Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro full review
Huawei's GT 2 smartwatch family continues to grow with the latest addition being the Watch GT 2 Pro. As the name suggests, the Pro retains the best of the previous entries in the Watch GT 2 series and ups the ante in a couple of key areas.
There's no denying that there are plenty of similarities between 2019's original Huawei Watch GT 2 and the new GT 2 Pro - arriving one year on - but Huawei has, at least, graced this new model with some upgraded internals and a premium new design (not to mention a higher price tag to match).
Design and build
If I described a titanium-bodied smartwatch that incorporates sapphire glass and ceramic into its construction, there's every chance you'd think I was talking about an Apple Watch Edition - Apple's most exclusive variant of Apple Watch - which leans on more luxurious materials to set itself apart from other SKUs of the company's principal wearable, as well as other smartwatches in general.
Huawei clearly felt like this approach would also work for its own GT 2 smartwatch line and is exactly what the GT 2 Pro brings to the table, first and foremost.
The company's latest smartwatch boasts a finely milled and brushed titanium body, sandwiched between a toughened sapphire glass frontage and a ceramic back, with the option of a leather strap to weave yet another premium touch into the overall package.
The geometry of the casing and details like the markings around the circular display all feed into a sense of refined minimalism; definitely opting for more subtle and sophisticated forms overall, compared to the original Watch GT 2.
Related: Huawei Watch GT 2 (46mm) review
As with previous entries in the GT 2 series, there are two hardware buttons on the right side of the watch's 46mm casing with fine knurling around each to add a little interest. The cover glass doesn't rise from a deep chamfer, as it did on 2019's GT 2 and instead sits almost flush with the casing, also adding to the Pro's cleaner lines.
Despite the lightweight nature of titanium as a material, the Pro is actually the thickest and heaviest member of the GT 2 family so far. That said, the extra weight (52 grams total, without a strap) actually lends itself to the more premium/luxury approach this watch is taking.
Like the knurled hardware buttons, another small detail that could be easily overlooked is the tiny notched channel set into the back of the lugs when you flip the GT 2 Pro over. These help guide each strap's quick-release pins in, so changing the bands isn't as arduous a process as it could be, especially if you intend to move between bands regularly, for fashion or workout purposes.
Depending on the SKU you opt for, you can pick up the GT 2 Pro with a 'Night Black' fluoroelastomer strap or both this black strap and a grey/brown leather band, which Huawei calls 'Nebula Grey'. These two variants are effectively the same watch with a different number of bands in-box and referred to as the 'Sport' and 'Classic' models, respectively.
Considering you get two strap options if you swing for the Classic model, we'd recommend going for that, provided you like Huawei's leather offering in this instance. If neither is to your fancy, the benefit of the Pro's design is that you can actually change out the included bands for any equivalently-sized watch band, without the worry of proprietary design limitations.
The other primary difference with the Pro's namesake (and the intermediary Huawei Watch GT 2e) is the move to a ceramic back (instead of plastic). Not only is this a more premium, harder-wearing and hypoallergenic material choice, but it also conceals the improved TruSeen 4.0+ optical heart rate sensor and a new charging mechanism.
For the first time on a Huawei watch, the GT 2 Pro supports wireless charging, instead of using a pogo pin-based connection. This has a couple of advantages; firstly, the watch can now magnetically attach to the new charging dock in any orientation and better yet, it's compatible with phones that offer reverse wireless charging (examples include the Huawei P40 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Google's Pixel 5).
Beyond this, the GT 2 Pro features the microphone and speaker setup of the original GT 2, which allows for (not particularly useful) music playback, as well as (slightly more useful) on-wrist call capabilities, not to mention swim-proofing up to 5ATM/50m features too.
One aspect of the GT 2 line's design that I've always found curious is Huawei's decision to have their displays raised away from the bezel, rather than recessed into it for better protection - as on the recently-launched Honor Watch GS Pro, for example.
