We live in an age where technology is capable of incredible things, like mobile speeds faster than our internet and AI’s ability to make worryingly convincing deepfakes. And yet I remain baffled by one piece of tech that everyone seems to love: the smartwatch.
Sure they look nice but you have to charge it week in week out, you can receive messages but you can’t reply to any of them, and the installed apps are all just fitness stuff. I just don’t get it. Why bother when my phone can do everything a smartwatch can?
So to figure out what the fuss is about, I took the new Huawei Watch GT Active to a snow-covered mountain in New Zealand in an attempt to wrap my head around the idea of a smartwatch.
After a week of testing my new toy from Huawei, I think I finally get it.
The first thing I noticed was how comfortable and light the smartwatch was, which was great as I didn’t have to worry about adjusting it when I was snowboarding down run after run. The watch face also looked great and checking the time while at full speed wasn’t an issue, though the people I nearly hit may beg to differ.
Huawei must’ve made a deal with the devil about the build quality of its new smartwatch because it was fantastic. Not only did it withstand some nasty pounding during the many stacks I had when coming down a run, it was unfazed with all the snow and water that got squished into its nooks and crannies.
It certainly held up far better than I did on the snow.
The smartwatch packs the usual slew of utility apps, like a heart rate monitor, workout tracker, step counter, barometer and compass. These work fine in an everyday setting but they made so much more sense on a mountain.
The barometer helped keep me in the loop about the atmospheric pressure (which is important… somehow); the compass helped me get my bearings; the weather app let me know if snow was coming and whether I should layer up or down; the fitness apps tracked just how hard I was working every time came down a red or black run; and if I ever lost my phone, I could just use the “Find My Phone” app to locate it.
It’s nice to know that I can cover anywhere between 1-2 km while burning a couple hundred calories per run and my heart rate fluctuated anywhere between 60 to 130 bpm the whole time, all while knowing that I was doing it at an altitude of around 1,100 metres above sea level and at a temperature of around -4 degrees Celsius.
After a day of falling over a lot and getting snow into places where snow shouldn’t go, it’s time to rest up for another day and the smartwatch still finds a way to be useful.
The idea of sleeping while wearing a watch is ludicrous to me but to my surprise, I completely forgot I was wearing it as I drifted off. The Watch GT Active has a pretty nifty sleep tracker so I got to wake up to some nice stats about my time in dreamland and tips on improving my sleep. Apparently I wake up too many times every night.
Now using a smartwatch in this fashion does use up a bit more power than expected. Huawei say the Watch GT Active’s battery lasts two weeks but I only got around a week’s worth of use in while snowboarding. Having said that, I was using nearly everything the watch had so the battery life is actually not that big of a deal.
Overall, I think I finally see the value of owning a smartwatch as it’s proved to be very handy in more ways than I initially expected and all it took was a week’s worth of snowboarding (and falling) down from the top of a mountain for me to reach that epiphany.