Wearables

Smartwatches with reliable health trackers

The wearables market has been in a slump lately, with few new smartwatches.

Huawei, though, is among the few with new offerings. In April, the Chinese tech giant added two new models - the Active and Elegant editions - to its Watch GT smartwatch line, which was launched late last year.

Both smartwatches share the same design as the now-discontinued Watch GT Classic smartwatch, with a round stainless-steel watch case, a ceramic bezel and two buttons on its right.

The Active has the same 46mm watch face and 1.39-inch (454 x 454 pixels) touchscreen display as the Classic. Its bezel has the same markers of the Classic.

The Elegant has a new, smaller 42mm watch face and a 1.2-inch (390 x 390 pixels) touchscreen display - for those with slimmer wrists. Its ceramic bezel has no markers for a clean look.

Both review units come with a black case and a black rubber strap. But the Active is also available in a grey case with green and orange straps, while the Elegant is available in a silver case with white straps.

The smartwatches have a barometer, altimeter, accelerometer and a heart-rate monitor that provides all-day tracking of the heart rate as well as built-in GPS to track runs. It is also able to monitor your sleep.

They have the new triathlon mode out of the box, which is available on the Classic via an update.

In other words, they can track the three types of workout in a triathlon - open-water swimming, outdoor cycling and outdoor running. They also track transition times.

  • HUAWEI WATCH GT ACTIVE

    FOR

    • Nice classic design

    • Accurate sleep and run tracking

    • Affordable

  • AGAINST

    • Lite OS' limited apps

    • More expensive than Classic

  • HUAWEI WATCH GT ELEGANT

    FOR

    • Smaller and more suitable for slimmer wrists

    • Accurate sleep and run tracking

    • Cheapest of the series

  • AGAINST

    • Lite OS' limited apps

    • Shorter battery life than Active

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $298 (Elegant), $368 (Active)

    DISPLAY: 1.2 inches, 390 x 390 pixels (Elegant); 1.39 inches, 454 x 454 pixels (Active)

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, GPS

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 36.2g (Elegant, without strap), 46g (Active, without strap)

  • RATING (BOTH)

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

However, if you are not a triathlete, you can still track each workout on its own. There is also the pool-swimming tracking option.

Like the Classic, there is no built-in Wi-Fi or Near Field Communications (NFC) capability for both smartwatches. This means that, unlike the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, they do not support mobile payment.

Both smartwatches use Huawei's Lite OS mobile operating system. This allows them to be compatible with both Android and iOS devices via the Huawei Health app.

On the downside, there are few apps and watch faces available on Lite OS. You get only the basic ones such as torch, weather, compass, stopwatch, timer and alarms.

Out of the box, there are 13 watch faces to choose from and there are 11 more versions you can download. Still, this seems paltry compared with the thousands of watch faces available for Wear OS by Google.

In terms of fitness tracking, both the Active and Elegant performed superbly. For tracking of steps, the Active's and Elegant's readings were only 3 per cent and 5 per cent off respectively from the readings of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4.

Using GPS to track runs, both the Active and Elegant were only 100m off in their distance measurement of my usual 5km jogging route.

For pool swims, you need to select the pool length, such as 25m or 50m, before your swim. Both smartwatches were able to accurately track the number of laps I did and the swim stroke I was using.

Sleep tracking was pretty accurate and comprehensive. Both smartwatches correctly pinpointed the time I went to sleep and woke up. In addition, there are sleep cycle graphs that break your sleep patterns into deep sleep, light sleep and rapid eye movement sleep.

The smartwatches also provide insights into deep sleep continuity and your breathing quality during sleep.

With heart-rate monitoring constantly switched on, the Active has a battery life rated at 14 days while the Elegant's is rated at a week.

I found this to be accurate as the battery life of the Active dropped to 50 per cent after a week. The Elegant's battery life dropped to 60 per cent by the end of the third day, though this is still better than most smartwatches whose batteries last one to two days.

Finally, both smartwatches are relatively affordable, compared with the smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 4 (from $599) and Samsung Galaxy Watch (from $398).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2019, with the headline 'Smartwatches with reliable health trackers '. Print Edition | Subscribe