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(Pocket-lint) - When Huawei first stepped away from Google's Wear OS and went off and did its own thing with the Watch GT, there were a few points that stood out. Huawei promised seemingly impossible battery life from a watch with a full-colour OLED screen. But also the software was remarkably limited - at least when compared to 'proper' smartwatches. 

Now we're a few generations into the Huawei Watch lifecycle, what's become clear is that Huawei wants to make fitness tracking a key feature - which is something that Wear OS watches lack.

That focus has already led to the Watch GT 2e - a very affordable solution with 100+ different tracking options for activities - and now Huawei is building upon that platform with the Watch GT 2 Pro: a watch with very similar performance, but made from much more luxurious materials. 

Design and build

  • Dimensions: 46.7 x 46.7 x 11.4mm / Weight: 52g
  • Sapphire crystal glass over the display
  • Finishes: Nebula Grey / Night Black
  • Leather strap with 'Classic' model
  • Titanium 46mm case

There are two models of GT 2 Pro: Classic and Sport. The former is the one you'll see in these review photos. It's the one that ships with a lovely and soft leather band that's relatively flexible. It also ships with a spare rubber strap, for when you want to go running/go to the gym. The Sport model only ships with an elastomer band. 

The big change in design here is down to the materials. Its case is made from titanium, a lightweight and robust metal, with the screen capped off with a sapphire crystal lens, and the underside built from ceramic.

It's hardwearing and lightweight but features quite a simplistic, minimal design. We love the look of it - especially the way the reflective sapphire crystal glass covering the black bezel and index contrasts nicely with the natural, duller grey of titanium. 

That glass on the top is completely flat too, which aids that minimalist appearance but still features an angled chamfer around the edges. What we really appreciate is the way the leather strap joins the case. Unlike previous models, the curvature of the metal fixing points curves to create an almost uninterrupted line between the leather strap and the case.

It doesn't just look purely functional anymore. Yet you can still easily remove the strap to replace it with another using the quick-release catches. Although, you'll need one with the right tapering to make it look as seamless as the one that ships with the watch. 

The underside is almost as attractive as the top, which seems to be a trend among smartwatch makers these days. The ceramic, shiny base curves upwards gently into the heart-rate sensing area, which features upgraded hardware that we'll detail more later in this review.

Display and performance

  • 1.39-inch round AMOLED panel, 454 x 454 resolution
  • 14-day battery life, 30hrs of GPS sports tracking
  • Wireless charging
  • 4GB storage

When it comes to display and hardware, a lot is the same as it was before. Well, mostly. The Pro  has a similar round and bright OLED panel on the front which - compared to many other smartwatches - has a high-resolution and therefore pixel density. That means finer details visible in watch faces, but also that colours are vibrant and easy to see when you're outside. 

Pocket-lintHuawei Watch GT 2 Pro initial review: Luxury and class meet a fully featured fitness tracker photo 1

It activates automatically when you raise your wrist, or you can enable one of the handful of 'standby' screens - which are essentially always-on watch faces that update every minute, rather than showing second-by-second animations. When activated it does cut into the epic battery life on offer though, so that's worth considering. 

Being quite a large display it's great for reading data when you're out running or working out too. That's one element we've always liked about Huawei's smartwatch platform: you get lots of data that's easy to read and doesn't ever feel like the display is getting too cluttered. 

As far as battery life goes, the GT 2 Pro is as good as you'll get from a watch with a proper colour screen on it. Huawei claims you can get up to two weeks - and we weren't far off that in our daily use. Depending on how many activities we tracked and how long those sessions were, the watch could go between 10-14 days between charges. 

Part of that is enabled by the low refresh-rate of the screen and also the fact that it's off most of the time by default. You do cut into that time if you enable features like the always-on display, or you use it a lot for fitness tracking with GPS, but still it's got far better battery life than anything Wear OS, the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch devices. 

