We are big fans of Huawei’s smartwatches for one thing alone – battery life. Over the past few years, no other wearable maker has been able to come close to the 14-day battery life that Huawei touts on its flagship smartwatches. The latest offerings from the Chinese firm, the Huawei Watch GT 4 series, are much the same, with the larger 46mm model serving up to 14 days and the smaller 41mm offering lasting for up to seven days between charges.
While the latter is half that of its bigger brethren, seven days is still more than most flagship smartwatches can muster.
So, even though Huawei has been able to retain industry-leading battery life on its latest wearable lineup, we are left with one question.
Given the sheer breadth of smartwatches that the company has on the market, with most performing well and touting the impressive battery life, is it actually worthwhile getting this new device?
To find that out, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks with the larger 46mm Watch GT 4 in Rainforest Green. Here’s what we learned.
We start, as always, with design. Here it is important to point out that the 46mm (1.43″ AMOLED) and 41mm (1.32″ AMOLED) models are quite different in terms of their aesthetics.
The latter is far slimmer and features a circular design with a prominent crown. In general it leans towards being more “feminine”, but there is a Black colourway that will no doubt have a unisex appeal.
As for the 46mm offering has a traditional chronograph look, which Huawei calls the Octagonal Design. As you can likely decipher from the name, there are eight sides to this smartwatch, serving up a fair deal of ruggedness.
We have remarked before, but the Rainforest Green variant in particular has that chronograph look due to the design elements near the bezel, with horizontal split dividing the bezel ring into Green and Silver. While Huawei has not hinted at such, there is certainly an Omega Seamaster kind of aesthetic at work here.
It also helps distinguish this particular colourway from others. Along with the interesting bezel design, a unique watch strap is present, which features recycled materials in its manufacture. This likely won’t be enough to offset the overall carbon footprint of the smartwatch all that much, but it is something to note for those concerned with sustainability.
It is worth pointing out too that the Octagonal Design of the watch frame does mean it is a fairly large wearable. As such, on slimmer wrists it can look a little overwhelming. We like to think our wrists are fairly meaty, but even while wearing the 46mm Watch GT 4, we got a few comments on the large size of the wearable.
Featuring the same features as its larger brethren then, with the exception of battery life, the 41mm might serve as a better starting point if you’re considering these new watches, purely from a size perspective.
Lastly, if we are to fault the 46mm Huawei Watch GT 4 from a design perspective, it’s the length of the watch strap. In our view it is a bit too short, and on our wrist, only left space for three notches once secured, leaving little room for the two strap fasteners at the end. We could go tighter, but then circulation could be an issue.
As such, a longer strap included in the box for people with larger wrists would not have gone amiss from Huawei.
Plenty of data
Now that we’ve spoken about aesthetics, it’s time to shift to the performance of the Watch GT 4.
We have already touched on the battery life, and true to Huawei’s estimations, it managed 10 days of heavy use before it hit the 20 percent mark and we thought a recharge was needed.
The advantage of the longer battery, apart from meaning less downtime during the day, ensures that the sleep monitoring functions present on the watch can be leveraged. It is interesting to assess this data after every evening, and it certainly gives you a better idea of the quality of your sleep.
Ultimately, though much like fitness, unless you’re willing to make changes based on the data you’re presented, the watch is not going to make you a better sleeper. That said, having access to the data is handy. We also found that the Huawei Health app (available on iOS and Android) chimed in at 22:30 every evening alerting us that we should head to bed in order to get some much-needed shut eye.
Unfortunately we ignored them for the most part as we had Champions League matches to watch, but the fact that this is not just a cursory feature, but rather something that Huawei is taking seriously, is nice to see.
As for the sensors onboard, the usual bevvy of options are present here, including an accelerometer, gyroscope sensor, magnetometer sensor, optical heart rate sensor, barometer sensor, and temperature sensor.
There’s native GPS too, which Huawei claims offers more accurate post-workout mapping, which will be of particular interest to those doing things outdoors. Most of our walks/runs were in urban environments around city blocks, so it’s difficult to tell how much nuance can in fact be mapped.
What we were left in no doubts about, however, is the heart rate and Sp02 monitoring. These are two elements that Huawei has done well with in recent years, and the same goes for the Watch GT 4 and its capabilities in this regard.
Our only issue with all of this is how it’s presented. For this model, Huawei is running HarmonyOS 4 as its native operating system.
We understand that a circular 1.43″ display has its limitations in terms of what can be shared in a meaningful manner, but HarmonyOS still has some ways to go when it comes to how content is presented. Identifying apps and less commonly used features is still a mission, with the Apple Watch copycat app cluster window difficult to use when you have pork sausage fingers. Yes, the crown can be used to zoom in and out of the cluster, but it does not feel as intuitive as it should.
There are a ton of great things the Watch GT 4 can do, but right now, it feels like the software is holding it back a little.
At R6 999 (RRP) for both the 46mm and 41mm Huawei Watch GT 4, these new premium offerings feature a price tag to match. That said, the battery life alone already means these smartwatches are leagues ahead of the competition in a crucial category.
Our problem, however, is this: while the Watch GT 4 is well worth the asking price, ticks all the boxes when it comes to fitness tracking, supports third-party platforms like Strava via the Huawei Health app, as well as looks great, the same could be said for a number of the company’s recently released smartwatches.
As such, the Huawei Watch GT 4 is a great smartwatch, but cost-savvy consumers can find equally good options for less money from the same brand. In that case, this new lineup may simply have arrived in SA when there are still plenty of solid Huawei alternatives already in the market.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5 OUT OF 10.
FULL DISCLOSURE: THE HUAWEI WATCH GT 4 (46MM) WAS SEEDED TO HYPERTEXT TO KEEP AFTER THE REVIEW PERIOD.