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Honor Watch GS Pro
What we like
What we don't like
Honor Watch GS Pro
The Honor Watch GS Pro is basically a Huawei Watch GT 2 with a much bigger battery. Given the connection between the two brands, this isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s far from a “new” smartwatch. The main difference is that the GS Pro has a chunky exterior (which I love) and a massive battery (which I wish deserved my love). This is the Honor Watch GS Pro review.
Update, September 2020: This Honor Watch GS Pro review has been updated to include further details on the duration of a full battery cycle and the irregular step count data I encountered. Also updated to include details around the availability of new color options.
Honor Watch GS Pro review: Design
As a fan of chunky watches, I like the GS Pro design. The larger battery means it’s a bit of a chonky boi, even on my wrist, but not ridiculously so. If you like larger watches this will suit you fine, as it does me. If you’ve been a bit wary of the bulk of most smartwatches in the past, be warned: the Honor Watch GS Pro is not for the faint of heart.
I like chunky watches, but be warned: the Honor Watch GS Pro is not for the faint of heart.
The design reminds me of a Casio ProTrek watch I’ve owned and loved for years. Two big flat buttons on the right-hand side, angular lugs, a diver’s watch bezel: it’s all on point. The stainless steel bezel doesn’t rotate, but the “outdoor watch” styling is pretty spot on.
The Honor Watch GS Pro features a Huawei TruSeen 3.5 setup on the back, meaning a quad-sensor layout with LEDs and receivers for reading heart-rate measurements and SpO2. You’ll also find two pogo pins for charging and the speaker, which thankfully isn’t muffled by your wrist despite its location on the back of the watch. There’s no NFC.
The included fluoro rubber strap on the Charcoal Black unit I have has a textured feel to it. It’s quite stiff at the lugs where it connects to the puck with a spring-loaded 22mm pin, but because the watch chassis is so large you don’t notice the stiffness as it wraps around your wrist.
The Marl White version comes with the same strap in a beige color but the Camo Blue option has a braided nylon strap instead. It’s not my favorite smartwatch strap but the textured feel does match the matte finish of the main plastic part of the watch body well. On September 28, 2020, a new Camo Gray option was announced alongside the Camo Blue. Both will go on sale in October.
25-day battery life?
The main difference between the Honor Watch GS Pro and the Huawei Watch GT 2 is battery life (if you’re wondering why I’m not comparing it to the Honor Magic Watch 2 instead it’s because that watch doesn’t have GPS while the GT 2 does and they are mostly identical otherwise).
Where the Watch GT 2 series offers 14 days of battery life via a 455mAh cell, the added battery bulk of the GS Pro jacks that up to an impressive 25 days. Apparently. Maybe. Not yet.
With what I would consider to be normal usage, I'm on track for 15 days of battery life, not 25.
The Honor Watch GS Pro has a 790mAh battery, charged by a familiar pogo pin puck in around two hours. In the six full days since my last charge, the GS Pro battery is right at 60%. I honestly don’t think it’s realistic to expect a full 25 days out of one charge – at least not with this current software version – but it’ll definitely be between two and three weeks. Note: One full battery cycle ended up lasting me 15.5 days.
Honor states the GS Pro can last for 100 hours with GPS enabled in power-saving mode. This is an option for just three activities: hiking, mountain hiking, and trail running (tap the settings icon next to each activity to change the GPS mode). The GS Pro’s default mode for all activities is performance mode, which Honor says will get you 40 hours of more accurate GPS tracking.
How I used it
During the Honor Watch GS Pro review period, I wore it as my main watch with always-on watch faces disabled (as these generally halve the battery life). I had TruSleep, continuous heart-rate monitoring, and automatic stress tracking enabled.
Beyond normal usage checking the time and weather, answering or rejecting calls, and checking my heart rate or stress levels, I also tracked several activities. These included a 40-kilometer bike ride, some hiking on the weekend, a couple of hours of kayaking, a few auto-detected walks throughout the week, and some strength training.
I also played music stored on the watch and on my phone but only for about an hour (half played through the GS Pro’s speakers and the other half over Bluetooth earbuds). Basically, nothing I would consider to be out of the ordinary, so I’m pretty skeptical about the 25-day claims being made. Right now, I’m on track for 15 days, not 25.
Fast forward another week and the above prediction came true: the GS Pro battery lasted me 15.5 days on a single charge. The first week it was my primary watch but the second week it got used less while I reviewed another smartwatch as my primary wearable. I still tracked some activity but it didn’t play music, wasn’t always paired to a phone, and wasn’t used for much other than checking the time or comparing stats across devices.
See Also: The best smartwatches right now
I think you’d need really lean usage with no outdoor activity to hit the 25-day milestone, which doesn’t seem ideal for a watch specifically targeted at outdoorsy types. This is a little disappointing for a watch with a 790mAh battery. Case in point: other Huawei watches with a 455mAh battery safely last me for two weeks with similar amounts of activity tracking.
With that said, I also noticed less-spectacular-than-expected battery life from the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro recently, so there could be a current software issue that can be patched to improve the battery situation in both devices. If things change for the better, I’ll update this review. I’ve since been in contact with Honor but the company says the GS Pro software is performing as expected.
