Smart bands have helped to revolutionise the ease of tracking your health. What was previously specialist equipment is now available in a relatively cheap package, and the look and feel of the bands have come a long way since their earlier iterations too.
The Huawei band 6 is the latest release from the Chinese tech giants, and the progression in the wearables market is apparent from the off.
A big and bright 1.47” AMOLED display leaves previous versions firmly in the shade, while its claimed features could rival some of the top-end running and triathlon watches. Throw in an RRP of £59.99 (and a currently discounted price of £39.99), and the Band 6 might just be the best pound-for-pound fitness tracker on the market.
But how does it fare when put to the test?
How we tested
We wore the smart band continuously for two weeks to test its claimed battery life, while also seeing if it was as comfortable to wear sleeping as it was when out and about. Activities tested included walking, running and cycling, and we wore a dedicated triathlon watch alongside to see just how accurate a relatively cheap piece of kit can be.
Huawei band 6: Was £59.99, now £39.99, Currys.co.uk
Display: 1.47” AMOLED touchscreen, 194 x 368 pixels
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, optical heart rate
Features: Sleep tracking, SpO2 monitoring, heart rate monitoring, 96 workout modes
Button: Power and function button
Water resistance: 5 ATM
Design and set-up
The band 6’s defining design feature is its 1.47” AMOLED display. The screen is bold and vivid, packing an impressively rich experience into a relatively small space. This makes it easy to see all of the watch’s features at a quick glance during general use, and there’s no need to delve into the accompanying app to keep a track of your daily totals. It also featured a four-way touch screen, which was remarkably simple to use.
On the reverse of the screen lies the TruSeen 4.0 heart rate monitor – an optical lens and AI-based system that tracks your heart rate 24/7, while also providing warnings if your heart rate goes too low or high. Although we didn’t get any warnings during our testing, it is a nice addition to have.
The inclusion of a heart rate monitor means that the back of the band does slightly protrude, but the design remained comfortable against the wrist.
The tracker is kept in place with silicone straps that are available in four different colours. The forest green tested made the fitness band a subtle addition to our daily wear, but the amber sunrise or sakura pink could add a splash of colour.
When tightened, the strap felt secure on the wrist while remaining comfortable against the skin – something that is key for a band that is designed to be worn at night. Weighing in at 30g, the band 6 is something you can quite easily forget you’re wearing.
Setting up out of the box was very intuitive. While you could just use it after a quick charge, the instruction leaflet points you in the direction of the Huawei health app, which is required to really make the most of the band 6’s features.
After downloading, it’s super simple to pair with the band 6 via your smartphone’s Bluetooth. Once you’re synced, the app is where you can track all of your health trends (such as sleep, heart rate and even your menstrual cycle calendar). It’s also where you can customise various features on the band – from watch face, to the phone notifications you can receive.
In their early days, smart bands were nothing more than glorified pedometers. The Huawei band 6 takes things up a notch, and claims to be able to track 96 different exercise modes. In practice, a lot of these track exactly the same metrics (heart rate, calories burned), just under various activity names, while some of the modes are questionable (skipping, anyone?).
Read more: 10 best Garmin watches for every activity
The band 6 doesn’t include a GPS tracker, meaning it has to piggyback off of your smartphone’s GPS signal for truly accurate data recording during running or cycling.
When used for running, it acts as a wrist-based start and stop button for the Huawei Health app, displaying details such as heart rate and total duration. The small size of the display makes it quite hard to see the information clearly when pumping your arms, unlike say a dedicated running or triathlon watch, and controlling the touch screen is quite tricky on the move.
If you’re looking for a smart band, there’s a good chance that you’re after an all-round health tracker rather than a dedicated sports watch. It’s here where the band 6 really excels. As well as the aforementioned heart rate monitoring, the band can also track everything from steps to sleep.
Its activity goals section was the most viewed screen on the watch. As well as showing our daily steps, hours active and moderate-to-high intensity activity, it clearly showed how much further we had to go to reach our daily goals – adding some extra motivation to go for one more walk if we hadn’t hit our step target.
The heart rate monitoring was fairly accurate when resting, and was only slightly lower when compared to the more accurate reading from a Garmin Forerunner 945 (£499, Wiggle.co.uk) that we wore when testing during running.
Sleep tracking was another impressive feature – not only did it seem error-free but the Huawei health app’s analysis section offered up lots of insightful ways to improve our night’s sleep. While lesser used features included stress and SpO2 monitoring, but that was more because it wasn’t quite clear what the resulting data showed.
When paired with a phone, the band 6 can act as a personal assistant, showing the weather forecast, notifying you if you’ve got an alert on your smart phone and allowing you to skip songs that are playing – even during activity.
The only thing that let the band 6 down was that we never got it to the claimed two weeks between charges. Just one day of moderate use where we recorded an hour-long run used about 20 per cent of the battery. That said, recharging was fairly quick, so shouldn’t leave you without your health tracking for too long.
The verdict: Huawei band 6
The Huawei band 6 is a great smart band for those who want to take an active interest in their health and fitness. Its core functions of heart rate, sleep, and step tracking are as accurate as can be expected at this price range, while its activity tracking features mean you won’t outgrow the smart band if you start to add more vigorous exercising into your daily routine.
It also looks and feels good, making it something you’ll actively enjoy wearing, and the information available in the corresponding Huawei Health app leaves you with data usually reserved in much more expensive packages.
Huawei band 6
Buy now £39.99, Currys.co.uk
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