The Huawei Band 6 revives the image of connected bracelets, thanks to its large screen – unheard of in this market. With its comprehensive activity tracking functions and exceptional battery life, it offers all the comfort of a watch for the price of a simple bracelet.
By Alix Denoyers
As summer approaches, manufacturers are launching their new health devices – from simple activity trackers to smartwatches with multiple functions – and the manufacturer Huawei, a major specialist in this market, is no exception. His new Band 6 is currently on preorder for imminent official release.
As its name does not suggest, it succeeds the Band 4 and Band 4 Pro of 2019. With a direct switch to the 6 series, the Chinese brand has its best enemy in the bracelets field in its sights: Xiaomi and its future Mi Smart Band 6. Huawei’s main argument for seducing? A large 1.47 inch screen Amoled, a size that until now characterized watches. Does the user really benefit? We tested this Band 6 for a few days to see if it was the new star of the moment.
Pricing and availability
Despite its large watch-worthy Amoled display, the Huawei Band 6 can boast of being sold at the extremely competitive price of 59 euros in all the usual brands. Equipped with much smaller screens, its current rivals are references such as the recent Oppo Band sold at the same price, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 offered at 49 euros excluding promo (this is a 2020 model) or the Fitbit Inspire 2 at 99.95 euros. We will put aside the new Fitbit Luxe sold for nearly 150 euros or conversely the Realme Band at 25 euros, far behind in terms of characteristics.
Android compatible, like iOS, Band 6 is available in 4 colors : Graphite Black (black), Forest green (green), Amber Sunrise (orange) or Sakura Pink (pink). With this model much less imposing than the Watch GT watches, Huawei sets out to conquer the female audience, a target he already had in mind a few months ago with the launch of the Watch Fit, on the border of two worlds with its 1.64 inch screen, and just as light and colorful as the Band 6.
Huawei Band 6 Datasheet
|Dimensions||25.4 x 43 x 11.45 mm|
|Weight||18 g (30 g bracelet included)|
|Screen||1.47 inch, AMOLED|
|Definition||194 x 368 pixels|
|Resolution||282 pixels per inch|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 BLE|
|Sensors||Heart rate monitor (with SpO2 and VO2Max measurement), accelerometer, gyroscope|
|Autonomy||14 days announced|
|Loading||USB cable with integrated magnetic charging port|
|Compatibility||From Android 6.0 or iOS 9.1|
A screen that keeps its promises
Let’s start right away with the Band 6 display, presented as the major asset of this bracelet by Huawei. Rectangular in size, it offers a diagonal of 1.47 inches (more than 3.73 cm) against less than 1 inch usually.
The larger display area than usual (compared to full length screens from the competition), in fact offers much simpler and more efficient tactile navigation, on two axes: upwards or downwards but also to the left or the right. With the addition of a button, often non-existent on the bracelets.
The use of Amoled technology, combined with a very correct definition of 282 pixels per inch, ensures excellent display quality, with deep blacks, vivid colors and easy-to-read characters, even outdoors. As long as you turn up the light to the maximum, especially if the weather is sunny! Too bad not to have integrated an automatic mode. Remember to lower the screen brightness when coming back from running, otherwise you will waste battery unnecessarily. With the same idea, no need to look for the Always On function. The very low price of this Band deprives the user of certain functions reserved for more high-end models. You can just leave the screen on for 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes as desired.
Anyway, this “Fullview” screen – very responsive, which does not spoil anything – seduced by its beautiful display and especially since it occupies 64% of the front of the tracker, thanks to borders that melted. According to Huawei, the display area is thus 148% larger than that offered by the latest Band 4 Pro. Very pleasant to use!
Lightness and quality design
The design of the Band 6 undeniably finds its inspiration in that of the Huawei Watch Fit, a watch that we liked by its simplicity and discretion. Huawei’s new tracker, at the border of the watch and the bracelet, is a little smaller and therefore even lighter (30 grams all inclusive, bracelet included).
Rectangular in shape, the Band 6 is thinner and longer than its big sister. The periphery of the screen, with a metallic appearance, is, depending on the color of the strap, available in dark gray or gold. The whole exudes quality, including the very comfortable silicone strap. We also appreciate the buckle closure system, classic and practical for everyday use.
The button, integrated into the slice, facilitates access to menus and settings or simply allows you to activate the screen or even completely turn off or turn on the Band.
Under the tracker, we discover health sensors for monitoring heart rate and estimating the amount of oxygen in the blood (SpO2). Right next to these sensors, two small magnetic connectors are intended to accommodate the proprietary charging cable. Finally, let us specify that the Band 6 is waterproof (5 ATM certified).
The Constraints of Lite OS
Like all connected bracelets, the Band 6 works with a proprietary operating system. The one from Huawei that also powers its watches is called Lite OS. Compatible with smartphones from Android 5.0 and iPhone from 9.1, this OS has had time to improve in a few generations of health devices.
Using the Band 6 through its own menus as well as through the Huawei Health app is proving simple and efficient. The functions made available in terms of activity monitoring, notifications, customization are numerous, almost as rich as on some watches.