Lite OS and Huawei Health
Lite OS is a very simplistic wearable OS. On the home watch face you can swipe up to see notifications and tap them to expand (but not to reply). Swiping down on the main screen reveals your quick settings. These include a toggle for do not disturb, screen-on toggle, find my phone, alarm shortcut, and settings menu shortcut. You’ll also find a Bluetooth connection icon, the date, and a battery indicator.
Lite OS is a very simplistic wearable OS. I like it, but it's not for everyone.
Swiping horizontally through the Watch GS Pro’s main screens reveal screens dedicated to heart rate monitoring, stress level tracking, weather, music playback, and an activity dashboard. The dashboard shows three rings indicating step count, tracked workout minutes, and active hours for the day. You can rearrange Lite OS home screens or add extras by going to Settings > Display > Favorites (the only one you can add on the GS Pro is Sleep).
The top button on the right launches your app list when pressed on the main watch face. It takes you back to the main screen when pressed elsewhere in the Lite OS interface. To go back a step, just swipe inwards from the left-hand side of the screen. The bottom button can be set to any app shortcut you like but defaults to launching activity tracking.
The apps on the Watch GS Pro occasionally provide more information than their associated main screens. For example, Activity Records shows the dashboard mentioned above, but you can swipe up to see more detailed information including calories burned, distance covered, elevation changes, as well as daily totals for steps, workout minutes, and hours active for the week.
Huawei Health provides an even deeper level of detail. You can dig right into your workout stats, sleeping habits, stress levels, and SpO2 measurements, or track your weight, heart rate, and calories burned by the hour, day, week, or month. It’s perhaps not as advanced as some other wearable apps but it’s still got more than enough data to cover the basics.
You can add a menstrual cycle calendar to Huawei Health’s dashboard by tapping the Edit button at the bottom of the main screen and enabling it.
Honor Watch GS Pro: Fitness tracking
Like all other Honor and Huawei watches running Lite OS, the limitations of the app ecosystem (i.e. precious little third-party app support) will be a problem for some, especially if you’re already tied up in a fitness app like Strava. You can, however, share data from Huawei Health to Google Fit or MyFitnessPal, depending on your region.
The activity tracking options on the Honor Watch GS Pro are very comprehensive.
App support notwithstanding, the activity tracking options on the Honor Watch GS Pro are very comprehensive. 100 modes cover everything from multiple running, walking, swimming, and cycling modes, to triathlon, strength, skiing, rowing, and elliptical. There are also 13 different running courses if you need a little extra motivation.
If your fitness activities are a little more niche, you’ve got all manner of extras including street dance, HIIT, yoga and pilates, boxing and taekwondo, tai chi, frisbee, laser tag, fishing, curling, parachuting, and…well, you get the point.
Huawei’s fitness tracking is generally quite good and the Honor Watch GS Pro produces very similar results. Heart-rate and stress measurements across devices are near identical (I’ve been wearing the GT 2 Pro at the same time as a control), as are sleep tracking records.
One discrepancy worth mentioning is step count. I noticed throughout this Honor Watch GS Pro review that it consistently tracked more steps throughout the day than the GT 2 Pro. I can’t be certain which device is reporting incorrectly, but during the GT 2 Pro review it reported the same count as the Huawei Watch Fit I was also wearing at the time.
Either the GS Pro is over-reporting step count or both new Huawei watches are under-reporting. (I’ve since gotten to the bottom of this, as the GS Pro was over-reporting steps compared to the Honor Watch ES as well, making it the sole outlier against three other watches from the same company. The discrepancy was typically around 10-15% greater than the other wearables I compared the GS Pro data to.)
Beyond heart rate tracking and fitness, the GS Pro offers sleep tracking, which is pretty good. Even if you don’t quite know what to do with the sleep insights provided, it’s interesting information to have available. Especially if you want to try and reverse engineer the conditions under which you get the best night’s rest.
The Honor Watch GS Pro also offers on-demand SpO2 monitoring. The results always seem to be at 97% saturation or above and then drop by a percent or two a moment after the reading comes in, so I can’t say how reliable they are. The lack of 24/7 monitoring for detecting sleep apnea is a bit of a bummer, especially with the extra battery capacity available to handle it. (Note: I asked Honor about this and they responded to say the “GS Pro has 24/7 SpO2 monitoring.” However, I see no way to enable it in the watch, app, or settings, even though I’m on the newest software versions. Perhaps it’s coming in an update.)
There’s a barometer, altimeter, and compass on the GS Pro. These definitely come in handy when you’re in the great outdoors. The GS Pro delivers severe weather alerts and detailed weather forecasts. You can see hourly weather info for the current day and daily outlooks for the week ahead. You can also access tide times, moon phase info, and sunset/sunrise information.
Route Back is pretty neat and a great feature to have.
Route Back is an offline GPS feature that lets you ditch your phone and still find your way back if you get lost. It works on select outdoor activities like hiking or outdoor running and provides a simple route overview to navigate you back to your starting point. Just swipe twice from the right edge of the screen (past the music player) when tracking one of the supported activities and use the + and – symbols to zoom in and out. It’s pretty neat and a great feature to have.
