Huawei’s Watch 3 is the first HarmonyOS smartwatch

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Huawei has announced its first smartwatches with its own HarmonyOS operating system, the Huawei Watch 3 and Huawei Watch 3 Pro. In theory, this is the third separate operating system Huawei has used for its smartwatches, which originally ran Google’s Android Wear (now Wear OS) before introducing its own LiteOS software with more recent devices.

Despite the new operating system, the Watch 3 offers similar features to Huawei’s previous wearables. New additions include a redesigned home screen that now consists of a watchOS-esque grid of apps instead of a list, and there’s also support for video calling via Huawei’s own MeeTime service.

Although it’s branded a HarmonyOS device, the Watch 3’s long battery life suggests that the operating system is significantly different from the version of HarmonyOS Huawei uses on its new tablets, and may have more in common with LiteOS on its previous watches. Huawei did not respond to questions about any similarities between HarmonyOS and its existing operating systems.

The design of the Watch 3 does not differ much from Huawei’s previous smart watches. It has a round 1.43-inch OLED display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and a peak brightness of 1000 nits. The screen runs from edge to edge, so there is no rotating bezel on this smartwatch. Instead, you control it via a rotating crown, similar to an Apple Watch. The watch is available in a number of different styles, including an “active” model with a rubber strap, a “classic” model with leather, and an “elite” version with a metal bracelet.

For activity tracking, the watch features many of the same sensors as previous models, including heart rate tracking, an Sp02 sensor, and sleep tracking. But new to this version is a temperature sensor, similar to last year’s Fitbit’s Sense smartwatch. Huawei says this sensor can continuously monitor your skin’s temperature over the course of the day. Huawei says the watch supports a hundred different training modes, ranging from running to climbing, cycling and swimming.

eSIM support returns from the Watch 2 Pro, meaning the Watch 3 can also be controlled independently from a phone with its own 4G LTE connection. The watch supports voice calls directly, and there is also support for video calls via Huawei’s MeeTime service (although there was no confirmation on whether the watch will work with other video calling services such as WhatsApp).

With 4G enabled, Huawei says you should get about three days of battery life from the Watch 3, but that could go up to 14 days if you’re willing to turn off 4G and use the phone in “ultra extended mode.” Even in this energy-efficient mode, Huawei says you should still be able to track your activity and workouts, and the watch faces will still be animated.

In addition to the Watch 3, Huawei is also today announcing the Watch 3 Pro, which offers up to 5 days of battery life with 4G enabled, and up to 21 days in extended battery life. Other improvements include premium titanium construction and more accurate GPS tracking.

Support for third-party apps is still a big question mark on Huawei’s first HarmonyOS watches. As always, Huawei pledged to work with developers to bring their apps to their devices, and showcased a range of app logos, including one for Emirates airline. But otherwise there were no app logos for services that I recognized, and Huawei has not confirmed support for any of the major music streaming services.

Huawei has yet to confirm pricing or release details for the Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro, but said an announcement should be made soon.