Huawei Watch 3 review: HarmonyOS to the rescue

This Watch 3 proves to be up to current standards. In addition to a beautiful stainless steel case, it incorporates a nice Oled screen, as well as Bluetooth, wifi and eSIM compatibility. The only downside is the unique case size (46.2 x 46.2 x 12.15 mm) which might put some off. It must be said that the watch stands out and weighs its weight (54 g). Fortunately, this imposing size comes with a remarkable finish. The circular ring, new to this model, is meticulously notched and the haptic feedback is both subtle and convincing.

The Huawei Watch 3 and its beautiful finishes.

The Watch 3’s Oled screen is immaculate. With high maximum brightness and limited reflectance, it remains readable regardless of sunlight. Ditto, the minimum brightness is just low enough not to interfere in the dark.

The great innovation of this Watch 3 lies in its interface. Worn by the crown, HarmonyOS, the manufacturer’s new operating system, does bring some new elements. More often than not, however, these are tweaks rather than genuinely new features. Thus, those used to LiteOS (the old operating system used by Huawei) and previous Chinese watches should not be confused.

The Watch 3 home screen.

The Watch 3 home screen.

Thus, HarmonyOS presents itself first of all as an aesthetic redesign of LiteOS. The list of apps menu gives way to a cloud of apps similar to what we’re used to seeing on watchOS. And as on the Californian watch, a rotation of the crown allows you to step back on the icons and navigate in the interface. In effect, it just makes it easier to explore. It is obviously possible to return to a list menu as on previous models. The apps presented are more or less the same. We are therefore rediscovering all the features available on the Watch 2.


Huawei’s “Apple” interface.

With HarmonyOS, the Watch 3 also gains in autonomy since it is eSIM compatible, a marginal functionality available for the moment only from certain operators. This function allows you to clone your mobile SIM card into the phone in order to maintain a 4G connection, even far from your mobile. With this in mind, the Watch 3 also offers to answer calls directly from his wrist, a feature that we had already seen on… the Apple Watch. The function is quite convincing, however, the speaker is not powerful enough to be heard in a very noisy place.

This call answering feature doubles as another pretty fun one. Thus, when an incoming call is detected, it is possible to go off-hook by clenching your fist briefly, without touching any button. It is by analyzing the rapid arterial constriction caused by this gesture that the connected watch achieves this little sleight of hand. Still, the trick does not work systematically and we have missed a call during a demonstration. Another novelty, the fall detection appears on this model, just like the emergency number.

For the rest, navigation remains classic. Via the digital crown, it provides access to the menu, but the touch screen also plays its role. A swipe from left to right allows you to go back, another down gives access to the control panel, upwards it refers to notifications and to the left on the report of the day. The physical button located under the digital crown allows direct access to the sports menu, very practical before embarking on a session.

The display of notifications that does not indicate the name of the application.

The notification display does not show the name of the application.

All these little novelties make it possible to optimize the experience offered by Huawei on its watches. However, we still noticed a number of limitations and bugs. Synchronization with iOS can therefore fluctuate, with the watch disconnecting at times. The screen turning on during movement is sometimes slow, causing us to stare at a black screen. Finally, during an incoming call, it is sometimes the phone number that is displayed instead of the contact’s name. Not very practical. Likewise, many apps go unrecognized; we therefore receive notifications in the form of SMS. Finally, music control is currently only available from a Huawei smartphone.

These new interface and rotating crown clearly show Huawei’s desire to progress on the interface. Alas, the manufacturer does not manage to push the experience far enough to really rub shoulders with the Apple Watch, its obvious source of inspiration.

The Huawei Watch 3 houses a suite of sensors. We find a built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor, a temperature sensor, as well as a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a barometric pressure sensor.

The GPS works very well. It turns out to be precise, more precise than a smartphone, but above all very quick to calibrate, even in town. The plots collected are relevant and therefore perfectly usable, whether in town or outdoors. The heart rate monitor is not as versatile. Thus, it offers excellent results at rest or during an endurance outing without sudden changes in heart rate. Under these conditions, the margin of error is around 1% compared to a Polar H10 chest strap. On the other hand, when the pace accelerates and an interval training session is carried out, the watch loses all consistency. In the absence of monitoring capable of managing rapid variations in rhythm, the curves displayed by the watch are of little relevance.

Finally, the Watch 3 ensures trouble-free sleep tracking. The device goes so far as to analyze the user’s rest, information whose relevance is still difficult to assess.

Points forts

  • High quality finishes.

  • Beautiful Oled screen.

  • Rotating crown.

  • e.g.

Weak points

  • Interface still imperfect.

  • Annoying bugs.

  • Decreased autonomy.

  • Heart rate monitor still perfectible.

  • No music control.

With the Watch 3, we expected Huawei to take a step forward. HarmonyOS, circular ring, eSIM: the promises were numerous. Unfortunately, in use, we are faced with a watch that is still looking for itself. Admittedly, the interface is optimized, but the shortcomings in cardiac monitoring and the decrease in autonomy spoil the experience. A Galaxy Watch first of the name, a Huawei Watch GT2 or, in a more sporty style, the Garmin Venu prove to be more complete.

Sub Notes

  • Ergonomics and design

  • Interface

  • Application

  • Uses and precision

  • Autonomy