I haven’t reviewed a wearable for a while, as I’ve been perfectly content with my ageing Amazfit Bip, but I can’t claim to be into technology without looking at other products from time to time.
When Honor gave me a Band 5 to check out, I was immediately impressed based solely on the price.
This band is on sale at £29.99, and I’ve heard that come Black Friday you may even be able to snag one for just £20.
It would surely have to be pretty awful not to be worth £20-30, but during my time with the Band 5 I realised it is punching well above its weight with a series of cool features that I would have expected to cost more money.
My own needs are quite basic; Simple fitness tracking, including heart rate monitoring, access to basic notifications, good battery life and an always-on display.
Well, from the off, the Band 5 struggles on the last two. There’s no always-on display, although you can extend the screen-on time manually.
Secondly, the battery is claimed in the marketing material to last up to 14 days but in reality it falls somewhat short.
Not that anyone is likely to be surprised by this.
Nobody likely expects to achieve the maximum battery life on any wearable, as the figures are calculated on minimal usage, with most of the features you’d want the product for being turned off.
My Amazfit Bip can offer up to 45 days usage, but in reality I get around 5-6 days with the features I want and need enabled.
In the case of the Band 5, my experience has been a need to charge every 3, or possibly as long as 4, days.
But that’s with the heart rate monitoring permanently enabled, plus sleep tracking.
And compared to most smart watches, that’s still pretty good. It certainly means you don’t need to charge it before you go to bed every day, losing the ability to use sleep tracking.
Sleep tracking is important for me, and the Huawei TruSleep technology inside tracks just about everything you could need, as well as detecting any naps you might take during a day.
By contrast, my Amazfit Bip only captured a fraction of the metrics, and only at night (sleep in the day and it wasn’t detected at all).
The 0.95-inch AMOLED display is nice and bright, making it highly visible outdoors, and there are a reasonable number of watch faces to choose from, both on the watch out of the box and via the Huawei Health app you’ll need to install on your phone.
I was surprised to see only one analogue watch face that had a second hand, while many don’t even include the date. I would certainly hope that as time goes on, more faces are added, or the option to add your own.
It seems the Health app in China offers the ability to create custom faces, which needs to become a thing here.
Whether selling for £20 or £200, I want the freedom to customise as I choose.
It’s also important to note that this watch, and the Huawei Health app, doesn’t allow you to set up user profiles or share your workouts with friends, or compete with them. Nor does it have a load of export options to other applications.
Think of it as a self-contained app that works for you, and possibly one of the reasons it is cheaper than almost all rival products. That’s not to say such functionality couldn’t be added at a later date because the watch can be updated.
Keeping up to date
During my time with the Band 5, Honor released an over-the-air update that adds Pulse Oxygen Saturation monitoring and remote music control.
The former can give you an indication of whether you have sufficient energy to your muscles, or should consider holding off the exercise.
If the blood oxygenation falls, it can be an alert to seek medical attention.
The music player screen gives you a remote control for various music apps on your phone, whether Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube or pretty much anything that enables the usual controls accessed via the lock screen or pull-down menu.
When it comes to charging, the bundled adapter (which can be connected to any USB-A port) is a little tricky to attach (it uses a clip rather than a magnetic connection) but at least it doesn’t require popping anything out to charge separately, such as the Xiaomi fitness bands.
The strap itself is rubber and while it can be taken swimming (indeed this is one of the many tracking modes it features), it’s wise to ensure you dry it off properly so there’s no risk of getting a rash.
The design of the Band 5 negates the ability to change strap, reminiscent perhaps of the early Fitbit models that ultimately died when the strap split.
For the money you really can’t go far wrong. The Band 5 represents amazing value for all of the functionality packed into such a small wearable device.
As long as you accept it as a self-contained device, along with the need to charge more than the advertising might suggest, you’ll be perfectly content.
And if you can bag one for an even cheaper price before Christmas, all the better!
The Band 5 represents amazing value for all of the functionality packed into such a small wearable device