I had very high hopes for the Honor Bracelet 6. It is perhaps the most beautiful fitness bracelet I have ever worn, with a larger footprint blurring the line between tracker and smartwatch.
But after three frustrating tries during the testing process, Honor reps told me that connected GPS will not work with Android phones when you start a run from the device. While it is possible to start a workout from the phone rather than the laptop, it is a less than ideal alternative.
I haven’t had any indication that this will be changed, and that means the Honor Band 6 is hampered when used with anything other than iPhones or the small number of Huawei or Honor handsets available in the UK (the one of them that I used for the rest of my review). Due to the strong competition in the under £ 50 bracket, it is very difficult to recommend Android owners regardless of its many other qualities. However, iPhone owners who don’t want to spend a fortune on an Apple Watch will find a lot to like.
Rating ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5)
Things we loved
- A distinctive and elegant look
- Useful sleep tracking
- Impressive battery life
- Competitive prices
The things we didn’t like
- Connected GPS cannot be triggered from the bracelet when paired with an Android phone
- The screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight
- Questionable mid-term measures
Honor Band 6 in depth
Honor Band Design 6
Most inexpensive fitness bands look a lot alike. At a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between a Fitbit Inspire 2, Samsung Galaxy Fit 2, or Amazifit Band 5. These are all long, narrow fitness trackers built into a rubber band.
The Honor Band 6 is visibly wider, bridging the gap between the fitness bracelet and the smartwatch. In short, it looks like a slightly crushed Apple Watch.
The screen is an AMOLED number with a resolution of 194 x 368, which gives it about the same number of pixels as a laptop screen. It’s more than sharp enough to clearly display data and notifications while running, although even with the brightness at maximum I found it struggling to be fully readable during an unusually sunny April.
There are a number of watch faces to choose from, with the ClassiK – a sleek monochrome analog dial with Roman numerals – my favorite.
Although large, the screen is not large enough to keep using the touchscreen a bit tedious, although the inclusion of a button on the right side makes it easier to use than many of its rivals. It’s useful with a remote control for your music or podcasts, while there’s also a shutter function for your phone’s camera so you can use the premium rear-facing one for selfies.
The only part of the design that I’m not crazy about is the strap replacement mechanism. Unlike most fitness bands, which hold the tracker in place with a rigid rubber casing, both sides of the Honor Band 6’s strap must be removed by removing a dangerously tiny clip with your fingernail, followed by force. rough on each half of the strap. It’s annoying, tedious, and not great for your nails, although it’s not something you’ll do often. As you might expect, this is not your standard watch strap and you will need to get some specially designed straps for it.
Health features on Honor Band 6
Despite an aesthetic bordering on the smartwatch, the Honor Band 6 clearly sits at the end of the fitness tracker, with a host of native health and wellness features. The bracelet can take an unlimited SpO2 measurement, track menstruation, passively track your estimated stress level, and provide breathing exercises when you decide you need to calm down.
I doubt the need for a stress tracker – I believe most of us are aware of when we feel pressured without needing a laptop to tell us – but the idea is that it can be. a measure of the physical stress you are under your body (based on heart rate variability) and can tell you if your body is able to shut down and recover.
I have found the breathing exercises to be of more practical use. A blue yin and yang symbol appears on the screen and you are encouraged to inhale and exhale as it expands and contracts for a set period of time. At the end, the group tells you how much you have de-stressed, as measured by your starting and ending heart rates.
Sleep tracking with the Honor Band 6
I’ve always been impressed with the detailed sleep tracking of the Huawei Health app (Honor wearable devices connect to the app from parent company Huawei), and combined with the heart rate tracking of the Honor Band 6, he excels once again here.
To get full info, you need to activate something called TruSleep, which impacts battery life, but it’s worth it. It not only breaks down your nighttime sleep into deep, light, and REM sleep, but also provides useful insight into the data and practical steps you can take to make your closed eye more refreshing.
