HONOR state that the watch is ‘the ultimate companion for those eager and willing to get out of their comfort zone and those who dare to explore’. That’s wrong, as clearly that title goes to jelly babies (or possibly a slab of Kendal Mint Cake), but still, the GS Pro is clearly aiming high. Can it live up to such a billing?
Price & Availability
The stated RRP of the GS Pro is £319.98, but at the time of writing it is on offer on the HONOR website for £249.99 in both the charcoal black and marl white colourways. It is readily available in the UK – including free postage – direct from the HONOR website, although a few other online retailers appear to stock it too.
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The £250 price-tag sits the GS Pro firmly in the mid-range price bracket. It’s a big saving on the premium Garmin Fenix range of adventure watches, for example, which clock in (pun intended) north of £500, and it’s slightly cheaper than competitors such as the Polar Grit X (£379) and Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000-1 (£380). But the GS Pro is still a considerable step up in price from entry-level options such as the cheaper, lower-spec devices from Suunto and Garmin.
HONOR’s previous foray into the world of adventure smartwatches was the MagicWatch 2, which we reviewed here back in January. Priced at £159.99, it was an affordable, entry-level device. This time around HONOR have upped the ante and aimed for a higher-spec with the GS Pro, albeit at a competitive price that should attract those eager for a bargain.
Design & Display
The GS Pro is reassuringly chunky and solid with a deliberately rugged, outdoors-ready design. It is quite large and thick, so if you’re looking for a slim, low-profile smartwatch this is definitely not the one for you. But, for the adventurer, the chunky, well-protected design is a good thing, ensuring that the watch can cope with whatever you throw at it. In fact, the GS Pro is certified to 14 military grade classifications, meaning it’s built to withstand extreme temperatures, heavy rain and all manner of other tough conditions. It’s water-resistant to 50m too.
The watch consists of a circular main body – with a stainless steel, compass-style bezel (it’s just for show, it doesn’t actually rotate) and two external buttons – and a strap made from comfortable, smooth fluororubber. It certainly looks the part. The impressive display is a 1.39-inch AMOLED screen, with a 454×454 pixel resolution. It’s sharp and vibrant and the full touchscreen works as it should. Perhaps the display isn’t quite as crystal clear as the most premium of smartwatches, but – unless you’re a true connoisseur – you probably won’t notice the difference.
HONOR Watch GS Pro: Battery Life
A 25-day battery life might seem too good to be true – and it pretty much is. HONOR’s headline stat is a little misleading, as you’d only ever get 25 days out of the GS Pro with a very specific, optimal set of battery-saving settings, including GPS being disabled almost all week. If you actually want to use the GS Pro’s many adventure features, rather than just as a timepiece, you’ll get significantly less life. With GPS enabled in performance mode the stated battery life is 40 hours; in power-saving mode with GPS still on, it’s 100 hours.
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There are a myriad of different settings, all with a different impact on battery performance – and you could spend an eternity analysing them all. The headline fact is that – even if HONOR over-promise a little – the GS Pro does deliver in terms of battery. The huge power cell (by smartwatch standards), which has a 790mAh capacity, is clearly top-performing – and it easily lasted for all of our adventurous exploits. Charging is via a small magnetic dock on the back of the watch, connected to a standard USB cable. Approximately two hours plugged into the mains will give you a full charge.
Fitness Tracking and Adventure Features
The GS Pro enables you to keep an incredibly close eye on your physical performance while out on an adventure, recording enough data to satisfy even the geekiest and most obsessive of fitness fanatics. You can track all the usual stuff: distance travelled, ascent, time and heart rate (via the optical heart rate sensor on the back of the watch), choosing one of over 100 workout modes such as running, cycling or hiking. But all of that is pretty commonplace in the smartwatch marketplace.
What sets the GS Pro apart is some of its adventure-specific modes (each mode records a different dataset), particularly the skiing one. This tracks slope gradient, altitude, average speed, biggest slope, average pace, altitude and so much more, giving skiers (or snowboarders) more info at their fingertips than ever before. For high-altitude skiing, or mountaineering in general, you can even measure your blood oxygen levels via the GS Pro’s Sp02 monitor. You certainly wouldn’t trust this mode to make any life or death decisions on an ascent of K2 (buried in HONOR’s small print is the wording ‘the Sp02 monitor is not designed to be a medical device’), but it’s certainly interesting to keep an eye on.
Other useful features for the outdoor enthusiast include weather tracking and basic GPS navigation. While out on the trail, the watch can give you handy weather advice – bad weather alerts, sunrise and sunset times, and air pressure – enabling you to make more informed decisions about where to camp, or whether to press on for the summit. The in-built GPS also has a ‘route back’ mode. This works by laying a trail of breadcrumbs – Hansel and Gretel style – on the in-built mapping system. If you get lost, the GS Pro will simply guide you along that line of breadcrumbs back to the safety of your starting point. There’s also an altimeter, meaning you can pinpoint your altitude whenever you want, which could help with map orientation.
All of this recorded data syncs with the Huawei Health app, which you’ll need to download and register for in order to use the watch. We quite liked the app and the way it analysed said data into useful trends and categories, but others are unlikely to be impressed – mainly because you’re tied to the Huawei Health app. You can’t extract the raw data or sync with Strava or komoot or your favoured service, for example, which will frustrate many.
As you’d expect with any self-respecting smartwatch, the GS Pro includes lots of everyday features, as well as adventure-specific ones. Connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you can receive app notifications and control music on the watch (i.e. skip through tracks on your Spotify playlist). The watch’s in-built speaker and microphone enables you to answer calls and, in fact, you can also store up to 500 songs (via Huawei’s music app) on the GS Pro and play them through the speakers. And then there’s all of the more lifestyle-y, everyday fitness-related features, such daily step counts, calories burnt, stress levels, and even a sleep monitor, which tracks both the length and quality of your sleep.
It has some flaws – most notably the over-reliance on the Huawei Health app and a lack of syncing with popular services like Strava – but ultimately this is a solid-performing smartwatch for the adventure market. It has a rugged, good-looking design, powerful battery and many positive features, all at a very competitive price-point of £250. It’s a great mid-range choice.
HONOR Watch GS Pro: Specifications
25-day battery life / 100-hour outdoor battery life mode / GPS route back / 100+ workout modes / 1.39-inch AMOLED round screen / Full-screen touchscreen / 454 x 454 pixels at 326 PPI / Animated outdoor watch faces / Rugged design / Stainless steel buttons / Personalisable outdoor watch faces / Skiing mode / Celestial data and bad weather alerts / Altitude barometer and compass / Heart-rate monitor / SpO2 monitor / Sleep and stress monitor.