In the case of the GT 2 Pro specifically, Huawei would no doubt cite the use of extra-hardy sapphire glass as a way to justify this design choice but I can't shake the idea that the edges of the cover glass remain more susceptible to nicks, bumps and scrapes than they need to have been.
As for the screen itself, the 1.39in 454x454 circular AMOLED panel should seem familiar to those who've used any other entry in the Watch GT 2 series. It's a pleasingly, crisp and colourful panel with respectable contrast and manageable brightness drop-off when viewed off-axis.
The GT 2 Pro has responsive tilt-to-wake support out-the-box, so shouldn't leave you waiting too long if you want to sneak a peek at the time. There are also an assortment of always-on watch faces, should you prefer having the time to hand permanently, but although there's a degree of customisation on offer, you only have six analogue and digital always-on options to choose between, paling in comparison to the assortment of regular watch faces that the Pro supports.
Software & features
You'll find 12 default watch faces pre-loaded onto the GT 2 Pro, including the constellation-laden 'NightWish' face, which features on most of the marketing material for this wearable. The newest additions generally skew towards emulating luxury analogue watch faces, most likely in an effort to complement the Pro's more premium industrial design.
You can also pull in faces from other entries in the GT 2 line via the Huawei Health app (which serves as the connection point for all things between watch and phone), with the total watch face count - at the time of writing - totalling 176, meaning plenty of choice and customisation, with support for complications on several entries too.
Not much has changed with regards to the Lite OS-powered software on the Pro versus its predecessors; the user experience is still characteristically lightweight for a smartwatch, with fitness and wellbeing features being the strongest within its overall feature set and an inability to install or support third-party apps and experiences being its biggest limitation.
(Note - 24/2/2021: Huawei has since added third-party app support on its wearables, starting with the GT 2 Pro).
You also have access to staple features like a weather app, timers, 'find phone' functionality, remote camera shutter control and music playback (as mentioned earlier).
One new addition is the OneHop feature, which - using NFC (something previously disabled on the GT 2 series outside of China) - means you can instantly transfer images from your phone's gallery onto the GT 2 Pro as a custom watch face.
It's a quick and simple way to keep the Pro feeling fresh or as a means to match your watch face to your outfit instantly. It would have been nice to see expanded NFC support - including mobile payment support - but right now Huawei, as a company, is dealing with more pressing limitations than such a feature.
Considering the Pro has a speaker and microphone, implementing support for your phone's digital assistant or Celia (in the case of Huawei's own phones) - either as a locally-powered or connected-only feature - would have been useful, even if only in basic cases, like setting alarms or timers when your hands are full. However, no such feature is present, potentially due to limitations within Lite OS or the processor/memory setup that powers the GT 2 Pro.
Fitness & wellbeing
While the Watch GT 2 Pro is billed as a smartwatch, its talents really lie in its fitness tracking capabilities.
Huawei has expanded the list of 'professionally tracked' activities to include a golf mode for driving range tracking, showing you your swing speed and tempo, along with form-improving details on your downswing and backswing. Tracking for various means of skiing and snowboarding have been added too.
This is in addition to the other 'professional' workout modes, as well as the 85+ general workout modes and guided running courses that previous GT 2 series watches already supported - bringing the total trackable workout types to over 100.
During workouts, the Pro's integrated speaker really shines, relaying pertinent information like distance, pace, heart rate and more, loudly and clearly enough that you should be able to hear it against fairly busy road noise when running, for example. It's an elevated experience compared to the speakerless GT 2e, meaning you can focus on your workout without having to glance down at your wrist to gain quantified insight into your efforts in real-time.
SpO2 tracking seems to be a touch more consistent this time around, while constant heart rate, stress and sleep data can be reviewed within the Huawei Health app; with the offer of referenced recommendations for healthier choices, based on your current data.
