Review: Huawei TalkBand B1

Similarly, we found that Huawei’s treatment of sleep measurement misses the mark a bit, also, thanks to how it tends to count sleeping when you’ve taken the TalkBand B1 off for a while, starting its tracking up when it’s off your wrist for around an hour.

At one point in the test, we measured a good 12 hours of sleep, of which we were maybe sleeping for seven or eight hours of.

After an update, it seemed to perform marginally better, with a closer indication of our terrible sleeping patterns, and you don’t even have to prod it to get the TalkBand to work in this mode, as it switches into it all by itself.

Another neat use of the TalkBand B1 comes from how it integrates itself into your phone’s use, and while you can’t control your music from here — sorry, no touchscreen controls like the LG LifeBand — it will tell you who is calling you, vibrating against your wrist in the process.

Huawei’s TalkBand B1 is also a gadget that offers a decent amount of battery life, giving us almost a week before the battery gave up and the system shut off.

Thankfully, the charge port is built into the band, with a USB port easily found under one of the plastic flaps, making it a simple matter of plugging it into a computer’s USB port, or alternatively one of the many USB wall adaptors you — like us — probably have laying around.

Overall, we applaud Huawei for taking the chance and designing a product that no other manufacturer has tried, at least not in this way.

Oh sure, Jawbone and Fitbit have relatively passive fitness bands with little in the way of smartphone call and notification capture (but plenty for health and fitness), and Samsung, Sony, and LG all have comparable options that can alert you of phone calls, text messages, and more, but none of them have gone so far as to integrate a Bluetooth receiver, with only Samsung getting close with its Gear watch letting you talk directly into the wearable.

But Huawei has done it, and for a first try, it’s not bad, but there are some things that let down the design. After all, nobody gets it right the first time.

One way that Huawei doesn’t nail it is in that Bluetooth earpiece, as its screen is inadequate for outdoor use, as is its audio quality.

Head outdoors and you’ll see an example of the first, especially if it’s sunny outside.

While it might always be sunny in Philadelphia (we’re told), Sydney isn’t always like that, and so rainy days have shown us that the TalkBand B1’s OLED screen is readable when the sky is overcast, but more or less completely useless when the sun is shining overhead.

Seriously, the brightness on offer from the TalkBand B1 appears to be lacking here, and so when you go out running or exercising when that big beacon of light and warmth appears above, don’t be surprised if you can’t read a single word or digit it displays.

You can sort of-- make out-- ok, no you can't. It's useless. The screen is useless in sunlight.

Also don’t be surprised if people on the other end of the phone can’t hear you when you’re out using the built-in Bluetooth receiver, because it’s not only an awkward fit, but also a weak earpiece.

We tried it a few times, and while it had trouble fitting in our ears quickly, the greater problem came from the microphone, which according to people on the other end of the phone made it hard to hear us and helped us to sound like a “high talker” out of Seinfeld.

The translation of that appears to be hard to hear, a little high pitched, echoey, and generally better if we were to answer it directly on the handset.

With that sort of sound quality, together with a not so fantastic fit, the “talk” part of the TalkBand is a bit of a let down, and we’d steer clear from using it.


Despite the problems with the whole talking side of the TalkBand, we’re not ready to write it off because the idea makes a lot of sense. Two products that people use in the one, and you don’t have to look weird using them, not like when you bring a wristwatch to your lips to talk into it. 

Really, it just needs a revision and another attempt, perhaps with a comfier and improved Bluetooth earpiece. We love the idea — we really do — and since the Bluetooth earpiece switches on the moment you disconnect it from the band (this happens because removing it from the band also presses the button on the side of the earpiece to tell it to start talking to the phone), it’s a convenient concept.

But that screen needs work, it really does, and the sound from the headset alongside it. Fix these and the second generation Huawei TalkBand could prove to be a convenient, clever, and top choice concept.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
A really great convergence idea; Great battery capable of at least a week of charge; Switches into sleep mode all by itself; USB charge plug built in the band; Compatible with either iOS or Android; IP57 dust and water-resistance;
The band doesn't generally get it right for tracking your sleep; Screen can't be read in sunlight; Bluetooth earpiece doesn't fit well, nor does it sound good from the other end;