When is a fitness tracker no longer just a fitness tracker? This might sound like the beginnings of a joke, but it’s actually the question we asked ourselves when we tested the all-new Honor Band 6. With its lightweight design and moulded strap-width display, the Honor Band 5 was very much a no-frills fitness tracking band. But its successor now boasts a larger, more modular display and a few extra features too. While it’s still very much an affordable fitness tracker, it also looks a hell of a lot like a more advanced smartwatch.
The sudden evolutionary leap in the Band line might, in some part, be due to Honor parting ways with Huawei – it was sold by the Chinese tech giant back in November 2020. Under Huawei’s auspices, Honor was very much positioned as its budget-friendly sub-brand. (You’ll still need to use the Huawei Health app to make full use of the Band 6’s features). Perhaps now, though, Honor’s plan is to start to make flashier devices at a greater price – since the Band 6 is significantly more expensive than the Band 5.
So the real question we should be asking ourselves is this: does the Honor Band 6 justify that mark-up in its price? We wore the Band 6 for several days and tried out its various features – here’s their verdict on how it performed. If you’re on the hunt for a smartwatch in this price category, don’t miss our Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 review.
- Honor Band 6 review: summary
- What is the Honor Band 6?
- How much is Honor Band 6?
- Honor Band 6 set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The Honor Band 6 does occasionally overreach – most noticeably in a decidedly iffy stress-tracking function – but it redeems itself by offering a reliable set of other functions, a smooth and lag-free UI, and an impressive charging speed. It’s by no means our favourite budget fitness tracker, but the Honor Band 6 is still worth its asking price.
The Honor Band 6 is currently available to buy at Amazon.
The Honor Band 6 is the company’s latest generation in the Band line. Honor has always historically set its sights on the budget-friendly smartwatch market, with the flagship Honor Watch GS Pro notably cheaper than equivalents from Apple, Samsung and Fitbit. Price-wise, the Band 6’s closest equivalents are the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 and the Xiaomi Mi Smart Watch Lite.
What does the Honor Band 6 do?
Here’s a run-down of the various functions and features you’ll find in the Honor Band 6:
- The Honor Band 6 will track and report a number of stats: heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep and stress. For this, you’ll need to install the Huawei Health app on your phone.
- This smartwatch also offers cycle tracking for female users, but it’s limited to Android users.
- There are ten pre-set workout routines that will track and analyse your performance.
- Call, text, email and social media notifications are relayed from your paired smartphone.
- Weather reports are also available.
The Honor Band 6 is on sale with an RRP of £44.99.
Is Honor Band 6 good value for money?
Yes – but only just. It should be noted that the Honor Band 5 has an RRP of £29.99, so that means the Band 6 is 50% more expensive – even for a piece of budget tech, that’s quite the price hike.
The jump in price seems to be explained by two main things: the larger display, which we found to be a worthwhile addition, and some additional tracking features, which we were less fond of – read on to find out more.
In design, the Honor Band 6 is pretty anonymous and functional-looking, but that’s what we would expect of an entry-level wearable. At this price point, this isn’t the sort of smartwatch that you pick out to match your favourite top. We did, however, appreciate the selection of display designs that come included in the watch, including the retro-looking one that you see at the top of this article.
Despite the change in design, the Band 6 is still a slender wearable that might look a bit odd on chunkier wrists. But its display – as Honor proudly advertises – is 148% bigger than that of the previous watch in the Band line. This new watch features a display that measures 1.47 inches (3.7cm) diagonally, and it’s a more-than-welcome upgrade.
It still has its limits: only truncated excerpts of emails and texts are displayed on the screen. But the larger screen size pays off with the data visualisation that’s offered in the heart rate, SpO2, sleep and stress graphs, which are clear and easy to manipulate via the touchscreen (you can toggle between day, week, month and year views of these ongoing stats).
There’s also the core target display, which is clearly, ahem, ‘inspired’ by Apple’s three-ring system. In Honor’s case, these three data sets (steps made, distance covered, exercise undertaken) are strictly horseshoe in shape – but they do exactly the same and are just as useful as visual cues of your daily targets.
