Huawei Watch GT 2: Screen
The screen is a 1.39-inch 454 x 454 OLED panel. It’s among the sharpest-looking smartwatches, but photos of it don’t get close to representing the real-world experience.
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Huawei uses a deliberately slow refresh rate panel as this is the only way it can make the Watch GT 2 last as long as it does between charges. The result? This screen looks much better when displaying a static image than in motion.
There’s a jerkiness to movement that can make the watch seem slow until you realise it only looks slow, and the watch itself reacts fairly quickly.
This would matter more if the Huawei Watch GT 2 were a high functioning smartwatch packed with apps, which it is not. But the impression still matters.
The issues of the laggy refresh and slightly slow wake are battery life trade-offs. But the Huawei Watch GT 2 screen is otherwise great. Its OLED panel is saturated, rich and high in contrast, and bright enough to look clear during outdoor workouts on sunny days.
There is an always-on screen mode too, although it took us a while to catch on to its existence. Huawei doesn’t call it “always on”, but “lock screen”. There are two always-on faces, analogue and digital clocks that show no information but the time. Each can use red, green or white highlights for a hint of customisation.
Huawei says this halves the battery so we kept it switched off for the initial fortnight to see if the Huawei GT 2 would really last the claimed two weeks between charges. However, for day-to-day use this solves the complaint of having to wait a beat just to see the time after raising your wrist.
Both always-on faces are fairly tasteful. They have, unsurprisingly, a far more minimal look than most of the 22 standard watch faces.
These are a mixed bag. There are a few stylish looking designer-type faces, but most of those that try to emulate a real 46mm analogue watch miss the mark, and some of the more information-rich designs are too busy. A slight deficit of taste from Huawei? This should surprise few people, but most will find a few faces they like.
This highlights one of the weaknesses of the Huawei Watch GT 2: you can’t add countless watch faces, like you can on WearOS smartwatches or the Apple Watch.
Huawei Watch GT 2: Sports tracking
The Huawei Watch GT 2 is a better exercise tracker than a smartwatch. It’s where Huawei tries to offer a “complete” array of features, although it and sister brand Honor have become masters of doing so at a much lower price than its rivals.
The GT 2 has built-in GPS, a heart rate sensor, compass and barometer, as well as basic gyro/accelerometer motion sensors.
There are modes for walking, running, cycling, swimming and a few specific gym machines. The “other” mode simply records your time and heart rate.
Like other running watches, GPS is essential for proper training, and provides you with route maps you can look at post-workout in the Huawei Health app.
There are some extras that are good for thoughtful training too. During an exercise the Huawei Watch GT 2 will show you your performance relative to your average. It can be a downer on off days when the watch tells you, no, you’re not doing very well, but can also act as a motivator.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 has training plans for running too, 13 guided exercises split into four effort levels. These are not at the level of couch-to-5K or the marathon training plans you can get in app form on your phone. But some of them are so simple you could easily use them to simply time your warm up and warm down phases during a run.
All your workouts, whether part of one of these guided plans or not, can be accompanied by voice prompts. These tell you your performance and heart rate as you hit each km, spoken in an indeterminate accent — this is no “RP” digital assistant voice.
As standard these voice prompts pipe through the watch’s speaker, which is a little unnerving if you run through a busy park as the guy chats on for about 10 seconds each time. The voice can be switched off or played through connected headphones. But, disappointingly, it does not come through headphones if they are hooked up to your phone rather than the watch.
You can customise these performance updates, though, changing when they pop up and removing the heart rate info if you’d rather just hear the basics.
Huawei Watch GT 2: Heart rate accuracy
We do have some quibbles with the heart rate readings. The Huawei Watch GT 2’s high intensity readings are good, and it tracks moments when you drop the intensity a little well. But it has a habit of overestimating low readings, which is problematic if you start tracking exercise during a warm-up walk rather than after it.
Such readings seem to be 10-20 bpm off the mark most of the time. The effects of the predictive algorithm working behind the scenes are a little too visible.