The world of wearables has steadily grown in recent times, and with the launch of the Huawei Watch GT 2e, Huawei is clearly trying to build upon the success of the Huawei Watch GT 2. At first glance, the Watch GT 2e is almost identical to the Watch GT 2—which might explain why the company’s latest wearable is called the Watch GT 2e, instead of something like the Watch GT 3.
I suppose the “e” is used to the same effect that “Lite” is often used for mobile devices, just like the Galaxy S10e or the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. Rather than an upgrade per se, it looks like Huawei has basically taken some of the strengths of the Watch GT 2, and brought them over onto a (slightly) more affordable smartwatch.
In essence, the Watch GT range basically centres around a streamlined, simple OS with sports tracking capabilities, coupled with some very impressive battery life estimates.
And at a price of RM599, is the Huawei Watch GT 2e simply a cheaper, rebadged Watch GT 2? Well, not completely. Let’s run through some of the major talking points.
Note: 46mm Huawei Watch GT 2 used for this comparison.
14 days of battery life with “typical usage”
Battery life is certainly one of the strengths of the Watch GT range, and the Watch GT 2e is no exception. Huawei promises up to 14 days of typical use, which is exactly the same as the battery life estimate for the Huawei Watch GT 2. This, for me, is still a pretty impressive figure in 2020, and a big reason for this is the lightweight nature of Huawei’s smartwatch operating system: LiteOS.
This means that the Huawei Watch GT 2e, just like the Watch GT 2, falls into the “pseudo-smartwatch” category. Consequently, you don’t have the option to install any additional apps (unlike WearOS or Tizen), and even stuff like watch faces can be pretty limited in comparison.
Under the hood, we’re also seeing the Kirin A1 chip powering the Watch GT 2e, with “dual-chip design and power saving algorithms” ensuring that the battery life estimates are met. This is the exact same chip that powers the Watch GT 2, so you can expect to have identical processing performance.
For me, battery life is probably the strongest aspect of the Huawei Watch GT 2e as a wearable—just like it is for the Watch GT 2.
Is software the same?
The short answer: yes, fundamentally so. As mentioned, both wearables run on LiteOS, Huawei’s proprietary operating system, which is a fairly simple operating system that covers the basics of smartwatch functionality, but without the variety that additional apps could bring.
The Watch GT 2e appears to be more sports-centric than the Watch GT 2, with 100 sports modes supported.
Despite the exact same sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic, optical heart rate, ambient light, air pressure, capacitive) on both smartwatches, Huawei appears to have placed an emphasis on the sports tracking capabilities of the Watch GT 2e, with the Watch GT 2 only supporting 15 professional sports modes.
However, since the additional modes are software-based, Huawei even says that some of these features will be brought over to the Huawei Watch GT 2 via OTA updates. This is something that the company has already done in the past, with features like SpO2 tracking arriving via OTA update months after launch.
The bottom line? If you already have a Watch GT 2, you might as well wait for software updates instead of picking up the Watch GT 2e.
PS: You’ll need to download Huawei Mobile Services (even if you aren’t using a Huawei phone) to get Huawei Health to work for both the Watch GT 2 and Watch GT 2e. This new development sucks, and the HMS requirement only started with the latest version of the app.
Design: Smoothing out the rough edges
Smartwatches, just like conventional timepieces, aren’t just about specs under the hood. The look and feel of smartwatch is a big factor for many when choosing a device. Here, both smartwatches have pretty distinctive designs from one another, with Huawei implementing some subtle, but significant tweaks for the Watch GT 2e.
For example, the Mint Green unit pictured in this article comes with a strap that looks pretty similar to what Apple and Nike have done with the Apple Watch Nike. I’m not too sure on how I feel about it: for one thing, it’s not the most original of ideas, although I suppose the strap does contribute to a sportier look for the Watch GT 2e.
That aside, I do like what Huawei has done with the rest of the watch. The plain black bezel of the watch face is a lot more flush on the Watch GT 2e, and it blends in well when the display is off. They’ve also swapped out the sharp, protruding side buttons from the Watch GT 2 for flat buttons that sit almost flush on the body.
At the end of the day, the design of a wearable is always going to be a subjective choice. But I think it’s safe to say that the design of the Watch GT 2e is the modern choice of the two. The conventional-timepiece look of the Watch GT 2, on the other hand, is probably more fitting for a formal look.
The Huawei Watch GT 2e is missing one significant feature
What I really enjoyed with the Watch GT 2 were the built-in microphone and speaker, which basically allow you to make calls directly from your wrist. Of course, you can also use this to listen to music aloud—although I can’t think of a scenario where that would actually come in handy. The speaker sounds tinny at best, but audio quality is sufficient for making quick calls.
This, however, is missing on the new Huawei Watch GT 2e. It’s worth noting that only the larger, 46mm Watch GT 2 has a built-in microphone and speaker, but it’s still very disappointing that Huawei’s new wearable misses out on this.
Besides, ever since Richard Yu talked about the development of “Celia” (how original), I’ve been looking forward to seeing the integration of Huawei’s very own virtual assistant on wearables. Celia is only available on the Huawei P40 series at the moment, but having a built-in mic on the Watch GT 2e could have opened the door to a future update, I feel.
So, should you buy the Huawei Watch GT 2e?
When giving advice, I tend to tell people that they should make a purchasing decisions based on their specific wants and needs. And this certainly applies to the question of the Huawei Watch GT 2e vs the Huawei Watch GT 2. That’s because the latest wearable from the company is practically identical to the Watch GT 2—consequently, I think that the decision should boil down to value.
The Watch GT 2e is priced at RM599, which is RM200 less than the 46mm Watch GT 2. While you do miss out on the built-in microphone and speaker, it still offers almost the same core functionalities, and you get a device that’s arguably more modern-looking. For now, you also get some added sports modes and features as well, although Huawei says that these will arrive on the older Watch GT 2 at some point.
Ultimately, I think that at RM599, the Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a lot of value for what it’s worth. I’m still rather sore about the missing microphone and speaker, and while I will miss the functionality, a difference of RM200 definitely isn’t insignificant. Plus, I doubt that many people actually use their smartwatches to listen to music, or even to make calls (other than me, of course).
So to me, the decision is clear: if you can live without the built-in microphone and speaker, the Watch GT 2e is the bang-for-buck option over the Watch GT 2.
That said, if you fancy the ability to make calls directly on your smartwatch, the Watch GT 2e’s upper hand over the Watch GT 2 is mainly limited to software—we’ll probably see these features brought over to the older Watch GT 2. As a result, that certainly dilutes the value proposition that the Watch GT 2e brings to the table, and strengthens the argument that the Watch GT 2 is still a viable choice in 2020.