Gadget review: Huawei Watch Fit 3 takes a bite of the fitness apple

Compatible with all smartphones, feature-rich and well-priced, the Watch Fit 3 has all the makings of a winner

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Sun 9 Jun 2024, 3:49 PM

The year 2015 was a seminal one for the smartwatch and personal wearables - it was the year that Apple introduced the Apple Watch. And everyone has been playing catch-up ever since.

Granted, there were personal wearables - and even smartwatches - before the Apple watch. Fitbit, the brand that revolutionised the fitness tracking and personal wearables space, launched its first product way back in 2007. And Garmin had also carved a niche for itself – albeit a small one – by the time mighty Apple turned its attention to smartwatches. But like almost all Apple products, the Apple Watch quickly became the benchmark, both in terms of being covetable and in outright technology and performance.


The Samsungs, Xiaomis, Fitbits and even Huaweis of the world have since then been running full tilt at the target in their radar but haven’t been able to crack the code to the Apple Watch’s magic. In the process they’ve tried conventional looking round dials, thin rectangular ones, even square pebble-shaped ones, but all in vain. Until finally, Huawei decided to follow the motto of ‘if you can’t beat it, join it’ and took a leaf out of the Apple Watch school of design for its new Watch Fit 3. Except it went a few steps further.

So established is the Apple Watch that we had to start this review of its latest rival with quite a fat reference to it, and the iconic Apple wearable’s design has indeed become the de facto standard look of the smartwatch. But in our estimation, Huawei has gone one better with the Watch Fit 3’s design. This new device from the Chinese giant takes the basic design of the Apple Watch and refines it in a way that Apple hasn’t.


The Huawei Watch Fit 3 is 1.82 inches across diagonally, which is also the size of its screen since, like the Apple Watch, it has no bezel. Unlike the Apple, however, it is not a “pebble” design but a sleek and flattened surface, finished to a fault. This flatness and the brushed metal sides give it an even smarter and more minimalist look than the Apple Watch, and its 9.9mm thinness - compared to Apple’s 10.4mm – combines with the flattened top to slide under cuffs and sleeves easily. The smooth-as-baby-skin supplied clip-on rubber straps and its 26g weight make the Watch Fit 3 one comfortable device to wear on your wrist, even for extended time periods, whether in a formal-wear setting or for sports.

There’s also an Apple-style rotating jog dial crown placed on the upper right side, but Huawei goes one better with the button under it, making it stick slightly out of the side panel for better handling instead of making it fit flush.

Whiners and die-hard Apple fans will say the entire design and look is at worst unoriginal and at best an homage, but Huawei manages to subtly out-Apple Apple in the looks department, in the opinion of this seasoned reviewer.

It’s no slouch either when it comes to the features. That 1.82-inch screen is an OLED that is clear and vibrant even under direct sunlight owing to 1,500 nits of brightness – a number you will more readily find on phone screens. And that brightness does not really pinch on the battery life too much. Huawei claims 10 days on a single charge and we consistently got between 11 and 12 in normal use, while even leaving the screen always on gave us eight days before it required to be juiced up again.

The Watch Fit 3 runs Huawei’s Harmony OS, which is compatible with both Android and iOS, so there is absolutely no mobile phone you cannot pair and use it with. This is instantly a one-up in our books over both Apple and Samsung smartwatches when it comes to versatility.

The display and animations of the Harmony OS are sharp and the OS works smoothly, seamlessly and speedily. The screen’s responsiveness to tap and swipe input is also just right and the haptic response of the rotatable crown is solidly confidence-inspiring, which means you will be able to use the device with precision when running or exercising.

And Huawei has designed the Watch Fit 3 mainly for fitness. It has a plethora of trackable sports modes; whether you’re lifting weights, running, cycling, doing bodyweight or aerobic exercises, or playing a sport, it has a mode to track it.

We obviously could not use all of those modes, and remain sceptical as to how it can differentiate between sprints and a game of footy, but the Watch Fit 3 does do the basics extremely well, such as track heart rate, blood-oxygen levels and sleep. And the information is also displayed in a nicely ordered manner on both the watch screen and, especially, the Huawei Health app on your paired mobile device.

Coming to the gripes, unlike the Apple Watch or Samsung’s smartwatches, the Harmony OS only displays static text messages and does not allow you to respond with your own typed out message, instead providing only a set of pre-set stock responses.

There’s also an annoying voice that chimes in every time you engage a fitness mode and then chirps up every 10 minutes to shout out your vitals. Thankfully, you can turn this default mode off but, to nitpick, this sounded jarring to us.

Nothing is jarring about its Dh599 price tag, though. Coupled with its basic tracking accuracy, design, ease and speed of use, and its segment leading battery life, this is indeed a killer price. You can’t go wrong with the Watch Fit 3 and Huawei is sure to bite a chunk off Apple’s market share with this excellent clone.

Huawei Watch Fit 3 smartwatch

Hits:

- Design and build quality

- Features and compatibility

- Killer price

Misses:

- Lack of messaging features

Price:

Dh599

Rating: 4.5 stars

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