However, the technological and economic battle between the United States and China has not only had repercussions on Huawei’s smartphones, which are still deprived of Google services on the 2020-2021 models. To take full advantage of the Band 6’s functions on an Android smartphone other than Huawei, it will be necessary to first install AppGallery, Huawei’s application store, which cannot be found in the Google Play Store. The manufacturer provides on his site the link to the Apk file to download for this. Then, from the AppGallery, download HMS Core (Huawei Mobile Services) and the Health application in their updated version.
Huawei has of course made it easier for the user by providing a QR code to scan for relatively seamless installations. Despite this, the people less comfortable with this type of manipulation could very well be a little confused, especially since it will then be imperative, as with any health device, to grant Health all the rights to receive notifications and geolocation.
In practice, some bugs remain, bugs that Huawei will undoubtedly correct very quickly. We were therefore unable to activate GPS tracking from the watch (it uses the mobile device for this, in the absence of integrated GPS) with an Android smartphone other than Huawei. However, by launching GPS tracking from the Health app, it works.
Health: a very pleasant application
Once the Health app is installed and your Band 6 is connected via Bluetooth and operational, you have access to the vast majority of the many functions offered by Huawei for its Health systems. Monitoring of dozens of sports activities, your continuous data (heart rate, SpO2 …), your sleep, your stress (with the breathing exercises offered), but also reception of notifications and access to many tools … The Band 6’s built-in GPS is hardly lacking to compete with the Watch Fit or even most entry-level watches on the market.
We like the interface design, both simple and rich in possibilities. In the Health section, there is a clear summary of his day and access to his history with detailed graphics available on his sporting achievements.
In Exercise, fitness programs are offered, something to challenge yourself on a daily basis! In Discover, it is possible to register for “competitions” which reward participants with badges and sometimes gifts.
Of course, the app does not forget to keep you informed of your progress in regularly available reports and to provide you with advice.
In Apparatus, you can customize the Band’s dial (dozens are available for free in the Huawei Face Store) and configure your notifications.
Finally, in Me, you can find your rewards in the form of badges, your personal data or access to certain sports parameters.
specify that some settings are only accessible from the watch. To the main sports (running and walking, indoors and outdoors, indoor and elliptical cycling, indoor swimming, rowing, etc.), we can thus add dozens of other activities from the Band (Yoga, Pilates, Karate, table tennis , etc.). And most functions are triggered from the watch’s main menu, such as checking your SpO2 level right now or performing breathing exercises.
That’s also from the watch you can activate the automatic training detection valid for walking, running, rowing and elliptical trainer or where you can indicate time slots during which you do not want to be disturbed by notifications.
In the absence of a complete manual and tips in the help section – Huawei will undoubtedly remedy this shortcoming very quickly, the Band 6 is being launched – do not hesitate to browse through all the menus.
Especially for sports and sleep tracking
Of course, this Band does not offer as professional an accompaniment as the watches which target great sportsmen – the Garmin, for example -. But for 59 euros, this connected bracelet is an excellent, fun and effective fitness companion. On main sports such as walking or running, you can retrospectively discover your routes in the form of animations to share (once you have activated GPS tracking). You can also access a lot of data – energy expended, average cadence, stride length, aerobic training stress, Vo2Max, recovery time … – as well as graphs.
While running or walking, we particularly appreciate the vibration that signals each kilometer traveled (with display on the screen). While the coaching sessions available on the Watch Fit are not offered on the Band, the user does benefit from vocal support and encouragement every kilometer. He is told (in English) information such as his weather or his heart rate. The only conditions are that you have installed headphones and started the training session from the Health app.
The same goes for sleep with a daily analysis of your nights (deep, light, REM sleep), but also of the quality of your breathing, your nocturnal awakenings, in the form of data and graphs. Explanations and advice are provided to improve its quality over time. In its desire to appeal to a female audience, Huawei has even added menstrual cycle tracking.
As far as connected functions are concerned, we are left unsatisfied. You can display notifications (calls, SMS, social networks, emails) on the Band’s screen, but not respond to them. The screen is large enough to display the text of an SMS. However, emojis are not supported.
The Band 6 also doesn’t include a smart assistant like Alexa, for example (not to mention Google Assistant, persona non grata). From this point of view, we remain with an entry-level bracelet, especially focused on activity monitoring. It is therefore impossible to install new applications. You can just control your smartphone’s music from the screen.
Despite its small 180 mAh battery, the Band 6 is perfectly optimized to ensure long battery life. If you’re thinking about properly adjusting screen brightness, restrict notifications (e.g. calls, texts, and messengers), don’t continuously turn on stress and SpO2 tracking, and limit yourself to two to three sessions. of sports per week, the tracker should keep the promises of its designer: namely two weeks of autonomy.
With much more intense use, including more weekly workouts, full brightness and constant content tracking, we have passed the 7 day use mark, which is great.
Thanks to the fast charging authorized by the supplied USB cable, it is also possible to recharge the Band from 0 to 50% in just fifteen minutes. And while it takes about 1h10 for a full charge, it only takes a few minutes for the Band 6 to regain several hours or even days of battery life. Useful when you’re in a hurry to go for a run and forgot to charge your tracker.