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HUAWEI Watch 3 launches with new design and Harmony OS
It’s been four years since HUAWEI launched a full-fledged smartwatch and a couple since the HUAWEI Watch GT 2. The smartwatch landscape has changed massively since then, and it’d be an understatement to say that HUAWEI has been through quite a lot, too. With Harmony OS in tow, HUAWEI is ready to jump into the fray once again with a couple of new peripherals that the company unveiled at an event today.
Joining HUAWEI’s impressive but dated wearable portfolio is the HUAWEI Watch 3. Here’s what you need to know.
HUAWEI Watch 3: What’s new?
The biggest design change with the HUAWEI Watch 3 is front and center. Gone are the huge protruding bezels and diver’s watch numbering. Instead, HUAWEI utilizes the space as best it can, managing to squeeze a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen up front, with a thin bezel around its circumference. It’s a high-resolution and super bright screen, so you won’t have any issues when outdoors. The casing is made with high-quality steel, the back is ceramic, and hardened glass keeps the display protected.
The design changes continue, with HUAWEI replacing its tw0-button system with a single rotating crown on the side of the watch. It’s not the rotating bezel of the Galaxy Watch 3, but it’s definitely an improvement over having to swipe and tap on the screen all day. Scrolling through menus and everything else on the screen is quick and intuitive. And with a physical crown, you’re free to use it with wet hands or with gloves on. HUAWEI’s also touting the “premium feeling” haptic feedback, but we’ll have to see how much of a difference that makes to the overall experience.
See also: The best smartwatches you can buy
Every version of the HUAWEI Watch 3 comes with an eSIM and 4G connectivity so that you can leave your phone behind. You can make and receive regular calls and text messages, and even video calls while on the move. You can also stream music on the go and sync your playlists from popular music streaming services over the cellular network.
As far as sensors are concerned, you get the usual suspects like heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring, and everything needed for everyday fitness tracking. Joining the list is an industry-first temperature sensor that allows for continuous skin temperature monitoring.
There are a few different versions of the HUAWEI Watch 3 — Active, Sporty Classic, Classic, and Elite. However, the difference seems to lie mostly in the type of watch band you get. The Active comes with a silicone wrist strap. The Classic and Sporty Classic come with cloth and leather bands, and you get a metal strap with the Elite. The software and hardware remain the same across the board, though.
Harmony OS on the HUAWEI Watch 3 might be new, but it’s all too familiar at first glance. HUAWEI is using a grid launcher for app navigation. All you have to do is tap on the circular icons on the screen. If you have a lot of apps, the rotating crown lets you zoom into particular areas and find the app you want. Sound familiar? But if it works, it works, and the Apple Watch proves that this layout works.
Huawei’s done a great job with everything else too. The watch faces look great, and you get colorful and detailed fitness tracking info and health metrics. HUAWEI’s put a lot of work into how information is presented to you on the watch, and it really shows. Speaking of fitness tracking, you get 17 professional workout modes like running, cycling, pool and open water swimming, rowing, free training, and more. You can also set up up to 85 custom modes to get granular info about your exercise routine. Of course, all-day activity tracking is also possible.
HUAWEI Watch 3 gets third-party apps support for the first time.
App support is limited, but you can access Huawei’s App Gallery directly on the watch. Apart from any first-party apps, HUAWEI is slowly building partnerships with app developers, so there are many useful third-party apps already available or will be soon after launch.
None of this matters if the battery life isn’t good. HUAWEI says that the Watch 3 will offer three days of battery life with normal use with 4G enabled. You can also switch to “ultra long-lasting mode” to extend that to up to two weeks. The battery-saving mode isn’t one that turns everything off and makes the screen black and white, either. You’ll get access to the core features that make the smartwatch experience for most people. This includes animated watch faces, 14 workout modes, and features like sleep tracking, blood oxygen monitoring, heart rate tracking, Bluetooth calling, and more.
HUAWEI Watch 3 Pro
Not content with just the Watch 3, HUAWEI also announced the Watch 3 Pro to takes things to the next level. It has a similar design to the regular edition but features diver’s watch etchings around the perimeter, albeit with a more muted, classy look. HUAWEI is using sapphire glass, a titanium body, and a ceramic shell for its premium smartwatch.
The upgrades don’t stop with the design. The Watch 3 Pro comes with dual-channel GPS for extremely accurate position tracking. The Pro also gets a bigger battery. This gives you up to five days with regular use and up to three weeks with the long-lasting mode.
HUAWEI Watch 3 pricing and availability
The HUAWEI Watch 3 will be available from June 18 in the UK. Pricing starts at £349.99 (~$496), and it will arrive in Active, Classic, and Elite guises. Eager buyers can also reserve their device through the HUAWEI Store between June 2-17.
The HUAWEI Watch 3 Pro goes on sale a little later, from June 28. As for its price, UK buyers will need to fork out £499.99 (~$709). The watch will be offered in two guises: Classic and Elite editions. HUAWEI is also allowing buyers to reserve their watches between June 2-27.
HUAWEI has yet to announce availability and pricing in other regions.
The HUAWEI Watch 3 sounds really good on paper. It’ll be interesting to see how the software experience, which is usually the downfall of modern smartwatches, holds up. The limited app support will get better with time. And if HUAWEI can deliver on everything else, the HUAWEI Watch 3 might be one of the smartwatches to beat in 2021.