The good stuff
I also like the audio experience on the Watch GS Pro. The speaker gets impressively loud and while it’s hardly Dolby Atmos it’s pretty darn good for a smartwatch. It allows you to play music stored on your watch or on your phone via Bluetooth 5.1 (you can also pair wireless earbuds directly to the GS Pro – one of my favorite features). The GS Pro can also receive calls as long as it’s paired to your phone.
If you have an Honor or Huawei phone you can even use the GS Pro as a remote shutter for taking photos. So just prop your phone up, get in front of it and use your watch to trigger the shutter, with a few seconds delay if you need it. This feature isn’t available on iPhones or non-Honor/Huawei Android phones. iOS users can’t take advantage of the stress monitoring feature either.
The not-so-great stuff
Beyond the underwhelming battery life and not-very-competitive price tag, my only other real gripes are a few hardware and software issues. Unfortunately, there were more than a few during the Honor GS Pro review period, which left me feeling it was still a bit too buggy for showtime. I can’t say everyone will experience the same problems as me, but here are a few I came across:
- Workout auto-detection worked maybe a quarter of the time and often kicked in way too late (for example, 15 minutes into a 20-minute walk). I also swam a dozen laps in a pool at one point and the GS Pro failed to detect any activity. The GS Pro has 5ATM water resistance by the way.
- Whenever I tracked a workout of any kind, the GS Pro always considered my heart rate to be in the extreme zone, despite appropriate zones being set in the app. This happened regardless of whether I was chest-busting on the bike at 175bpm or doing a mild strength workout at 120bpm. This then affected the analytics I got for each workout, skewing my results.
- The GS Pro has the same laggy response all Honor and Huawei devices with the Kirin A1 chip seem to suffer. The lag between swiping or tapping and the watch registering it can occasionally be so bad you’d think you didn’t tap the screen. When you go to do it again, the GS Pro will finally react, causing you to mis-tap something on the next screen. Scrolling lag is also pretty bad, as is button-press response time.
Honor Watch GS Pro specs
|Honor Watch GS Pro|
1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen
454x454, 326 ppi
Kirin A1, 4GB ROM (2GB available), 32MB RAM
790 mAh (25 days est.)
Pogo pin charging
Sensors and components
Optical heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
Android 5.0+ and iOS 9.0+
Dimensions and weight
48mm x 48mm x 13.6mm
45.5g (without 22mm strap)
Body: Reinforced polycarbonate
Bezel and buttons: Stainless steel
Strap: fluoro rubber/braided nylon (Camo Blue only)
Charcoal Black, Marl White, Camo Blue
Value for money and competition
This is where things get a little sticky. The Honor Watch GS Pro retails for €249.90 in Europe in countries including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. In the UK, the GS Pro costs ₤249.99 and is listed for that price on Honor’s website. This is about fifty bucks more than the GS Pro is worth in my opinion.
It's hard to say the Honor Watch GS Pro offers particularly good value for money even within the Honor-Huawei ecosystem.
It’s hard to say the Honor Watch GS Pro offers particularly good value for money even within the Honor-Huawei ecosystem. There are several other Honor and Huawei watches with basically the same features and specs – if not the same battery capacity – for much less.
You can currently pick up the 46mm Honor Magic Watch 2 for €159.90/₤139.99 or the Huawei Watch GT 2 for €179.99/£169.99. While both of these watches came out in late 2019, they are very similar. The only difference is that the Magic Watch 2 doesn’t have GPS. More recently, the Huawei Watch GT 2e offers a similar package (minus speaker and some other bits) for €145/£140.
As mentioned, the biggest difference here is the GS Pro’s 790mAh battery, which would be a bigger deal if it actually translated into better battery life. If the 25-day claim was backed up it might be worth the extra money, but it’s not, and it isn’t.
Read more: Huawei Watch GT 2e review
Outside Lite OS, you have plenty of other competitive options too. The 44mm Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is currently on sale for just €202.57/₤206.96 via Amazon. It offers the complete opposite design attitude to the GS Pro and nowhere near the battery life, but it is a more fully-featured smartwatch with support for contactless payments and more third-party app support. If GPS is essential for you, we also have a full list of the best GPS smartwatches available.
Honor Watch GS Pro review: The verdict
The long and the short of it is that Honor may have slightly overpriced the GS Pro. This wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t also failed to deliver on its core promise of a 25-day battery life (or even two-week battery life if you’re actually in the outdoors a lot).
With a software update to fix the bugs and battery life issue, the GS Pro could still be a good deal. As it stands right now though, I think you’re probably better off with a Watch GT 2. Or the GT 2e if you don’t need the speaker. Or pick up a Galaxy Watch 2 if you need more features and can live without the chunk. You get my point.
With a software update to fix the bugs and battery life issue, the GS Pro could still be a good deal.
If things change for the better I will update this Honor Watch GS Pro review (I’ve sent all of these complaints to Honor to see if they’re doing anything about them). But for now, you can find equivalent watches elsewhere for a similar price that are also more reliable.