The Huawei Watch line has been impressing us for several generations, but the higher price puts it out of reach of most consumers. The Huawei ‘Band’ line is their fitness band line, which is obviously more affordable, but still packs in a lot of features.
The Band 6 is the sequel to the Band 4 – they skipped the Band 5 – and comes with a much larger touch sensitive screen to the previous model. It arrived in Australia this month for $139 RRP and it comes with a lightweight design, all day battery life and a bunch of new features as well like improved sports tracking.
The more compact and affordable fitness tracker line is fairly competitive, so it’s time to take the Huawei Band 6 for a spin and see if it’s worth wearing on your wrist.
Design and Hardware
As far as design goes, the Huawei Band 6 is simple. There’s a thin, non-removable silicone band attached to the Band 6 body which is available in four colours: Graphite Black, Sakura Pink, Amber Sunrise and Forest Green.
The band is comfortable to wear and is easy to clean – the Band 6 is water-resistant to 50m afterall. The strap itself is a little too narrow for my liking both from an aesthetic perspective, as well as a structural one as it’s a little floppy when feeding the excess through the loop on the band, but it does the job. I did take it off while showering – which you don’t need to actually do since it’s water-resistant which made the thinner band more obvious.
It would be good to be able to change bands, but I’ve rarely done this when I had the option, so you’re better off choosing something you like from the great colour options available.
The big 1.47” touch screen is very bright and easy to see, though could be a little brighter in direct sunlight. The touch display is very good, responding well even with wet/sweaty hands.
The Band 6 includes a single interaction button on the side which when combined with the touch sensitive display, makes it easy to find apps, access information quickly or interact with the device quickly and easily.
The Band 6 body is made of a polymer material, which is both light and strong with the body weighing just 18g making it very comfortable to wear all day.
There’s both metal contacts for the magnetic dock charger and an optical heart-rate sensor on the rear of the Huawei Band 6, with ‘TruSeen 4.0 heart-rate monitoring’ on-board as well as the option to view all-day SpO2 information.
There’s also an Accelerometer and Gyroscope on board for tracking your steps, but no GPS so you can’t track outside activity.
Huawei claims the Band 6 offers up to two weeks of battery life, though that’s under ‘typical’ conditions, whereas I found myself getting closer to 11 days usage with a bit more usage including keeping the sleep and heart-rate monitoring on.
Charging is very easy with the supplied magnetic dock clipping very securely to the back of the Band 6. The dock has a USB-A plug on it and fits either into a standard USB charging brick, or just any USB port you have available.
Charging takes about an hour and a half to get to 100%, though you can get a bit of a top up of ‘2 days use from just 5 minutes charging time’ says Huawei.
Software and Fitness Tracking
Huawei Health app
The Huawei Band 6 works with the Huawei Health app, available for both Android and iOS.
While the iOS app is available through the iOS app store, the Android app has to be either side-loaded, or installed through the Huawei App gallery, which also needs to be side-loaded – with both options available from the Huawei website you find from a QR code on the side of the box. It’s not terribly convenient for Android users, but it’s a one-off and once it’s installed the version through App Gallery updates easily.
The app, once installed is very user friendly with all your data laid out in an easy to access fashion.
I’ve previously used GPS enabled Huawei devices so you will see previously GPS tracked exercises when you first login. But you do have the option of which tiles you see on the main display, and the order they display, just tap the edit button at the bottom.
Fitness tracking is fairly good on the Huawei Band 6. You get accurate step tracking, as well as a decent heart rate monitor that’s on-par with most sensors. You get a little celebratory notification when you hit your step count, and you can configure additional notifications as per your preferences.
Where the Band 6 offers something a little extra is in their 96 workout modes – 11 are classed as ‘professional’, while 85 are basic tracking. You get the default ‘popular’ exercises like Indoor and Outdoor walking, running, as well as elliptical, and rowing – which can be automatically detected – and there’s also Pool Swimming and Skipping on there which you can start manually.
In short, the tracking is good enough for tracking your personal fitness, and the auto-detect works quite well…once you enable it (Settings > Workout Settings > Auto-Detect).
As a shift worker I’m always very aware of sleep and how much (or little) I’m getting. The Band 6 keeps good track, and also delivers a sleep score based on the amount and quality of the sleep you get.
While the visual report gives you a quick glance at how you slept, you can also get a bit more in-depth analysis about how to improve your sleep. There’s also a notes section to help you more intimately understand the sleep report, and find what you can do to improve.
Notifications, Watch Faces and more
The Band 6 supports showing you notifications from your phone which is handy, though does take some fine-tuning.
There’s also support for changing watch face from the fairly large selection available in the app. Huawei says that developers can submit their own, and I’m keen to see more designs made available, but that said there’s a lot to choose from and you should find something you like fairly easily.
It’s also something simple, but I love the timer and alarm access on the Band 6. It’s easy and simple to setup multiple alarms which I use throughout my day and if a company gets the basics right, it’s a good sign everything else is going to be good as well.
Should you buy the Huawei Band 6?
As a fitness band the Huawei Band 6 fills the bill from all angles. It’s functional and tracks both fitness and sleep metrics as well as being lightweight but with a bright and easy to read screen – plus it lasts you almost two weeks of use.
The RRP for the Band 6 is a little high at $139, especially given the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 sells for under $80 offering similar features. The Huawei Band htough has been discounted to around $100 from partners on Amazon, as well as through Mobile Citi and the Huawei Experience Store making it more attractive.
The Band 6 does include a broader range of sports than most bands on the market, so if you’re looking at more focused tracking that’s definitely a factor.
Overall though, the Band 6 offers a lot for your money, especially the new larger display. You can check the Huawei Band 6 out now on the Huawei website.