Huawei Band 6 review: looks like a smartwatch, works like a fitness band

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Fitness bands are a dime a dozen these days. You’ll find some pretty adequate and dependable ones from the likes of Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, Fitbit, and so on. Most fitness bands offer a typical look – slim profile, tiny display, and lightweight build. Fitness bands are often seen as functional devices, meant to offer basic fitness tracking features at affordable prices. This is probably why many brands have not really tried to experiment with the design too much. There is a thin line between fitness bands and smartwatches these days, but then comes Huawei with the Huawei Band 6 that sits clearly in the middle.

The Huawei Band 6 can be seen as a kind of a hybrid. It is very much an affordable fitness tracker, but it aspires to be a smartwatch. Unfortunately, the Huawei Band 6 has not launched in India yet and there is no word on whether the company plans to bring it. That said, Honor has launched the Honor Band 6 in India, which is essentially the Huawei Band 6. I got to try the Huawei Band 6 for a few weeks and here are my thoughts on it.

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The lowdown

The Huawei Band 6 comes with a rectangular body that is slightly bigger than a traditional fitness tracker. It’s not as big a smartwatch though, hence lies somewhere in between. The bigger body also means you get a larger display compared to a typical fitness tracker. While bands like the Mi Band 6 offer a 1.1-inch screen, the Huawei Band 6 features a 1.47-inch screen, so you get more to look at. It is an AMOLED display with vibrant and punchy colours and inky blacks.

With the Band 6, Huawei is offering more screen real estate compared to a typical fitness tracker. The advantages are that you get to see more complications and information on a watch face, the text appears bold, and notifications can be read without having to squint your eyes. And for the most part, this is what the Huawei Band 6 delivers – a rich and informative screen. You can even scroll the text with your finger and not worry about covering the entire screen.

Huawei Band 6

Huawei has made sure that you get the most screen on the Band 6 by reducing the bezels around the display and not adding any buttons on the surface. There is a button on the right side of the body that lets you turn on the screen, bring up the menu, and go back to the watch face. The only downside to an otherwise great design is the strap. While you get a variety of colourful straps to choose from while buying, you don’t have the option to change them. The straps are attached to the body and you won’t be able to swap them for new ones in case they wear out, which is kind of disappointing. The unit I received had the Forest Green coloured straps, which are pretty dull and inconspicuous. In contrast, the Amber Sunrise and Sakura Pink colour options look more appealing. The rubber straps are soft and easy around the wrist. Despite the large body, the Huawei Band 6 feels light and comfortable throughout the day and while sleeping at night.

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Huawei Band 6

Talking about the Huawei Band 6 health-related features, you get the works. The device comes with all-day SpO2 monitoring, all-day heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and stress tracking. You can enable all of these features through the Huawei Health app, but doing so will drain the tracker’s battery faster. I had no particular issue with any of the features, although you should not trust them as scientifically accurate. The SpO2 tracker, in particular, was quite irregular as it fluctuated between 85 to 95. This can cause unnecessary panic during the ongoing pandemic.

Huawei Band 6

The Huawei Band 6 is feature-rich and the larger display size makes looking at information easier compared to other fitness trackers like the Mi Band 5. Still, for a more comprehensive look at your sleep, heart rate, and stress levels, you will need the Huawei Health app, which is available on the Google Play Store for Android and App Store for iOS. Huawei claims the Band 6 supports over 90 workout modes, and you only get to see 10 of them on the device. These include Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycling, Pool Swim, Jump Rope, Elliptical, Rower, among others. Due to the lockdown, I was only able to use the Outdoor Run workout. The distance tracking was fairly accurate when I compared it to my Apple Watch SE.

Talking about general performance, the Huawei Band 6 offers a pretty smooth UI. Swiping through the interface felt smooth and lag-free for the most part. Notifications are easy to read on the big screen, but you won’t be able to respond to any of them. I would have liked to see a quick reply feature that could have taken advantage of the available screen space. Sigh. You get some pre-loaded watch faces and tons more to choose from via the Huawei Health app, but sadly there wasn’t any standout watch face for me.

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Huawei Band 6

Battery life is excellent and comes close to Huawei’s claim of two weeks, provided continuous heart rate monitoring, automatic SpO2, and automatic stress tracking are disabled. With everything enabled, you’ll manage around 7-8 days of usage on a single charge. The bundled charger magnetically attaches to the two pins on the back of the tracker and takes roughly an hour to fully charge.

Verdict

Overall, there is plenty to like about the Huawei Band 6. The biggest plus is the screen, which is bigger than what you get on most other fitness trackers. The gorgeous display and solid battery life will keep you happy. You also get enough workout modes to support your goals. The Huawei Band 6 aspires to be a smartwatch, but there are several software limitations that keep reminding you that it is still very much a fitness tracker. The Huawei Band 6 is a great, albeit more expensive alternative to the Mi Band 5 and Realme Band, only if Huawei launched the tracker in India. You do have the Honor Band 6 that arrived earlier this month priced at Rs 3,999, which is essentially a rebranded Huawei Band 6.

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Attractive and large AMOLED display
  • Superb battery life
  • Plenty of workout modes

Cons:

  • You cannot reply to messages
  • Straps not changeable
  • SpO2 tracking is iffy

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