When I got the newest Huawei Watch GT 2, at first I thought something like this: "what is there to talk about, this is carbon copy of the previous device." But there are some changes. Since I am also the "happy owner" of last year's Huawei Watch GT, I have something to compare it with. Therefore, along the way I will also tell you how the Lite OS platform has changed since the release and what it still lacks to become a full-fledged operating system for wearable devices. Let's get started!
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Design, materials, build quality
Yes, the design of the new watch is deceptively similar to the old one. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Why break something that works so well? After all, I can remind you about a certain well-known company, which from year to year uses the same designs.
In addition, the appearance of Huawei watch itself is to my liking. Unlike Apple’s watches. Yes, I am one of those conservatives who flatly refuse to recognize a square watch.
And from the point of view of the classical approach, Huawei Watch GT 2 is simply perfect. Depending on the color of the case and the straps used, the watch can complement any style you prefer. The watch is elegant, but at the same time sporty. It is enough to change the metal bracelet or leather strap to silicone.
By the way, I’m reviewing Huawei GT 2 46 mm Classic Edition made of silver stainless steel with a light brown leather strap, but there are also Sport versions that differ in the dark color of the case and silicone straps (orange and black), as well as Elite - the version is light titanium color with a metal bracelet. There is also a "women's" 42 mm version with reduced battery life and somewhat abridged functionality.
It is impossible to find fault with the materials used (stainless steel, plastic, glass, and ceramics). The watch is excellent and there can be no complaints about the build quality.
Naturally, the case is protected from dust and moisture (ATM (50 m)), which means you can take a shower, a bath and swim with the watch on, but diving is not recommended.
Personally, with Huawei Watch GT on my arm, I had been swimming for hours in the Red Sea, and after washed them with fresh water. No problem. I think that the situation is the same with the new version of the device.
How is Huawei Watch GT 2 similar to the previous generation? Yes, almost in every little thing. We have the same metal case with two buttons on the right and the back panel of high-quality strong plastic on which there are 4 optical sensors and 2 contacts for magnetic charging.
By the way, the chargers from the old (AF38-1) and new (AF39-1) versions of the watch are absolutely identical in appearance and have backward compatibility in terms of charging the watch. Although the new “tablet” can be visually distinguished by a clearer Huawei logo on top between the contacts.
Around the watchface is a ceramic bezel with a 24-hour scale. And here we see several significant differences. In the GT model, the markings are orange, while in GT2 they are light gray. In addition, in the new model, the bezel is on the same level as glass, while in the old the glass is recessed.
I don’t know what to think about it. From an aesthetic point of view, the new solution looks more interesting. But from the practical point... For almost half a year of operation, the ceramic edging more than once saved the glass of the display of my watch from scratches, or even from more serious damage. For hours I scraped the walls and other architectural structures, touched protruding parts of the trunk of a car and... I can’t even even remember everything. And each time I praised this level of protection. It really showed its effectiveness - there still is not a single scratch on the glass. It will be difficult to say how it will be with the new version of the watch. But purely theoretically, the protection here is not as reliable as we would like. It doesn't fill me with confidence.
We find another small external difference between the new watch and the old one at the back - the shape of the lid is slightly changed. But nothing substantial.
Huawei Watch GT2 uses a round 1.39-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels. Actually - exactly the same characteristics as before. The brightness is also unchanged. The only difference I noticed is that the screen looks warmer on the older version, but it is possible that these are features of different batches of the same matrix model.
In general, the screen is excellent for this class. Information is perfectly readable in any conditions and in any light. In addition, the use of AMOLED and a dark interface theme improves energy efficiency, which is very important for a wearable device.
It is worth noting that in everyday life I use automatic brightness control, and in general it works adequately. In addition, in the settings you can choose one of 5 levels of backlight manually.
Also with the next update, the manufacturer added the long-awaited Always On Display function to the system in two versions - a simple analog or digital dial with a choice of color accent (white, green, red). Of course, AOD reduces the battery life of the watch, but more on that later.
By the way, the mode of constant time display on the screen itself works according to a "smart" algorithm and takes into account your status and events. For example, when the watch determines that you are asleep, the AOD is turned off. When you wake up, you have to push the button.
In addition, when the charge is reduced to 20%, you will be asked to turn off the screen saver to increase the battery life of the device. If the watch receives a notification, you can quickly see the contents within a few seconds after vibration using gestures. Convenient.
And here we find serious changes. The first is the most inconspicuous and probably the most important: change of hardware platform. Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip used in Watch GT has been replaced, and Huawei now uses its own Kirin A1 SoC. Thanks to this, the communication capabilities of the watch have improved significantly. Instead of Bluetooth 4.2 in the old watch, we get the newer version 5.1 with the BLE/BR/EDR extensions.
