REVIEW: Huawei Watch GT 2e measures forces against Apple Watch FeaturedWritten by Karl Erik Sylthe
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In March, Huawei announced a slightly simplified version of the smart watch GT 2. We have had the Huawei Watch GT 2e on test for a few weeks. One of the agendas has been to check how it can manage in the shadow of an Apple Watch. Or maybe it's the other way around ...?
When the first version of Apple Watch was launched five years ago, I said that the day it would have a battery that could last for at least a week, I would consider purchasing. In the meantime, I agree to mr. Robert Allen Zimmerman that things have changed, and when the Apple Watch 4 came with ECG there was no way around. The Must-Have factor took over, and that despite the fact that the battery life was still just over a day or so.
But of course, it's not just Apple that has been working with smart watches for these five years. Huawei was one of its competitors, and just as Apple launched its first Watch in April 2015, the first generation Huawei Watch also arrived. Or really the month before, to be precise. And just as Apple and other competitors have had constant model upgrades, Huawei has had its approx. annual model changes. Huawei Watch was replaced by Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic in 2017, while the Watch GT was launched the following year. That model marked the simultaneous change of operating system, from its Android Wear, to the Huawei Wearable Platform.
Last fall, Huawei Watch GT 2 was launched , and it was the first model to have the processor Kirin A1. This included, among other things, a rather dramatic increase in battery life, where the largest 46mm model can run for up to two weeks before charging, while the 42mm version "only" lasts a maximum of one week. Huawei Watch GT 2 had prices from 2,490, - at the time of launch in October 2019, about half the price compared to Apple Watch 5.
Huawei Watch GT 2e
Thursday, March 26, was the big launch day for Huawei this winter, the day the P40 Pro was launched - Huawei's new flagship mobile. Or maybe it's more accurate to call it the mainstream flagship, because a month earlier the real flagship Huawei Mate Xs was launched, in the form of an upgraded version of Huawei's folding mobile.
At the same time as the new P40 series was shown, a new smart watch was also unveiled. Our test model Watch GT 2e is a simpler, but at the same time more modern and sporty smart watch than the basic version GT 2. And compared to the original price of GT 2, the price of GT2e is significantly cheaper. 1.790, - is starting to become an almost rudely low price for such an advanced smart watch as this is.
Size and design
Like all previous models from Huawei, the GT 2e is also a round model. This has skipped the wreath with a 24-hour scale that surrounds both of the two 46mm models in GT 2. And the rubber strap attachment is an integral part of the watch housing, which also gives a more overall impression with cleaner lines.
In my eyes, the GT 2e has a more appealing design than the two 46mm variants of the GT 2. The 42mm variants of the GT 2, on the other hand, have a very elegant version, but this one most people think is best suited for ladies.
Bands and colors
There are 4 color variations on GT 2e. Black stainless steel with band in Graphite Black or Lava Red , and natural stainless steel with band in Mint Green or Icy White . The black and white straps are made of Flour elastomer, a fluorocarbon-based synthetic rubber. While the red and green straps are perforated, made of TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) - a rubbery, elastic material. These perforated bands can be somewhat reminiscent of Apple's Nike edition straps. Huawei has used the same trick as Apple, by having the perforations on the black edges, the same as the back. This highlights the perforation more. Huawei has slightly oval perforations, which provide more air to the wrist.
The review sample has a green belt, and thus the perforated variant. It has good use comfort and the material provides suitable elasticity.
The variants with black stainless steel case have a wreath with scale that goes to 60.
In my slightly conservative eyes, the black belt and the green belt are the most appealing color combinations. But also the white Version is very attractive, and may easily be the preferred color for ladies.
The screen is a 1.39-inch AMOLED. It has 454 x 454 pixels, which according to my old math teacher with his eternal 2 π R and a box of Tenor pastilles would add to 161,878 pixels. In practice, this will be about the same as the Apple Watch 4 and 5 with its 368 x 448 pixels, which if you subtract for corner rounding will be quite similar. And both the Gt 2e and Apple Watch 4 and 5 have 326 ppi, while the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has 364 ppi.
Subjectively, GT 2e is perceived as bigger and better than the screen on Apple Watch. It's enough with the round shape that in my eyes is more optimal than Apple's rectangular.
