The Huawei Watch GT Runner is hot on the heels of the Watch GT 3, and while the two share fundamental similarities, the running-focused watch sports a more lightweight design, better GPS performance and other tweaks that make it one of the most capable running watches around in 2022.
The question is, is that enough to tempt serious runners away from established brands like Garmin? While it’ll depend on the specific use case, I think there’s a lot for runners – especially newer runners – to like.
As a note: with so many similarities between the Watch GT Runner and Watch GT 3, we’ll focus mainly on the running features here. If you want an in-depth look at the overall smartwatch experience on offer, take a look at our detailed Huawei Watch GT 3 review.
Design and build
Though the Huawei Watch GT Runner shares many similarities with the Watch GT 3, the overall design isn’t one of them. Huawei has designed the Watch GT Runner to be lighter, with intricate differences that make it better suited to runners.
The main reduction in weight comes from the materials that Huawei has chosen. The main body of the 46mm wearable is made from a composite fibre that’s both lightweight and durable while also interfering less with the GPS system for more accurate results, with a matte textured finish that’s satisfying to run your finger across.
That’s coupled with a ceramic bezel and titanium alloy crown to provide a durable, yet still premium, look to the Watch GT Runner.
The combination of materials mean the Watch GT Runner weighs in at just 38.5g, 4.1g lighter than the Watch GT 3. This means it’s less noticeable on the wrist, especially when running, and it allows it to stay more securely in place too.
Equally as important is the rear, which sports a curved 2.5D glass case with soft edges around the heart rate sensor system that doesn’t irritate the skin around the wrist.
At the centre stage is the 1.43in OLED display. It’s the same as that of the Huawei Watch GT 3, but that’s no bad thing; the display is incredibly detailed with vibrant colours and great contrast, and there’s a range of watch faces – including a data-based face exclusive to the Watch GT Runner – to provide key information at a glance.
It’s at this point we should mention that it is a fairly large 46mm smartwatch, and there’s no smaller 42mm model available. It fits my large wrists well, but those with smaller wrists might feel it’s a bit too bulky for everyday use.
The Watch GT 3 Runner also sports redesigned lugs that protrude a little farther than some alternatives. There’s a GPS-related reason to this that we’ll get into a little later, but the larger gaps between the lugs and the body have the added benefit of providing extra air flow to help keep sweat to a minimum.
That trend continues with the strap, featuring gaps that allow it to be more breathable than solid alternatives. It’s made from silicone like most sports straps, but Huawei has an antibacterial coating that should help keep things nice and clean – even during the most intense runs.
Material aside, the strap is soft to the touch and incredibly flexible, making it easy to forget it’s there in the first place.
We’ve photographed the Huawei Watch GT Runner in black here, but it’s worth noting that it’s also available in a stylish grey-and-yellow combination.
The ultimate running companion
The Huawei Watch GT Runner is a fairly decent smartwatch, offering a selection of apps, customisable watchfaces, health and sleep tracking and compatibility with both iOS and Android, although the best experience is with a Huawei smartphone.
It’s not perfect, with rather basic notification support and the inability to display emoji in messages, but it’ll do for the vast majority.
As noted earlier, we cover the general smartwatch experience in more detail in our Huawei Watch GT 3 review – in that regard, the two are almost identical. What we care most about here is what’s on offer specifically for runners.
And, when it comes to running, Huawei has smashed its goal, providing one of the most comprehensive running-focused experiences I’ve had.
You can choose either indoor or outdoor running (alongside 100+ other workouts) in the Watch GT Runner’s Workout app, accessible by a press of the side button, but there’s also dedicated running courses that you can undertake.
Accessible via the Huawei Health app for iOS and Android, there’s a suite of courses catering to everyone from beginners through to marathon runners, breaking down the run into different sections to help improve your endurance and stamina, and there’s a custom course mode if you’ve got a specific goal in mind.
While long-time runners likely won’t need any coaching, it’s especially helpful for those getting into the world of fitness, with the built-in speaker guiding you through your run.
You’ve got a suite of data available at a glance during runs; so much so that there are multiple faces for you to browse through. The default includes distance, heart rate (and heart rate zones) and pace, but you can find other faces that focus more on elements like lap time, pace and altitude.
