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Honor Watch GS 3 review

The Honor Watch GS 3 has fitness and health apps in abundance. But with a classic, not-a-smartwatch watch look, it’s not clear who it's marketed towards.

HONOR Watch GS 3
Published: Monday, 30th May 2022 at 1:05 pm
A star rating of 3.4 out of 5.
Our Rating
From GBP £189.99 RRP

Our review

The Honor Watch GS 3 is a health and fitness smartwatch which looks like a traditional watch. With fitness and health tracking apps in abundance, yet with core apps missing and a difficult set-up, we tell you if the Honor Watch GS 3 is worth the price tag.

What we tested

  • Design
    A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
  • Functions
    A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
  • Battery
    A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
  • Value for money
    A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
  • Ease of set-up
    A star rating of 2.0 out of 5.
Overall Rating
A star rating of 3.4 out of 5.

Pros

  • 14 day battery life
  • Over 100 workout modes and fitness courses
  • Route tracking features

Cons

  • Not supported with iOS
  • Difficult set-up
  • Missing functions

Honor — previously owned by Huawei — started its collection with smartphones, before adding wearables, such as smartwatches.

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It previously only sold in China, but the launch of its Vmall online store in 2015 meant that customers in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe could buy Honor products.

The RadioTimes.com team has put one of these wearables to test: the Honor Watch GS 3.

The Honor Watch GS 3 is a good choice if you’re after a smartwatch to track your fitness and health, however, it probably won't be your first choice.

Chinese brand Honor has to compete with the likes of Samsung, Apple and Huawei; if an android user wants to buy a smartwatch, more than likely, they’ll go to Samsung, and if an iOS user wants to buy a smartwatch, they’ll probably go to Apple. Huawei is also a contender for android users, and if you’re a fitness fanatic, you might be inclined to go for a Fitbit or Garmin smartwatch. So where does Honor fit in? What features does this smartwatch have that would make you consider it?

It’s worth noting straight away that if you have an iPhone, the Honor Watch GS 3 isn’t compatible with iOS. The Apple Watch SE is Apple’s budget smartwatch, starting from £249, and it’s worth checking that out if you’re an iOS user.

Jump to:

Honor Watch GS 3 review: summary

The Honor Watch GS 3 is crafted like a traditional watch, yet has most of the typical smartwatch functions. It’s clear that Honor's aim is to appeal to all generations — those who like a classic design but also have a modern life and rely on technology — by creating a timeless piece.

Don’t be deceived by the look of the smartwatch into thinking it’s an everyday watch, the Honor Watch GS 3 is a health and fitness smartwatch. However, it lacks in functions for all three purposes (every day, health and fitness), for example, you can’t use it to pay or monitor the tide for coastal walks.

Currently priced from £189.99 to £209.99, the price difference is down to the strap material. The Midnight Black version comes with a 22mm black fluoroelastomer (synthetic rubber) strap, whereas the Classic Gold (the one we tested) and Ocean Blue smartwatches have a brown and blue, respectively, nappa calfskin strap.

Price: from £189.99 at Honor

Key features:

  • Compass and built-in GPS
  • 5 ATM waterproof
  • 4GB memory
  • Stress and sleep monitors
  • Fast charge: charge for five minutes for a whole day of usage
  • View your activity and fitness history on the Honor Health app

Pros:

  • 14-day battery life
  • Over 100 workout modes
  • Route tracking features
  • SpO2 and heart rate monitoring
  • Interactive fitness courses

Cons:

  • Not supported with iOS
  • Missing functions
  • Difficult to set up

What is the Honor Watch GS 3?

HONOR Watch GS 3
Honor Watch GS 3

The Honor Watch GS 3 launched in the UK in the middle of May 2022.

It’s a smartwatch that predominantly tracks the wearer’s health and fitness, while still looking like a traditional watch.

The Honor Watch GS3 comes in three variations: Midnight Black, Classic Gold and Ocean Blue. The straps are interchangeable, so you can swap styles. On the Honor Health app (which you have to download onto your smartphone and pair with the watch), there’s a huge selection of watch faces for you to choose from.

It has a large watch face, and for our tester, the face was a few millimetres wider than their wrist. When you compare the size of the Honor Watch GS 3 to a Fitbit or the Garmin vívosmart 5, it is significantly bigger. However, as it weighs just 44 grams, it feels light on your wrist and is wearable for long periods of time; we’d be comfortable wearing it all day and overnight, too.

The smartwatch’s brightness can be turned up so that you can see the screen in direct sunlight and with sunglasses on.

garmin vivosmart 5 honor watch gs 3
The Honor Watch GS 3 vs the Garmin vívosmart 5 watch face size

What does the Honor Watch GS 3 do?

