Review: Huawei Band 6 – Keeping Up is Hard to Do
Activity trackers come and go and from my perspective, there have been two shortcomings of any that I’ve used in the past. The first was durability. My Jawbone UP24 was so stupidly fragile that it was the simple act of taking it on and off that broke it. The Fitbit Flex and Alta were pretty much the same – the band would give up after about two months and the replacement cost wasn’t justifiable.
The other issue has been battery life. Most would last a day. The Nike+ FuelBand would do a little better and the Apple Watch far less.
Thankfully, manufacturing, sensor technology, and battery life have improved since those early wearables days and products like the Huawei Band 6 now provide a steady stream of real-time and continuous personal health information – happily for weeks on end.
The Band 6 is the first of Huawei’s wearables to feature a 1.47-inch AMOLED display with an impressive 64% screen to body ratio which means very little wasted space on your wrist. The other upside is weight – the Band 6 only weighs 18 grams.
Other impressive features include all-day monitoring for both Heart Rate and SpO2 – the measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood relative to the amount of hemoglobin not carrying oxygen. Then there’s continuous real-time Stress Level and Menstrual Cycle monitoring.
On the fitness side, the Band 6 incorporates Huawei’s comprehensive workout modes with 11 professional activities such as running, walking, cycling, and swimming. An additional 85 customised modes for almost everything from aerobics to yoga can be added to the Workout list on the Band 6 so they are easy to start tracking when you need them – even the belly dancers out there!
The inclusion of a physical button on the side of the Band 6 means your trigger to start and stop activity tracking and other key functions are very precise. There are some drawbacks, however, that I’ll get to later.
Day to day the Huawei Band 6 is a pretty perfect lifestyle companion. Via the Huawei Health App, you can dive right into your health statistics. Steps, active minutes in your day, sleep patterns, and heart data can all be analysed. The data can also be shared with Apple Health and Google Fit to combine with other fitness data such as weight or mood. Because of the continuousness of the monitoring, it’s great to be able to look back over a month or longer periods and see a really strong trend of activity, weight (gain or loss) and stress levels. In the past, I found breaks in the data dampened my enthusiasm for a fitness product. The opposite is very much the case with the Band 6 – and as you will have read in my experience with the Huawei Watch GT 2e.
The auto-detect workouts setting is particularly useful for when you forget to activate tracking for a walk with the dog or a run – the Band 6 will vibrate on your wrist and check in to see if you’ve forgotten to track an activity.
The Band 6 takes up very little space on your wrist so it’s perfect to wear for every activity – even swimming. With 5ATM water resistance and a fibreglass-reinforced polymer watch body – with metal texture coating – and skin-friendly silicone rubber strap – there’s a real sense that this product will last for years.
I also found that switching between Huawei wearables using the Huawei Health App is very seamless. So if you’re going for a run in the morning you can take your Band 6 and then go and play a round of golf with the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro in the afternoon and all your data synchronises perfectly across the day.
The multi-gesture capabilities of the FullView Display with a resolution of 194*368 and 282PPI make the Band 6 usable in any light or condition. The only irritation I have found is that the sensitivity of the screen is such that on more than one occasion, I have accidentally stopped fitness tracking when I’ve put the boxing gloves on with my mates when we group train on a Wednesday morning. I wish there was a way to reduce or disable the screen whilst working out.
Another frustration (and I’m being picky here) is that I spent an hour the other day looking for the magnetic charging cable. Firstly, when you only have to charge a device every few weeks, you become complacent about the location of the charging cable. Secondly, Huawei ship the Band 6 – which is available in four colours – with a white cable! My Band 6 is Graphite Black so naturally, I was looking for a black cable! The other three colours are Amber Sunrise, Sakura Pink and Forest Green.
With a compatible Android or Huawei smartphone the Band 6 can also be used as a stand-along music player that will connect to Bluetooth headphones. Exclusively with the Huawei smartphone range, the Band 6 can act as the shutter release for the camera. Weather alerts and smart-alarms are other very useful features on the Band 6 that set it apart from the competition.
There are also a host of watch faces to choose from on the Band 6 and loads more to download via the Huawei Health App.
The Huawei Band 6 really is a smart companion for the wrist and available right now from a range of retailers from $139.