The Huawei Band 6 is a handy way to track your health and fitness without straining your wallet. There’s no shortage of wearables on the Australian market, and expensive smartwatches get most of the attention.
The Huawei Band 6 is a lower-cost, slim fitness band – which happens to tell the time. It might be a better investment if you’re more interested in your health and fitness than you are in strapping a second screen for your phone onto your wrist.
The Huawei Band 6 is a strong contender in the low-end of the market. Especially when the screen is a lot more useful than most fitness bands in this price range. Even so, it still might be a hard sell in Australia, where Huawei is the underdog and other phone/wearable makers have a loyal following.
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The Huawei Band 6’s band can fit the smallest of wrists. Yet, the elegance of the slender design is offset by the silicone band’s cheap feel.
The band is lightweight, but its look and feel don’t compare favourably with the bands of more expensive rival wearables. To make matters worse, the strap sticks to the band keeper loop rather than sliding through, making it very difficult to get the wearable on and off your wrist.
The lightweight design ensures the band is comfortable, so it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing it. It doesn’t feature an always-on display, but the screen wakes fairly quickly when you turn your wrist or raise your hand.
The underwhelming silicone band is a good reminder not to set your expectations too high for $139. Thankfully the display makes a much better first impression.
While the Huawei Band 6 is pitched as a fitness band, it has a narrow smartwatch-like touchscreen. The rectangular colour AMOLED screen is sharp enough to display notifications from your phone and bright enough to view in direct sunshine.
Choose from the available watch faces with care. Most are rather cartoonish and garish, which is frustrating if you’re looking for something a bit more elegant and understated. Some of the watch faces don’t take full advantage of the screen’s resolution, leaving the display looking fuzzy.
From the Huawei Band 6’s watch face, you can swipe in various directions to see more information. The sharp screen grants a better view of your health stats than you get on most fitness bands.
The Huawei Band 6 offers most of the health and fitness tracking options you’d want from a wearable. The key exception is an ECG sensor for heart scans, built into a few high-end devices like the Apple Watch 6.
The Band 6 adopts the Apple-Esque concept of on-screen fitness rings. This makes it easy to see how you’re tracking during the day regarding steps, hours active and moderate-to-high intensity activity. It will also tell you when it’s time to get up and move around.
Unfortunately, its tracking abilities are hit and miss. For example, I live in a narrow three-storey house, but it failed to detect a single time I walked up and down the stairs. Likewise, I spent 45 minutes at the gym one morning, and it failed to recognise moderate-to-high intensity activity even though it detected a spike in my heart rate and steps.
To be fair, I didn’t explicitly tell it I was exercising at the gym, but I was clearly active.
When selecting an exercise, you can choose from 96 different activities – including swimming, thanks to the waterproof design. This long list sounds impressive until you realise it includes not-so-athletic activities such as fishing and darts.
Rather than wait for you to choose from the list, the Huawei Band 6 can also auto-recognise walking, running, cross-training and rowing. If it detects you’re in the middle of a walk, it backtracks to when you started to ensure it records the entire session.
It can also track your running, walking and cycling on a map. Keep in mind there’s no built-in GPS, so you’ll need to keep your phone with you for this to work.
All-day SpO2 blood oxygen level monitoring is all the rage in wearables at the moment, even though there’s no real use case for it. The Huawei Band 6 generates an alarm when your blood oxygen level is low or when your resting heart rate goes above or below a certain range.
Blood oxygen level is supposedly an indicator of overall health, which sounds appealing during a global pandemic, but can’t diagnose any ailment in particular. It’s just a general sign that you might be unwell in some way.
Meanwhile, stress monitoring is calculated based on fluctuations in your heart rate when you’re at rest. When you enable stress monitoring, you need to stay still while it asks a few questions about your stress levels.
They’re quite probing questions, most of which are focused on your mental health. While it asks about shakes and irritability, it also wants to know whether you feel like you have anything to look forward to and whether you see any meaning in life. Being psychoanalysed by your fitness wearable is a little stressful in itself.
In terms of hardware, the Huawei Band 6 comes with a USB magnetic charge cable that attaches to the back of the body. You shouldn’t need to call on the charger too often when the battery lasts for around 14 days. It’s one of the advantages of that smaller screen.
Fast charging ensures that a quick five-minute top-up can keep you going for two days.
It’s worth noting that a few features are disabled by default, including blood oxygen level monitoring, exercise auto-detection and stress monitoring. This helps boost the battery life.
You can see a surprising amount on the Huawei Band 6’s narrow screen, which can display notifications for SMS, email and other smartphone apps.
That said, if you care about notifications, you might opt for more of a watch-style wearable with a larger, wider display. Perhaps the Huawei Watch Fit if you want to stick with Huawei.
Also, keep in mind that you can’t reply to messages, answer calls or access your smart assistant, as you can with some smart wearables which integrate more tightly with iOS or Android.
Data and Privacy
Setting up the band, the Huawei Health smartphone app (Android/iOS) presents you with an overwhelming number of requests and warnings regarding storing information and accessing personal data on your phone.
To be fair, rival wearables from the likes of Apple and FitBit access similar data. Huawei is obviously playing it safe with excessive notifications, considering people’s heightened privacy awareness, as well as questions regarding trusting your data with Chinese companies. That said, the over-abundance of warnings can be counterproductive when it comes to reassuring you that you’re in safe hands.
The Huawei Health app makes it easy to see most of the data you’d want to access. Thankfully, there’s the option to share data with Google Fit and Apple’s Health app.
The Huawei Band 6 fitness tracker is impressive considering the low price tag and sharp, vivid display. For some people, it will be a real bargain.
Yet this great screen means it’s difficult not to compare this fitness band to true smartwatches. You need to be sure you wouldn’t benefit from spending more on a wearable with a larger display or one that integrates more tightly with your smartwatch.
Would I buy it?
No, not unless I was a Huawei fan and was sure I wouldn’t benefit from a larger display.
Huawei Band 6 fitness tracker – basic training (review)
As fitness bands go it's a bargain, as long as you're sure the Huawei Band 6 is a good fit for your wrist and your lifestyle.