The Haylou GST is the most budget-friendly smartwatch that I tested so far and, considering the MSRP given by the manufacturer seems to be around $30, it’s probably also one of the cheapest options on the market as well. I have seen toy smartwatches that cost as much, so is the Haylou GST a toy? Not at all. It’s an actual fully-fledged smartwatch which clearly had some corners cut, but it doesn’t seem to have been anything major as to scare off the budget-oriented users.
Indeed, the smartwatch is IP68-rated, so it has a decent level of protection against water and dust, it has a 1.69-inch display which is a bit awkwardly-placed, but has some vivid colors and the smartwatch is very lightweight. The software that the manufacturer chose is the same lightweight (bare-bones) OS that I have seen on other smartwatches (with some minor adjustments): see the Kospet Tank M1, Imilab W12, the Umidigi Uwatch 3S or the Amazfit T-Rex Pro.
I see that the usual sensors are still there, the Heart Rate monitor and the Sp02 sensor. And the manufacturer does promise 20 days of battery life which, as you will see from my tests, aren’t really that accurate. I have tested another inexpensive smartwatch (the Umidigi Uwatch 3S) about a year ago and it had some very noticeable shortcomings in both design and functionality, so I am curious about the progress that the manufacturers have made since then. And whether we should really give these cheap smartwatches a second glance – so, let’s put the Haylou GST to the test and find out.
Design and Build Quality
Since the Apple Watch design is very popular, lots of manufacturer have been inspired by the rectangular case and it seems that the Haylou GST also tried to mimic that look. And, surprisingly, even if it’s a very budget-friendly device, it does not feel cheap. That’s because the engineers have managed to include a metallic frame into the project, while keeping the budget low. The 2.5D curved glass sits nicely on the frame (it’s slightly elevated, so be careful to not hit it on objects) and there is a metallic button on the right side as well. Of course, the premium look is quickly diminished after pressing the button and lighting up the display.
And it’s not that the colors aren’t good enough or anything of the sorts, it’s the way the screen is aligned. Instead of sitting in the middle, it’s slightly towards the top, leaving a much larger bezel at the bottom. It’s a strange decision and I think it’s because they wanted to have at least three equal bezels, but we, as humans, really like symmetry and this does not look good. In a sense it reminds me of the Umidigi Uwatch 3S’s rectangular screen on a circular case, although far less severe. And the manufacturer tries to correct it in the same manner as Umidigi, by mainly pushing watchfaces with black backgrounds – but the contrast is not deep enough to cover the larger bottom-placed bezel.
The single button has the role of turning on or off the display and it will activate the Return function if you’re deeper into the interface than the watchface. The display can also be enabled using the Tilt-to-Wake feature and it works well, although I find it a bit too reactive at times. This means that the display will be enabled a lot more than necessary, cutting from the battery life. The rear section is made of plastic and it’s not really the best quality, but it’s soft to the touch and the bump for the sensors is not that prominent. This suggests that the smartwatch should be very comfortable to wear and indeed it is. Considering that the Haylou GST measures 2.0 x 1.5 x 0.4 inches (5.0 x 3.8 x 1.1 cm) and it weighs 1.48 ounces (42g), you’ll barely feel it on your wrist.
The straps also help a bit with this since they’re fairly soft. But I didn’t really like their quality – let’s not forget that this remains an inexpensive device. The good news is that you can easily replace them since they have that cool universal locking mechanism that most smartwatches have (at least those released in the last couple of years). I have mentioned in the intro that the Haylou GST is IP68-rated and indeed, it does seem that the device is dustproof and it will also do very well at not allowing water to enter the enclosure. So, you shouldn’t worry about wearing the smartwatch when it’s raining or even when showering (still, please take it off for hygiene purposes).
The Haylou GST has a 1.68-inch TFT display that has a resolution of 240×280 pixels (the same as Kospet Rock) and immediately after turning it on, I noticed just how bright it was. I thought that maybe Haylou has upped the brightness to make the display look better, but no, I checked it and it was set at 50%. This means that you should have absolutely no problem checking the time when you’re at the beach during a very sunny summer day. The contrast is also fairly decent and, while the colors could have been a bit more crisp, it still looked decently fine, especially considering the price tag of the device.
The display is not OLED and I don’t think anyone expected it to be, so yes, the blacks aren’t as deep as I would have wanted, but I was surprised to see that the whites were actually good and lacked that annoying yellow tint that I saw on other smartwatches.
