The Watch GT 3’s software is HarmonyOS 2.1, Huawei’s own platform that’s suitable for a wide range of connected devices, which links with Huawei’s Health app on your phone. This is needed to sync and update the Watch, and also acts as the hub for all your health and activity data collected by the smartwatch. When you start the watch for the first time, it tells you to download Huawei Health, which is available through Google Play and the App Store, so that’s how most who don’t own a Huawei phone will try to obtain it. Except the Huawei Health app on Google Play doesn’t support the Watch GT 3, and you are forced to then download the Huawei App Gallery from outside Google Play to update the app to the latest version.
You can’t use the Apple Watch unless you have an iPhone because there’s no way to connect it to a phone that isn’t running iOS. But what if Apple made it feasible for Android phones to connect to an Apple Watch on the spur of the moment? Having recently used the Huawei Watch GT 3, I’ve had a taste of what it might be like, as I came to grips with using a non-Huawei smartphone with the Huawei smartwatch, which clearly favours Huawei phone ownership.
This requires multiple steps and altering a variety of permissions in Android, such as letting Chrome install apps and granting Huawei Health access to your phone and notifications. It’s all immensely off-putting to the average person, who may not be aware any of this was possible at all. Once you’ve done all this, the Watch GT 3 does connect without issue, but it’s a long-winded process that is not the experience new owners will expect. However, if you own a Huawei phone or even an iPhone, none of these extra steps apply, and it’s all smooth sailing.
Like the Apple Watch, the Watch GT 3’s hardware is very tempting. Huawei knows how to design a great smartwatch, and the Watch GT 3 is a considerable step up from the old Watch GT 2. It now shares the same look as the more expensive Watch 3 with its rotating crown at the two o’clock position, and a single button at the four o’clock position. It’s a far more modern style than the Watch GT 2. It comes in two different case sizes — a 46mm and a 42mm model — which is excellent, and there’s a choice of three versions with different straps and colors.
But if you own an iPhone, you should be buying an Apple Watch, and it’s probable you don’t have a new Huawei phone either, due to the general lack of availability globally, the Huawei P50 still missing in action, and the P40 series being 20 months old. That leaves you almost certainly owning an Android phone, where you’re met with the awkward setup process above. Worse, the Huawei Watch 3, released in July, was exactly the same, so there’s obviously no rush on Huawei’s part to change things. If Apple decided to give the Android hordes access to the Apple Watch, you can bet it would also require similar hoop-jumping. The question then becomes, is it worth going through all this initial bother?
The case is made from stainless steel with glass over the screen, and although it’s primarily a plastic case back on the GT 3 rather than the full ceramic found on the Watch 3, it’s still smooth, glossy, and cool to the touch. It’s far better than the scratchy plastic found on some other cheap smartwatches. I’ve been wearing the 46mm model, and the lengthy lug-to-lug measurement means it dominates my 6.5-inch wrist. Despite this, I’ve worn it all day without a problem, even with its 42-gram weight, but have never wanted to wear it at night for sleep tracking. It’s just a little too big and bulky to do so comfortably.