[Review] Small Yet Feature-Filled: The Huawei Band 6
Huawei Band 6
Okay, I'm going to be real here - when Huawei approached me to do a review for the new Huawei Band 6, I was all for it because I'm a big enjoyer of smartwatches, smartbands, and the like.
However, I must disclose that I am probably the furthest thing from an athletic person you'll ever meet (I get winded walking up half a flight of stairs). I use smartwatches mostly for the convenience - receiving message notifications, controlling music remotely, as well as monitoring my sleep patterns, stress levels, and more.
Hence, I will be reviewing this smartband not from a gym rat or health conscious person's perspective, but from a passive office worker's perspective instead.
Without further ado, let's hop right to it!
Lightweight with a big display
The design is nothing revolutionary, featuring a rectangular AMOLED display on a silicone rubber strap . However, the 1.47"display is larger than most smartbands out there; along with its 194×368 pixels resolution, it's great for displaying information more clearly.
The Huawei Band 6 comes in three colours - Amber Sunrise, Forest Green, Graphite Black. I received the orangey-red Amber Sunrise, which I thought would look gaudy based on the box's picture, but I found it to be a pleasantly vibrant departure from my usual black or brown straps. Also, this particular colour variant offers a sharp contrast between the display and the frame, while the Forest Green and Graphite Black variants are much more subdued.
There is a single button on the right side of the display, and underneath the face you'll find metal connectors that attach magnetically to the proprietor charger. I do prefer a disc-shaped dock that allows the band to lie flat while charging, but since you won't be charging it that often (yay battery life) it's not a huge deal.
The single free loop is notched, so it won't slip up and down the strap easily. In terms of comfort, it only weighs a mere 18g, so you'll easily forget that you have something on your wrist after a while. The smooth texture feels nice, though I can't tell you how it'll hold up in sweaty conditions as I'm vehemently opposed to sweating.
Also this is a loan unit so I'm being considerate and not fouling the surface of the strap so the next reviewer won't gag when they open the box. I mean I COULD wash it after I'm done since it has 50m water resistance with a 5ATM rating, but eh, ain't nobody got time for that. *cough* excuses *cough*
Navigating is a breeze
Personally, I favour touchscreen navigation over old-school physical buttons, so learning my way around the interface took no time at all.
Swiping down from the top brought up the quick settings, while swiping up from the bottom brings up your recent notifications. You can tap on each notification to view the full message, but you can't reply to it from here. There's also no emoji support - it won't show up on your message at all.
Swiping left and right from the main screen navigates through a carousel of favourited apps such as heartrate and stress monitoring. However, a quick summary of the info is all you get - you can't swipe up for more details, nor tap on it to enter the app itself.
To go back from inside a menu or app, swipe from the left; alternatively, you can press the button to go straight back to the main screen.
From the main screen, pressing the button brings up the menu, where you can find all your apps. Once you enter a certain app, such as heart rate monitoring, you can swipe up to view more details.
Trust me, it sounds more complicated when put in words - it's extremely intuitive once you lay your hands on it. However, I do wish more info was accessible from the main screen carousel instead of having to scroll through the menu to access the app itself.
Customisable faces and tons of functions
If you're the type who enjoys matching accessories to your outfit, you can download extra watch faces from the Huawei Health app to suit your mood or style. Once the faces have been downloaded into the Band 6, you can change them on the fly from within the smartband itself (or just use your phone if you want a bigger preview). At the moment, the local version of the app doesn't seem to support custom faces, but if it's anything like the Honor Magic Watch (my daily driver which also uses the Huawei Health app), you'll be able to download a Chinese apk which does support it.
Now, Huawei advertises the Band 6 as supporting 96 workout modes; while it is kind of valid, it's also a bit of a stretch, since it technically only monitors detailed stats for a few basic types of activities (walking, running, swimming etc.)
This means that if I select one of the basic activities like jumping rope, it monitors activity-specific details like the number of jumps, trips, as well as your jump streak.
As for the other 80+ or so additional workout modes, it only monitors non-specific stats like heart rate, calories burned, and more. So while you can select workout modes for all manner of activities including darts, tug of war, even kite flying (?), all these are pretty much the same in terms of functionality.
So while it's great you can keep track of a large selection of activities independently, don't be fooled into thinking it's versatile enough to track how many darts you threw over an hour. However, if you're planning to use it to track basic activities like running, rowing and the like, it does the job.
Still useful for the exercise-averse
For individuals like myself who don't work out, it still has a ton of functionality that you'll find useful. For one, it has all day heartrate and SpO2 tracking, and will alert you if your heartbeat is irregular or if your blood oxygen drops below normal levels. Apart from that, it also tracks stress levels as well as your sleep patterns, which is great if you want to track your sleep duration and quality.
It will break down your snooze session into deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, as well as waking periods - it can even track naps if you're the sort who enjoys a midday snooze (I know I do.)
Apart from that, it also contains weather, daily goals, and music widgets. While it doesn't have internal memory for you to store music tracks, the music widget is helpful if you're using wireless buds (it supports Bluetooth 5.0) and don't want to fiddle with your phone while out on a jog. It also has a 'find my phone' feature if you routinely misplace your phone. It doesn't have built-in GPS though, so don't count on tracking routes or SOS-ing for help if you get lost.
Other functions include torchlight (turns the whole screen white), alarm, stopwatch, timer, and menstrual cycle tracking.
As for phone calls, while it doesn't appear to have a speaker and mic for you to carry on conversations Kim Possible-style, you can reject calls through the on-screen pop-up, which is convenient since I'm extremely averse to having phone calls (please, just text me.)
In terms of battery life, it's long-lasting with an advertised 14-day battery life with normal use, and up to 10 days with 'heavy use'. Personally, I've been using it for about a week now and it's 50%, so I'd say the claims are pretty accurate.
Buy or no buy?
If you're a basic fitness junkie or even a lazy lump of flesh like me, RM219 is a reasonable price tag for the features it offers. While it doesn't have the full-fledged functionality of a smartwatch (answering calls, GPS, etc) it does have all the basic monitoring and tracking functions you'll need, along with a very friendly interface that allows you to navigate everything with ease.
The design and build quality is also pleasing to the eye - there's ample screen real estate for a smartband while maintaining a lightweight form factor and generous battery life.
If you're looking for entry-level smartwear, the Huawei Band 6 is an decent option that doesn't stinge on design and functionality. For more details, head on over to the official product page here.