The Internal Hardware and Connectivity
The manufacturer didn’t make available any information about the internal hardware of the Haylou GST, but since the smartwatch had the product name Hayou-LS09B, I decided to check it out on the FCCID website. And I found a variant which was under the name LS09B, so I am going to assume that it shares pretty much the same main components as the GTS. From the photos, I could identify 8MB of NOR flash memory from XMC (QH128AWIG) and a Realtek HQ623K K7JB831 Bluetooth chip.
I didn’t find any info about the RAM, but the OS seems to run decently well on this low-power system. It’s not the smoothest experience, but it is a bit better than on the Imilab W21. In terms of wireless connectivity, the Haylou GST uses Bluetooth v5.0 to connect to your smartphone and it has a decent coverage, going up to 30 feet if there aren’t many thick walls between your smartwatch and your phone.
Are the sensors accurate?
The accuracy of the HR sensor is not that great, as expected, but then again, you shouldn’t really rely on inexpensive smartwatches to do this job (especially if you think or know that you have a heart condition). Just like other inexpensive smartwatches, it can’t handle spikes in the heart rate which usually occur during a workout, so it’s going to show better results when you’re doing your every day chores and nothing more. As for the Sp02 sensor, I can’t verify if it’s accurate or not, so we’ll leave it at that. There is also a sleep monitoring function and it works fine if you jump off the bed immediately after waking up, otherwise it will think that you’re still asleep.
The Software Experience
The Haylou GST uses a very lightweight OS specifically tailored to work with the fairly basic internal components and, if you’re familiar with the Amazfit smartwatches, the Kospet ones or other fairly inexpensive smartwatches, then it’s very similar in both looks and functionality.
The first thing that you’re going to see is the watchface and you can change it by long-pressing on the screen and swiping left or right. Be aware that there are far more watchfaces in the app. If you swipe down from the main window, it will summon the Tools where you can adjust the Brightness, enable Sleep mode, activate the ‘Find my phone’ function and check out some basic Settings. You can also view the battery life and if the smartwatch is connected to your phone. Swiping left or right from the main window, will allow you to check how many steps you took, the heart rate info, check the SP02 measurement, check your Sleep pattern (there doesn’t seem to be more info than the night before), check the Weather or use the ‘Take a break’ function.
Swiping up from the watchface, will let you roam the menu and, besides offering some options that we already explored, I noticed that there are some Sport programs available (the HR sensor is not going to be that great though). You can check the Exercise record, check the Messages that it got after pairing with the phone or use ‘the Music control’ player. There is also an app which you need to install on your phone if you wish to make use of some of the smartwaches’ features. The app is called Haylou Fun and it’s available on both iOS and Android devices. The app will ask for your location (to update your Sports Data and I assume more), it will want access to the Motion and Fitness Activity (which is sensible) and Bluetooth, in order to connect to the smartwatch. It will then require for you to create a new account, to add some information about yourself and then you’ll be greeted by the user interface.
At this point, we will need to add the Haylou GST. Click on Add Device and the smartwatch should be automatically detected. The UI is divided into multiple cards, the topmost showing the data from the last pairing with the smartwatch, while underneath, there’s the Heart Rate data, the Sleep data, the Sp02 and the weight – you can change what cards are displayed. The next window is the Sport, where you can set a route and select which type of exercise you would like to perform (Running, Walking or Outdoor Cycling).
Lastly, there’s ‘My’ section, where you can change the Unit Settings (metric or British!), Sync with Apple Health (on iOS), check the firmware version and more.
The Battery life of the Haylou GST
The Haylou GST has a 220mAh non-removable battery which, as advertised by the manufacturer, it should offer about 20 days of continuous use. In the last couple of weeks that I’ve been testing the smartwatch, I saw that the battery would get depleted after 4 to 5 days of use. And that’s without doing anything out of the ordinary, just occasionally checking the time and the heart rate.
It’s not a bad performance considering the price tag, but it does fall short of the advertised amount. There is a small proprietary charging cable inside the box and I found it interesting that it was compatible with another smartwatch that I recently tested, the Kospet Tank M1. It’ worth mentioning that the charger is magnetic and the magnets are quite strong.
The Haylou GST is not the best smartwatch that I tested, far from it, but considering the price tag, it does offer incredible value for the money. I didn’t like that the screen is not centered, the OS is very bare-bones and the battery life is a bit below average. But, there is the usual suite of sensors, lots of watchfaces, a seamless connection to a smartphone, the OS moves decently well (there’s enough RAM), you can read messages and the build quality is way above what I expected. So, at this moment, I can say that the Haylou GST is perhaps the best value smartwatch on the market.