(Pocket-lint) – Huawei’s been investing heavily in sports, health and fitness over the past couple of years. It’s built a new campus in Shenzhen dedicated to learning and research, all with the eventual aim of making its smartwatches as accurate and reliable as possible – regardless of whether you’re using them to track running, swimming, climbing, tennis or other sports.
Despite this general focus, one of the company’s latest wearables, the Huawei Watch GT Runner, is a device that’s very much focused on the experience of the runner – as the name indicates. It does track plenty of other activities, of course, despite this attention on running, and there are also plenty of smartwatch-style features that should make it a more attractive proposition than the standard running watch.
Does that prove true after testing? And how does it compare to the competition? We’ve been using the Huawei Watch GT Runner over the last few weeks in order to to find out.
While it doesn’t stand up to the smartwatch experience provided by devices like the Apple Watch, Huawei is showing itself to be a genuine competitor to the likes of Garmin in the world of sports tracking. Its investment in sports research and analysis is clearly paying off.
With the GT Runner, Huawei has created a compelling watch for runners that ticks a lot of the right boxes. It has long battery life, super health monitoring, accurate run tracking and a lightweight, waterproof design that makes it ideal for wearing all year round.
The key things that count against it are the lack of support for music and payments. Most of Garmin’s alternatives, for example, offer very solid support for contactless payments, while also offering offline listening from popular music streaming platforms. Huawei offers neither of those things, and it really detracts from the smartwatch experience.
Naturally, this means the GT Runner isn’t a device that will suit everyone. Considering the price, we’d still recommend something like the Garmin Venu, Venu 2 or 2 Plus over it, but there’s no doubt this is a solid alternative to consider.
- 46.4 x 46.4 x 11mm
- 38.5 grams without the strap
- 5ATM/50m waterproof
- Rotating crown/button
- 22mm quick release strap
There’s no doubt that the GT Runner’s design looks and feels a little cheaper and stripped back when compared to the company’s Watch GT 3 and Watch 3 models. In a way, though, it would be doing Huawei’s design team a disservice if that came across in a negative way.
While the other Huawei Watch devices go for the metal, premium look, the Watch GT Runner is more about function than form. Where the others have materials like stainless steel or titanium, Huawei wanted to make the GT Runner as lightweight as possible, while also designing it in a way that lets it do its job well.
The result is a plastic front and case, which is impressively light – to the point where you can easily ignore the fact that it’s even there. That’s exactly what you need in a watch that’s primarily designed for running.
Of course, it’s moisture-resistant, too, and to pretty high levels. With waterproofing up to 5ATM (or 50 metres), the watch won’t just survive your runs in the rain, or sweaty workouts, but can be taken swimming, as well.
It also retains the key elements from the previous handful of watches. For instance, on the underside, the rounded hump containing the optical sensors is designed in a way to help sweat run away from the sensor during workouts, keeping it clear and helping accuracy.
There’s also the simple, two-button physical control system. This features the primary/power button, which launches into your app view from the watch face, or takes you home from anywhere else. It’s also a rotating crown that you can use to navigate lists and screens when you don’t want to use the touchscreen. The second button is a simple ‘function’ button. It launches you into workout mode from most screens.