In this review I don’t want to delve into the technical details of the chip. From the point of view of the consumer, nothing has changed. The new watch works at first and second glance as fast and smoothly as the old one. But in a political sense, this is a very significant step against the US sanctions. Strengthening Huawei's independence from third-party technologies and components continues.
The RAM, by the way, also increased from 8 MB in the old watch to 32 MB in the new. I didn’t notice a real improvement, but most likely an additional amount of RAM is necessary for the work of new functions, which I will discuss below.
Features of Huawei Watch GT 2
First, for those readers who are faced with the topic for the first time, I will simply list the features that are available in both Huawei Watch GT and Huawei Watch GT 2, and after that we will move on to the innovations.
- Showing Time (shocking, I know)
- Stopwatch, timer, alarm clock (a classic of the genre)
- Tracking steps, distance traveled, calories burned.
- Displays the current weather.
- Heart rate measurement - on request, during training or continuous. Flexible customizable feature.
- Sleep tracking - time, quality of sleep, sleep phases.
- Flashlight (simply turns on the white bright backlight of the screen)
- Phone search and anti-loss function (the watch signals if you have gone far from the smartphone and the connection has been disconnected)
- Display notifications (can be configured on the smartphone)
- Sports functions and exercise records have a separate menu that can be called up from the main menu or by pressing the bottom button. There are almost all typical sports activities: running, walking, climbing the mountain or on the stairs, a bicycle and an exercise bike, an ellipsoid, swimming, a triathlon. During training, the GPS function is actively used and your track is recorded in the watch’s memory, then it is synchronized with the smartphone and the cloud. You can analyze records and view training details on your smartphone.
The main hardware features of Huawei Watch GT 2 are the presence of a microphone and speaker. Now you can not only see who is calling and drop incoming calls, but also receive calls and talk without removing the smartphone from your pocket, using the speakerphone function in the watch. For example, it will be useful if you are driving. From the side it will look a little funny, I agree. You can also connect a wireless headset to the watch and talk through it if you are on the street.
In addition to this function, 2 new items appeared in the smartphone menu - Contacts and Calls. The first is responsible for 10 selected contacts you can call right from the watch. Add them from your smartphone. The second menu displays the last 12 calls from the smartphone application. And from here you can also call any number from the list. Pretty awesome.
Manage your player and listen to music
Another long-awaited feature is music playback. Moreover, you can not only control the player on your smartphone, but also listen to music directly from the watch, due to the fact that the amount of internal memory has increased from 128 MB to 4 GB. True, the Huawei Health application, through which you need to upload music files from your smartphone to your watch, claims about 2.3 GB of available space. Apparently, the remaining 1.7 GB is reserved for the system, application data and firmware updates.
There’s also a new ability to connect Bluetooth earphones or headsets. Here everything seems to be simple and clear, I will not describe it in detail. But the funny thing is that you can listen to music without headphones, right through the speaker of the device. The quality is as good as one might expect, but still... volume is quite decent.
Another new feature of the Huawei Watch GT 2 is the measurement of stress levels. As I understand it, it is based on the analysis of your heart rate in rest mode and heart rate fluctuations in general. How true this information is, and what you can do to improve these indicators, I don’t know. But before activating this feature in the Huawei Health app, you will be asked to take a rather lengthy personality test on the topic of your mental and psychological well-being and stress resistance. The data obtained are taken into account when the stress measurement function algorithms work. But I think the objectivity of this function is lacking. Maybe I'm wrong.
Another new menu item is Breathing Exercises. But here everything is simple - set the duration and rhythm, and the watch shows you when to inhale and exhale, just follow the instructions on the screen. Is it helpful? Probably.
Since the watch now has a speaker, the function of sound and voice prompts has appeared, in addition to the previously existing vibration. For example, the watch informs about the start and end of a workout in a harsh but pleasant male voice.
Lite OS pros and cons
In general, since the release, the operating system for Huawei watches has been massively upgraded. Everyone who is interested in this topic will remember that the fresh Lite OS seemed rather primitive. In addition, there were delays in the operation of the interface. And there were no individual icons for each application, and it was often not clear where the notification came from.
Most of these shortcomings have already been fixed. The interface has become smoother. Icons have appeared for most popular applications. But not for every app possible. Why it is impossible to use shortcuts from a smartphone I do not understand. There are also no custom response templates.
As I mentioned above, the function of constantly displaying the time has been added. But it is limited to two AOD-skins, even if they do look great.
The watchfaces were also added, there is some choice, but frankly, not nearly enough. You can’t yourself create the watchfaces you want with a combination of the necessary widgets. and the ability to add ready-made third-party watchfaces is sorely missing. I hope someday such functions will appear.
