Why did Honor choose to name its latest rugged smartwatch the GS Pro? I’ve not seen any official comment, but the instant I put it on my wrist, it became obvious. The GS moniker must be a subtle homage to Casio’s G-Shock range, right? After all, this is an oversize watch that will withstand a bit of a beating, comes in a variety of colors, and doesn’t fit under my shirt cuff. Sounds very G-Shock to me.

I’ve spent a couple of days wearing the Watch GS Pro to see if it deserves to take up my valuable wrist real estate

Design

Don’t even think about putting the Watch GS Pro on if you have small wrists, or don’t like big watches. It’s seriously large. The case measures 48mm and is a good 15mm thick, while the weight with the strap is 77 grams. Put it up against a G-Shock GA-700 watch and, due to the difference in the way the screen size is measured, the G-Shock’s 57mm case is pretty much identical in size — and about the same weight too. The thick fluoroelastomer strap may look as if it’s integrated into the lugs, but it’s actually removable. It feels very strong and extremely comfortable, and is soft and pliable straight out of the box.

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Honor has put the GS Pro through the MIL-STD-810G battery of tests, so it’s resistant to vibration, shock, temperature, humidity, salt, and more nasty elements that don’t do watches any good. It’s water resistant to 50 meters. I like the textured body, which is made from reinforced polycarbonate that doesn’t feel like cheap or unpleasant plastic. The design itself is different from Honor’s previous MagicWatch models, and from the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro on which it’s based.

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I’m used to wearing large G-Shock watches, so the GS Pro’s size didn’t bother me, but if all you’ve worn recently is a 38mm dress watch or no watch at all, it’s going to feel massive. Get past this and it’s an eye-catcher with the strength to withstand some harsh treatment on a daily basis. Given the choice, I’d opt for the Camo Blue version with its nylon strap, rather than the ordinary black model.

Functionality

Honor wants outdoorsy types to wear the GS Pro watch. It comes with 100 different fitness modes, but it pushes hiking and skiing. For hiking, it has a feature called Route Back, which drops digital breadcrumbs along your route for you to follow back if a map from GPS is suddenly unavailable. The GS Pro has GPS built in too.

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I tracked a few workouts with the GS Pro. It operates in the same way as the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro, and is very similar to older MagicWatch models too. The lower button on the case opens the workout menu. A simple indoor cycle plan shows time elapsed, heart rate, and calorie burn, as well as Training Effect and Recovery Time once you’ve finished. Data is shown on the watch under Activity Records, or inside the Huawei Health app you need to use to connect the watch to your phone.

It’s easy to use and there are more than enough workouts for most people, making Huawei Health a decent alternative to Google Fit. The Watch GS Pro loses points for the awful verbal coach system that’s switched on as standard. It shouts things like “workout started!” and then gives you similarly loud updates about your progress every 10 minutes. The obnoxious voice is bad enough, without the embarrassment of it happening in public when you don’t expect it. Thankfully, you can mute this, but it takes a bit of digging to work out how.

There’s no shortage of other features on the GS Pro either. It tracks your sleep (I’ve used Honor’s TruSleep system before, and it’s great), stores and plays music, will take calls on your wrist, has a compass and a weather app, and both a stress and a blood oxygen monitor.

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The software used to navigate the Watch GS Pro is Honor and Huawei’s own. The menu is accessed using the top button, and it takes a series of swipes and taps to move through it. The buttons are great, easy to locate, and have a solid feel, but the operating system itself isn’t so precise. It’s often hard to scroll through lists and land on the option you want, with the watch seemingly intent on always selecting the option on either side of the one you require.

Smart functionality isn’t anything special. It receives notifications from your phone with average reliability, and it’s easy to manage which notifications are sent to the watch, so it never becomes overwhelming. However, you can’t interact with any messages, and that means it can’t free you from pulling your phone out of your pocket entirely.

Battery

Honor claims the Watch GS Pro will last for 25 days before it needs a recharge. This is without any of the power-intensive features like GPS active. I’ve had the always-on screen active — a nice feature with a color watch face that can have a different look to the primary watch face — and I am three days into a charge cycle.

The Honor Watch GS Pro’s ambient screen. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The battery life has diminished to 85% with a couple of workouts completed. Honor says to expect 14 days with heavy use, and this seems more achievable than 25 days based on my use here.

Price and availability

The Honor Watch GS Pro currently costs 249 British pounds through Honor’s own online store. It can be purchased for less in other parts of Europe, with prices as low as 199 euros in Germany, again through Honor’s own store. It’s also sold through Amazon UK for the same price, and is available on Amazon in the U.S. for $320.

Conclusion

I like the Honor GS Pro. Its rugged looks have grown on me, helped by the texture of the case and strap. Maybe because I’m used to wearing big watches, it has been very comfortable to wear each day. I couldn’t wear it overnight though — it’s just too big and heavy for that. I don’t want to charge a smartwatch every day if I don’t have to, and the GS Pro satisfies this requirement very well. The software does need refinement, but it’s usable, although some of the language is awkward and controls can be confusing.

The price is a problem though. It really needs to come in well below the Apple Watch SE, which in the U.K. only costs a little more than the Watch GS Pro. The Apple device is far superior, and if you own an iPhone, there’s simply no competition between the two choices. The Honor GS Pro is more high-end fitness tracker than full-blown smartwatch, and as long as you understand that and can get it at a good price, it’s worth looking at if an Apple Watch SE isn’t an option.

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