Here we are at the point where Huawei rides in circles around the Apple Watch and most other competitors. For while Apple Watch 4 in practice keeps from recharging startring fresh one morning to some distance in the afternoon, maybe early evening the next day, Apple Watch 5 struggles to last a full day if Allways On is enabled. And even without this enabled, some claim that the Apple Watch 5 has worse battery life than the Apple Watch 4.
Huawei says that the battery can last for 2 weeks under these conditions:
It is used 24 hours a day, with heart rate monitoring enabled, HUAWEI TruSleep ™ enabled for sleep, 90 minutes of exercise each week (GPS enabled), message alerts enabled (50 text messages, 3 alarms per day), screen is turned on 200 times a day , 30 minutes of music playback each week. Battery life may vary based on actual usage.
With Allways On enabled, battery life is halved, and with a full flurry of features and notifications enabled and 24 hour heart rate readings, I have experienced that in practice it lasts for 5 days. Then the brightness is also turned up from Medium (3) to Max (5), which obviously draws a lot of extra power. And this is still plentiful, and fine for me.
When the battery is approaching a critical low level, you are offered to switch to save mode, where Allways On is turned off.
Now we have talked so much about Allways On that it is time to explain in more detail what it is, and not least how it is implemented on the Huawei Watch GT 2e.
Basically, GT 2e works the same way as Apple Watch 4. That is, you have to rotate your wrist to bring the screen to life. And then you can set how long it will last, in intervals of 5 to 20 minutes.
But then you may choose to have Allways On, which in reality is that you have another screen in the sleep mode. This screen has significantly lower brightness, but it is still sufficient for you to see what you need to see. But even though I understand why Huawei has chosen to run the sleep mode display with the reduced brightness, I would have preferred that the user could choose to increase the brightness, of course at the expense of battery life.
If you enable Allways On at the clock, you will also get a clear message that this will cut battery life by half.
Did I mention that it takes two hours to recharge from an empty battery?
You can choose from 12 predefined faces. I suspect there are more to choose from if you have a Huawai mobile, or maybe at least an Android mobile, and not an Apple 11 like I have.
And here I notice that my age is leaving its mark, because I think most of the dials are slightly flashy. But I still easily found my favorite - Timeringer (Time rings) is the face for an architect.
For watches in standby mode, my choice was even easier. The choice fell on the name Analog , a simple and clear dial with no disruptive elements.
The easiest way to get to a quick settings menu is to drag the screen down. This will bring you to a pop-up menu containing "Do Not Disturb", "Show Time", "Find Phone", "Alarm", "Settings" and battery and Bluetooth status.
Dragging the screen upwards gives you an overview of the latest notifications. This includes surprisingly many notification types from various apps, including messages from Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Gmail, Netflix, Instagram and more, including News from Dagbladet.
These are notifications that appear automatically on the clock when they arrive as fresh goods. Here I miss a setting option for the duration of the alerts, because the 5 seconds they last is usually not sufficient if you first have to fish the glasses from your shirt pocket. Well, Nice then that you can pick them up again.
If you drag the screen sideways you may switch between clock, blood pressure monitor, weather forecast, activity log, sleep and music playback.
The Huawei Watch has two buttons on the right that stand for the additional controls that you do not start from the screen. And here Huawei has made a change compared to the buttons on the big brother GT 2. For while this model has buttons that look like classic "crowns" but which have no rotating functionality, the design of the GT 2e has been changed so that they are not pretending to be something other than what they are - two buttons. This is a design and architectural very correct approach. I am convinced that Gert Wingårdh or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe would support me full in this.
The top button is the main menu button, which leads to a greater number of main functions. We mention Exercise, History, Exercise Status, Pulse, SPo2 (which some claim to be unavailable in combination with iOS mobile, but ...), Activity Log, Sleep, Breathing Exercises, Music, Barometer, Compass, Messages, Weather, Stopwatch, Countdown (incredibly useful every morning as an egg cooker assistant) Flashlight, Find Phone (works like a shot with iPhone too) and Settings. And as I said, these are the main points, with a lot of sub-points in each function group.
You can connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds directly to the Huawei Watch GT 2e. And through these you can play from a music library stored locally on a clock of up to 500 songs, but managing a music library requires that you don`t use an iPhone. Any Android mobile should work. And of course any Huawei phone.
With the test copy it was pre-stored a tune.
The lower menu button is programmable, but by default it is set to Exercise. Initially, 15 main training functions have been added, but you can supplement with 85 additional workouts. And you should be reasonably odd if you engage in exercise activities that are not included in the total 100 exercise types covered here.