I also have complaints about new features. For example, controlling the playback of music on a smartphone. It sounds like a cool idea. Convenient, yes. No need to get your smartphone out of your pocket, you can pause playback from the smartwatch and resume listening, control volume and switch tracks.
But the implementation of this features is not the best. First, you need to start playing music on your smartphone. You can find a logical explanation for this – maybe you have several music players. After that, you can only switch tracks within the original playlist. But this is not the saddest thing. To access the player’s widget, you need to activate the watch screen and make 4 side swipes from the main screen. But the watch does not remember this action. It forgets it all immediately after switching the screen, if you use AOD, and after a while, if your screen just goes blank.
The next time you access the function (for example, you listened to 2 songs, but you want to skip the 3rd or you need to adjust the volume), it would be logical for the player’s widget to be displayed immediately when the screen is turned on, for example, with a touch (when using AOD). An example is MyKronoz ZeTime watch, where the system remembers the last application and launches it when the screen is activated. But no! In Huawei Watch GT 2 you will again be shown the main face and you need to do the same 4 side swipes. In general, it works, but it is not very convenient to use it because of a bunch of unnecessary actions. It will be easier and faster to get a smartphone out of your pocket.
UPDATE: In the watch settings, a function for determining actions when clicking on the bottom button has appeared. Including it you can assign a music player.
The phone call function works flawlessly. But why are there standard default shortcuts with little people, is it really that hard to pull up individual userpics from the contact list?
Of course, the main disadvantage of Lite OS is the lack of any extensibility. You can only add certain watchfaces, but not enough. I would like to have at least a primitive app store that would allow me to imprive the overall functionality.
Another, and probably the main drawback of the entire Huawei Watch GT line is the lack of contactless payments. Don’t expect Google Pay in the next generations of watches on this platform. There is still hope for Huawei Pay, but here everything will depend on the company's ability to expand the global distribution of this payment system.
On the other hand, there are fears that all the complications of the interface and functions will lead to the fact that Lite OS may lose its main advantages - ease, simplicity and excellent energy efficiency. Therefore, at this stage, we have to compromise. In principle, I will not say that there is stagnation, the system is growing in software - in parallel with the hardware capabilities. Also, firmware updates arrive almost every month.
This application is a hub for recording your activity and setting up all wearable devices. The watch connection is simple, all settings are clear, there are tips. There is also synchronization with Huawei’s cloud and uploading data to Google Fit and MyFitnessPal. In addition, this application is responsible for checking for new firmware versions and updating the watch by air.
In the context of Huawei Watch GT2, the application can also be used to download music and create a list of favorite contacts to call from the watch.
The manufacturer on the official website declares 2 numbers - 14 days of work with the heart rate monitor turned on, exercises for 90 minutes a week and listening to music for 30 minutes a week. And 30 hours at maximum load using GPS. In general, it is clear that actual battery life depends on the specific mode of use. For example, if you enable the always-on display, the watch warns that the use time will be reduced by 2 times.
Personally, my watch worked for 6 days with all the features turned on (constant monitoring of heart rate, stress and sleep tracking) and the Always On Display analogue skin. But these are indicators without training, although I walked a lot while the watch tracked my activity.
In any case, Huawei Watch GT 2 is one of the most “long-living” smart watches on the market. This can be stated with certainty. With an average activity of use, it needs to be charged approximately once a week. And by this indicator, they practically do not differ from the previous generation. But the functionality has increased.
When it comes to charging speed, these are the times from 2A adapter and charging from the initial 10% of the battery:
- 00:00 - 10%
- 00:10 - 26%
- 00:20 - 45%
- 00:30 - 62%
- 00:40 - 75%
- 00:50 - 88%
- 01:00 - 95%
- 01:04 - 100%
As you can see, less than 10 minutes of charging is enough to extend the life of the watch for a full day of use. Which is pretty cool.
Main question. Should the owners of the old version update to a new one? Personally, I don’t see the point, as I simply don’t need the new functions. I listen to music from a smartphone and control playback directly from the TWS-headset. But if you have headphones without such capabilities, then this feature will undoubtedly be useful.
In addition, if you like jogging or other sporting activities, the watch as a music player will come in handy. Just keep in mind that without a smartphone, the phone call function will not work. Whether it is actually practical is still up for the debate.
At the same time, if you are just about to buy a new smartwatch, then Huawei Watch GT 2 is one of the best options, especially considering the perfect (for me) design, the great screen, excellent battery life and advanced functionality. Yes, the device’s capabilities are limited, but all critical and necessary components work almost perfectly (I talked about the flaws). What’s really great is that you don’t need to worry about daily charging. But, if you don’t need these fancy new features, there are cheaper models of the previous generation.
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