At their most recent event, Huawei announced the brand new Watch 3 series, their very first watch to run their new operating system, Harmony OS. This new OS allows the Watch 3 to work with third-party apps and function independently of a phone but does it stack up to their previous smartwatch offerings? Find out in our review below.
The major advantage of Huawei’s new system is that it’s compatible with a number of different devices, including smartphones and PCs, and that should make it attractive for app developers. Not only that, there are also benefits for the user, more specifically in the way in which Huawei’s newest smartwatch will be able to work seamlessly with their smartphones and other smart devices.
Design & Build Quality
Huawei has always been very good with its designs for smartwatches and the Watch 3 is no exception. The very first Huawei Watch, which was powered by Android Wear at the time, was one of the most beautiful watches on the market when it first appeared. The Watch 2 was then the less popular successor, but four years after the appearance of that watch, Huawei is back with one of their most stylish designs yet.
When you first see the Watch 3, you might think it’s actually the Watch GT3. With its design, the watch seems to continue to build on that series, because we see fine screen edges, a beautiful ring made of metal and a brown leather strap. Combined, this particular aesthetic gives the Watch 3 a stylish and premium look.
However, Huawei does make a difference between the two series, because the Watch GT series mainly wants to appeal to athletes while the Watch 3 focuses on smart functions. The Watch 3 also introduces a new control mechanism in the form of the new rotating crown that sits above a normal button on the right-hand side. Having used the watch for a number of weeks now, the crown definitely helps make scrolling easier through the brand new Harmony OS interface.
On the rear of the device are the main sensors including the ‘TruSeen’ heart rate monitor and the new sensor that determines your skin temperature. All of these sensors are protected by a ceramic bottom with a layer of sapphire glass up front protecting the gorgeous display (more on that later). Thankfully, sapphire glass has a higher hardness than ordinary glass and that makes it much more resistant to scratches. The new Watch 3 is also waterproof, and you can dive to a depth of 50 meters, for those of you who are into that sort of thing!
I’m a huge fan of the round 1.43 inch AMOLED screen on the Huawei Watch 3 and it’s definitely one of the best smartwatch screens on the market. The panel has beautiful colours, a nice high resolution and it can reach impressive levels of brightness if you need it to. It also has an automatic brightness function that makes the screen easy to read in all scenarios which, thankfully, also helps to keep battery life in check.
Notification text, apps and other OS features all look clean, sharp and vivid on the display and, given that it’s AMOLED, blacks are pitch black when using the watch in a dark environment.
Interface & Performance
Even if some of you will compare Huawei’s new Harmony OS on its smartwatches to Apple’s offering, there’s no denying that it looks slick. The settings are well laid out, clean and intuitive in appearance and functionality and, swiping left or right from the ‘home screen’, you can scroll through widgets, which can be customised also. Thanks to the display’s 60hz refresh rate, navigating the interface is smooth, without annoying delays, which is a nice upgrade from the slightly sluggish UI in previous Huawei smartwatches.
Huawei has also built their AppGallery experience directly into the Watch 3 which, on paper, should help streamline things a bit in terms of getting the apps you want on your watch but it still needs a bit of work to make it more intuitive and, the selection of apps available will also need some work to really compete with the likes of what Apple and Google are offering with their smartwatches.
Speaker & Call Quality
Like the Watch GT2 Pro before it, the Huawei Watch 3 is equipped with a speaker and microphone, which comes in handy if your hands are full and you need to take a call. I was quite surprised by the volume levels of the built-in speaker, and I callers on the other end said I was coming in loud and clear.
Thanks to the new Harmony OS, Huawei has also equipped the Watch 3 with built-in eSIM functionality that allows it to work with 4G networks. What this means is that you would not only be able to make calls without needing to be paired with your phone, but also run apps when you’re out and about. Unfortunately, eSIM support is not something any of the Irish mobile operators are able to offer right now but hopefully this changes in the near future.
Huawei Health App Functionality
Huawei has been developing and launching health-focused smartwatches and smartbands for years now and this can be seen by the comprehensive list of options and functionality built into their Huawei Health app. Despite what the name might suggest, The Huawei Health app is not only where you store and track all your health and sports data, particularly if you use a Huawei phone, but it’s also where you can adjust all the settings and personalise your smartwatch.
At the very top of the app, you will immediately see the most important statistics: the number of steps of that day, your burnt calories, distance traveled and the number of minutes you have exercised intensively.
Immediately below it you will find all the information about your last sports activity, but you will also find your sleep, data about your heart rate, your stress measurements, your blood oxygen level and finally your blood oxygen levels.
When it comes to sports functionality, you’ll be hard pushed to find a sport the Huawei Health and Watch 3 doesn’t have you covered on as you can track more than 110 activities. During your activity, you get a good view of your heart rate, and thanks to the GPS, your routes are shown on a map in the Health app after your run.
I found that the Watch 3 shows a surprising amount of useful data on the watch screen and thanks to the scroll wheel, you can easily browse through the interface and all the info you need on the go. The TruSeen sensor that measures your heart rate also works very quickly and can continue to measure throughout the day without any problems. It is also useful that the Health app contains ready-made sports programs and assesses your sports data after each activity. The app can actually then estimate how much time your body needs to fully recover from various sports activity. This way you avoid injuries and fatigue or stiffness afterwards.
In our first few weeks testing the watch, we really weren’t having a great time in terms of battery life but, just a week ago, Huawei has pushed an update to the Watch 3 which has helped improved the battery life quite a bit so we’re now getting the expected 3 days of normal use, even with the screen set to ‘always on’ as we’re a fan of being able to glance at our watch to see the time and not have to rely on the ‘raise to wake’ motion to kick in.
There is the option to extend the battery life with the ‘ultra-long’ battery mode which, surprisingly, still leaves a number of the apps open for use and allows notifications to continue to come through, even in this extremely strict battery mode. This particular mode is said to last up to 14 days but we’ve yet to test it as we really wanted to see what the full watch experience was like during our time with the device.
Thankfully, when it comes to charging, thanks to its ceramic back, you can wireless charge the Watch 3 with any wireless charging pad and you can even reverse wireless charge it from the rear of any handset capable of this feature.
Huawei has quite the breadth of experience when it comes to wearables, and you can see that come to fruition in the new Watch 3. With its beautiful design, smooth OS and top notch screen, the Watch 3 is a joy to use. Even as stylish as it is, sports fanatics won’t be disappointed with the extensive functionality of this new watch when paired with the Huawei Health app.
Ultimately though, to really make this watch a must-have device, Huawei really needs to get app developers to embrace their new Harmony OS and create compatible apps for it. Once this starts to happen, the Watch 3, and its expected successors, really will be some of the best smartwatches available on the market.
Pricing & Availability
The Huawei Watch 3 actually comes in different versions. First of all, there is the Classic version with a brown leather strap, which is the one we reviewed, and the Active version with a black silicone strap. In addition, there is the Pro version which is made of the higher quality titanium in a larger 49 mm housing and you can get it with a metal or leather strap. That watch also comes with a larger battery.
The Huawei Watch 3 is available from Huawei.com, starting at €369 for the Active model.
REVIEW: Huawei Watch 3
- Design & Build Quality
- Interface & Performance
- Speaker & Call Quality
- App Functionality
- Battery Life
With its beautiful design, smooth OS and top notch screen, the Watch 3 is a joy to use. Even as stylish as it is, sports fanatics won’t be disappointed with the extensive functionality of this new watch when paired with the Huawei Health app.