenge to use or read screens.
Huawei Watch Fit: Fitness tracking
If you're buying the Watch Fit to pay closer attention to your general day-to-day health and fitness, you're certainly well served here.
From the device itself, you have a clearly Apple-inspired set of rings that fill up with steps, exercise minutes and hourly movement.
You can also view continuous heart rate monitor data and set up high heart and low heart rate alerts.
There's an SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen levels, though sometimes we struggled to get a reading and was prompted to tighten the fit of the band despite having it on pretty tightly around our wrists already.
You can also view the most recent night's sleep, check in on stress levels powered through heart rate variability measurements. And if you need them there are breathing exercises as well.
Step tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
Our experience of these features have been mixed not only in terms of accuracy, but in our ability to properly use them and the data seemingly being tracked, but not being displayed on the Watch Fit.
We'll start with those core fitness tracking features like step tracking and sleep monitoring.
Steps tended to be lower than other Garmin and Fitbit devices, and did feel under tracked.
The app does breaks down how those steps were generated in percentages. So you can see whether the majority of steps have come from just walking around or from other activities like running.
You can view the most recent night's sleep on the device, but you'll need to head into the app to dig deeper into the data.
That data comprises of giving you a sleep stages breakdown including REM sleep, as well as sleep and breathing quality scores.
In terms of accuracy, we found it pushed out similar numbers to what a Garmin fitness tracker did for recognising the time we fell asleep and woke up in the morning.
Sleep tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left and centre) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
Digging deeper into the sleep breakdown and there wasn't really any consistency across both devices in terms of the times spent different sleep stages though. Huawei does try to put those numbers into context of what is considered 'normal' for those sleep stages. The sleep score does offer some interesting insights too.
Huawei does a decent job with its sleep features in terms of tracking and explaining what that data means.
For continuous heart rate monitoring, which is useful for assessing current state of health and fitness levels, we found that it posted a higher heart rate range and resting heart rate compared to another fitness tracker, which we've come to rely on being pretty accurate for these types of readings.
Daily HR tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
There also seemed to be missing data throughout the day despite having worn the Watch Fit all day. There was also no data shown on the watch itself despite data being tracked in the app when synced. It was a similar story for stress monitoring. It looks like this could be some sort of software niggle that Huawei needs to take a look at.
Fitness tracking on the whole is decent but not without its issues. Hopefully these are the kind of issues that Huawei can iron out with a software update. There's a good amount of data you can track and it does go to the effort to help you better understand what all of that data means, which is also an important thing to deliver.
Huawei Watch Fit: Sports tracking
The Watch Fit offers most of the sports tracking features you get on its Watch GT2 smartwatches.
On the sensor front, you're getting built-in GPS, its latest TruSeen 4.0 heart rate sensor technology and a 6-axis IMU sensor that includes an accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensor to track indoor activities like treadmill running. It does seem to lack an altimeter to track elevation however.
On the watch, you've got workout, workout records and workout status options with the latter delving deeper into training analysis.
Those workout modes include running with Huawei's running courses still on board. There's cycling and both open and pool swim tracking and you can pick from 96 modes in total. It's those core sports that will deliver the richest metrics though.
We've not made it through all of those 96 modes, but we have honed in on a couple that we think give you a sense of how the Watch Fit performs for sports tracking.
We'll start with outdoor running, which brings the built-in GPS into play and arguably offers the richest metrics from those plentiful workout modes.
Once you head to that Workout screen, you'll still see options to switch on additional settings like a goal-based target, reminders when you hit certain heart rates and switch on the smart companion to help you keep to a target pace.
Getting a GPS signal locked isn't instant like the Apple Watch and takes a few minutes. Once you're one the move, you can view data like pace, distance, time and swipe up to see cadence, average pace and additional information like Training effect if that's been enabled.
Post run, you can head to workout records on the watch itself to see key metrics. Head to the app to see a route of your run along with pace splits and charts to show off pace and cadence data.
It's also where you delve into Performance metrics, which include aerobic training effect, VO2 Max and a recovery time.
VO2 Max posted slightly higher readings on tracked runs compared to to a Garmin Fenix paired to a MyZone chest strap, while the recovery time suggested seemed a little on the excessive side for us.
Step tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
Core running metrics in general matched up with the Fenix 6 in terms of distance tracked and mapping.
On occasions it slightly underreported distance, but on the whole it felt reliable. Looking closer to the additional metrics, average pace was pretty spot on while calorie burn was in the right ballpark, as was cadence numbers.
One thing we should of course mention is that if you like pushing your data to other apps, you cannot do that here. So if you live for Kudos on Strava, the Huawei Watch Fit is not for you.
If you can live without that app support, the Watch Fit overall does a very reliable job of doubling up as a running watch based on our experience.
The Watch Fit is fit to be used for open water and pool swimming and for the latter uses its motion sensors to track movement and Huawei's algorithm magic to dish out the swim-specific metrics.
In the pool, it would always be more desirable to have more screen to play with to make it easier to view under water.
It might have been beneficial to be able to increase font size or simply dedicate a single or two metrics to each data screen.
It's not a horrible experience viewing data during a swim, but there are some things that could be done to make it better and take better advantage of that high quality display.
Swim tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left and centre) and Form Swim Goggles (right)
Metrics you can see on the watch are pretty basic. You've got distance, calories, duration and heart rate (though that didn't show for us). It's when you finish your swim that you can delve into stroke counts, pace, average stroke rate, laps, average pace and SWOLF.
As far as those numbers being reliable, we put it up against Form's Swim Goggles, which we found to offer some of the most accurate swim tracking in a pool.
