We were introduced to Honor’s first rugged watch, the Honor Watch GS Pro at the IFA 2020 Global Press Conference. The watch is designed to be tough, built to withstand the elements and thanks to its big battery and efficient processor, it can last for up to 25 days on a single charge.
Not A Dress Watch
The full size smartwatch is a starkly different in design to the Honor MagicWatch 2. The Honor MagicWatch 2 is available as a dress watch, with brown leather strap and silver stainless steel case or as a more outgoing watch with black silicone strap and black silicone case. The Honor Watch GS Pro on the other hand is only available with toughened silicone strap and polymer case, albeit in white or black. There is a third option in camo blue with woven strap. There is no denying that this is a watch designed for the outdoors and the outgoing type.
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Advantages over the Honor MagicWatch 2 46mm
Now that we have established that this is no dress watch, what are the advantages of picking the Honor Watch GS Pro over the Honor MagicWatch 2? Apart from the rugged, military proven design, the Honor Watch GS Pro has a much longer battery life of up to 25 days (compared to 15 days), comes with over 100 workout modes and has a SpO2 monitor to measure blood oxygen level.
Apart from the aforementioned features, they both share the same 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen display 454 x 454 resolution and 326 ppi pixel density. They are powered by the same Huawei Kirin A1 chip, complete with dual GPS, Bluetooth and the standard barrage of sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, ambient light, barometer and capacitive sensors. Used together, they track fitness and workouts and monitor heart rate, sleep, stress and more. All that in a water resistance case up to 5ATM.
Outright Wild and Rugged
Going back to that rugged design, the HONOR Watch GS PRO received 14 military grade certifications from MIL-STD-810G/GB 150A tests. Chief among these are its ability to operate in a wide temperature range from as low as -40 to 70 degrees Celsius, low pressure, high altitude and high humidity. Other tests that it excelled at include temperature shock, contamination by fluid, solar radiation, rain, salt fog, sand and dust, immersion, vibration and shock.
You can see what Honor is going with this especially with the watch being equipped with an Sp02 sensor to measure blood oxygen level, altitude barometer for mountaineering and a built-in dual satellite system for route back function to help track your way back. You can take the watch skiing, snowboarding, wild swimming, jungle trekking and all the outdoor adventures you can think of. The watch will inform you of your surroundings, including sunrise and sunset, moon and tidal phases and bad weather alerts. The latter includes severe weather warning, especially with the sudden change in atmospheric pressure.
It has a chunky and tough exterior with a stainless steel bezel ring paired with a matt finished rubber strap with steel buckle. The strap is soft, will not mark easily and is comfortable to wear for prolonged time. But don’t for a second let this big watch fool you. It still only weighs 45.5grams without the strap and 76grams with the strap. Compare this to an all stainless steel smartwatch with stainless steel bracelet, you are looking at upwards of 110grams.
Touchscreen and Watch Faces
The touchscreen is responsive but we find the delay with a long tap to choose a different watch face discerning. I constantly tap on the display for two seconds expecting it to enter watch face selection. After about two seconds, I would lift my finger and wait for two to three seconds before watch face selection appears. The workaround would be to hold your finger down on the middle of the display for until it enters watch face selection. It takes around three to four seconds.
While there are plenty of watch faces to choose from and customise, you can download and install a lot more via the Huawei Health app. For this, you will need to load the app on an Android phone. The iOS version of the Huawei Health app lets you access the watch features and settings including fitness data but does not let you add and manage your music or download and install more watch faces.
There is a limit on how many watch faces you can install. Not sure if this is fixed by the storage it takes but by my count, I was able to installed 30 watch faces. Afterwards, if you wish to add new watch faces, you would have to remove some existing ones.
Onboard Fitness Apps and Real Time Work Out Tracking
The Honor Watch GS PRO comes with a suite of useful health and fitness tracking apps but that is it. There is no access to any app store to download more apps or load third party apps. The benefit of such a closed system is that it will not slow down with every application that you install over time. On the flip side, you get what you are given, nothing more. The only things you can download and install are the watch faces and music from your phone. Just keep an eye on the storage. The latter lets you save your music on the watch, pair your favourite Bluetooth headphones and leave the smartphone at home for your run.
