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review

Honor Watch GS Pro

6
£249.99

VERDICT:

6
10
Good smartwatch with excellent battery life, but not fully featured for riding
Excellent battery life
Clear screen
Accurate heart rate monitor
You can't get your data out of the Huawei ecosystem
Weight: 
75g
Contact: 

Honor's new GS Pro watch is designed as a do-it-all activity watch and it works really well for general health tracking and staying connected. It's not as fully featured as other options when it comes to cycling, though.

The Honor GS Pro is a fairly chunky, good-looking watch with a nylon body and stainless steel bezel. The wide rubber strap is fairly comfortable and adjustable over a wide range of wrist sizes.

Setting up the GS Pro was very simple: it's just a case of downloading the Huawei Health app and adding the watch as a device. The first time you do that you'll probably be hit with a big firmware update – of course – but after that the watch updates in the background.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro-12.jpg

In the box is a USB-C cable and a charger; charging is via a magnetic cradle that fits onto the back of the watch. It's a big thing with no fiddly bits that can get filled with dust or sand, and a full charge takes about two hours.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro-4.jpg

The GS Pro's screen is a 454x454 pixel (maximum dimension: it's round after all) AMOLED touchscreen about an inch and a half wide, surrounded by the fake compass bezel (it doesn't rotate, it's just for show). The screen is very good: touch commands are well interpreted and the display is very clear in all conditions. It's maybe not quite as sharp as some premium watches but overall it's impressive.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro in use-1.jpg

You can set up the main face of the watch using the app, and there are hundreds in there to choose from, everything from classic analogue interpretations to, well, ones that no one's going to pick. But it's nice to have choice, even if in this case it's a little overwhelming.

As well as the touchscreen there are two hardware buttons on the right hand side of the watch. The top one moves you through the menu structure, and the bottom one is a shortcut button that by default takes you to the workout screen, although you can change its assignment if you like.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro-8.jpg

Lots of activities...

Honor says that the GS Pro is its 'first smartwatch for urban adventurers that targets young adults who lead active lives and enjoy outdoor activities'. It's designed to track your activity; it does that in the more general way that most activity trackers do, counting steps and keeping track of your heart rate. But it also has a bunch of specific activity types built in. And by a bunch, I mean loads. You'd expect things like indoor cycling and elliptical training indoors, and running and hiking outdoors. Belly dancing, darts and tug of war? Maybe less so. The whole list is, shall we say, expansive, so you can edit the list you see to only include the activities that you're actually going to do.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro in use-2.jpg

Once you've selected an activity, the watch will record it. Different activities have different datasets: for indoor cycling, for example, the GS Pro is basically just recording your heart rate. The watch has an optical heart rate sensor on the back, and provided you're wearing it in the right place – above your wrist, as opposed to on it – I've found it to be pretty accurate, generally within a few BPM of what a chest strap is saying. The GS Pro can also give you an oxygen saturation (SpO2) reading from its sensors, but that requires you to be sitting still so it's more of a one-off test than something that's constantly monitored.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro-7.jpg

Outdoors, the in-built GPS kicks in, so on an outdoor ride you'll get a breadcrumb trail of where you've been that you can view on the screen. Other activities have other metrics: for pool swimming (the GS Pro is waterproof to 50m) the watch will try to count your lengths, and when you're skiing it'll split the GPS data so you can see your downhill run time and distance. Not that I've managed to go skiing, sadly.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro in use-8.jpg

The fact that the Honor GS Pro is GPS enabled means it can do some stuff that might come in handy. If you're out hiking in the mountains, for example, and you lose your phone or run the battery down, the GS Pro can route you back to the start of your walk without a phone connection. The same functionality is available in the outdoor cycling profile too, although arguably it's less useful there.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro in use-9.jpg

The battery life is excellent. Honor claims up to 25 days battery life on a single charge, or 48 hours' GPS use. Considering the size of the watch, that's impressive: 25 days might be a best case scenario, but for me in general use the watch uses about 5-6% of its battery power a day, so two weeks of use from a single battery charge is straightforward, and you can ride for a whole day with no worries about running out of juice.

The watch can give you weather data via the phone app; that needs a bluetooth connection and data in order to update. There's a severe weather warning function too; it's looking out for sudden changes in barometric pressure that could signify an approaching storm, which could be handy in the mountains.

No data downloading

Sounds good? It is, up to a point. That point is where you want to do anything with the fitness data you've been gathering. The Huawei Health app gives you a place to see it, but that's where it's going to stay. You can't sync the app with Strava, or Garmin Connect, or Komoot, or any other portal, and you can't even download your data from the app and upload it manually. That's a really big limitation, and if you're already invested into one platform or another then the GS Pro isn't going to be useful as your primary recording device.

You could use the Huawei Health app for that so long as you only want the basics – cumulative distance and weekly totals, that sort of thing – and you don't mind it being ringfenced with no way of getting at it. Huawei hasn't ruled out more integration, but neither does it have any timeline for it, and looking round the forums to see that people have been asking for years... well, don't hold your breath.

