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Huawei Watch GT Runner review

Huawei gives other smartwatches a run for their money.

Huawei Watch GT Runner review
19 April 2022

Huawei may have stuttered in the smartphone market of late, thanks to the continuing sanctions put on the company on its use of Android, but its smartwatches have fared far better, with only a few hoops to jump through to get them up and running with your phone of choice.

One of its newest smartwatches is the Huawei Watch GT Runner, the sportiest-looking Huawei device around which acts like a Huawei Watch GT 3 with racing stripes.

We’ve spent some time running with the Huawei Watch GT Runner - here are five things to know about the super sporty smartwatch that can, almost definitely, last longer than you can…

1. Design is durable and fitness focused

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

While there are many similarities to the Huawei Watch GT 3, the design isn’t one of them. The Huawei Watch GT Runner has been built with sports in mind and this is something that can be seen as soon as you take it out of the box.

On the wrist, it’s very light. Weighing just 38.5g, which helps to make the GT Runner one of the most comfortable smartwatches we have worn.

The strange thing about a smartwatch is that you don’t really want to feel it when running and Huawei has made great strides in making this happen. While the size of the face is an ample 46mm, there’s a small curve where the straps slot in and this blends well with the curvature of our wrist, making it a joy to wear - it also means you don’t feel the sensor on the back digging into the top of your wrist.

If you have very small wrists, though, you may find the size of the screen a little chunky - unfortunately there’s no 42mm option available.

Material wise, Huawei has used something called a textured 'high-composite fibre' material, which is a really hard plastic for the case; a metal finish for the bezel and crown (which has a lovely red ring accent) make up the rest of the device.

While the bezel is tiny, Huawei has still managed to add lettering to help you understand what the two buttons on the right-side do: the top says Home and the bottom one Sport/Lap. This does mean that there isn't a back button which meant that we did find ourselves button mashing when we accidentally chose the wrong option in the menu.

The band is silicon which is ideal for running - there’s no option for a more dressed-up band, so this is definitely a watch for runners and not casual users. Colour wise, we tested the Black version which comes with an understated strap. If you opt for Grey, then the strap has a yellow accent, which is a nice touch.

2. Setup is a marathon, not a sprint

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

The Huawei Watch GT Runner is an all-round fantastic smartwatch but setting the thing up is a chore.

The good news is that if you are using an Huawei phone, then the watch takes mere minutes to sort, thanks to the fact that you are already using Huawei’s bespoke App Gallery. If you are using an Android phone (or iOS), then the watch should play nicely but there are a number of steps to make this happen.

Essentially you have to ‘side-load’ the software on to your device which involves clicking on a QR code that’s in the box and following the instructions. We had a version of the Huawei Health app installed on our phone but it was the one that is currently in the Google Play store. That hasn’t been updated since 2020, so you have to get the new version of the app that’s unique to the Huawei App Store.

Download this and it should connect no problem to the Huawei Watch GT Runner. But be prepared after this to download a number of software updates as well. It felt like we had to do a number of these before the watch was properly setup, so we don’t believe the smartwatch automatically jumps to the latest update.

One this is done, the bad news is that the watch won’t work immediately with the likes of Strava and other popular running apps. There is a workaround, however, by using the third-party Health Sync app.

It’s not a smooth process and the hoop-jumping software-wise may put some off but it was smooth sailing once setup was finally complete.

3. The display is an OLED delight

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

About that 46mm bezel. It houses a 1.43-inch OLED screen and the result is a super-bright display that you will have no bother with when running in bright daylight or in the dark of the night.

When you initially see the homescreen on the Huawei Watch GT Runner it’s quite overwhelming. It’s PACKED with data points. There’s a built-in barometer, so you can track the weather before and during a run, times for sunrise and sunset, a WTL (workout training load) measuring count which lets you know how long you should be resting after training.

If you aren’t a fan of the standard watch face (which is called aptly DataPack), then there are eight others to choose from, including an Apple Watch-like Tri-Ring setup.

4. There are feature-rich fitness options abound

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

As well as the data you can get from the home screen, dig into the Huawei Watch GT Runner’s options and there’s plenty of health-focused features peppered throughout the watch’s myriad menus.

The ones we found particularly interesting were the 24/7 heart rate tracking, sleep tracking and SpO2 monitoring.

Given the main function of this watch is to serve runners’ needs, there’s plenty of decent features to help track and boost your runs.

GPS is on board and took seconds to connect to. There’s a really nice feature on board that allows you to track back on a run when outdoors. So if you are halfway through your distance and just want to head home the way you came, the watch can reroute that for you and get you on your way.

You can add a training plan to each day of the week, too, and the post-run data is decent, with the likes of distance, calories, VO2Max, pace and heart rate offered up.

Things get a little trickier when AI is added. Huawei has added an AI coach into the smartwatch which allows the device to create a beginner, lifestyle, and competitive coaching plan based on your running. It takes a few runs to compile the data but we weren’t convinced that the plans on offer were right for us.

AI did work well, though, when it came to predicting how long it would take us to run longer runs, by looking at how we ran a 5K. The accuracy of this is to be debated but it was another data point that we welcomed.

There are also a number of preset running courses available, a Running Ability Index score and Training Stress which offers you an insight into just how much stress your body was under during your workout. These aren’t unique to this smartwatch but they were insightful nonetheless.

5. Battery is big and impressive

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

When it comes to using a smartwatch on a daily basis, one of the most annoying things is a small battery life. While those with an Apple Watch will have been used to almost-daily charges, Garmin users know you can go a lot longer without having to charge.

You’ll be pleased to read that the Huawei Watch GT Runner is in the latter category. It’s got one of the best batteries we have tested on a smartwatch, having a quoted 14 days’ life per charge. Now, this is only really true when you don’t do much with it. If you add in a couple of runs a week, using GPS, and you are more likely to get 11 days’ use out of the thing which is still utterly impressive.

Charging does take around 90 minutes but we always put it on charge way before the battery was going to run out.

Huawei Watch GT Runner: final verdict

Huawei Watch GT Runner review

Despite some niggling compatibility issues, the Huawei Watch GT Runner is a fantastic running watch that served this, albeit fair-weather, runner well.

Working best when pounding the pavements outdoors, the watch offers up a superb smorgasbord of data before, during and after runs and has the staying power of a Marathon runner.

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