Kyla Lam (Research Analyst, AR/VR and Wearables, IDC Europe)

My first impression of the Huawei Watch 3 was excitement for a number of reasons. Featuring the popular pre-installed HarmonyOS, durable battery life, novel temperature sensor, and excellent variety of exercise modes, the Huawei Watch 3 is an excellent choice of smartwatch for Android users. I will be sharing my first-hand experience in the following.

Design

The Watch 3 is 46.2 x 46.2 x 12.15mm and weighs 54g. Although it doesn’t feel bulky on my wrist, it is not light enough to go unnoticed. Hence, every now and then I will have to take it off just so my wrist can relax a bit, which means that downtime is inevitable and data collection will not always be detected. Huawei’s AMOLED display perks up to 1,000 nits, which facilitates viewability under bright sunlight. In addition, it is waterproof up to 50m, and attached to the silicon strap, which is perfect for outdoor activities. Its stainless-steel frame, hardened glass front, and ceramic back create a classy and elegant look, while its curvy crest makes its rotational haptic touch very comfortable to swipe around.

Battery Life

On top of the advertised three-day battery life on smart mode, where there is an LTE and Bluetooth connection with mobile phones every day, heart rate monitoring, and HUAWEI TruSleep enabled for sleeping at night and daily tasks with the smartwatch with screen display on 200 times a day, despite the LTE connection my smartwatch survived for 4 days. That was a pleasant surprise! Alternatively, there is a two-week battery saving mode that eases the hassle of having it charged constantly.

Software

The long-waited HarmonyOS certainly does not disappoint. It has a much larger storage of 16GB for its own Huawei App Gallery. There are many interesting apps such as air quality stats, translation, radio, and mini games, which are all essential and straightforward to use granted that mobile apps have to be installed as well. The watch faces are slick and diverse, though only a limited number of them are free.

Setting up the watch initially was a bit of a pain. I had to restart three times before I could successfully pair with my iOS phone. Eventually I managed, but some of the updates were not clear, such as the weather notification which required my location enablement, which was not very intuitive as a first-time user. Though after setting up it has been one of my favourite functions, especially living in the UK. It shows the weather for the coming 24 hours, and a weekly forecast and humidity, wind velocity, and sunset time. As the Huawei App Gallery is rather new, some of the icons do not immediately register to my mind as to what they represent, such as the app gallery icon itself, unlike Apple’s app icon which I am most familiar with. Though, this will only get easier as I become a more frequent user of the product.

In addition, the Huawei Health app is mandatory to be downloaded to your iPhone or Android device for the Watch 3 to pair over Bluetooth. The degree of functionality varies depending on your smartphone OS; for example, the Huawei Music function is not available for iOS users.

The eSIM function that enables 4G support allows mobile calls and data and online music streaming. Huawei’s navigation solution, Petal Maps, which substitutes Google Maps for map browsing navigation, should pique the interest of new smartwatch users, will be launched supposedly in July. Vodafone is the only carrier that allows a switch to LTE connection, but Huawei expects local carriers to expand in the future.

There has been a software system update since I have started testing it, and it has been nothing but positive user experience. Though not much noticeable difference, the overall user experience has been optimal.

Health

Huawei has added a novel skin temperature sensor and the new SpO2 monitor. Its new TruSeen 4.5 optical heart rate monitor is set up to improve accuracy over Huawei’s watch collection, and it is evident. I have tried to compare the heart rate difference between Huawei GT 2 Pro and Huawei Watch 3 simultaneously when I have gone cycling and this is what I have found.

Source: Huawei Watch 3, IDC

There is a 7.1% difference in the highest heart rate measured, which could be significant for the purpose of fitness tracking. Although the sensors have not had regulatory approval, the Huawei TruSeen 4.5 has shown improvements compared to its predecessors.

In addition, the watch contains over 100 workout modes. Not only does it remind the user to stretch every now and then with a personalised animation, it also detects whether the user has started a workout and invites the user to confirm and set the device to the right workout mode. Its movement detection also allows fall detection with SOS calling, which is very useful for wellbeing and safety. This widens its use case for times when mobile phones are not within immediate reach.

Value for Money

Priced at £349.99 with 6 months of free Huawei Music, Huawei sets itself as a mid-tier alternative to the Apple Watch Series 6 (£379). With its upgraded functionalities, it is worth giving the Huawei Watch 3 a try.

I think the Watch 3 is a statement of how far Huawei has come with its smartwatch category from LiteOS to HarmonyOS, and it is a great value for its price. Not only is it a sophisticated watch, it is also a user-friendly device that accommodates new smartwatch users.

It is clear that Huawei is attempting to expand and excel in its digital ecosystem, if you are interested in its other product category, please check out my previous blog post on Huawei x Gentle Monster Eyewear II. Alternatively, if you would like to make a comparison with Apple Watch Series 6, you could go check it out as well.

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