Huawei Watch 3 Pro Review: Limited Smartwatch, But Great Fitness Tracker
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
When I tested the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro back in 2020, it was my favourite "smartwatch". Sure, there were limitations like not being able to reply to texts, but overall, it was a great experience and the fitness and health tracking were on point. Well, the Huawei Watch 3 Pro is more of the same.
Again, there are two purchase options: the Watch 3 and the Watch 3 Pro. For this review, we tested out the Watch 3 Pro, but the main differences are that the Pro model comes with a titanium case, sapphire glass, a ceramic case back, a leather strap instead of rubber and better battery life. In fact, within the Pro model, there are two editions: Classic and Elite. The only difference is that the Elite edition comes with a metal strap in addition to the leather strap. That being said, the Elite edition isn't available in Singapore, so we won't talk too much about it.
Picture 1: Huawei Watch 3 Pro
Picture 2: Huawei Watch GT2 Pro
The design is pretty different from the Watch GT2 Pro too, as you can tell from the photo above. The top pusher from the GT2 Pro has turned into a crown button on the Watch 3 Pro, and the crown button now sits closer to the watch case so it doesn't accidentally snag on clothing as often as the GT2 Pro did. The button at the 4 o'clock mark is now a pill-shaped button that's almost flush to the case and acts as a button to quickly start a workout, but it can be remapped to almost anything you want.
The watch is also bigger than the GT2 Pro, at 1.43-inches, and still retains the AMOLED colour screen. The case size is now 48mm, which is pretty massive. I personally like big watches around 44mm, but the Watch 3 Pro is pushing the limits of what's acceptable on a small wrist like mine. That being said, the watch is definitely lighter than it looks thanks to the titanium case, but it's still quite hefty at 63g without the strap.
The watch still charges via the same magnetic puck, and the one I received in the box for the Watch GT2 Pro works perfectly fine with the Watch 3 Pro, so that's nice. All in all, the watch feels pretty good on the wrist, and as long as you're fine with the large case size, there's really nothing to complain about here.
You get 2GB of RAM in the watch and 16GB of storage, which is very nice. I never noticed the watch slowing down in day to day use, and scrolling in and out of apps was smooth and pretty seamless. Compared to the GT2 Pro, I'd say it feels just that bit more frictionless. That being said though, these two watches are running on completely different operating systems.
The Watch 3 Pro are now running on HarmonyOS 2, which is Huawei's own OS for all of its new products. That being said, the app icons are still the same across both watches, which means there's no need to get used to new icons for existing Huawei Watch owners.
There's also a bunch of new software features available, including support for Wi-Fi and even eSIM. Unfortunately, I couldn't try the eSIM functionality, but it works pretty much like how the Apple Watch Cellular model would, meaning you can leave home without your phone but still receive calls on your watch. That being said, eSIM support is still an issue, so it remains to be seen if all the carriers in Singapore will offer it.
Because you no longer need a phone for your watch to function fully, there are some new additions to the apps on the Watch 3 Pro, like the Huawei App Gallery. Here's where apps for the watch can be downloaded, and there are some pretty useful ones like SG BusLeh where bus arrival timings can be checked directly from the watch instead of having to pull out the phone.
More than that though, we get all the same functions like heart rate tracking (which is still insanely accurate), sleep tracking, spO2 tracking, step tracking and more, but there's the new addition of skin temperature tracking, which is pretty interesting. Huawei is quick to emphasise that this shouldn't be used as a medical device, but it's definitely a handy feature to have if you think you might have a fever and just want to check, or even for more accurate health tracking possibilities.
The skin temperature tracking feature is only available for devices running HarmonyOS 188.8.131.52, unfortunately, so it might be unavailable to some people in other regions of the world where the update hasn't been rolled out yet.
As always, there's over 100 workout modes to choose from, so no matter what sort of workout you're planning to do, it should be covered. There's also fall detection, with the option to automatically call an emergency contact when a fall has been detected, and a new handwashing detection feature that was already introduced to the market with the Apple Watch.
With regards to the accuracy of the tracking modes, I'd say that the heartrate tracking is pretty spot on. Tested at random intervals over a few days, the Huawei Watch 3 Pro and my Apple Watch Series 6 both gave me pretty identical readings, with perhaps the occasional difference of one or two bpm.
Huawei Watch 3 Pro
Step tracking is another matter though. I wore both watches on the same arm and went about my day as usual, and at the end of the day, I noticed a difference of about 300 steps between the two. My Apple Watch was more conservative at just 4,036 steps, while the Huawei Watch 3 Pro logged 4,353. It's not a massive difference, but I did notice that the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro logged more steps previously as well, so it might just be a bit of inflation going on there.
The biggest downside is, once again, the lack of ability to interact with notifications. With eSIM support now available, it's incredibly disappointing that I can't reply to text messages and the like through the watch.
The upside of that is that battery life is great on the Watch 3 Pro, as it always is on Huawei's wearables. With the Pro model, you get five days on smart mode, and a whopping 21 days with the ultra-long battery life mode. The problem is that on that battery-saving mode, you lose a bunch of functionality, and the truth is, everybody buys a smartwatch for the functionality, so very few people would ever keep ultra-long battery life mode turned on all the time. Regardless, five days on smart mode is pretty decent, especially when you compare it to the Apple Watch that needs to be charged everyday.
With skin temperature, spO2, heart rate, sleep tracking and all those all turned on, I averaged around 3.5 days of use before needing to drop the watch on the charging puck, which is pretty darn good. If you want more battery life, there are metrics like skin temperature that could be manually measured instead of having constant monitoring turned on.
Speaking of which, the skin temperature monitoring was pretty cool. After putting on the watch snugly for around 10 minutes, the watch starts getting a more accurate reading and I found that my skin temperature was pretty consistent around 34 degrees celsius.
Huawei's sleep tracking is still the most accurate I've tried, and when compared to the sleep tracking on the Apple Watch, it's miles better. The sleep score seems a bit arbitrary, with no explanation of how it's broken down, but all in all, I really like tracking my sleep with the Watch 3 Pro.
Overall, I'd say the Watch 3 Pro is definitely a step up compared to the Watch GT2 Pro, but the same problems are still present. While the battery life has improved, and there's a bunch of new functionality, I think the lack of ability to reply or interact with notifications is a bit jarring. It just feels like a major oversight by Huawei on this end, especially since I'm using a Huawei phone paired to it. I would understand if other Android phones or iPhones are unable to provide that level of compatibility, but this is probably one big problem that Huawei needs to solve to really push their ecosystem.
The Huawei Watch 3 retails at S$548 for the Active edition with the rubber strap, S$598 for the Classic edition with the leather strap and S$698 for the Huawei Watch 3 Pro with a leather strap. The Watch 3 series will be available from 6 August onwards at all Huawei Authorised Stores, selected consumer electronic stores, official telco operator Singtel, as well as official online stores on Lazada and Shopee.
There will also be a launch freebie with every purchase of the Watch 3 coming with a free watch strap in Olive Green and a Huawei 27W SuperCharge Wireless Charger, while stocks last.
Written by Cheryl Tan