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Huawei Watch 3 Review: Strong Commitment is Needed

Huawei Watch 3 overview: To obtain good Harmony, you’ll must decide to it

“The Huawei Watch 3 is a beautifully designed, fast, and accurate health-tracking smartwatch, but you’ve got to get past a seriously off-putting setup experience.”

  • Great-looking and comfy to put on
  • Accurate, in-depth well being monitoring
  • Fast GPS connection
  • Fluid, quick software program
  • Short battery life with all options energetic
  • Limited eSIM help
  • Poor setup expertise

The Huawei Watch 3 isn’t simply one other smartwatch — it’s one of the necessary merchandise to come back from Huawei shortly. The Watch 3 ditches the outdated software program used on the Watch GT2 for HarmonyOS, Huawei’s self-developed working system we’ve heard so much about however till now haven’t had an opportunity to make use of.

The Huawei Watch 3 is the primary machine to formally launch with the software program on board, and whereas it’s quick and nicely designed, it takes a substantial amount of effort and dedication to get it working together with your telephone. Assuming you’re ready to place within the time, is it value it?

Design

The Huawei Watch 3 is among the best-looking smartwatches you should purchase. It’s thoughtfully designed and really comfy to put on, with a case constructed from 316L stainless-steel and a ceramic case again that includes a high-quality, luxurious end. Huawei has lengthy proved it is aware of what it’s doing with design in each telephones and wearables, and the Watch 3 continues that custom. Its clear and understated, but nonetheless thrilling, type is very watch-like and miles forward of most Wear OS smartwatches.

Huawei Watch 3 on the wrist
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The 46mm case fits my 6.5-inch wrist, and the 65-gram weight makes it wearable all through the day, though I discovered it too large to put on in a single day. The use of ceramic is necessary as a result of it feels so good towards your pores and skin. It reflective nature appears to be like stylish and doesn’t get sweaty or itchy like plastic. On the facet is an offset, neatly textured crown above a single button on the four-o’clock place. Neither dig into your wrist, however I did discover the button is a bit of too low on the case, making it barely awkward to find and press.

You management the Watch 3 utilizing the touchscreen and the crown. The 1.43-inch AMOLED display with its 466 x 466 pixel decision is gorgeous, and is at its finest when displaying off colourful watch faces. It’ll sound unusual to say, however the hardened glass used over the display has a beautiful texture, and the two.5D curve across the bezel makes swiping pleasingly tactile, whereas giving the entrance of the watch form and visible curiosity. The crown’s trendy texture has grip and is subsequently straightforward to rotate together with your finger.

Huawei Watch 3 button and crown
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If I used to be feeling uncharitable, it might be straightforward to show the Huawei Watch 3’s positives into negatives, as many of the points that make it a winner — stainless-steel, ceramic, low weight, textured crown, a single button, curved display bezel — are the identical ones that make the Apple Watch a winner. If something, the Huawei Watch 3 is a reasonably shut depiction of what a spherical Apple Watch may very well be like, and the similarities with the Apple Watch don’t finish there both, however we’ll come again to that.

The sum of the Huawei Watch 3’s elements work so nicely, I’m not going to come back down on it as a result of the design echoes the easiest smartwatch you should purchase, notably as a result of there are such a lot of disappointing smartwatches on the market and an excellent mannequin must be applauded.

Software

HarmonyOS is Huawei’s response to being unable to make use of Google Services on its cell merchandise attributable to restrictions from the U.S. government that make it not possible for U.S. firms to work with Huawei. It’s a complete, Huawei-created software program ecosystem, designed to work seamlessly throughout every thing from internet-of-things (IoT) {hardware} to smartphones.

The app grid menu on the Huawei Watch 3
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Huawei Watch 3 is the primary machine to make use of HarmonyOS 2, and you may neglect all about Wear OS, or Huawei’s personal LiteOS, which it has used on its wearables previously. It’s a world aside and approach higher than each of them. The pace, fluidity, and smoothness is astonishing. There aren’t any pauses and no slowdown, simply instantaneous response, a stunning “bounce” impact when swiping between screens, and critically quick scrolling. It’s attractively designed with shiny colours, massive icons, clear textual content, and a few fairly watch faces, too.

I shortly slipped into utilizing HarmonyOS on the Watch 3 with none interval of adjustment or a necessity to be taught new layouts or icon kinds. While it is a good factor, there’s additionally an excellent cause exterior of the fluidity, pace, and fairly design — HarmonyOS on the Watch 3 is a a bit like a “greatest hits” of wearable software program.

Press the crown to see the primary menu, which is offered as a grid of round icons and appears similar to Apple’s WatchOS. You may even twist the crown to zoom out and in of the grid, full with haptic suggestions. This is the default setting, however it may be modified to an ordinary record format if you happen to’d desire. Dig into different menus, just like the exercise record accessed utilizing the decrease button on the case, and choices are proven as a vertically scrolling record that adapts to the round display, reminding me of Tizen on the Galaxy Watch 3. Swipe left on the display and also you get info panels, similar to Wear OS and Huawei’s personal LiteOS on the Watch GT2.

