The Honor Band 6 is the farewell kiss that Huawei and Honor gave each other shortly before both companies parted ways. This fitness tracker has been available globally since early April, where it has seen a redesign just like the Huawei Band 6. However, there is an important feature that was left out to keep the price down. Does that blip make a huge difference in this review?
- Beautiful design
- Super simple operation
- Huawei Health companion app works great
- Heart rate monitoring includes SpO2 measurements
- Solid battery life
- No integrated GPS
- Big button too easily pressed by mistake
- Only English is supported for now
- Cycle tracking available only with HMS ecosystem
Short conclusion: perfect companion for runners
GPS! The missing feature is GPS support. Apologies for this clickbait introduction, but I would have liked to engage your attention until now. First things first, I want to directly address the major shortcoming of the Honor Band 6, which is the lack of GPS support.
Personally, this does not bother me at all as I always run with my smartphone in tow. Apart from that, the Honor Band 6 totally had me enamored throughout the review duration. The version I received sported a light gray band that looks great, with an easy-to-read display with an extremely intuitive user interface. I also did not notice any inaccuracies in the heart rate measurement.
Nevertheless, I could not recommend you to pick this up with a clear conscience, because you can get a device equipped with an integrated GPS chip for some more bucks.
Design and display: form follows function
Compared to the Honor Band 5, the display in the Band 6 has grown by a whopping 148%. The now 1.47-inch AMOLED display carries a resolution of 194 x 368 pixels, where it responds to your touch input speedily. Apart from that, there is also a button on the right side while the HONOR brand name is etched on the left at a font size that is difficult to miss.
What I liked:
- Larger display that is very easy to read.
- Responsive button.
- Wristband with a classic watch clasp.
What I didn't like:
- Button sometimes activates when bending the wrist.
- Resolution not high enough that pixels can be seen.
Still, the upgraded display has done the tracker a lot of good in my opinion. Anyway, I'm more into wider fitness trackers as opposed to slimmer ones like the excellent Xiaomi Mi Band 5, which resembles a wristband more than a watch. The color combination of black with a gray wristband also brings out a really nice contrast.
Under bright sunlight, the luminosity of the 1.49-inch AMOLED display is sufficient to read everything well at a glance. At the same time, the display is almost too bright for me when dusk falls. Since the brightness level does not adjust itself automatically, chances are you might blind yourself temporarily, especially in the evenings or at night.
Honor has managed to integrate the display into a fairly compact case which fits pretty well on my not-so-large wrist. Without the wristband, the Honor Band 6 measures 43 x 25.4 x 11.45 mm millimeters exactly.
The design and display are totally spot-on in the Honor Band 6. The fitness tracker is modern-looking enough with its almost bezel-less display, powered by a high-quality AMOLED panel. If only it had a higher resolution count. Since you cannot watch Netflix on the fitness tracker in the first place, who cares?
Operation and Companion App: One of the best
Honor relies on a proprietary operating system for the Honor Band 6, which works great in my opinion. You navigate through this fitness tracker via swipe gestures as well as the large button that is located on the right side. Huawei Health serves as the companion app, which proves itself yet again to deliver an excellent connection between the smartphone and tracker.
What I liked:
- Intuitive and smart operating system.
- Huawei Health as a companion app.
What I didn't liked:
- English language support only.
I do not want to dive too long into the operating system, because there is nothing but positive things to report. During the review, I could discover all the functions through guesswork alone, which is quite impressive when operating a tiny display with only one button. The button functions like the Home button, while the rest of the controls rely on taps and swipes.
Linking to the smartphone will require you to do so via the Huawei Health app, and doing so is a surprisingly seamless affair. Notifications will pop up directly on the fitness tracker as well, and when you activate a fitness activity on your smartphone, the Honor Band 6 will vibrate. I've seen significantly higher latencies on other models, such as the pricier Oppo Watch.
Huawei's Health app is also intuitive and feature-rich. You can access all tracking functions via a dashboard, which I would like to dive into. What's cool is that you can also conveniently change the tracker's most important settings via the dashboard. Watch faces, for example, can be changed in a more convenient manner that includes previews, with the option to set your alarms as well.
Only the voice output on the tracker that supports just English (for now) could cause problems in my fictional favorite scenario - namely, gifting this to my mom. The international languages will be pushed out via update on the 6th of May.
Honor has done a fantastic job with the user-friendliness on the Honor Band 6. Everything is easy and intuitive enough to use, where the connection between tracker and smartphone remains an excellent experience courtesy of the Huawei Health app. Only the English voice output might put off some German users.
Features & Tracking: Pulse, SpO2 - but where is the GPS?
Honor integrated a heart rate sensor into the Band 6 that can also measure your blood oxygen level. Among other things, this allows you to monitor your stress level and of course, track your pulse during sporting activities. However, the Honor Band 6 does not come with an integrated GPS module, and you are unable to respond to notifications.
What I liked:
- Heart rate monitor includes SpO2 sensor.
- 24-hour tracking is possible.
- Stress monitoring.
- Sleep tracking.
What I didn't liked:
- Pulse measurement is not very accurate.
- No GPS (but do read the following sections).