The Honor Watch GS 3 hosts a range of different functions, particularly health and fitness ones. Here’s what you can expect.

  • Dual-frequency band GNNS
  • Compass and built-in GPS with route trackers and a ‘route back’ function
  • 5 ATM waterproof
  • 4GB memory
  • Bluetooth
  • Microphone and speaker
  • Weather
  • Heart rate monitor supported by an eight-channel heart rate AI engine for improved accuracy
  • SpO2 monitor to track blood oxygen levels
  • Stress and sleep monitors
  • Over 100 workout modes (6 are auto-detected)
  • Three rings on its display: dark blue measures the steps you’re taking with the goal of 10,000, blue measures your activity which should be 30-minutes, and pink measures your hours active with the aim of being active for 12 hours. The idea is to ‘close’ each ring to meet your daily goals
  • Music
  • Text and call notifications
  • 14-day battery life with fast charge: charge for five minutes for a whole day of usage
  • Large selection of watch faces
  • View your activity and fitness history on the Health app

How much is the Honor Watch GS 3?

The Honor Watch GS 3 starts at £189.99 for the Midnight Black model and goes up to £209.99 for the Classic Gold and Ocean Blue versions. This is down to the watch strap: the Midnight Black has a black fluoroelastomer strap, whereas the Classic Gold and Ocean Blue smartwatches come with a brown and blue nappa calfskin strap, respectively.

Buy Honor Watch GS 3 from £189.99 at Honor

Is the Honor Watch GS 3 good value for money?

No, we don’t think the Honor Watch GS 3 is good value for money.

The smartwatch has a lot of health and fitness features, which is great. There are over 100 workout courses, for example, the wearer can choose from 13 running courses and 12 fitness courses, as well as select the workout they’d like to do — anything from outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, and rope skipping to pool swimming, open water swimming, and trail running are included. There’s also the option to record an ‘Other’ workout, such as hula hooping.

For the fitness courses, the smartwatch talks you through them step-by-step. There's a voice which describes what to do, an image of the person so you can visualise, and a timer to count down the workout.

The health features include heart rate, and stress, sleep and SpO2 monitors. All of which ran smoothly without complaint.

So why is the Honor Watch GS 3 not good value for money? We believe if you wanted a smartwatch for fitness, you’d pick one with even more features that are compatible with your fitness lifestyle. For example, a smartwatch that you can wear during extreme sports, such as diving, and for less extreme sports, like swimming. The Honor Watch GS 3 requires you to change the calfskin strap before you hit the water (the rubber one, however, is 5 ATM waterproof).

The set-up, which we’ll come to in a moment, was borderline painful. The Honor Watch GS 3 is not compatible with iOS; a fact which isn’t obvious on the website, it says it in small print right at the bottom of the webpage.

HONOR website
'Not compatible with iOS' on the Honor website

Does the Honor Watch GS 3 come with a warranty? Yes. From the date of purchase, you have 24 months for the handset, 6 months for the charger, and 3 months for the charging cable.

We'd recommend checking out the Fitbit Charge 5. Priced at £129.99 on the Fitbit website, the Fitbit Charge 5 is sleek and easy to use, and comes with premium health and fitness features.

The Honor Watch GS 3’s predecessor, the Honor MagicWatch 2 is priced at £159.99. Although the Honor MagicWatch 2 is a bit cheaper, it doesn't have the same functions or as many workout options as the Honor Watch GS 3.

Honor Watch GS 3 design

HONOR Watch GS 3 design
Honor Watch GS 3 design

The Honor Watch GS 3 has a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen with a 326 PPI resolution. It also has a 10.5mm ultra-curved slim design, and a polished 316L stainless steel watch body.

The design is similar to the Honor MagicWatch 2, which has a 42mm watch face in comparison to the Honor Watch GS 3’s 45.9mm one, with its round face and not-a-smartwatch look. Honor watches in general, however, don’t have a distinct look in comparison to other brands such as Apple; the Apple Watch SE, for example, stays within the rounded rectangular tradition of Apple’s wider smartwatch line.

There are two buttons on the right-hand side: an upper side button which wakes up the watch screen, accesses the feature list when on the home screen, and returns to the home screen. The lower side button also wakes the watch screen, accesses the workout mode list, and starts the workout process when on the workout list. Both buttons are responsive and work well.

The RadioTimes.com team tested the Classic Gold smartwatch. It has a black screen when ‘asleep’, a stainless steel body, a black back, a gold buckle, and a round face. The Honor Watch GS 3 claims to be ‘fingerprint resistant’, which it isn’t.