Unlike most apps, which tend to just give you the data and leave you there, Huawei Health shows you the average for each sleep stage and then lets you tap into it for more useful information. From this I can tell you that last night most of my settings were normal except REM sleep which was abnormally high and deep sleep continuity which was low. Tapping on the latter tells me that I can fix this with a number of lifestyle, schedule, and diet changes. Useful! This is without a doubt one of the best sleep tracking implementations I’ve seen.
Follow-up of the activity on the honor group 6
In all, the Honor Band 6 can track ten forms of exercise with varying degrees of utility – although six of them are indoor / outdoor variations of the same exercise. These are outdoor and treadmill running, outdoor and indoor walking, outdoor and indoor cycling, pool swimming, elliptical training, rowers and the tote bag.
Those without a connected GPS will estimate calories burned based on your time and heart rate, and it works just as well as any other tracker – that is, it’s OK, but with nowhere so much useful data. that you get from a GPS tracked race. Nonetheless, it’s useful if you want to keep track of how much exercise you’re doing at raw time, of course.
Running with Honor Group 6
For my first three runs with the Honor Band 6, I patiently waited for it to lock onto the GPS of my connected Samsung Galaxy S10e, but gave up after a few minutes. Running without GPS was predictable, but always so: Three runs followed at 5 km by my Garmin Forerunner 245 came in at 3.9, 3.91 and 3.94 km on the Honor Band 6.
I contacted Honor to question this and – bomb! – this feature has been said to not work on most Android handsets and will only work if you have an iPhone or a handset made by Honor or Huawei. Suffice it to say, it’s not something the company has gone out of its way to publicize – it’s not on the box or, as far as I know, on the official website.
No explanation was provided and who knows if this will ever be corrected? Honor reps stressed that the group will display stats accurately if you start a workout from the app on your phone, which isn’t ideal but better than nothing.
I continued to test with the Honor 9X Pro phone and can report that if you have a compatible handset it works fine. It locked onto the GPS even faster than with my Garmin watch, and the distance was within 0.02 miles of it on two separate 5-mile runs.
While GPS accuracy is fine with a compatible handset (although your mileage literally varies, as the group outsources tasks to your phone), other aspects are less satisfying. For starters, while the distance was about the same as my Garmin’s, the pace was generous during runs, suggesting an average pace of 5min 40sec per mile, when the Garmin (accurately) set it closer to six. If you’re the type of person who uses your laptop to keep up with your pace, that’s not overly helpful.
Also, while the screen is larger than most fitness trackers and manages to fit in three decent metrics per screen, these can’t be customized as far as I know. This means that at a glance, you only get heart rate, distance, and time without swiping the screen up – a tricky maneuver to perform while running.
Battery life on the Honor Band 6
The battery life of the Honor Band 6 is on top with the best of its price cohort. Honor promises typical use of two weeks, rising to ten days if you frequently use connected GPS, TruSleep, continuous heart rate monitoring, and automatic stress tests.
It was perfect in my experience and I was happy with how quickly it recharges via the included magnetic fast charger which will give you three days of use from a ten minute charge.
Should you buy something else?
While my experience has been positive with the right phone, I would recommend Android users to look elsewhere. Not being able to use connected GPS conveniently from your phone is a deciding factor for me. After all, half the reasons I wear a running watch is to avoid the rigmarole of pressing go on an app and then awkwardly trying to put the phone back in my pocket or armband on the way out! While it doesn’t matter to you if you don’t plan on using the feature, it’s probably best to buy a tracker without a compatibility issue, like a Fitbit Inspire 2, Samsung Galaxy Fit 2, or a Xiaomi Mi Band 6. to name just three.
If you are an iPhone user or one of the few UK Huawei / Honor users, the Honor Band 6’s many charms shine a bit more clearly. It’s beautiful, comfortable and good value for money. For that reason, it’s worth a look – but only if you think its sleek frame makes it more appealing than paying around £ 25 for the Xiaomi Mi Band 6.