Even a separate feature for " Car Racing " is included. But if you now have great expectation that some of the parameters are tachometer and oil pressure gauge, you will probably be disappointed. The heart rate monitor, on the other hand, may be relevant enough if you were to activate this feature on the highway between Oslo and Fredrikstad, and is speeding with the 70's Eagles Life in the fast lane on the ear.
Huawei also has the same feature that we find in Apple Watch, where the clock detects that you're out and about, and suggests starting an "outdoor walk" registration. And contrary to what some may have claimed in a presentation you may have attended, a start will have retroactive effect, in that you will also be compensated for the time and distance from the clock noticing that something was in progress, but would wait a bit bothering you with the case to make sure it wasn't just a blast ...
This is a feature I didn't get to work initially. Until I got a suspicion of where the problem lay when the "low heart rate" alert appeared, even though it was at 80. Since I have a heart rate that is significantly below average, the default heart rate readings for various conditions must be adjusted in the Huawei Health App for my part, which is the health app that needs to be downloaded if you do not have a Huawei watch.
In short, there is a large number of training functions that are very useful and most of them have many different viewing modes. Only thing that seems reasonably unfamiliar is that speed is stated as minute and second per kilometer.
Although there is a sea of features on the Huawei Watch GT 2e, we cannot fail to mention that it differs significantly from eg. Apple Watch. One of the things with the latter is that you can download here 3rd party apps that few have ever thought they need, Huawei's Wearable OS operates with WYBIWYG - What You Buy Is What You Get. Unless a software update With some new functions should appear, of course ...
That said, there is not much I miss on the Huawei Watch GT 2e. The ability to load Strava's app for registering bicycle routes via GPS data is one feature I would miss. Another is that it is incredibly good to be able to use the clock as a remote control of volume and playback when something is played from the iPhone. This might be available if you give it a Huawei cellphone as a partner, but not with the iPhone 11.
Okay, Huawei lacks the ECG that Apple won many customers on when it came to Apple Watch 4, and carried on to Watch 5. But in return, Huawei has SpO2, a feature that measures oxygen saturation. According to Huawei, SpO2 is one of the important vital signs that can reflect the absorption of oxygen into the body, and that low levels of oxygen saturation can cause serious symptoms such as low energy, lethargy and dizziness. Huawei says the WATCH GT 2e supports one-time SpO2 level measurement, which helps detect oxygen levels in the blood, anytime, anywhere.
Huawei GT 2 or GT 2e?
My immediate thought when the GT2e was launched was that this is a cannibal compared to Huawei's GT 2. This must still be seen in light of the fact that GT 2 at that time had a price of NOK 2,490, -. And when GT 2e was launched for NOK 1,790, the latter appeared to be a bargain compared to GT 2, and what else might have to be found by smart watches. The main difference between the 46mm model of GT 2 and GT 2e is that the latter lacks a microphone and speaker, as well as some rather insignificant details. This is pretty nice to have, but with a price reduction of almost 30% it is easy to understand that many will choose GT 2e.
In the meantime, the street price for the 46mm GT 2 versions has become NOK 1,990, - and that changes the picture significantly. GT 2e still seems to me to be a watch designed more correct, but of course there may be individual opinions. And it becomes a pretty much more demanding choice when you get the "full version" with microphone and speaker for just NOK 200 extra. For the truth, both GT 2 and GT 2e provide insane value for money.
Initially, this review was intended to reveal whether the Huawei GT 2e can compare with the Apple Watch. And with a price tag of almost 1/3 of the Apple Watch 5, you'll be very demanding to find the need to add NOK 3,200 for a rectangular Apple Watch.
There is no doubt that the Huawei Watch GT 2e has some limitations over the Apple Watch. And the opportunity for 3rd party apps is one of these.
But still, there are so many conditions that speak in favor of GT 2e that my choice would be easy today. In order to compete fairly in price, you have to down into Apple Watch 3, and then trade-offs will be a bit too many and big.
In addition to being a very good all-round watch, the GT 2e holds what Huawei promises when it comes to battery life, although in practice you may choose to enable settings that reduce the 2 weeks.
I should not claim that the Huawei Watch GT 2e is the best smart watch you get for less than two thousand NOK today, for this I do not have enough market overview. But whoever is competing in the same half as GT 2e will have to get up damned early in the morning!
Karl Erik Sylthe
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