Huawei knows how to do budget well. The company made a name for itself making phones that pitched at the lower- and mid-range market in price, but offered better features than its competitors. And they look good too, which while not the most important thing when it comes to value, is pretty important to consumers.
That’s a strategy that Huawei has continued with its audio products and its activity trackers – cram lots of features in, package it up attractively and slap a lower than you’d expect price tag on it.
Huawei’s Band activity tracker has been around for several years, as the naming of the most recent version, Band 6, might suggest. The newest version will monitor 96 different types of workout, has some excellent health tracking and a high-quality display that you’d expect on a much more expensive band. It also links in with your phone to deliver notifications to your wrist, so like it or not, there is no excuse to ever miss another call or message again.
First impressions are good. For a budget band, the Huawei Band 6 looks far more premium than its price. It comes with a 1.47-inch AMOLED display, larger than before, with a resolution of 282 pixels per inch and touch-sensitive gestures. There is a single button on the side that is used for power and to access the main menu. The case itself looks like it is metal, but it’s polymer – the one reviewed here is the gold with pink strap, but the case also comes in a dark grey with the choice of black, green and orange straps.
It’s comfortable enough to wear, although those with smaller wrists may find the larger display a bit bulky. At 18g, it’s lightweight.
On the inside, there is an accelerometer, gyroscope sensor and an optical heart rate sensor on the back. There is a decent amount of health monitoring on the band. Not only do you have the usual heart rate monitoring, but the Band 6 will also track your sleep, stress and blood oxygen levels. You can enable and disable which of the automatic or continuous monitoring options you want on the band. If you don’t want your stress levels automatically tracked, you can switch it off but leave continuous heart rate monitoring on.
If any of your levels spike – heart rate or stress – or drop, in the case of blood oxygen, you’ll get an alert. In the case of stress monitoring, you can use the built-in breath training guide to calm yourself.
Pairing the watch, luckily, is stress free and a simple process. It works with both iPhones and Android, with the Huawei Health app the key to the whole process. That app also allows you to customise the watch’s settings, from the watch face to the alarms and notifications. You can also see the status of the watch, including steps, calories and distance and the watch’s battery level.
Speaking of that, battery life is excellent, lasting up to two weeks on a single charge, depending on what health tracking you have switched on. Turning on all-day heart rate tracking, automatic blood oxygen monitoring and automatic stress tracking will all reduce how long you get between charges. You should get more than a week, and at least 10 days if you have the all-day monitoring switched on.
If you do run out of battery though, clipping the proprietary charger to the band for five minutes or so of charging will get you enough battery life to last a few days.
There were no real issues with the Huawei Band 6. It did everything you expected, and it did it seamlessly. There were no sync issues, and it tracked other monitoring devices closely in terms of steps and heart rate. Sleep monitoring was decent too.
The main issue though is that Huawei also makes the Watch Fit, which includes extra features such as built-in GPS and a private trainer on your wrist for not a lot more.
You can’t beat the price; at €60 the Band 6 is significantly cheaper than its well-known rivals and better built than a lot of cheaper trackers out there. It has great battery life too, at 14 days, and the screen is top notch.
The not so good
If you have smaller wrists it can feel a little bulky. There is no GPS built in, unlike the Huawei Watch Fit, which will cost you an extra €70 at the not unreasonable price of €130.
The tracker is water resistant up to 5m, so can take you swimming. It also includes weather reports, and you can swap out the watch faces.
The verdict: If the Huawei Watch Fit didn’t exist, the Band 6 would be a no-brainer. But if you want a simple band, it fits the bill at a decent price.
Available from did.ie.