The onboard apps include Workout to access over a 100 different workout modes be it indoor or outdoor, Workout Records to access recorded workout data, Workout Status, Heart Rate, Sp02 blood oxygen level monitor, Activity Records, Sleep and Stress monitors (shown above). Other apps include Breathing Exercises, Call Log, Contacts, Music, Air Pressure, Compass, Notifications, Weather, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, Torch, Find Phone and Settings. Some of these are shown below in the watch screen gallery.
Calls are Clear and Can Carry My Music With Me Too
Apart from notifications and reminders, the watch also lets you take calls when paired via Bluetooth with a smartphone. It uses the built-in speaker and microphone so you don’t have to reach for your phone in the middle of a run. There is also enough storage on the smartwatch to carry up to 500 songs. You can even create your custom playlist once you have your songs upload using the app. Pair the watch with a pair of Bluetooth sports headphones and leave your smartphone at home for an uninterrupted workout while enjoying your favourite tunes.
Calls remained clear throughout at both ends, and Bluetooth pairing to pair your favourite headphones to the watch is easy. Go to Settings > Earbuds, just make sure your earbuds are in pairing mode. Once paired, music playback is a treat via the Music app on the watch.
Note that while you can leave your phone at home, and both onboard memory and GPS will carry your music and track your outdoor workout, respectively. You will not receive calls. The onboard speaker and microphone lets you answer calls when the watch is connected via Bluetooth to the phone. It does not have cellular capabilities.
Running Courses, Workout Modes and Second Button
Like the MagicWatch 2, there is a second hard button near the 4 o’clock position, the first being at the 2 o’clock position. This second button is programmable. By default, it allows users to access the different workout modes automatically. You can program the second button directly on the watch. I like that it is easy to access the different workout modes, set goals and reminders, or remove unused modes from the list to streamline access.
The Honor Watch GS Pro has 13 running courses. These courses come with voice guidance, estimated time it will take to complete, difficulty level and the breakdown of the different phases in the course. The running courses are as listed below:
- Level 1 Run/Walk – Basic (22 minutes)
- Level 2 Run/Walk – Advanced (25 mins)
- Level 2 Easy Run (28 minutes)
- Level 2 Fat Burning Run – Basic (36 minutes)
- Level 3 Fat Burning Run – Advanced (46 minutes)
- Level 3 Fat Burning Run – MIIT (26 minutes)
- Level 2 MAF180 – Basic (30 minutes)
- Level 3 MAF180 – Advanced (46 minutes)
- Level 2 Aerobic Endurance Run (36 minutes)
- Level 3 Long Slow Distance Run (66 minutes)
- Level 3 Cruise Interval (29 minutes)
- Level 4 Tempo Run (26 minutes)
- Level 4 HIIT Run (23 minutes)
Apart from the pre-loaded professional running courses, there are 85 customised workout modes to choose from to track your preferred workouts. Customisable in that you can set your personal goal, reminders, manual split and enable smart companion. These top workout modes are as follows:
- Outdoor run
- Indoor run
- Outdoor walk
- Indoor walk
- Outdoor cycle
- Indoor cycle
- Pool swimming
- Open water swimming
- Mountain hiking
- Trail run
- Cross-country skiing
- Cross Trainer
- and Rower
You can choose to add more workout modes. These are grouped under Indoor, Fun, Sports, Water, Winter and Extreme. While we couldn’t test this ourselves. There is a personal skiing coach onboard and support for multiple skiing modes. You can track vast amounts of information to help you optimise your turn, know how much progress you have made and where to improve. For skiing, the relevant data tracked include duration, average speed, heart rate, average pace, biggest slope, slimed distance and calories burnt.
A version of this article was originally published on our sister site, Colour My Tech.