Huawei had some of the best smartwatches on the market, but although they stood out in autonomy, there were some details that took it away from the highest range. Now, they reach maturity and we see the improvement with HarmonyOS in this Huawei Watch 3 review.
Huawei must bet, by force, on HamonyOS. It is the system that they have been developing these years to try to weather the storm of Google’s veto and, finally, it begins to reach Western devices and users.
We have already told you how the system and its tools are going to try to make us forget about Google’s mobile services in the analysis of the MatePad 11 and, now, we are going to see how it behaves in the new watch.
And it is that we go with the analysis of the Huawei Watch 3, a watch that enters through the eyes and that has a lot of functions and features that put it squarely in the highest range. Will Harmony, its services, and applications be up to the task?
Huawei Watch 3 analysis sections :
- Design: premium on all four sides and for lovers of large watches
- Display: spectacular and bright AMOLED panel
- System and app: HarmonyOS launches the store on Huawei Watch, although it falls short
- Sports meter: a multitude of sports and sensors to give a lot of information
- Autonomy: the logical clipping after so many built-in functions
- Conclusion: enter the podium of the Watch TOP with software that has a long way to go
Premium on all four sides and for lovers of large watches
It is obvious that the Huawei Watch 3 is designed for lovers of large watches. This is something that he shares with other watches like the Samsung Watch 3 – review – or previous generations of his own family and it is the most elegant in almost any situation.
The materials accompany it, since the case is made of polished black stainless steel, making it shiny, and the upper part is entirely covered by glass with slightly curved edges.
It is a watch that has presence and that it is noticeable that we wear on our wrist both for its format of 46 millimeters and for its weight of 54 grams without the strap (the one it includes is of quality, but we can change it for any compatible with the universal past 22 millimeters) and by the thickness of just over 12 millimeters.
Looking at these numbers, it is clear that if you have a slim waist or if you want a lighter watch, the Huawei Watch 3 is not made for you.
And the thing is that, although we will be able to go to train perfectly, it shows that you wear it on your wrist and the first days, especially if you are not used to such large watches, it will take you to get used to it.
Then you will appreciate the size of the screen, but at first, it costs a bit. Like everything, this goes according to taste and is neither better nor worse.
On the left side, we have a microphone and on the right, we have a speaker, a button, and the crown, which behaves in a very similar way to that of the Apple Watch to see notifications or navigate between apps, and do not worry about the opening of the micro and speakers as it is waterproof.
Specifically, you will be able to swim with it, shower, or wash the dishes without taking off this watch because it is resistant to 50 atmospheres and, in addition, after swimming you have an ultrasound mode that expels any water that may have remained inside.
If we turn the clock we have a ceramic material to improve data transmission and not generate reactions in sensitive skin and, in the center, the different sensors, which are not few and which we will talk about later.
Removing the subjective issue of size, the truth is that this is a really well-built watch with quality materials, a metal buckle with a double pin that provides security, and a rubber strap that we have liked since we took it out of the box.
The spectacular and bright AMOLED panel
Now, what is most striking is the screen, since it is bright, with a high resolution and with that ‘wow’ effect that AMOLED screens continue to have.
It is a 1.43 “circular panel that is quite large and in which you will not have problems reading notifications, navigating menus, or interacting with the device.
The density is 326 pixels per inch, so you are not going to distinguish the pixels, and the refreshment is adequate: 60 Hz for correct navigation and fluidity at all times.
The HarmonyOS interface adapts very well to this circular format, the menus are elegantly presented and navigation, meanwhile, is very comfortable thanks to both the gestures (very intuitive) and the precision of the panel itself at the time to sample our touches.
The viewing angles thanks to the AMOLED panel are perfect and, in addition, the brightness is a delight.
It has automatic brightness and the maximum (of 1,000 nits, which is a joke) is more than enough to see the content outside on the sunniest day we have had this summer.
The sensor adjusts the brightness convincingly to the room we are in and we have the typical gesture to show the screen.
I recommend, of course, that if you wear it at night you activate the ‘do not disturb mode to avoid involuntary flashes.
And to turn on the screen we have two options: the aforementioned lift-to-activate gesture or a press on any of the side buttons. I wish there was a double-tap on the screen, but hey.
To turn off the panel, all you have to do is cover the screen with the palm of your hand.
HarmonyOS launches the store in the Huawei Watch, although it falls short
In design and screen, the Watch 3 is a sublime watch, but we enter the section that marks the differences between watches with their own systems and the kings of the system so far (WatchOS, Tizen, and WearOS).
And it is that the operating system is what makes the difference between a watch that is autonomous and another that is a simple viewer of the mobile.
Huawei puts aside LiteOS, which the truth is that it was very ‘Lite’ in its high-end watches, to make way for HarmonyOS, the brand’s great bet to try to fight Google’s mobile services.
And the truth is that the bases are good. We have a watch that has eSIM, so you will be able to leave your mobile at home to answer calls from the watch itself, we have GPS to do sports sessions without pulling the mobile’s GPS and we have an app store.