On one 1,500m swim, it came up short on length count and distance covered. It posted similar average SWOLF scores and while it seemed to correctly recognise strokes for each length, the pacing seemed a little off.
It's definitely not the worst performing watch we've used in the pool, but it's certainly not the best either.
Huawei Watch Fit: Heart rate accuracy
We've already delved a bit into what Huawei's latest TruSeen 4.0 heart rate sensor technology can promise in terms of insights.
For continuous monitoring, we were sceptical of the accuracy and it doesn't appear you can perform on the spot readings.
Putting it to the exercise test is usually where you get a sense of what an optical sensor is capable of. In our running tests compared to a chest strap monitor, it's a similar story to what we've found on Huawei's smartwatches.
While the graphs seem to paint a similar picture of the heart rate data, it tended to produce a noticeably higher maximum heart rate reading.
HR tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left) and MyZone chest strap monitor (right)
On steady tempo runs (above), it posted an average heart rate reading that was 2bpm higher than a chest strap monitor, which is totally acceptable for most users.
The maximum heart rate reading though was often a difference of around 8bpm. That's a much bigger issue and could lead to people training in the wrong heart rate zone.
When we focused that testing on pushing how well the sensor could react to quick spikes and drops in heart rate with some intervals, it was a similar story. The average was close, but the maximum heart rate was well off.
Interval HR tracking compared: Huawei Watch Fit (left) and MyZone chest strap monitor (right)
Huawei does suggest that you get a tight fit to get accurate results, but we don't think we could get it to sit any tighter without it feeling really uncomfortable to wear.
It's simply another case of an optical sensor that doesn't quite cut it when pushed to its limits and doesn't have the benefit of pairing to an external heart rate monitor to remedy that issue.
Huawei Watch Fit: Animated workouts
The big new feature that Huawei is talking up is the introduction of animated workouts or fitness courses as Huawei refers to them on the Watch Fit.
It's an extension of the running courses it introduced on its normal sized smartwatches, and are designed to offer workouts where you can follow step-by-step with animations to show you how to perform them.
There is also some rep recognition at work here too on some exercises to make sure you complete them.
Huawei isn't the first (and certainly won't be the last) to offer this kind of feature. Garmin added animated workouts to the likes of its Venu and Vivoactive series watches.
Where Huawei approaches things differently are that these guided workouts are a mix of the kind of workouts you'd expect to do in a gym, but more about workouts you can do when you need a quick break from work.
There are 12 of these workouts preinstalled on the Fit and there isn't any details on whether more will be added or there'll be scope to let you create your own too.
They range in duration from a 3 minute neck and shoulder session to a 11 minute advanced chest workout. No workout is longer than 20 minutes, so the emphasis is on being able to squeeze these into your day when you feel you don't have time for an hour in the gym.
The workouts themselves are all pretty straightforward to follow. Huawei does a good job explaining the benefits of each workout and the animations are generally easy to follow as well. There is some movement tracking in play here, largely for wrist based moves and it was accurate enough, but perhaps not always on the money.
It is a good addition to Huawei's fitness ecosystem?
We'd say yes. It works well on the Fit and like running guides, it's another feature aimed at someone looking for an easy way to start working out at home.
It would be good to see whether Huawei can now build on the feature, adding more to the library.
Support for custom workouts isn't a must, but if Huawei can bring in more that can take some of the thought out of coming up with workouts, that's what it should strive to do here.
Huawei Watch Fit: Smartwatch features
This is called the Watch Fit, so it's fair to assume that there's going to some smartwatch-style features on board. You just won't get everything that Huawei has to offer on this front however.
It does work with Android phones and iPhones and we predominantly used this with the former.
It brings features like notification support, music player controls, weather forecasts and the ability to set alarms. Notifications will always generally need expanding to read unless it's only a couple of words long. You can't respond to those notifications either.
There's no built-in music player, so you'll need to run with your phone for a music hit. Those controls do at least work well and are accessible during workout mode as an additional screen.
Huawei also offers some variety in the watch face department with a host of faces that can go big on showing off your data or keep things simple. There's a nice collection too and more options hiding away inside of the Huawei Health companion app as well.
As far as behaving like a smartwatch, that squashed screen does bring some limitations for notifications and there's clearly no room for a music player. You're not getting payment support, which you can find on Fitbit's Charge 4, and that really is probably the most desirable feature that doesn't make the cut here.
What it can do it does well at least, but if Huawei perseveres with the Fit, we'd be interested to see how it can grow things on the smartwatch features front.
Huawei Watch Fit: Battery life
Since its move away from Wear OS, Huawei has beefed up the battery performance on its full smartwatches and while the Watch Fit doesn't go as far, it promises to impress in this department too.
Huawei claims that you can get up to 10 days battery in 'typical use'. That typical use is defined as having things like continuous heart rate monitoring on and working out 30 minutes per week. That drops to 7 days when you check the screen more regularly and track a 60 minute workout a week.
If you're keen on putting the onboard GPS to regular use, Huawei says you can expect 12 hours before it's runs out of battery.
Based on our experience, we tended to get around 4-5 days, and that was with heart rate monitoring on continuously and tracking three 30-40 minute workouts a week. So we'd say that Huawei's numbers ring true. For a 30 minute GPS tracked workout, we saw a drop-off of around 8% in general. So it doesn't quite hold that battery as well as the Huawei's Watch GT 2e smartwatch.
it doesn't drop battery in a really undesirable way, but it seems that screen and features like heart rate monitoring will impact on it. You could get those 7-10 days, but, you'd have to be pretty stringent on the amount of workouts you regularly track.
When it does hit 0%, you have a small magnetic charging cable that clips into two ports on the back of the Fit and takes around an hour and thirty minutes to get back up to full battery.