It’s a watch that will fit nice and snugly (as it needs to) on even the spindliest of wrists, and there are three colour schemes available: Meteorite Black, Coral Pink and Sandstone Grey, the last of which we tested.
We found that the majority of the Band 6’s features performed exceptionally well. As soon as it was on our wrist, it began its heart rate measuring. The following morning, we found a detailed report on our sleep quality too. It also automatically sensed before we went out on an evening run and recorded the performance without a hitch.
Unfortunately, the Band 6 let itself down in the form of a stress test that performed reliably but, frankly, felt like it was based on some dubious metrics. Rather than feeding back your stress levels in real-time via the display, the Band 6’s stress function can be accessed via the Huawei app – it will give you a snapshot of where your stress levels are at. To get it up and running, you’ll need to ‘calibrate’ the tool – to do this, you’ll need to agree or disagree with ponderous statements like ‘I don’t see any meaning in life.’
Without casting aspersions on the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, we’re not convinced such existential questions can be legitimately answered via multiple-choice, and certainly not one that doesn’t offer you a neutral or agnostic answer: you either agree, strongly agree, disagree or strongly disagree. When we tested ourselves on three separate occasions, it was nice to be told that we handle stress well. But it didn’t feel particularly rigorous – not compared to the stress-testing function in the (admittedly much more expensive) Fitbit Sense, which measures the electrical activity in your skin, a proven phenomenon in the fight-or-flight response.
There’s also an irony in the fact that a device that is supposed to help you regulate your stress is also one that will deliver a constant barrage of text, WhatsApp messages, email and social media notifications to your wrists. Luckily, should you want to (and we most certainly did), these notifications can be deactivated, and the vibration alert, which is pretty fierce, can be toggled from strong to weak.
The second disappointing feature came with the menstrual cycle tracker. This wasn’t something we were able to test – and not only because of our Y chromosomes but also because of our iPhone. A closer look at the small print on the Honor website explains it’s only available on Android 5.0.
What is the Honor Band 6 battery like?
Honor advertised the battery life as a maximum of 14 days in length. We found that after a week of sustained use, the power dropped from full to 40%, suggesting a battery of life of between 11 and 12 days: an encouraging result.
Better still is the quick-charge feature, which Honor proudly states as ‘Charge for 10 minutes, wear for 3 days’. We can tell you that after 10 minutes plugged in at the mains, the Honor Band 6 jumped from 39% to 76% in power. Like a lot of low-spec tech, what basic fitness trackers lack in bells and whistles, they typically make up for by being low-maintenance when it comes to battery life. The Band 6 is no exception.
Setup on our iPhone was a straightforward process that took less than five minutes.
Inside the outer blue and white box is another load of white packaging, in which you’ll find the Band 6 nestled and partially charged for immediate use. Beneath that is the magnetic charging cable, which measures an impressive 50cm in length. As is the norm these days, there’s no wall adaptor included, should you wish to charge at the mains.
You’ll need to download the Huawei Health app and then create an account before accessing its various features. (Best have some scales to hand: you’ll need to enter your weight). Although we found connecting the Band 6 to our iPhone via Bluetooth was hiccup-free, some ugly-looking formatting in the Health app suggested some deeper compatibility issues with iOS.
If you’re after a budget wearable with a larger display than the norm and some impressive core tracking features, the Honor Band 6 is a sound purchase. It might be pricier than the Band 5, but it’s still a great no-frills addition to your fitness routine. Just leave the stress-tracking feature alone: it won’t do you any favours.
Features (average): 3.5/5
Battery: 4 /5
Value for money: 3.5/5
Ease of set-up: 4/5
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Right now, the Honor Band 6 is only available on Amazon. But since the Honor Band 5 is stocked by the likes of Argos, Ryman and (refurbished at) OnBuy, we expect the 6 to become more widely available soon after its UK release.
Looking for a wearable that’s cheaper than usual? Don’t miss our pick of the best smartwatch deals.