At a glance
- Looks great
- Long battery life
- No third-party apps
- No iOS functionality
- No NFC
If you’re looking for a smartwatch with a great battery life that looks great, then the Honor Watch GS3 is a solid purchase option. However, its lack of NFC and software restrictions make it much more of a niche choice when you factor in the wider market.
Price When Reviewed
Unavailable in the US
Best Prices Today: Honor Watch GS3
Honor’s latest smartwatch, the Watch GS3, is a fitness-focused wearable that’s full of gizmos to track things like your heart rate and blood-oxygen levels, all via a large AMOLED screen that’s ideal for glancing down mid-workout while looking stylish.
Sadly, though, there are a few sizeable drawbacks. For one, Honor’s own OS is lacking with the third-party support offered by WearOS or even Fitbit’s trackers, meaning it’s tricky to use your health data in anything but Honor’s own app.
It also won’t work with any iPhone, as it’s Android-only, which immediately rules out a big portion of potential buyers.
Design & Build
- Analogue-inspired design
- Two physical buttons and touchscreen
- Choose from multiple watch faces
It’s hard not to start this part of the review without saying what a good-looking fitness tracker the Honor Watch GS3 is. It looks closer to an analogue watch than the rounded corners of a Fitbit Sense or an Apple Watch, with a big circular AMOLED panel dominating the design, albeit with some bezel on show.
More on the display shortly, but despite the actual body being fairly sizeable, it feels light at 44g (body only) and easy to wear for long periods. On one side, you’ll find two buttons – one that acts as a customisable launcher (I set this to default to a workout), while the other one brings up a menu in whatever part of the as-yet-untitled OS.
If you do use the watch for a workout that requires, for instance, a pushup, you’ll find yourself pushing both buttons without meaning to. With that in mind, we’d advise pointing them up your arm as opposed to downward.
While there are plenty of watch faces to choose from, there’s no customization of any kind – you simply set it and go.
The straps are swappable, as you’d imagine, with the Midnight Black version offering a fluoroelastomer construction, while the Ocean Blue and Classic Gold versions have a leather strap.
Either way, you get a proper 5ATM waterproof rating meaning it’ll survive at up to depths of 50m. Although, Honor says it’s suitable for “swimming pools, seaside swimming and other shallow-water activities” but not things like “underwater diving, diving, hot showers, saunas, hot springs, and other wading or deep water activities”.
Screen & Speaker
- 1.45in AMOLED display
- Easy to read in sunlight
- Impressive speaker
The display on the Honor Watch GS3 is an AMOLED panel, meaning colours are vibrant against the black background of the base OS. That makes it easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and it really brings out the colour of some of the watch faces included.
It’s also suitably crisp with a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels, resulting in a pixel density that Apple would approve of – 326ppi.
Perhaps most surprisingly, though, the GS3 has a really impressive speaker that supports Bluetooth calls (there’s a microhphone too), as well as playing music from it. It’ll never match your phone or a dedicated speaker for sound depth, but I’m impressed by how clear the audio is from it.
Specs & Performance
- Untitled OS is great for health tracking
- Barebones for everything else
- Onboard storage for music playback
Perhaps the biggest indication of the Honor Watch GS3 being a “work in progress” of sorts is that its operating system is untitled. While it lacks a catchy moniker, though, it does offer quick access to health metrics – swiping on any given page will take you to see things like heart rate, stress level, or blood oxygen tracking.
All of these relay back to the Honor Health app, although it’s worth pointing out that the branding within the Play Store remains similar to the Huawei Health app, something which could cause a bit of confusion. As I’ve mentioned before, there is no iOS functionality so if you have an iPhone you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Still, once you’re in, you’ll be presented with a handy “dashboard” of sorts that showcases the Watch’s data. The SpO2 sensor will take regular measurements when resting or asleep, while heart rate is measured throughout any given period. The app also offers daily, weekly, or monthly views.
Sleep tracking is also included, with users encouraged to fill a purple ring by ensuring they get enough rest. There are also rings for steps, exercise, and standing, which will be familiar to anyone that’s ever used an Apple Watch.