One thing that has changed in this Huawei is the charging method. The old magnetic disc with two physical contact points has been replaced by a fully wireless charging system. It's still magnetic, but like Apple's and Samsung's competitive devices, it uses a wireless tech to deliver power. This also means if you have a phone with reverse wireless charging that you can top up the watch battery using your phone.

Fitness tracking excellence

  • 100+ workout modes - new additions include Golf and Skiing advancements
  • Outdoor assistant, Offline navigator with auto-return route
  • More accurate heart-rate readings

It's no secret that Huawei's operating system on its watches is lacking a little in interactivity. The low refresh-rate display means animations aren't the smoothest, while the basic level of notification support means you can't reply and react to messages from your phone like you can with the Galaxy Watch 3 or Wear OS watches. But that's a compromise made to lengthen the battery life. 

Where Huawei excels is in fitness tracking data. With previous watches we've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of data you can get, particularly when running. And the activity list seems to be growing all the time. The latest version of Huawei's health offering, as found in the GT 2 Pro, has more than 100 different activity tracking modes and - while some of those offer more basic data than others, it's still an impressive list. 

It's added a dedicated driving range mode for when you want to practise your golf swing. It'll give you swing speed/tempo as well as show you your downswing and backswing details in an aim to help you improve your form. There's a pro skiing mode too, designed to help track downhill and cross country skiing, as well as snowboarding. 

If that wasn't enough, Huawei now has an offline navigator built into the various outdoor/trail walking and running activity modes. That means it can help you find your way back if you've lost your way a bit and just need to return to your starting point. 

Add to that an outdoor assistant which shows you sunrise/sunset times as well as tide times, moon phases and weather warnings. All in all, that means you have an accomplished tool for staying safe and aware when you're out in the wild. 

With all of this combined with a new heart-rate sensor - dubbed TruSeen 4.0+ - it means that your physical activity and exertion is going to be more accurately tracked than before too. The LED lights that shine to enable the feature are brighter than before, while the power efficiency has been improved at the same time. Huawei has also brought in some machine learning capabilities to make computing that data more accurate too. 

What we found in our tracking efforts was that for the usual activities, such as indoor cycling or outdoors running, the heart-rate tracker was about as reliable as any others we've tried. Results were similar to our Apple Watch, Samsung and Garmin trackers. 

Where it struggled, however, was in high-intensity workouts. We found it would take almost 10 minutes to start tracking accurately. With our pulse racing after a few intervals, the Watch GT 2 Pro believed we were still plodding along at only just above 100bpm - which is barely above our heart rate when walking slowly - while the Apple Watch on the other wrist was more accurately displaying 140-150bpm. 

After those initial minutes, however, it was much more in line with our actual heart rate. But considering it uses that to calculate effort and recovery time, the overall analysis of those workouts was off. So it's great for some activities, but not all - which wouldn't be a huge problem if not for the 100+ activity options.

Verdict

As with previous versions of Watch GT, the Pro model is a great fitness and activity tracker, but this time one that's built using some of the finest materials.

In a lot of ways this is the Watch GT 2e - a watch that we really liked - but dressed up in nicer clothes and with a more advanced heart-rate sensor. Despite that new sensor, however, Huawei still needs to work out how to fix the inaccuracy issues in HIIT workouts, among others, which seem to take too long to start getting an accurate reading. 

Overall, for those who want a smart sports watch that tracks all the sessions they could wish for, with good levels of data and a battery life that's unrivalled in a colour-screen device, the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro an ideal option.

Given the materials used in its build quality and the craftsmanship in its design, it's rather good value for money too.

Alternatives to consider

Apple Watch SE

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With its more affordable Apple Watch model the tech giant has given us pretty much all the modern smartwatch features and fitness tracking, but in a package that's much more accessible. The only downside is the Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhones. 

Garmin Venu

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If what you want is an accomplished sports and fitness tracking watch with some of the modern-day conveniences of a smartwatch, there's the Garmin Venu. It features excellent sports features, with great battery life and features like onboard music from Spotify/Amazon and Garmin Pay for payments. 

Writing by Cam Bunton. Originally published on 9 September 2020.