Granted, there are restricted design instructions you may take with software program on such a small display, which must be used with one finger, however the similarity to WatchOS particularly doesn’t do it any favors. I modified the launcher to point out a listing of icons and frolicked selecting one of the best watch faces, simply so I might give the Watch 3 its personal id, which HarmonyOS 2.0 is barely missing in the intervening time.

Huawei Health app

The Huawei Watch 3 earns some goodwill by being engaging and having speedy software program, and it wants each final little bit of it, as a result of getting it began and utilizing the app will be very irritating. It’s right here the place HarmonyOS 2’s newness is uncovered, and we see the problem forward of Huawei if it needs to draw widespread adoption.

The Huawei Watch 3 earns some goodwill by being engaging and having speedy software program.

To sync the Watch 3 together with your Android telephone, it’s important to obtain Huawei Health, however not Huawei Health from Google Play. That model is old-fashioned, and doesn’t work with any brand-new Huawei gadgets. Instead it’s important to obtain the Huawei App Gallery and get Huawei Health from there. This means downloading an APK file, accepting system permissions, signing up with Huawei to make use of the App Gallery, downloading one other new file, accepting different new permissions, offering notification and placement entry, and extra.

It doesn’t cease there. To make Huawei Health work correctly, it’s important to set up one other app referred to as Huawei Core, although it isn’t actually defined why. To maintain Huawei Health updated, it’s important to maintain the App Gallery — an app that’s not very welcoming, to the purpose the place you’re pressured to take a look at an advert each time you open it — in your telephone. It’s all very off-putting, and a large barrier for anybody who isn’t conversant in sideloading apps and utilizing various app shops.

The worst half is, if you happen to miss a step or don’t activate the suitable permissions — which could be very straightforward to do due to the fragmented, multistep setup course of — the Watch 3 and the Huawei Health app is not going to work correctly, and it’s very tough to work out why. It’s a bit of simpler utilizing an iPhone, as an up-to-date Huawei Health app is out there immediately by the App Store. Huawei signifies you’ll get worse battery life related to an iPhone, plus like all non-Apple Watch, it gained’t help all options, together with Apple Messages.

HarmonyOS 2

The fluidity of HarmonyOS 2 makes navigating the software program pain-free, and there are apps for all the primary options together with entry to the compass, respiration workout routines, the music app, and if you happen to activate the eSIM, telephone features. If you wish to use the eSIM and are within the U.Ok., it only works with Vodafone’s network. Huawei doesn’t promote the Watch 3 with connectivity already energetic. Remember, including an eSIM will value additional on prime of your present month-to-month package deal. Even with out the eSIM, calls will be answered on the Watch 3 with its speaker and microphone, though it’s not notably loud.

Huawei Watch 3 lugs
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I acquired notifications with common reliability, though none will be interacted with once they do present up, however they’re at the very least formatted accurately and will be expanded to see extra element. However, when notifications arrive on the watch, it doesn’t present a preview instantly, which is irritating. I’ve discovered if you happen to depart it for a number of seconds earlier than elevating your wrist, there’s a far better likelihood the preview will present. It’s extraordinarily annoying, as a result of if you happen to occur to boost your wrist too early, you’ve blown your likelihood of ever seeing it with out waking the display and swiping up.

Huawei’s digital assistant, Celia, is out there by long-pressing the decrease button, and it really works nicely for fundamental instructions together with beginning a exercise. There are some apps and options lacking, comparable to Huawei’s personal MeeTime video name service, which doesn’t work in the U.K, There’s additionally no contactless cost system and no onboard maps. Huawei knowledgeable me that its personal Petal Maps service might be accessible on the Watch 3 sooner or later.

Frustrations apart, HarmonyOS 2 works nicely on the Watch 3. It’s an evolution of the already respectable Watch GT2’s software program and a step past Wear OS, however regardless of the visible similarities with WatchOS, nonetheless approach behind the Apple Watch.

Activity monitoring

Huawei has packed the Watch 3 with sensors. There’s a coronary heart price sensor on the again, a blood oxygen (SPo2) sensor, and a pores and skin temperature sensor, too. Recently seen on the Mobvoi TicWatch GTH, a pores and skin temperature sensor isn’t actually appropriate for monitoring core temperature, however will be useful in understanding total well being over time. However, it’s equally as area of interest as an SPo2 monitor. There are 100 totally different exercise modes, auto-fall detection, and all-day exercise recording.

Activity tracking screen on the Huawei Watch 3
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The exercise monitoring screens on the Watch 3 are clear and really straightforward to learn, and crammed with useful info. I discovered the Watch 3 acquired a GPS sign in a short time, far sooner than the Fitbit Versa 3, and its total accuracy relating to step rely, coronary heart price, and energy burned matched the Apple Watch SE. I additionally preferred the immediate to finish a exercise if the Watch 3 observed I had stopped transferring round.

