The Huawei Watch 3 in a regular and Pro variant has launched today to coincide with Global Running Day. The devices run on the new HarmonyOS 2.0.
The operating sytem was first announced by Huawei in 2019 at a Developer Conference in the Chinese city of Dongguan. It is meant to replace Huawei’s reliance on Google WearOS.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
To remind, Google had suspended the company’s Android license on May 15th 2019. The move came after the Trump administration issued an “Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain”. It was alleged the Chinese tech giant was using the technology to spy on US assets. The most direct result of this was Google choosing to cut new Android updates to Huawei products.
HarmonyOS works across different devices to create a shared ecosystem. The idea is for everything from smartphones to smartwatches, desktop computers, in-vehicle systems and other internet-connected devices to communicate with each other. Huawei says HarmonyOS is open-source platform in order to encourage adoption and development.
Commenting on the launch in 2019, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group Richard Yu said the ability to work all kinds of devices makes it “completely different from Android and iOS”. “You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices.”
Apparently the software will be “fives times faster than existing systems” thanks to a “microkernel architecture”. It will have a very secure infrastructure as it integrates a number of different verification systems.
Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro
Today we see the first smartwatches running on Harmony OS – the Huawei Watch 3 and a Pro variant of the same. Both were announced at a big global launch event, along some tablets and gadget software. These are the long awaited successors to the Huawei Watch 2 (though we have had other Huawei smartwatches show up in the last few years).
With the introduction of HarmonyOS on smartwatches for the first time, we’ve got a revamped user interface, along with support for eSIMs and cellular connectivity so you can do more from your wrist.
A couple of years ago Huawei took the wraps of the Watch GT line. An inkling of things to come, the wearable scraps the Google WearOS in favour of its own software called LightOS. Essentially a stripped back operating system it offers limited smart functions but awesome battery life. But HarmonyOS is a much more functional replacement for WearOS.
We actually expected the new platform to make its smartwatch debut last October. That summer there was talk Huawei would release a new line of Mate-branded watches. It already has computers and tablets with that name. A trademark application was filed by Huawei for something called “Huawei Mate Watch”. So far nothing has come of it.
As far as the new watches, they are pretty slick looking! The screen is a 1.43 inch AMOLED with 466 x 466 pixel resolution, 1000 nits and 326 ppi. The weight is only 54 grams and diameter 46mm.
What is noticeable is just how small the curved bezel around the AMOLED screen is. Not quite an edge-to-edge experience but getting there. Generation 2 has a pretty thick bezel which does not look very attractive. On the whole, Huawei Watch 3 is 0.15mm slimmer than the 12.3mm of its predecessor and much smarter looking.
The physical button configuration has also undergone a revamp. The watch still has two buttons on the right, but one now is a 3D rotating crown while the other is far more discreet and adopts a flat look.
Inside, the Hi6262 chipset works with an eSIM/LTE modem which allows for untethered voice calls, video calls (no camera so just as receiving) and streaming from Huawei Music. There is also 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage.
Wi-Fi and dual-band GPS (GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and QZSS) support are also included, along with a heart rate monitor, temperature sensor, SpO2 and support for over 100 sports modes (17 professional with detailed statistics and 85 standard). Automatic workout detection works for walking, running, elliptical and rower activities. You’ll know when its ok to head out for exercise thanks to a fatique metric which tracks your recovery.
Battery life on the regular variant is an excellent 14 days in battery saver mode. Watch 3 Pro version boosts this to three weeks. However, with all the bells and whistles you’ll be looking to charge the watches every three days or so (five days on Pro).
The other difference between the two variants is in build quality. The regular version is made of steel with a ceramic back, the Pro has a titanium and ceramic case and sapphire glass. The latter is also larger coming in at 48 x 48.6 x 14 mm and weighing 63 grams.
Price and availability
Huawei Watch 3 looks like it will offer a much slicker experience than the current version. It is available in black and class brown leather strap options for around $410 when it releases on June 18. The Pro variant runs a hefty $110 more (release date June 28).
You can pair the watches with a selection of straps including the Active (rubber strap), Classic (leather strap) and Elite (metal link bracelet). These are interchangeable so you can swap them around.
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