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Huawei GT runner watch review: A gargantuan battery life with a sharp screen to match

·7-min read
This feature-heavy tracker feels as light as a feather to wear  (The Independent )
This feature-heavy tracker feels as light as a feather to wear (The Independent )

What can you get done in two weeks? Go on holiday. Strip, sand and repaint all the doors in the house. Make some kimchi.

It’s an absolute age, in other words. But that’s how long Huawei promises its GT runner fitness tracker and smartwatch will run and run on a single charge. It’s a heck of a promise, and one which pulls the wearable away from the masses of fitness tracker-smartwatch hybrids out there.

Along with the usual stuff – answering calls, seeing push notifications from your phone, tracking your heart rate – it promises sleep tracking, an AI-assisted running coach, multiple workout modes, blood oxygen saturation tracking (otherwise known as Sp02) and a positioning system which can guide you through running routes.

There is, of course, something else to consider here. Huawei is in a bit of a strange position, as it has been clobbered by American sanctions and tainted by the British government’s decision to ban the company from participating in the rollout of the UK’s upcoming 5G network after pressure from the United States. Any of its 5G equipment which had been installed is to be ripped out by 2027.

But whether the tech skirmishes continue or not, Huawei’s smartwatches haven’t yet been dragged into them. We took a deep dive into its GT runner tracker to see if its impressive features really deliver.

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How we tested

Over eight days of constant wear, we tested the GT runner’s core function as a fitness tracker by using it for as many different types of workout as possible. That meant wearing it while swimming, during jogs, on the rowing machine, on the bike and on hikes. We also tried out its ancillary functions including run route mapping and AI running coach by strapping on trainers and heading out for multiple runs around London.

Huawei watch GT runner

 (Huawei)
(Huawei)

Buy now £259.99, Amazon

Rating: 8/10

  • Dimensions: 210mm x 22mm x 11mm

  • Weight: 38.5g

  • Screen: 36.3mm AMOLED

  • Waterproof rating: 5ATM

  • Battery life: 14 days with regular use, 7 days of heavy use

Design

The GT runner comes in either black or grey, and teamed with the bright yellow flashes on the poppy AMOLED face it all looks agreeably Hacienda-inspired. (There are dozens of other face designs on the Huawei Health app; a couple of Smurfs-branded ones were particularly memorable).

Retailers such as Amazon and Argos are currently offering the smart watch with a pair of Huawei’s freebuds 4i earphones for the same price as the watch alone, and while we haven’t tested the earbuds ourselves, choosing this option seems like a no brainer.

The screen on the GT runner is properly remarkable too. It remains pin sharp and bright without draining battery life, and its touch screen is responsive even when you’re tapping away at it in the pool and is big enough to navigate properly without becoming unwieldy. We did have to do a bit of an exaggerated swing up towards our face to get the watch face to automatically light up, but it’s a minor quibble.

After a week of constant wear, including at night, and a workout each day, the GT runner still had 52 percent of its battery life left (Tom Nicholson)
After a week of constant wear, including at night, and a workout each day, the GT runner still had 52 percent of its battery life left (Tom Nicholson)

The ceramic finish, titanium crown and polymer-fibre case give the watch face a sturdy, luxe feel while remaining remarkably light. In fact, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing it at times. Everything’s controlled through a home button which also spins to select menu options, and a secondary button which acts as a shortcut to the workout selection screen. It’s all simply and satisfyingly put together, and the little buzz which comes as you scroll through menu options is neat.

Most smartly of all, wear it for a swim as we did and you’ll find that once you’re out of the water the GT runner discretely spews out any excess which might have gathered around the case with its drain function.

The floppy plastic strap is of course practical – this is a watch that’s going to get sweaty, sticky and chlorine-infused, after all – but it does bring the sharpness of the whole ensemble down a few pegs.

Software and features

One thing to be aware of is that because Huawei isn’t on Google Play or the App Store, you’re going to have to wander through a thicket of QR codes and downloads within your phone’s browser to hook the GT runner up to the Huawei Health app and get moving.

But once you do, the sheer variety of workouts and workout plans available to you is impressive: there are walking and running trackers, obviously, but there are rowing, swimming, skipping, hiking, trail running, skiing, snowboarding and triathlon modes too, each with their own dashboards recording your heart rate, calorie burning and respiration as well as how many lengths, strokes, steps or whatever else you’ve managed.

Head to the Huawei Health app afterwards and you’ll enjoy even more detail on everything, and not just on your splits: there are breakdowns of your heart rate, cadence, and the amount of time spent in different “zones” of exertion, from warm-up to the slightly scary sounding “extreme”.

The floppy plastic strap is of course practical, but it does bring the sharpness of the whole ensemble down a few pegs (Tom Nicholson)
The floppy plastic strap is of course practical, but it does bring the sharpness of the whole ensemble down a few pegs (Tom Nicholson)

The GT runner is, as its name suggests, primarily a runner’s watch and the real USP here is the AI-assisted running coach. If you give the Huaewei Health app your details and your recent times and distances, it’ll work out a training schedule to get you to the next level. It’s a useful way to keep yourself accountable, though probably a little basic for advanced runners.

If you have Huawei-sporting running pals, you can share running routes with them. But that’s where the GT runner falls down somewhat – you can’t connect to a running app like Strava as you might with an Apple Watch or one of Samsung’s fitness watches. However impressive your numbers are, they’re likely to be seen only by you.

There’s one other thing to mention that took us by surprise: while a workout is in progress, an oddly accented American man’s voice bellows out of the GT runner, giving readouts of your statistics. While clearly helpful for anyone who’s partially sighted, he can, mercifully, be turned off.

Functionality

Firstly, the big one: that battery life claim. After a week of constant wear, including at night, and a workout each day, the GT runner still had 52 percent of its battery life left. It’s pretty remarkable.

What it definitely isn’t is quick. The GT runner will take an hour and a half to get back up to full power from dead, which is less than ideal if you’re just popping out to the gym.

That said, the claims about the accurate positioning systems were borne out by our testing, the built in trackers are accurate and the data is available to dig into, even on the sleep tracker. There’s a handy array of features which seem primed for long distance cross country runners too: a compass, barometer and weather forecasting should help ensure you don’t accidentally sprint off the edge of a cliff on your next trail run.

Other little bits and pieces like timers, stopwatches, a torch and alarms are fairly standard issue, but they’re all neatly done and save you having to wander around wondering where you put your phone down.

The verdict: Huawei GT runner

At this price point, there are options out there which can cover many – if not all – of the areas which the GT runner does. However, they’re unlikely to cover them in such a convenient, user-friendly way, and that gargantuan battery life does take away one of the main headaches of owning a smartwatch which you intend to set to energy-intensive tasks most days. The excellent screen also elevates it above most of its competitors.

It does fall down a little for not being able to connect to popular fitness and messaging apps, but if you’re happy to spring for a standalone fitness tracker which also takes care of nearly all of the little jobs that it’s more convenient to delegate from your phone to a watch, then the GT runner will do it with style.

Buy now £259.99, Amazon

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