What I don’t like is the extremely irritating voice-over added to exercise monitoring by default. “WORKOUT STARTED!” the Watch 3 shouts while you faucet the beginning button, letting everybody round you recognize what you’re doing. It’ll additionally shout out your coronary heart price, time elapsed, and different info at varied intervals, all within the worst accent possible. I despise it to my very core. There’s a quantity button in one of many menus so you may flip the hateful factor off.

That gripe apart, knowledge is shortly synced to Huawei Health, the place there’s a wealth of knowledge offered in a transparent, easy-to-understand approach, with loads of depth for the intense sports activities addict. Key datasets are proven on the primary web page, which will be tapped for extra element, whereas on the watch, you may see VO2Max knowledge, coaching load, and restoration time suggestions. The Huawei Watch 3 total is a really efficient, correct, and feature-packed well being and health tracker. Apart from that voice-over, which is among the worst “features” I’ve ever come throughout.

Battery life

Huawei estimates three days of battery life when related to an Android telephone, or as much as 14 days with a particular battery mode energetic. Whether these estimates are achieved very a lot is dependent upon how you utilize the watch, and thus far I haven’t achieved both. If you might have the guts price, SPo2, and pores and skin temperature monitoring energetic, and monitor a single exercise with GPS for an hour, the battery will final a day, for instance, and that isn’t excellent in any respect.

The heart rate sensor on the back of the Huawei Watch 3
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

With solely the guts price monitoring energetic, and a single exercise tracked on in the future for lower than an hour with out GPS, the battery lasted me about two-and-a-half days. That’s higher however not class main. It’s recharged utilizing a plastic plinth, which magnetically attaches to the case again. It’s fairly sluggish, taking greater than two hours to go from zero to 100%.

Price and availability

The Huawei Watch 3 prices 350 British kilos, which converts to round $483, for both the Classic model pictured above or an all-black model with a rubber strap referred to as the Sport. It’s offered by Huawei’s own online store or from Amazon. It’s not formally accessible within the U.S., however may very well be bought as an import.

Our take

For all its design polish, stylish supplies, and hyperfast software program, the Huawei Watch 3’s onboarding course of is lower than best, and is a poor introduction to what’s in any other case an excellent smartwatch. Tech novices, or anybody whose expertise ends with linking Bluetooth headphones to their telephone, will discover the setup course of utilizing the App Gallery and Huawei Health crammed with complication and uncertainty, and if it’s not carried out accurately, the watch might not work within the anticipated approach. It’s completely not befitting of a smartwatch that prices this a lot.

Anyone who has used various app shops earlier than, or owns a present Google-less Huawei telephone for that matter, will discover it far much less arduous, and committing to the Watch 3 will truly repay. It’s supremely comfy, very nicely made, and filled with accessible well being and health options. Like utilizing a Huawei smartphone at present, although, you’ll must get used to doing issues in another way, utilizing totally different apps, and being affected person as HarmonyOS grows.

Adopting the Huawei Watch 3 doesn’t require the identical stage of dedication as utilizing a Google-less Huawei smartphone, nevertheless it nonetheless doesn’t really feel like a product that’s absolutely ready for the masses. It’s very shut, although, and anybody who does really feel assured in navigating the awkward setup course of and coping with a brand new app retailer going ahead might be rewarded with a wonderful smartwatch.

Is there a greater various?

Yes. If you personal an iPhone the one smartwatch you have to be shopping for is the Apple Watch. If you’re contemplating a smartwatch at round 350 kilos (as much as $480), which means the Apple Watch Series 6 might be inside funds. It’s the best smartwatch you should purchase, and a very good alternative.

If you personal an Android telephone, the scenario is a bit of totally different. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 are our suggestions due to their sturdy efficiency and good battery life, however except you actually must have a smartwatch proper now, we’d counsel ready to see what occurs with the next Galaxy Watch release, which can have the brand new Google/Samsung Wear software program on board. It’s anticipated to reach through the summer season, and guarantees to ship a far better smartwatch experience than Wear OS.

How lengthy will it final?

The Huawei Watch 3’s stainless-steel case, ceramic case again, hardened glass, and 5ATM water resistance ought to make it very sturdy. The strap is connected utilizing quick-release pins and measures an ordinary 22mm, so replacements might be straightforward to get. Huawei is dedicated to HarmonyOS, which means the software program must be supported for some time, however because it’s fairly new, some options it’s possible you’ll count on is probably not there simply but, comparable to Petal Maps.

Having the choice for an eSIM can be useful for the long run, must you discover such a operate to be useful and are with the suitable community. There’s no cause the watch shouldn’t nonetheless be recent in design in two years time, and in concept, the software program and expertise ought to solely have improved over that point. If you’re ready to commit, there’s loads of life within the Huawei Watch 3.

Should you purchase it?

No, most individuals will discover dwelling with an Apple Watch or a Wear OS smartwatch simpler and extra in keeping with their smartphone. But if you happen to’re extra adventurous and perceive its drawbacks, the Huawei Watch 3 is a danger value taking.

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