Honor launched two new smartwatches at annual tech event IFA 2020, the Honor Watch GS Pro and Watch ES. While the latter is more of a premium-feeling fitness tracker, the former is a rugged smartwatch with plenty of features perfect for modern-day adventurers.
The Honor Watch GS Pro feels a lot like a rugged version of the Magic Watch 2 from 2019, which sits in our list of the best smartwatches. The main differences are that the new version has more sports modes (including loads of intensive running courses and extreme sports and outdoors modes) and a more rugged design.
Well, there's one other big distinction: the Watch GS Pro has a significantly higher price tag than the Watch 2, and it seems to be aimed at a more niche audience – one who like their extreme sports like skiing, long-distance hiking or surfing, and need a bespoke-feeling smartwatch to accompany them on trips.
Honor Watch GS Pro price and availability
You can pre-order the Honor Watch GS Pro right now in the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and France from Honor's website. We could see the smartwatch coming to more places when it fully launches on September 7, but we don't know that for sure.
The Honor Watch GS Pro's launch price is €249.99 (roughly $300 / £220 / AU$400), which is a fair step up from the £159.99 (roughly $210, AU$305) of the Magic Watch 2 if the conversions aren't too far out.
Still, it's probably better to compare the watch to other outdoors-centric devices like the Amazfit T-Rex, which costs $139.90 (around £110 / AU$200), or the $499 / £429 / AU$799 Suunto 7. Rough conversions notwithstanding, it seems fairly mid-range for this kind of watch.
Design and display
The Honor Watch GS Pro is a chunky thing – you won't like it if you like wearing close-fitting shirts, as it sticks out from the wrist a lot. It's also pretty broad, with a wide raised bezel going all the way around the screen. Despite its size (which we don't have exact measurements for, just yet), it only weighs just over 45g, so it's not that heavy.
The smartwatch consists of this large main body, and two removable straps. The straps are thick, with plenty of holes for added breathability, and they're made of fluororubber, a material we found smooth and comfortable.
The main body has two buttons on the right side, the first brings up the app menu, and the second is customization, though we found it easiest to map it to the workout menu.
The watch passed the military IL-STD-810G tests, is water-resistant to 50 meters, and has a stainless steel bezel - it feels appropriately rugged and well-protected from the elements.
The screen is 1.39 inches across, and it's AMOLED with a 454 x 454 resolution. There are plenty of optional watch faces, as well as an always-on display option. The range of colors is good enough for anything you need a smartwatch for, though we did find the device a tiny bit sluggish when scrolling through menus.
Features and fitness
The Honor Watch GS Pro has over 100 fitness modes – more than the Watch ES. This is thanks to its bespoke outdoorsy modes like open water swimming, mountain hiking and skiing.
These special modes track more than just time and heart rate, as they might on some other devices – in skiing there's speed, descent distance, overall distance and time, for this run and for your whole trip, as well as slope gradient, altitude, calories burnt, heart rate, training effect (looking at aerobic and anaerobic benefits) and your blood oxygen. It's a huge range of data, useful for fans of the sport.
There's built-in GPS here, so you won't need your phone to calculate your distance on trips. This contributes to one of the watch's coolest features, Route Back, which helps you navigate your way back to a start point of a workout – super useful if your workout has been a long mountain hike.
There are also all the standard exercise modes you'll find in most smartwatches including running, cycling and walking, and all the novel ones you'll only find in Honor and Wear OS watches like different types of dancing, martial art and relatively niche gym options.
One of the best features of the Honor Watch ES is its guided workouts - they're missing here, and in their place is Running courses mode, which guides you through one of 13 different types of cardio workout, from 'Easy Run' and 'Fat Burning Run' to 'MAF180' and 'Long Slow Distance Run', the longest of which go for over an hour.
On top of that, there are general wellness things like heart rate monitoring, sleep and step tracking, stress measuring, breathing exercises, SpO2 monitoring, air pressure calculation and more. There's no menstrual cycle tracking here though, like in the Watch ES.
Beyond that, there are general lifestyle modes like music control, which easily worked with Spotify on our phone to let us skip songs from our wrist, and weather reports that seemed to concur with BBC Weather's forecasts. There are notifications, but you can't reply to messages, and we found a weird bug where we'd get multiple notifications every time Spotify started playing a new song. This was solved when we turned off notifications from that particular app.
Honor says the Watch GS Pro will last a whopping 25 days on one charge, though that estimate is turned down to 100 hours of outdoor workouts and 48 hours of GPS tracking. Apparently it takes two hours to fully charge the watch, and we'll test this all for our full review.
Both the Honor Watch GS Pro and Watch ES bring loads of intriguing fitness modes - the GS Pro seems aimed at an audience of outdoor adventurers, and people looking for more in-depth running and exercise modes.
We'll be sure to test lots of the modes further for a full review (although not all of them – sadly it's not quite ski season yet) to see if the smartwatch lives up to its potential.
For now though, we're confident to say the Watch GS Pro builds on the Magic Watch 2 and adds loads of worthy features, so it's a great successor and worth your attention – if you can stomach the higher price and larger, ruggedized design.
IFA 2020 is Europe's biggest tech show (although much smaller this year due to global restrictions), and TechRadar will bring you all the breaking news and first impressions of new TVs, wearables and other devices as they're announced.