The Huawei Watch GT 2e is almost here! Today is the last day to pre-order Huawei’s latest smartwatch, with official availability in Malaysia to begin tomorrow, the 11th of April. The watch was launched alongside the P40 series, and at first glance, the Watch GT 2e appears to be almost identical to the Huawei Watch GT 2.
Not that that’s a bad thing—far from it, actually. Huawei’s Watch GT 2e, much like its predecessor, falls within the “pseudo-smartwatch” category, as I like to call it. This means that you get seriously good battery life with the smartwatch, although it comes at a cost: no standalone app support.
In essence, I think that Huawei is releasing the Watch GT 2e in a bid to connect to the fitness-centric crowd, especially if you look at the design of the smartwatch. Hardware-wise, the Watch GT 2e isn’t exactly new. It’s powered by the Kirin A1 chip, you still get the same 14-day battery estimate, and the watch features the same 1.39 OLED display from the Huawei Watch GT 2.
What’s new? (Not much)
I managed to get my hands on a unit pre-launch, and to be honest with you, I was curious. How many more times can Huawei rehash the Watch GT 2? After all, the Honor Magic Watch 2 is clearly a rebadged version of the Watch GT 2, with more or less the same internals.
But having spent the afternoon with Huawei’s latest smartwatch, it’s clear that the biggest difference here is the design of the Watch GT 2e. Instead of boring plain TPU straps, you get straps that look a lot like the Nike straps for the Apple Watch. I suppose the idea here is to have a smartwatch that has a “sporty” look—but I don’t know how I feel about this. One the one hand, I see where Huawei is going with the sports-focused branding; on the other, the new strap design isn’t really the most versatile, especially if you’re thinking of using it as an everyday watch.
The Watch GT 2e also misses out on a built in speaker and microphone, which is very disappointing for me. While LiteOS has yet to receive “Celia” (Huawei’s recently-announced voice assistant), I’d still like the ability to answer calls from the Watch GT 2e—plus, it’s always nice to boast about how your watch can play music out loud, isn’t it?
Huawei has also been touting Sp02 tracking on the new Watch GT 2e, and again, this is obviously part of an attempt to appeal to fitness junkie (not exactly me, to be honest). But the Sp02 monitoring was actually pushed as an update to the original Watch GT 2 awhile back, and even Honor’s Magic Watch 2 had the functionality at launch.
There’re a bunch of software upgrades, too. Motion effects for certain watch faces, menstrual tracking, as well as “automatic sport recognition”. That said, Huawei promises that these features will also be available on the Watch GT 2 at some point as well—which rather dilutes the Watch GT 2e’s value proposition, I think.
Should you buy it?
Well, that depends on what you’re really looking for. If you’ve already taken a look at the Watch GT 2 (and you liked it), then this is pretty much a no-brainer. It’s practically the same watch, albeit with some small changes. That said, the watch case does feel a little different in terms of the material used.
I’d have to say that I prefer the feel of the Watch GT 2e in hand over the Watch GT 2, to be honest. The watch case has a polished metal finish, and Huawei has also swapped out protruding, dated-looking buttons for elegant, rectangular-shaped ones instead. The watch face bezel is also a lot flatter, and as a whole, I think that Huawei has come up with a really, really nice looking smartwatch.
Additionally, the Watch GT 2e is certainly priced very competitively. RM599 for a brand new watch is a great price for what you’re getting, especially if you consider that the near-identical Watch GT 2 retails from RM799.
There are a few concerns for me, however. When setting up the Watch GT 2e in Huawei Health, you’ll be notified that your “Huawei Mobile Services” is not up to date. This means that for those of you who aren’t using Huawei smartphones, you’ll need to sideload Huawei’s AppGallery, and update the Health app—a quick look through Huawei Health reviews on the Play Store revealed that many found this frustrating (just like I did).
Perhaps this is another indirect consequence of Huawei’s continued issues with the U.S. government, although I’ve never had such issues with previous smartwatches from the Chinese company. Not exactly ideal, but once you’ve updated and signed in to the Health app, everything else goes pretty smoothly.
The bottom line is this: the Watch GT 2e is, essentially, the same watch as the Watch GT 2. You’re missing a built-in mic and speaker and standalone app support—but if you can live with that (or you don’t need those features), the Watch GT 2e has enough functionality for most people, along with an estimated 14 days of battery life—still impressive in 2020.
The Huawei Watch GT 2e will be officially available on the 11th of April 2020, with the pre-order period running until the 10th of April. If you pre-order the smartwatch, you’ll also get a free TPU strap (which is worth RM69, according to Huawei). There are 2 colours to choose from: Mint Green (as displayed in this article) and Graphite Black.
Photography by Nic Ker with the Canon G7X II