Of course, the App Gallery is there, but don’t expect much from it either. And, here you have the same problem as on your phones or tablets, the lack of applications.
Some basic ones such as Twitter, Instagram, Google Maps -of course- or Spotify, above all, are not there and although we have some substitutes, they are not the same or do not reach the quality of those found in WatchOS, Tizen, or Wear OS.
Well, on the side of the map, Petal Maps does behave quite well, really, but I really miss not having Spotify on my watch so I can put my phone down if I go for a run.
Right now, App Gallery is, basically, a desert and, in addition to those basic consumer apps, we have the lack of a certified application to be able to pay with the clock. We have NFC, yes, but mobile payments are not enabled. A shame
The notifications viewer is comfortable and we can see the complete messages, but something I don’t understand is that we cannot respond as it can be done in other systems.
We will not be able to do it with voice messages or with a voice-to-text system or with the on-screen keyboard. Okay, it is a very small screen, but sometimes you save yourself from taking out your mobile to answer with an emoticon or with an ” OK ”.
I understand that since the apps are not on the watch because it does not exist in App Galley, we cannot since it is a mobile viewer, but it is something that is missing.
Now, considering the negative points that prevent the system from shining at the level of the most advanced, HarmonyOS also has things that we have loved.
Navigation is very smooth with the touch controls, as well as with the crown. If we double-click on the crown, the latest apps and open windows are shown, a kind of multitasking launcher and changing from one to another quickly is immediate. Pulling the main screen down we have the quick settings, from the bottom up we have the notifications, from left to right the time window appears, and navigating to the right we have different widgets such as the pulse, skin temperature, and oxygen in the blood that we can edit.
As I say, everything is very fast and there are two things that I love. The first is that the watch faces, which we can exchange, are interactive.
This means that if one shows the steps, temperature, and pulse, for example, by clicking on each icon we will jump to the corresponding app. Not only do they provide quick information, but they are shortcuts.
The second is that we will be able to customize the action that the button under the crown does. By default, it is configured to open the exercise mode, but we can open any other app.
And finally, we have Celia, the assistant who, honestly, I have not asked too many questions. We will be able to ask you questions or set an alarm, for example, but since we do not have devices at home with Celia, we do not have the advantage of controlling home automation from the wrist either.
A multitude of sports and sensors to give a lot of information
Considering the system, we go with the sports functions, since it is something that Huawei is good at in its different devices.
It is clear that it is a watch that is very bulky on the wrist, but there are those who do not care and, in fact, there are more voluminous sports watches.
We have monitoring of more than 100 sports and each one with its statistics that we can see both on the watch and, especially since it offers us more detailed information, in the Huawei Health app.
It is the application, by the way, with which we synchronize the clock, not with Huawei AI Life, which is that of the headphones, IoT elements of the home, or the router.
I like Huawei’s depth of statistics in both sports measurement and sleep tracking, being one of the most advanced features on the market.
We also have real-time monitoring of pulse, blood oxygen, and stress. All the metrics are indicative and serve to give us an idea of how our body is doing, but the stress one I still do not understand.
That is to say, in the moments of more peace of mind and greater rest, one Saturday night watching some repeated competition in the Olympics, marks a weekly peak that I do not understand. But hey, this is something that does not work for me on any device.
We also have a thermometer in the watch that measures the temperature of the skin. I’ve had it turned on, but it doesn’t really seem too useful to me in real-time and I would use it more on-demand.
The sports monitoring has seemed very good in general terms and you will be able to control the music of the mobile with compatible apps (neither the iPhone nor Spotify are) and it would have seemed round to me if we could link training, something that is still impossible in Huawei watches.
Autonomy is the logical cut after so many integrated functions
The more functions we have in a device, the less the autonomy. This will continue to be the case until the technology for creating batteries changes and, seeing how ‘graphene’ goes, there are still a few years to go.
Huawei had some reasons to show off in its previous Watch, autonomy being one of the most important. From the first to the second generation there was a cut, but we still had a device that gave us more than a week of autonomy, which is not bad at all.
Now, with all the options activated, the notifications, and doing training a day, the 450 mAh battery gives us about two days of autonomy.
Here you are going to have to decide what you want, whether to charge it at night, but lose the sleep monitoring function, or give small charges during periods when you are sitting at the desk or watching TV, for example.
Enter the podium of the Watch TOP with software that has a long way to go
I think the Huawei Watch 3 should be taken as a transition watch from the high-end to the more premium range and, above all, the touchstone of a system that has just arrived.
It is clear that Harmony has a long way to go and, above all, functions such as answering notifications from the phone, having vital applications like Spotify, or something as basic in this range as being able to pay with the watch. It seems to me to fire that we have NFC, but it is useless.
However, the fluidity, the design, and the decisions of Harmony are correct and during these weeks it has been a pleasure to use the device every day.
Of course, in design, there is nothing to reproach, since we have a screen and materials at the height of the highest range and yes, the autonomy has been reduced considerably, but put all the monitoring functions and that bright screen does not come out free.