Performance & battery life
Beyond the design, there's little that's changed on the inside of this watch, compared to the original GT 2.
The GT 2 Pro still runs on the same Kirin A1 chip, sports 32MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage (about 2GB of which is user-accessible; able to hold up to a quoted 500 songs locally at mp3 quality).
In general use, performance feels on-par with the GT 2 (and superior to the comparatively-underpowered GT 2e), with fairly smooth and responsive user interaction on offer when swiping around Lite OS. It's still not slick as Apple's or Samsung's latest and greatest smartwatches in this regard but this disparity could be justified by the price difference at play.
The TruSeen 4.0+ heart rate sensor on the Pro's back promises greater accuracy and power efficiency compared the v3.0 and v3.5 on the GT 2 and GT 2e respectively, and in testing it against the latter it definitely provided more consistent heart rate readings during the same segments of a workout; with the older GT 2e offering a variation of between 5 and 10bpm more than what the GT 2 Pro was showing.
That mention of improved power efficiency from the TruSeen 4.0+ sensor also rings true in testing, with only a 2% drain with heart rate and GPS tracking turned on, along with voice feedback enabled during the course of a 30-minute run.
The GT 2e doesn't have a speaker to sap additional power but still ended up using 1% more juice over the same time period, despite both watches featuring equally capacious 455mAh batteries.
Huawei promises 14-day battery life with the Pro, as it has done with previous GT 2 series watches; so far, we're yet to see one deliver such longevity in real-world testing. That said, the 12 or so days that the GT 2 Pro should last you on a charge is still markedly better than more dynamic (and pricier) rivals, which would struggle to make it through more than a couple of days without resorting to a low-power mode of some kind.
As well as its more convenient wireless and reverse wireless charging compatibility, the Pro is also capable of a fast charge that promises up to 10 hours use from just 5 minutes charge time - something we'd love to see more wearables bring to the table.
Price & availability
Huawei announced the Watch GT 2 Pro as part of its Seamless AI Life product launch event on 10 September, where interestingly, the company priced the watch at €329/€349 for the Sport and Classic editions, respectively.
What stands out is that since the Pro's original announcement and it hitting (virtual) store shelves on 5 October, Huawei has seemingly slashed the Pro's RRP down to £299.99/€299.
This still makes it the most expensive GT-branded smartwatch the company has released thus far but markedly more competitive against the best and brightest in the market; namely the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
This is just as much a comparison against the previous GT 2 entries as it is a review, primarily because the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro doesn't rewrite the rulebook all that much. Whether it needed to comes down to Huawei's wider wearable strategy but as it stands the company seems content in simply creating niche offshoots of the base Watch GT 2.
All that said, there's no denying that within the confines of the GT 2 line, the GT 2 Pro is the best yet. It offers one of the most premium and compelling designs out there and is supported by an ever-improving feature set.
Look beyond the GT 2 bubble, however, and the question then becomes whether it's worth dropping an extra £100/€100 for what is fundamentally a cosmetic facelift on a year-old wearable, double-down on a more fitness-focused device - like the Fitbit Charge 4 - or swing for a more capable smartwatch, like Apple's or Samsung's aforementioned latest offerings.
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Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro: Specs
- 1.39in circular 454×454 AMOLED display
- Huawei Kirin A1 processor
- 4GB storage
- 32MB RAM
- 5ATM water resistance
- 455mAh battery
- Up to 14 days battery life
- Wireless charging w/ quick charge
- Lite OS
- Weather warnings
- Support for 100 workout modes total
- Support for 17 professional workout modes w/ automatic workout detection
- Golf mode
- Heart rate monitoring
- Stress monitoring
- Sleep monitoring
- GPS w/ ‘Route Back’ guidance
- SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) tracking
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Quick-release fluoroelastomer or TPU straps
- Titanium case
- Sapphire glass front
- Ceramic back
- 52 grams (without strap)
- Colours: Night Black, Nebula Grey
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