- No direct response to notifications.
In this review, I used the Honor Band 6 with the 24-hour heart rate measurement enabled, allowing me to see when I broke a sweat during the day and when were the times when I was sedentary. However, when cross-checking with a blood pressure monitor, I noticed that the Honor Band 6 recorded my pulse rate to be a few beats higher per minute. Another check using manual checking delivered a more accurate result. Did you know that you can also measure your pulse with your smartphone?
In addition to pulse measurement, Honor also offers functions such as sleep tracking, stress level measurement, and blood oxygen level monitoring. For this, the pulse sensor also supports SpO2 measurement, which is known as pulse oximetry. However, as I wrote in my Fitbit Charge 4 review, these values are not too important if you don't suffer from heart disease or perform sports at high altitudes.
Supported sports modes in the Honor Band 6
|These sports modes are available|
|Free Style Workout|
However, these supported sports modes help Honor to make observations about the quality of your sleep and your stress levels. Therefore, the integration has proven itself to be rather useful, even if I use the associated functions sparingly.
A major drawback here is the lack of built-in GPS, which is already available in other models within the $60 price bracket. This fitness tracker will rely on your smartphone to record running distances, for example. Since I have had rather poor experiences with GPS modules in fitness trackers, I don't find this exclusion to be too big of a dealbreaker.
In the first place, I always run with my smartphone in my pocket anyway, because I also want to track the route using Adidas Running while listening to podcasts. If you prefer to exercise with more independence, then perhaps you might want to check out other smartbands for the same price instead with built-in GPS.
In summary, the Honor Band 6 has almost everything that belongs in a fitness tracker for just under $60 Stress level monitoring and sleep tracking are nice features to have, but most users would probably swap them for integrated GPS. Therefore, this is my biggest criticism of the Honor Band 6.
Battery life: 14 days are possible, 10 minutes of charging deliver three days of use
Honor advertises its Band 6 to carry a battery life of 14 days. At the same time, the manufacturer offers a Quick Charging feature that should get you to three days' worth of battery life with just 10 minutes of charging using the included proprietary power cable.
What I liked:
- Mi Band-level battery life.
- Quick-charging could come in handy.
- Magnetic charging port.
What I didn't liked:
- Proprietary charging port (but this is not a rarity).
Due to the long battery life and me being a sucker for trying out the quick-charging feature, I didn't get the Honor Band 6 to drain itself completely during the review. You will have to wait for 10 to 14 more days to find out! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to reiterate that my nonnegotiable for a fitness tracker would be this: I want to record my vital signs without any hassle and, most importantly, without any gaps in between. It is therefore nice to know that having a battery life of up to two weeks is becoming commonplace among most manufacturers.
With 24-hour tracking enabled, sleep tracking and stress tracking turned on, combined with a lengthy 1-hour run, I reduced the battery level by 15 percent after just less than 2 days. Simple arithmetic would point to the battery lasting less than 13 days with the same usage pattern. Seems to be on track with the claimed figures, doesn't it?
Charging works via a magnetic charging port, which would require you to remove the band. As physics dictates (remember, magic is physics by design), magnets will always find the right polarity. Once again, the problem with this proprietary solution is that you always have to take the right cable with you. USB-C or micro-USB on fitness trackers, however, have their share of drawbacks.
The 14-day battery life that Honor advertised for the Band 6 is not a special feature. However, it does not have to be so, because the runtime is excellent! With a 10-minute Quick Charge, you can also easily obtain another three days of use out of it if you are in a hurry. While I would update the battery life results later, consider me sold on the battery life claims so far!
What more you should know before buying
Once again, here are a few notes and details about the review unit in brief. These do not necessarily affect the final rating, but are still "nice to know" for some prospective buyers.
- The pulse monitoring is based on Huawei's TruSeen 4.0 technology.
- Music control is available.
- Pictures can be configured as watch faces using Android, something that is not possible with iOS.
- The menstruation tracking requires the installation of the HMS Core 4.0.0.
- IP67 rates for water and dust protection.
- Wristbands are available in Meteorite Black, Seagull Grey and Coral Pink colors.
Conclusion: Recommended - if you don't need GPS
Overall, Honor impressed me with its new fitness tracker, especially its design with the slightly wider display and the ease-of-use that personally appealed to me. At the same time, the 10 supported sports modes, as well as the additional functions for both stress and sleep monitoring, are completely sufficient for my everyday use. Everything is relative, as they say.
However, I still have to moan about the lack of an integrated GPS chipset. When compare to other smartbands at the same category, the price difference is minimal, so why not fork out that extra money just in case you need that feature in the future?
Also, the fact that cycle tracking only works with the HMS core, which limits it to only with Huawei smartphones or running awkwardly on Android remains a thorn in my side. If you don't have a bicycle or indulge in cycling, you won't care anyway.
- Looking for an alternative? Here are the best fitness trackers
To end on a positive note: Contrasted against the Oppo Watch, battery life is excellent. The advertised 14 days of battery life is realistic, as I continue to test this fitness tracker. However, we will have the exact results in two weeks' time of which I will update this article accordingly. Stay tuned!