Huawei launched the Watch GT 4 last month. Appearance was the main talking point, with new features remaining a secondary topic, and we took our sweet time to figure out if Huawei decided to pivot into the fashion industry or if there’s more to the wearable than the launch event mentioned.
We went through our usual tests and here are our impressions after one month with the Huawei Watch GT 4.
Design and build
The first thing we noticed is the design – the 46 mm variant comes with a unique octagonal body. It really is standing out in a world of circles and rectangles. The full name of our Green variant is Rainforest Green GMT, with GMT standing for Greenwich Mean Time, as this version is the only one with 24-hour markers in the bezel.
The dual colors apparently “signify day and night,” but in reality, the markers are unusable with any of the watch faces.
The watch case is made from Stainless Steel, just like its predecessor, the Watch GT 3. The lighter Titanium remains reserved for more premium options like the Pro variants or the Ultimate, but we are quite impressed with the durability of this case.
The braided green strap is a composite from recycled ocean-bound nylon – while this is just a lengthy way to say recycled plastic, it does feel nice and is definitely among the best-looking in the lineup.
We also have to mention the 41 mm variants. We had a very limited time with the smaller models during the official launch, and all three variants looked great. They are a lot more attractive and a true fashion piece without extra elements or a so-called “unique” design. The 41 mm Huawei Watch GT 4 could pass for an actual luxurious watch, with its only drawbacks being the smaller screen and battery.
Hardware and software
The Watch GT 4 is a natural evolution of the Watch GT 3. The predecessor was way ahead of the competition two years ago, and Huawei decided to play it relatively safe with the new wearable – don’t change what is already working well. It has the same set of health sensors on the back, the very same 1.43” AMOLED with 466 x 466 resolution and can be sumbermerge to 50m or 5 ATM; it also keeps the support for L1 and L5 satellites for accurate positioning.
What Huawei did differently this time is the utilization of said sensors. New features, combined with the capabilities of HarmonyOS 4.0 promise « data-driven » workout tips. One of the new features we really enjoyed is the Activity Rings 2.0 – the watch tracks moving, exercises and how many times you stand up. There is also a virtual medal inside the Huawei Health app, gamifying the process of staying active.
The smartphone is an essential part of another new feature called Calorie Management. It aims to track real-time calorie intake, active calories, resting calories and the overall deficit – all this info can be found in the Weight sub-menu of the Health app.
Obviously no smartwatch in the world knows what you are eating – this has to be typed in either manually or through a third-party app that is not available everywhere. But if you tracking your calories you won’t be needing a separate app for that and the visualizations inside Huawei Health are pretty.
This device, just like any other Huawei Watch, is a wearable for hobby athletes. Finally, there are more sports activities – tennis, table tennis, padel, and badminton. There is also voice-guided running for certain types of running activities.
Runners will love the fact they will be able to upload a track (through the Huawei Health app) and follow it. There is also a so-called “smart fusion positioning algorithm” that got increasingly accurate the more times we ran. We used the Watch GT 4 as a main wearable during an ITRA- and UTMB-certified ultramarathon on some trails in Southern Europe, and it was actually more accurate than a smartphone.
Another new feature we loved at first sight was Sleep Breathing Awareness – it is a neat graphic that tells you about obvious interruptions in the breathing pattern while sleeping. However, after further investigation, we realized there is more to desire from the feature – the info provided just says whether the sleep was Normal, Low, Moderate or High, and the visualization was borderline unusable.
We have to mention that despite all our attempts, we weren’t able to find the practical use of this feature – all the time sleep breathing was categorized as “Normal”. The whole set of sensors and features is now called TruSeen 5.5+ and also brings the usual bunch of monitors for heart rate, SpO2, menstrual cycle, and quality of sleep. The design of the buttons might suggest the Watch GT 4 could measure ECG, but Huawei executives confirmed with us the feature is unavailable. It might be enabled later with a software update, but if you are in the market now you better not count on it.
Connectivity is quite modest on the Watch GT 4. The device is a simple Bluetooth watch – there is no SIM slot, nor Wi-Fi capabilities and you can’t hook up Bluetooth accessories such as an external pulse monitor. At least the device allows you to download music and play it during activities, either blasting through the tiny speaker or Bluetooth-linked earphones.
The Watch GT 4 can be linked to any Android smartphone and to all Huawei devices with HarmonyOS, obviously. In theory, the Huawei Health app and the wearable can work with iPhones as well, but functionality is so limited and battery life is compromised to the point where we do not recommend buying the watch if you are using an iOS device.
Our 46 mm unit has a battery capacity of 524 mAh, while the smaller 41 mm variant brings a 323 mAh cell. Officially, the big version can provide 14-day maximum battery life and 8-day regular battery life, while the smaller basically offers half that. Our findings paint a slightly different picture:
The two-week battery life is practically unachievable. We turned off all sensors, used the least power-hungry watchface, disabled notifications, calls and tracking, and still barely reached 12 days. Mind you, this is with the watch being barely useful, so we doubt many people will even get there.
Regular battery life with some notifications, calls, sleep tracking, and light sports activity gave us almost a full week – we charged the device at noon on Monday and then put it on the wireless puck the next Monday.
And here is where it gets interesting – Huawei claims Always On Display halves the battery life, but our experience differed. We repeated the same pattern of usage as the previous week, and it was five full days before putting the wearable on the charger.
The company does not advertise heavy use because, after all, it is more of a fashion piece than an activity watch. This didn’t stop us from repeating our tests a fourth time, with all the bells and whistles maxed out and daily exercise – the Huawei Watch GT 4 provided a fair 4-day battery life, way above any other competitor on the market.
We can also confirm the wearable can work uninterrupted for 24 hours with a GPS-enabled sports activity. The pool of people that will actually track such an activity with a Huawei watch is fairly small, but nevertheless, we pushed with the test for science (because running for 24 hours straight is anything but fun).
Charging the Huawei Watch GT 4 is fairly easy. It works with any Qi-certified wireless charger, including non-Huawei smartphones with reverse wireless charging. For optimal results, we recommend the 5V-9V/2A charger in the box, which needs an average of 110 minutes to get an empty battery to 100%. The small puck is also magnetic, making sure the watch is aligned with the charging coil.
Huawei hired two celebreties to promote the Watch GT 4. The face of the 41 mm variant is Pamela Reif, a fitness influencer with nearly 10 million followers on Instagram, 10 million more on YouTube, and over 7 million likes on TikTok.
The celebrity who endorsed the 46 mm variant is an old pal of Huawei – Sir Mo Farah. He is a British long-distance runner, 15-time gold medalist at the Olympics, World and European Athletics Championships, and considered one of the greatest runners of all time.
We mention these names to point out that Huawei went all in with the marketing budget for the Watch GT 4. The company wants people talking about its new wearable, even if it’s barely bringing much over the GT 3. And with the GT 4 looking as good as it does, many might indeed forget that the hardware inside is essentially unchanged.
Plus there wasn’t much wrong with the GT 3 hardware to begin with. Long battery life, a clear interface with new and improved features, and a well-thought-out design are more than enough to make the GT 4 a great companion in 2023.
It makes an even more convincing case when you consider its price. The GT 4 goes for between €250 and €400 in Europe, with our Green unit being not only one of the best-looking but also fairly priced at €269. And Huawei often runs promos on its website letting you get a free gift or two at the same price, making the GT 4 one of the best deals around.