It's a shame, because the watch is extremely capable. It'd be great to be able to use it as a general recording device and have that data feed into wherever you're putting it. It'd also be great to see integrations for things like navigation, with turn by turn directions. There's any number of apps out there already that might be able to talk to the GS Pro and send information to help you find your way, rather than just recording where you've been.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro in use-6.jpg

There are other options out there that work better for cycling, if you're specifically looking for a watch to do that. The Suunto 5 that we recently tested will sync with Strava and you can use it for navigation too; the Garmin Fenix 5 has a good Google Maps app available for navigation too. Others that we haven't reviewed as yet (Apple Watch, various Samsung watches, Fitbit Versa) will at least sync from the phone app so that you can move your cycling activities into your Strava feed.

Useful day to day

Aside from activity tracking, the Honor GS Pro has a whole host of useful day-to-day features. There's sleep tracking, which gives you a graph of your stages of sleep and a score for how well you're sleeping. The watch uses heart rate and activity to generate a stress score, so you can track whether you're stressed, and what your triggers are. You'll need to make sure you're assigning exercise activities, though, so that the watch discounts those periods. Otherwise it'll think you're having a panic attack.

Honor-GS-Pro-app-2.jpg

Because the watch has a continuous connection to your smartphone, there's a host of features related to that. The GS Pro has both a speaker and a microphone built in, so you can take calls on it, which is useful if your phone is squirrelled away in a backpack or pocket when you're out riding. Or you just left it in the other room. App notifications can be set up on the watch, and you can do it on a per-app basis so you're only getting the ones you need.

2020 Honor Watch GS Pro-13.jpg

You can also shorten the where-are-my-keys-where-is-my-phone dance when you're leaving the house with the find phone function; the Bluetooth connection to the phone is very good, and persists for further than you'd think.

You can control music that's playing on your phone too; in theory you can store music on the watch itself – up to 500 songs – but that only really seems to work if you're using Huawei's own music app. Which you're not.

> Buyer’s Guide: 28 of the best cycling apps

You can use the watch as a remote shutter for your smartphone camera, which works pretty well on my Huawei P30 Pro.

There are timers and alarms, including a 'smart alarm' which doesn't go off if the watch detects you're in a deep sleep phase. Which is exactly the opposite of how I want an alarm to work, really. It took me ages to work out why it wasn't going off. There are standard alarms too, which work whether you're asleep or not.

Value and conclusion

At £249.99 the Honor GS Pro is a mid-market smartwatch, costing about the same as the Suunto 5 we recently tested. An Apple Watch, Garmin Fenix or Samsung Galaxy Watch3 would cost you plenty more, and something like the Ticwatch E2 – which runs Wear OS and can natively run Strava – is quite a bit less.

Given that we're all about the cycling here at road.cc it's a difficult one to score really. There's lots that I like about the GS Pro: connectivity and battery life are excellent, and it's a good-looking unit that's easy to get along with. If you're specifically looking at a watch to do cycling recording, though, it's more than likely not the one for you. In the end it's a good smartwatch that's only an average cycling watch.

Verdict

Good smartwatch with excellent battery life, but not fully featured for riding

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Honor Watch GS Pro

Size tested: One size

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

HONOR's first smartwatch for urban adventurers that targets young adults who lead active lives and enjoy outdoor activities. | A rugged design featuring a stainless-steel bezel ring and dial.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

SPECIFICATIONS

COLOR

Charcoal Black | Marl White

DISPLAY

1.39-inch AMOLED round screen | Full-screen touchscreen | 454 x 454 pixels at 326 PPI | Animated outdoor watch faces

HEALTH MONITORING

24/7 Heart Rate monitor: Supported by HUAWEI TruSeen™ 3.5 with advanced AI algorithm to ensure accuracy | SpO2 Monitor: Keep track of your blood oxygen saturation level throughout the day to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.* *Sleep Monitor: Accurately monitor your sleep time and sleep quality with HUAWEI TruSleep™ 2.0, and provide a detailed sleep quality assessment with customized recommendations to improve your sleep quality.

SMART LIFE ASSISTANT

Remote Photo Shooting to control and take the photo from your smartphone via the watch. | Able to store approx. 500 songs in the watch and control music playback. | Manage phone calls via Bluetooth. | Forecast weather changes and set alerts for severe weather.

FITNESS MONITORING

Support over 100 workout modes including hiking, mountain climbing, open water swimming, pool swimming, free training, triathlon, outdoor and indoor running, outdoor and indoor cycling, mountain climbing, elliptical, rower, trail running, skiing and many more. *Newly-launched skiing mode to automatically track your skiing exercise in real-time with various skiing scenarios including skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. | Altitude barometer for mountaineering. | Daily activities tracking and monitoring including step count, calories burnt etc.

BATTERY LIFE

Up to 25 days battery life on a full single charge. | Up to 48 hours battery life when GPS is enabled. | Up to 100 hours battery life when outdoor workout mode is enabled. | Can be fully charged in less than 2 hours. *

WATER RESISTANCE

5 ATM

WEIGHT

Approx. 45.5g (without the strap)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As a more generic activity smartwatch, it performs well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Easy to use, good looking, excellent battery life.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

No way of getting data out of Huawei Health.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

£249 is mid market but it's well specced at that price. The Suunto 5 is a better cycling/training watch but probably less fully featured overall, and costs about the same.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Depending on what they were using it for, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Difficult to score: on a more generic site it would probably do better but the cycling functionality feels a bit half baked and the inability to move data out of the Huawei universe will be a deal breaker for many.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 189cm  Weight: 94kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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