A lot has been said about Huawei's range of watches but some forget the brand also offers fitness trackers. Their latest release, available now in New Zealand is the Huawei Band 6 and it comes with a list of improvements over previous models.
To start with, out of the box you will notice the Huawei Band 6 is just a bit smaller than its predecessor and yet seems larger. This is because Huawei now uses a 1.47 inch AMOLED touch display with a high screen to body ratio and higher resolution too, packing 194 by 368 pixels for 282 pixels per inch (PPI). This makes it easier to see the content on the screen.
I was also surprised at how light the Huawei Band 6 is - at only 18 grams it is again lighter than previous models, which is great when using it to track your exercise or sleeping. The body is built with a polymer material that feels nice to touch and is very comfortable to wear.
Tracking exercises is what the Huawei Band 6 is made for and it does it well. It comes with some professional workout modes including walking, running, swimming and cycling (and variations of these with indoor and outdoor options) as well as a huge number of Huawei's custom modes that include fitness exercises and even dancing. It does not have a GPS sensor though.
For swimmers, the Huawei Band 6 is waterproof to 5ATM (approx 50 metres) which is to say you can use it for swimming in a pool or in the ocean but can't use it for high-speed sports such as waterskiing.
On top of exercise tracking, the Huawei Band 6 can continuously track your heart rate and SpO2 levels throughout the day and night, even while you sleep. It also calculates stress levels and makes this information available on the screen at any time.
Using the tracker is pretty easy. The screen will automatically come on when you raise your wrist. From there, thanks to its touchscreen, you can slide a finger over the screen in each direction to give you access to different functions e.g sliding from the bottom to the top will show your phone notifications while sliding left to right (or the other way around) way cycle through the watch face and other information screens such as heart rate, stress levels, weather, music control and up-to-the-minute data on your daily stats.
A single button on the side allows you to access a menu that you scroll up and down to access workout, workout records, heart rate information, SpO2 data, sleep information, stress levels and even handy breathing exercises coaching.
The menu also offers some more standard functions such as a stopwatch, timer and alarm, which include multiple options including one-off and repeating alarms in different days.
You can set a Do Not Disturb schedule using the settings menu so that the band won't show phone notifications or turn its screen on at night for example. You can then just push the button on the side to turn the screen on again. The Settings menu also allows you to set the vibration level used by the alarm, or change the watch face.
An important part of the Huawei Band 6 is the Health app that runs on your phone. You don't need to have your phone on you all the time while exercising but the app synchronises data with the Huawei Band 6 so that you can see historical data - information can be shown on your phone screen in the form of charts.
Based on this historical data the app offers you advice on some items. For example, it will show you not only how many hours you slept on different nights but also the number of times you were in deep or light sleep and how many times you were awake during the night, even if you don't remember it happening.
The Health app will use this information to dish out advice about the time you go to bed, relaxation exercises to try and more. One example I have from a recent night was "Your sleeping schedule has been irregular recently but the quality of your sleep last night was good". This is true: we are having renovations at home so I have been getting up earlier than usual so hours have been all over the place.
The Health app will also give you more exercise details and keep a longer record of these. It will also allow you to find new watch faces and download those to your band, including free and paid-for options. It is also used for firmware updates, which appear every few weeks with some fix or another.
The Huawei Band 6 connects to your smartphone over Bluetooth 5 and uses this connection (with the Health app) to receive notifications so you don't need to get your phone to read messages. You can't reply to those though. You can also use your Huawei Band 6 to control music playback including the media volume, all from your wrist.
Despite all this functionality, it is a wonder that battery life can last as long as it does. The specifications say it could go on up to 14 days without needing the battery recharged. In reality, if you have the heart rate and SpO2 tracking enabled you more likely to get ten days - which is still a good long period of worry-free band wearing.
To recharge the Huawei Band 6 you use the provided USB cable, which is magnetically attached to the back of the band during the charge - from my experience, a quick charge can give you enough to keep going for a few more days so you can have it charging while in the shower.
The Huawei Band 6 is available in New Zealand from today.