Huawei Watch GT Runner, hands on: A sports watch on the right track

Huawei Watch GT Runner, hands on: A sports watch on the right track

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Huawei Watch GT Runner: A 46mm £259.99/€299 sports watch, available in grey or black.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Smartwatches that try to be all things to all people don’t always succeed. Merging great information accessibility with strong fitness features can be tricky to get right on a device with a watch-sized display. Huawei’s latest attempt, the £259.99/€299 Watch GT Runner is, as its name suggests, aimed specifically at runners — it does cater for other sports, but to a lesser degree. It also provides a range of standard features that are pretty much a requirement for any smartwatch.  

Like

  • Excellent AMOLED screen
  • Copious activity modes and metrics
  • Usable interface
  • Wireless charging

Don’t Like

  • 14-day battery life claim is optimistic
  • 46mm size only

Like most of its competition, the Huawei Watch GT Runner is big. Its face measures 46mm in diameter, which is huge for a small-wristed person like me. There isn’t a smaller size available, so if the features are alluring it’s worth cutting a circle out of cardboard with a 46mm diameter to see what this device will look like on your wrist. 

If the size is fine, then the rest of the physical specs should not be a problem, as the watch only weighs 38.5g without its strap, the build is very robust, and the strap is a nicely designed silicone. The straps, like the watch, come in grey or black. 5ATM water resistance means the Watch GT Runner should cope with a dip in the pool or a visit to the shower.

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The Watch GT Runner supports multiple running modes, plus a variety of other activities.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Different activity modes are selected by pressing an icon on the watch face then sweeping through the options, which include cycling indoors and outdoors, swimming in a pool and open water, skipping, mountain hiking, skiing, snowboarding, rowing cross-training and all manner of different running environments from trail to track. There’s also step counting, heart rate monitoring and oxygen saturation (SpO2) calculation. 

Runners can set up AI adaptive programmes for various target distances from 3km to marathon that will take account of height, weight, gender and heart rate, and then automatically adjust depending on how you’re getting on. Voice guidance is available to report on pace, heart rate and suchlike, so there’s no need to look at the watch to see how things are going during a workout. 

All this goes alongside the usual smartwatch fare including the ability to change watch face, set alarms, get notifications, weather reports, manage music, make payments and send quick replies to incoming messages. There is a compass on-board, and the watch will even report on the current altitude and air pressure. 

See: Best sports watch 2022: Garmin, Coros, Polar, and more

UI design can be a little challenging on smartwatches, but Huawei seems to have found a sweet spot between taps and sweeps. Much of the information on the main screen can be prodded to open up sweepable submenus.  

So, for example, you can tap the weather summary to get a local weather display then sweep to get forecasts, sunrise and sunset times, moon phases and even a tide timetable. Or you can tap the outer rim of the watch face, which has coloured segments, to see your training load, and then sweep to see metrics like the projected recovery time from the last session, calculated fatigue level and more. Once you grasp this basic concept, information access is easy. 

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Weather forecast, sunrise and sunset, and altitude displays on the Huawei Watch GT Runner.


Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The side button opens up access to a wider range of features including calculated lactate threshold, heart rate and SpO2 status, sleep monitoring data, and even some breathing exercises to help with relaxation. These sit alongside plenty more, including music control, digital compass, notifications, a stopwatch and timer, alarm settings, and even a torch function which turns the watch face brilliant white. 

A physical button for recording laps is also welcome, as many people have a personalised circuit they work with. 

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The Watch GT Runner comes with a magnetic charging cradle and, Huawei says, lasts for up to 14 days on a full charge.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

I’ve seen a lot more complex and challenging smartwatch navigation systems, and the 1.43-inch AMOLED touch screen is sharp, clear and bright, its 466-pixel display presenting information clearly. The accompanying Huawei Health app is a requirement for watch users, allowing you to configure various aspects of the watch, change faces, and see metrics on your handset. 

Huawei says the Watch GT Runner will last for up to 14 days from a single charge with ‘typical’ use, or 7 days with ‘heavy’ use. GPS seems to be a significant drain: after five days of use including about four hours of GPS time, the battery was down to 35%. The circular magnetic charging cradle is easy to use and small enough to drop into a backpack or case when you’re travelling; reverse wireless charging is also available if you have a smartphone that supports it. 

There’s a lot to like about the Huawei Watch GT Runner, which ticks many boxes in terms of metrics and capabilities, is easy to navigate, and offers personalised training schedules that should help it stay relevant to users over time. However, Huawei may be optimistic in its 14-day maximum battery life estimate, and a version with a smaller face would be welcome. 


Huawei Watch GT Runner specifications

Dimensions

46.4mm x 46.4mm x 11mm  

Case size

46mm  

Wrist size

140-210mm  

Speaker

yes  

Microphone

yes  

Weight

38.5g (minus strap)  

Display

1.43-inch AMOLED (466 x 466); slide and touch gestures supported  

Sensors

accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic, optical heart rate, air pressure  

Buttons

power, function  

Water resistance

5 ATM  

Environment

-20 ℃~+ 45 ℃  

Watch case

durable polymer fibre (grey or black)  

Watch strap

silicone (grey or black)  

Memory

4GB  

Connectivity

GNSS, NFC, Bluetooth  

System requirements

HarmonyOS 2 or later, Android 6.0 or later, iOS 9.0 or later  

Battery life

14 days (typical use)  

Charging

magnetic charging cradle (USB-A connector)  

In the box

watch, charging cradle, charging cable, user guide & safety information & warranty card, watch straps (122mm x 22mm, 107mm x 22mm)  

Price

£259.99 / €299  


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