There aren't any lock screen options. You hold down both to turn the smartwatch off and to restart it.

The wearer can turn the screen on for up to 20 minutes at a time; to do this, simply head to 'Settings' and tap on 'Screen on'. Once you select your screen on time, you will receive a notification saying: 'Longer screen times mean shorter battery life. Continue?'.

Similarly, you can go into 'Settings', then 'Display and brightness' and adjust the brightness from 1-5 (5 being the brightest). The auto-brightness is set at about 3. There isn’t a night mode option.

Honor Watch GS 3 features

HONOR Watch GS 3 moon phase
'Moon phase' on the Honor Watch GS 3

Most of the features we bullet-pointed above performed efficiently and without error.

The 100 workout modes on the Honor Watch GS 3 were impressive. We tried out the outdoor and indoor walking workout modes, amongst others, one of the 12 fitness courses, and the ‘Neck and shoulder relaxation' routine: its aim is to reduce body tension in 3 minutes, and it worked! The animated course has an instructor which speaks to you, a timer, and a cartoon figure to show you exactly what to do.

There are a few mishaps with the Honor Watch GS 3’s fitness tracking. Six of the workout modes are auto-detected, such as an outside walk. However, it takes 15-minutes of walking before the smartwatch realises. The steps aren’t accurate: one of our testers walked up and down the office floor without any of the steps counting. It turns out, you have to swing your arms more.

Also, the wearer can’t see the battery unless they go into the Health app or they unlock the watch and scroll. One of the many watch face options shows it, but it’d be nice if the battery was shown as standard.

Honor Watch GS 3 set-up: how easy is it to use?

HONOR Watch GS 3 unbox
Unboxing the Honor Watch GS 3

From box to wrist, the set-up process of the Honor Watch GS 3 was tiresome.

The box is simple: it contains the watch name with a photo of your chosen watch design on the front. The plain white box is easy to open and, once inside, you’ll see the watch in one half, and the other pieces — a charging disc, charging cable (USB C to USB A) and warranty — in the other half.

As we mentioned, the smartwatch isn’t compatible with iOS. Our tester first used their iPhone and, predictably, couldn’t get the watch to pair with it.

Our team of four then took it in turns to use their own Android phones to try to pair with the watch.

To pair, the wearer needs to download the Honor Health app, then create an account using their email address. The app will send a code to your chosen email address to input into the Health app, then you’ll be able to pair your watch via Bluetooth. For one of the RadioTimes.com team, the verification code was blocked from their email, for another, the verification code came through after an hour. Once the watch was synced with the app, it was pretty smooth-sailing, but the initial pairing was long.

The team used a media press pack to set up the watch; if you’re a consumer, there aren’t actually any instructions. There aren't any instructions included in the Honor Watch GS 3 box. A booklet contained in the box tells you to go to a webpage, and click on your product, for example, wearables > Honor Watch GS 3, for the instructions. But as of the date of this review, the Honor Watch GS 3 isn’t there.

Honor Watch GS 3 vs Huawei GT 2: which is better?

We’d recommend checking out the Huawei GT 2 as a better alternative to the Honor Watch GS 3.

The Huawei GT 2 has exactly the same layout and set-up as the Honor Watch GS 3, probably because Huawei used to be Honor's parent company, and it has more features, too, for example, it tells you when the tide is going in and out which is great for coastal walking.

The Huawei GT 2 is also cheaper as it's been out for about a year.

Get your hands on the Huawei GT 2 at Amazon for £119, at Huawei for £109, and at Currys for £179.

Our verdict: should you buy the Honor Watch GS 3?

We don’t think you should buy the Honor Watch GS 3.

It’s difficult to tell who this watch is marketed towards. The fitness functions are great, but we’re certain that a fitness-conscious buyer would opt for a known fitness brand, such as Garmin or Fitbit. The smartwatch also doesn’t look like a fitness watch, it looks like a watch for everyday use. However, the smartwatch lacks functions such as weather and being able to pay, which would make it a good everyday smartwatch.

We recommend you buy the Huawei GT 2 instead as the layout and functions are pretty much exactly the same, except the Huawei smartwatch has a few more functions. With a price tag starting from £109, the Huawei GT 2 is also £80 cheaper than the cheapest Honor Watch GS 3.

  • Design: 3/5
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • Features (average): 4.5/5
    • Functions: 4
    • Battery: 5
  • Ease of set-up: 2/5

Overall star rating: 3/5

Where to buy the Honor Watch GS 3

So far, the Honor Watch GS 3 is only available to buy at the HONOR online store from £189.99.

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