Review: Huawei's Band 6 elegantly delivers massive bang for buck

Newshub's review of the Huawei Band 6.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Wearable tech has become like a second skin to many Kiwis and now Huawei's Band 6 has arrived with an impressive array of fitness features crammed into a tiny package. 

With a launch RRP of $129 in Aotearoa, the Band 6 is at the cheaper end of wearable tech, so what does that money buy you? 

I've been using the Band 6 for a few weeks and here are my thoughts. 

The good

With a sleek design measuring 43 x 25.4 x 10.99mm and weighing only 18g, the first thing that struck me about the Band 6 was how quickly I forgot I was wearing it.

The strap is made of a smooth, skin friendly silicone rubber which never caught or chafed, even during strenuous exercise.

It's also water resistant up to 50m, so there's essentially no need to take the Band 6 off once it's on, aside from charging.

This facilitates its wealth of fitness and health monitoring functions perfectly, as it quickly becomes an extension of your arm. The Band 6 can track 96 different workouts overall and provides detailed feedback on 11 pre-programmed 'professional' workouts such as indoor run, outdoor run, rowing and swimming. 

Reading all this information is surprisingly easy as despite its small size, the Band 6 boasts a comparatively large and legible screen. Its 1.47-inch AMOLED FullView Display gives it some of the feel and aesthetic of a smart watch, if not quite the same functionality.

Huawei Band 6 in New Zealand - is it good?
Photo credit: Newshub.

The screen holds up well in direct sunlight, while the software is snappy, responsive and intuitive. 

Outside of fitness, the standard pedometer/heart rate monitor combination is supplemented by a sleep tracker, a stress tracker, a menstrual cycle monitor and even a blood oxygen monitor. It's hard to imagine any more of your biological information being measured without the watch taking samples. 

Some of this information is arguably not that useful in your day to day, such as blood oxygen, but I found the sleep tracker particularly valuable.  

Huawei Band 6 size.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Offering a detailed breakdown of time spent at each stage of sleep (Light, Deep, R.E.M) through the accompanying Huawei health app, the feedback mapped perfectly onto my own nightly experience and provided useful information on how to get that all important eight hours.   

The app can be downloaded onto non-Huawei phones, too - if you have an Apple, Samsung, Oppo or other smartphone, no worries.

However, the Band's strongest selling point for me was the immense battery life, which claims 14 days of 'light use' and ten days of 'heavy use' on a single charge. In practice this translated to about a week and a half of constant wear without me needing to plug in. 

This is a huge advantage compared to power-hungry smart watches and makes the Band 6 an impressively low maintenance piece of tech for everything it provides.

Huawei Band 6 strap.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The bad

As a fitness tracker at the cheaper end of the spectrum, this does come with the usual hardware trade-offs you'd expect from a slim band vs a weightier smartwatch.

While it has simple mirroring of notifications from your android device, there is no ability to answer calls or reply to messages. 

There is also no inbuilt GPS which means the Band 6 can't offer the same level of detailed geographic feedback on distance exercise like running. This was quite a drawback for me as mapping out my route and distance on a run and comparing it to previous runs is a big part of what motivates me to workout in the first place. 

Huawei Band 6 review by Finn Hogan at Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Basic music controls are available but I did find myself pulling out my phone fairly frequently to do anything more complex than skipping a track. This underscored that while the Band 6 does somewhat blur the line between smartwatch and band, under the hood this is a fitness band first and foremost. 

I also found the preloaded watch faces on the Band 6 struggled to find a balance between displaying information and avoiding clutter. I ended up trading off between designs which were informative or stylish, but never both. 

The verdict

For those looking for a solid health and fitness tracker at a competitive price it's hard to imagine finding much better than the Band 6. What you trade off in functionality you make up for in an impressive amount of feedback, an exceptional battery life and an elegant form factor.

Newshub was supplied a Huawei Band 6 for this review.