There are three kinds of people who need a fitness tracker, and the Huawei Band 6 is perfect for two of them. Those two types are the Discovery Vitality clients trying to earn Discovery Miles, and the data nerds who love seeing the results of their workout in graphs.
If you’re wondering, the third type are the serious athletes who require GPS and power meters or stride sensors. You know, the folks who talk about fitness in terms of VO2 Max and watts. The Band 6 is not for them, but only because it lacks GPS – which, coincidently, is the only real feature that separates it from the Huawei Watch Fit.
I didn’t expect the Band 6 to perform as well as it did, and my memory of the Huawei Health app had me expecting something more from the early 2010s rather than the polished interface it is.
Same goes for the quality of the optical heart rate sensor, a component that many budget fitness bands cut corners on. Band 6 managed to keep pace with my Polar OH1+ dedicated optical heart rate monitor – the gold standard for the style of heart rate sampling. My workouts generally include barbell moves with eccentric wrist positions (optical HRMs really don’t like it when skin moves or is stretched) and still the Band 6 kept pace, besting the three times more expensive Fitbit Sense.
Flaws, but not deal breakers
Of course, Huawei is leaning hard into the current SpO2 obsession brought on by the global pandemic. I seriously doubt that accuracy of the readings on any consumer-grade oxygen saturation monitor that takes its measurements on the wrist. When I was hospitalised with Covid complications, doctors extracted blood directly from the radial artery to get an accurate reading.
There’s also many environmental factors that impact SpO2 like altitude, body posture, and air quality. But I digress.
Getting notifications served to your wrist is great, but there’s very little action that can be taken to properly triage the information. If you don’t clear a message alert on your phone, for instance, it will repeat on the Band 6 every time a new notification arrives.
This is more a flaw in the Android notifications system, but other smartwatch manufacturers navigate around it with more comprehensive interactions with messages.
Is it a smartwatch? I define a smartwatch as a wrist device that you can install apps on, so no. What you get on the watch is what you’re stuck with, but you can customise the watch faces and download new ones.
Huawei’s competitors will struggle to beat the Band 6 for price and value. Just R1 700 gets you a full-featured fitness band with accurate heart rate tracking. Once you get beyond the “96 Workout Modes” and “All-day SpO2 Monitoring” marketing hype, the Band 6 is an honestly impressive wearable that can play an important role in your active lifestyle.
Huawei strikes the perfect balance between feature depth, design and price with this product. Battery endurance reached very near the quoted seven days, which is far more than can be expected from something so small and light.