Performance is solid, with no discernible lag when flicking through screens with health data or when working out. Honor doesn’t state what processor is inside but you get 4GB of storage to play with.
Sadly, though, the Honor Watch GS3 is entirely tied to its own app, with no integrations for the likes of Strava, Fitbit, or even Google Fit. This will be frustrating for some users and perhaps even make the watch a hard pass.
If that doesn’t put you off, there are plenty of workouts represented here, with no fewer than thirteen running courses that focus on everything from newcomer-centric programs to fat-burning, to long-distance targets. You’ll also find swimming (the watch is 5ATM rated for waterproofing as mentioned earlier), hiking, snow sports and lots more.
It’s a solid list, and there’s every chance Honor adds to it going forward, but the siloed nature of running everything through one app means you won’t be able to install extra functions yourself. Whereas an Apple Watch, for example, can install additional apps, you won’t have the option here.
That may disappoint those that like to stream music while working out, but there is around 2GB of internal storage (after the OS), unlike with the Fitbit Charge or Sense. With no Spotify or Apple Music support, though, you’ll need to manually transfer songs or playlists to the watch from within the Honor Health app.
I took the Honor Watch GS3 on some lengthy walks, but GPS tracking was solid after initial use, as was step tracking. Less impressive, though, are vague notifications which meant I didn’t know who was texting me without pulling the phone out.
Arguably the biggest oversight, though, is the lack of an NFC chip for payment using the watch. With almost every modern phone and the vast majority of fitness trackers, even cheaper Fitbit models, offering the option to pay for your shopping without needing to carry a wallet, it feels like a big miss here – and means anyone working out will need to take their phone, too, if they’re heading to the shop on the way home.
Battery Life & Charging
- 451mAh battery
- Excellent battery life
- Some of the best fast-charging we’ve seen
The Honor Watch GS3 is a smartwatch that’s not easily worn out, that’s for sure. In general use – paired to a smartphone, receiving notifications, and working out fairly regularly – I hit six days of charge with ease and that factors in the occasional Sp02 tracking.
That dwarfs the 24 – 48 hour battery life of an Apple Watch, and matches up pretty consistently with something like the Fitbit Sense. Fewer workouts, though, and you’ll easily hit seven days.
Even better, the wireless puck that you use for charging can offer around a day of use with just five minutes of charge. It’s pretty magical to be able to drop the Watch GS3 down for a matter of minutes and know that it’s going to be powered for the rest of the day, especially if you’re heading on an impromptu run because the rain has stopped.
The puck connects via USB-C, too, so you’re likely to have a cable around anyway – although Honor does include one in the box (without an adapter).
Price & Availability
The Honor Watch GS3 comes in Midnight Black for £189.99/€199,90, while the Ocean Blue and Classic Gold variants retail for £209.99/€199,90 (my review unit is the Classic Gold). I’d imagine this is down to the fact that, as well as looking a little classier, you get a leather strap.
At present, the GS3 is available in the UK, Europe, China, and Latin America, with no sign of when it could arrive in the US or other territories. You can buy it from Honor as well as retailers such as Amazon, Very and AliExpress.
In terms of competitors, the Galaxy Watch 4, which offers wearOS and the additional functionality that brings, is around £50 more than the Honor Watch GS3, while the Amazfit GTR 3, which is arguably a lot closer in terms of functionality, is around £30 less.
Check out our chart of the best smartwatches and best fitness trackers to see more options.
While the Honor Watch GS3 has aspirations of being the next great Android smartwatch, its interface falls short and pushes it into being a solid fitness tracker that lacks the flexibility to offer more.
You’ll be able to track workouts, sleep, and vital metrics, but you’ll invariably feel somewhat frustrated by not being able to use that data in other services, or add additional apps.
For not too much more, I’d argue the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a more fully-featured smartwatch, although it’s not quite as handsome.
- Honor Watch OS
- 1.43in AMOLED display, 326ppi
- 4GB internal storage
- Heart rate monitor
- Sp02 monitor
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 451mAh non-removable battery
- 5ATM waterproof rating
- 44g without strap
- Launch colours: Ocean Blue, Classic Gold, Midnight