Huawei has been on a run this year with strong demand for its smartphones despite the ban imposed by the US Department of Commerce. The Chinese smartphone maker not only managed to maintain its second place in global smartphone makers list, but it also shipped more devices than last year. While it’s growth globally has become talk of the town, the company is yet to make a big dent in the Indian market. It is yet to crack India’s smartphone market, but the company is already looking beyond at other product segments. The most notable of this is wearables with devices like the Huawei Watch GT 2.
Huawei Watch, which launched in 2016, was one of the best Android Wear watches of its time. However, Google got sloppy and the updates took time. As smartphone makers deserted the segment altogether, Huawei decided to pivot. By pivot, I am referring to a non-standard operating system. Finding a truly great smartwatch for your Android smartphone remains difficult. But Huawei Watch GT 2 wants to find the middle ground. I have had this wearable for a few hours now, and here are my initial impressions.
Huawei Watch GT 2: Design and Display
Watches are a really personal piece of electronics that we humans own. A poor design can truly restrict the success of this device. Huawei Watch GT 2 makes no mistake there. It has a traditional watch design with circular face and is finished in a really great way. It’s so traditional that there are numbers on the circumference of the dial, marking a similarity to diver watches. It’s no Hamilton or Seiko in terms of design, but it seems like an amalgamation of those two. Huawei made a great wearable with the original Huawei Watch, and with GT 2, it seems to be in contention for the best smartwatch design of this year.
Huawei Watch GT 2 is just 10.6mm at its thickest point and weighs only 46 grams without the strap. It has a 1.39-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 454×454 pixels. The 326ppi display is so crisp that everything looks huge and crystal clear. I would like to reserve judgement here since I haven’t had much time interacting with the notifications. But Huawei Watch GT 2 proves that the display is a progress from what we saw earlier with Amazfit and other watches. It is made of a combination of metal, plastic and ceramic. Our review unit came with saddle brown leather silicone strap attached and graphite black strap in the box.
Hardware, Software and Fitness
The Huawei Watch GT 2 comes with 16MB RAM and 128MB internal memory. You might think that it pales in comparison to something like Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle HR which has 1GB RAM and 8GB internal memory. This has to do with the operating system powering this wearable. The GT 2 does not run Wear OS by Google and relies on a custom wearable operating system. It also comes with Kirin A1, the custom chip for Bluetooth 5.1 and Bluetooth LE 5.1. We will have in depth look into this chip and how it performs compared to Snapdragon Wear 3100 and Apple H1 in our full review.
Huawei Watch GT 2 is meant to be a fitness centric smartwatch. While it’s primary purpose is to show time and display notifications, it is also capable of tracking your running, swimming, cycling, hiking, elliptical, rowing, etc. The Watch GT 2 lacks network connection but it does include GPS, which is a good addition to track your route. It also uses three satellites (GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO) for accurate positioning around the world. The software seems barebones at the face of it, but I want to see if I could install applications and custom watch faces. In the next few days, I will be looking at all these options.
Huawei Watch GT 2: Initial Impressions
A smartwatch does not need to look like a consumer electronics device. It should ideally imbibe the design DNA that has been passed on by Swiss watchmakers for decades now. The Huawei Watch GT 2 does that with near perfection. The watch face called Urban makes it almost identical to a mechanical watch. With a sharp display, great suite of activity tracking features and battery life that goes into weeks, this one is a strong contender for best smartwatch design of 2019.