Honor Band 5 Review: Adds ‘colours’ to boring workouts

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New Delhi | Updated: Aug 26, 2019 7:10 PM

Honor Band 5 takes on its rivals with a colour AMOLED display and a trendy design

In the overcrowded market for wearables, looking for a compelling fitness band is a Herculean task – especially when there is a plethora of manufacturers rallying to outdo each other. So far, we have had some interesting and value-for-money fitness bands from the likes of Xiaomi, Goqii, Lenovo, Huawei, and Honor. Honor has now introduced the Band 5 that puts a heart-rate sensor, a pedometer, and, interestingly, a colour AMOLED display in a fitness band that costs Rs 2,599.

As much lucrative as its pricing is, Honor Band 5 comes across as a stout Mi Band 3 rival that fits your pocket, brings the standard features of a fitness band, and goes in line with the conventional design. I have been using the Honor Band 5 as my fitness companion device and here’s what I think about it.

Design-wise, