Huawei has unveiled its first HarmonyOS-powered wearable in June 2021, the Huawei Watch 3. Its sales may be lagging behind the giants such as Apple and Samsung, but the clock is ticking. Despite the pressure brought about by the US-Chinese trade ban, the Guangdong-based consumer electronic manufacturer was able to attract loyal users in the west. If you are traveling abroad or have a friend overseas where Huawei is available, you might be able to get Huawei Watch 3 and ship it back to the US. But is the trouble worth it?
In this article, we look deeply into what’s inside the Huawei Watch 3 and arrive at a sound judgment on whether to get or not to get the device.
Huawei Watch 3 Specifications
|Dimensions||46.2 mm x 46.2 mm x 12.15 mm|
|Weight||54 g (Main body)|
|Display and Resolution||AMOLED color screen, 466 x 466 pixels, PPI 326|
|Memory||16 GB ROM, 2 GB RAM|
|Operating System||HarmonyOS 2.0|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS|
|Battery and Charging||Li-Ion, 5V 2A|
|Compatibility||Android 6.0 or later, iOS 9.0 or later|
Huawei Watch 3 is a great smartwatch on paper. It’s built on lightweight and durable materials that secure the utmost comfort to anyone who wears it. Its internal memory and RAM are typical of a flagship device that would make you expect to run smoothly. It also now comes with built-in e-SIM support, the first of any Huawei smartwatch. However, the major selling point of Huawei Watch 3 is the use of HarmonyOS 2 as its software, unlocking many possibilities such as a smart assistant and an independent app gallery. For a slight difference, you can get this watch on its pro version.
Huawei Watch 3 is a premium watch and that shows on its build. Its body, which is a departure from the rustic and bulky Huawei Watch 2, features a slim and sleek design. It has a stainless steel case with a smooth finish that can repel scratches and dents. The device matches it with a 3D curved glass for a seamless design where the bezels meet the screen. The 3D curved glass also makes the watch more durable. It has a 5 ATM water rating which can withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 50 meters.
It may seem a flaw but the watch only comes in 46 mm size. Thankfully for its slender build, it doesn’t look awkward on smaller wrists. For the straps, Huawei Watch 3 has an easy snap-on design so users can easily switch them base on their moods. The Active edition, which is the cheapest Huawei Watch 3, comes with fluoroelastomer straps made from synthetic rubber. For a few bucks, you can upgrade to the Classic edition for leather or nylon straps. But if you have the budget, you can go all the way to the Elite edition for an elegant-looking stainless steel link bracelet.
For the controls, you will see two physical buttons on the watch: the exit button for navigating back to home and the crown button for scrolling through options and selecting operations.
There’s really nothing to complain about Huawei Watch 3’s form factor and design. It screams comfort and a premium look that speaks for its price.
Smartwatches nowadays are all about the display and color and the Huawei Watch 3 fits this brief. It uses AMOLED for its 1.43 inches, which we have also seen on Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro. Paired with 326-pixel density and the Huawei Watch 3 boasts a bright and vibrant resolution even under the scorching sun. Its viewing angle is also impressive, thanks to the curved bezel keeping the color sharp regardless of your position.
That aside, this new Huawei-branded smartwatch also gives you liberty on how you would want your watch display to appear. Aside from the pre-installed watch faces, you can also install animated faces from online stores or even craft your own. However, some watch faces tend to be power-intensive that can drain your battery faster than it should be.
It also has a responsive raise to wake option which you can enable in exchange for the power-draining always-on functionality.
As mentioned, the Huawei Watch 3 is the first from the brand to incorporate its flagship platform, the HarmonyOS. However, it goes without saying that you can expect a few hiccups from its performance since it’s relatively new. Although the watch is compatible with the dominant mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, connecting them for the first time can be frustrating.
The Android version of the Huawei Health app doesn’t list Huawei Watch 3 as a compatible device. Therefore, it won’t be able to scan or connect to the new Huawei Watch even when it’s nearby. To get it working, users have to update the app in AppGallery or download the APK file directly from Huawei. From there, connecting the devices is pretty straightforward. Jumping from one smartphone to another is also easy without the watch needing to be reset.
The Huawei Watch 3 also comes with a pre-installed AppGallery, the first from a Huawei smartwatch. This means that you can already download fresh apps directly from the watch at any given moment. However, because the platform is in its very early days, the selection is quite limited. Hopefully, it would be able to catch up to Watch OS and WearOS in the future.
Lastly, the integration of Huawei’s smart assistant Celia is one of the highlights of the Huawei Watch 3. When summoned, it can control calls and do simple searches for you. Similar to the watch’s operating system, though, Celia has a lot of issues that need resolving. Other than simple queries like “how is the weather today?”, Celia does fall apart from complex questions which normally Siri and Google Assistant don’t have trouble with.
As usual, Huawei Watch 3 has nailed the brief in terms of fitness features. Focusing on fitness tracking, its workout mode has over a hundred activity types from professional to custom exercises. Whatever your sport or activities are, the smartwatch certainly has you covered. You can customize the watch to prioritize the fitness app you frequently use so you won’t need to scroll through the entire list every time.
What’s great about the watch is that it regularly gives voice feedback based on your activities. Once you get going, it will update you on how long you have been exercising for as well as your heart rate. It even warns you if you hit or go beyond your threshold which you can preset from the app. If you are doing the opposite, it will send you inactivity alerts and encourage you to move.
Huawei Watch 3’s GPS tracker is also dependable. Thanks to its acceleration sensor, you can configure it to announce your pace and distance at any given time. Its sleep tracking feature is also helpful, complete with sleep stages mapping.
Aside from the fitness trackers that we’ve also seen on other Huawei watches in the past, its third iteration also comes with a new 24/7 skin temperature tracker. Although it gives off varying readings even within short periods, it’s a good benchmark to know if you are totally well.
Most flagship smartwatches nowadays battle to be a smartphone alternative because of their standalone communication features. Thankfully, Huawei Watch 3 does an excellent job in this department. Aside from GPS, it also has Wi-Fi compatibility that will allow you to use virtually any online messaging app without reaching for your trusty phone. It also has built-in e-SIM support that you can activate to make your device truly standalone.
Huawei Watch 3’s battery performance is shamefully a downgrade from the previous GT2 line. The company suggests that the device can last three days of usage but that will still depend on much you use its smart features. Because it’s brimming with new features we’ve seen first time in the brand, Huawei Watch 3 battery has greatly suffered.
You may activate the device’s ultra-long battery life mode, which can extend its power to up to two weeks. However, this will also deactivate the features that are the reasons why you might purchase this device such as e-SIM and Wi-Fi. It will also limit the use of other smart features like sleep tracking and Bluetooth calling.
The Huawei Watch 3 comes with a 5V 2A magnetic charger for powering up the device. The charger is similar to the one on GT2, only you can’t disconnect the head from the USB cable.
Huawei Watch 3 is a precursor to a possible wearable that will shake the standards of today. Its jampacked features give us an idea of what a HarmonyOS-powered smartwatch would be like in the future. But as the first of its kind, Huawei Watch 3 understandably lacks harmony in many ways. Its built-in smart assistant, as it turned out, is not very smart at all. Its AppGallery also doesn’t have a lot to offer. Lastly, its weak battery performance is the biggest letdown. If you already have the previous GT2, the wallet-emptier Huawei Watch 3 shouldn’t be an option.
Charles Grice is a civil engineer, urban planner, and blogger. He is keen on exploring and writing about the technical hacks for iOS, Android as well as Windows.