When it comes to outdoor running, the dual-band GPS tracking is impressive – and that’s mainly down to the combination of support for five satellite systems and Huawei moving the system itself. While it’s embedded within the case in most alternatives, Huawei has moved it to the lugs for better connectivity. Those longer lugs make sense now, right?
Even in a built-up city environment, the watch usually connects to GPS within 5 seconds, although that will vary depending on your location. As well as using this data to help measure distance travelled more easily, it can also be used to route you back home on outdoor runs – just swipe to the left of the display and tap route back.
Much of the data collected comes from Huawei’s TruSeen 5.0+ heart rate system, capable of measuring heart rate (including irregular workout heart rates) and blood oxygen levels.
The system itself has been redesigned to reduce interference from light by 66%, and it uses a smaller 5bpm deviation threshold (compared to 10bpm from alternatives) to capture more accurate data without the need for a third-party heart monitor strap.
Coupled with gyroscope and GPS data alongside Huawei-designed algorithms based on real-world data, it can use that information to provide an insightful post-run breakdown. It’ll provide standard metrics like distance, calories burnt, VO2Max, pace and heart rate, but it goes a step further too.
One of my favourite features is the Running Ability Index (RAI), which essentially provides a baseline for your running performance in the form of a number. This makes it much easier to see your improvements over time, taking elements like technique efficiency and endurance into consideration.
It can go a step further by also using this data to predict how far you’ll run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and a full marathon, even if you haven’t attempted such long runs, although the numbers can be a little too overconfident for my liking.
There are also features like Recovery Time that provides insight into how long you should wait before exercising again as to help avoid injury, and Training Stress give you an idea of how hard you worked during the session.
It’s tangible numbers like this that can really help runners, whether you’re just getting into your first 5K or whether you’re a seasoned runner looking to keep up with your health and fitness. It helps you visualise and understand your progress over time and, as a result, keeps you motivated.
Plus, you can export the data from Huawei Health to the Apple Health on an iPhone too – ideal for a more holistic overview of your health and fitness using data from multiple apps.
The Huawei Watch GT Runner excels in the battery department, but considering Huawei’s reputation for long-lasting wearables, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Huawei claims that you can squeeze up to 14 days of use out of the Watch GT Runner before it’ll need a top-up, but that’s with many optional features – like the always-on display – disabled.
In my experience with the Watch GT Runner, it comes in at less than 14 days, but it’ll largely depend on how many runs you’ve gone on through the week. With two 30/40-minute runs and average use elsewhere, I’ve hit the 8-day mark with 39% battery remaining, which should equate to 11-12 days overall.
Not quite the claimed battery life then, but still substantially longer than watches like the Apple Watch Series 7, and it helps alleviate some of that battery anxiety too.
When it comes to charging, the Huawei Watch GT comes with a magnetic wireless charger that’ll snap securely into place and charge the wearable in around 90 minutes. What is handy is wireless charging support, allowing you to plonk the Watch GT Runner on the back of a smartphone with reverse wireless charging to top it up on the fly.
The Huawei Watch GT Runner began its international rollout on January 26 2022, with release in select European countries at a tempting €299. UK pricing was revealed in mid-February, coming in at a cool £259, and was subsequently launched on the Huawei Store on 22 March 2022.
It should also come as no surprise that the Huawei Watch GT Runner is unavailable in the US, with no plans for a release anytime soon. If you’re in the States, check out our choice of the best smartwatch to get some inspiration.
The Huawei Watch GT Runner may not be the smartest smartwatch around, but if you’re interested in running – whether you’re a beginner or pro – you’ll love what the Watch GT Runner has to offer.
The lightweight build makes all the difference, helping keep the watch in place on your wrist to improve the accuracy of the heart rate data being measured, and it helps you forget that you’re wearing a watch too. There’s also the bright, vibrant and detailed display, with plenty of customisable running-focused watchfaces to choose from.
The running features on offer are what’s most impressive though; as well as standard metrics like distance, pace, calories and Sp02 monitoring, it goes a step further with advanced insights like Running Ability Index and Training Stress, helping provide a better understanding of your physical health. There’s also Lactate Threshold, a unique offering to the Watch GT Runner.
Paired with a range of preset and custom running courses, impressive GPS performance and long battery life, the Huawei Watch GT is the perfect addition to any runner’s daily jog – and at an attractive price point too.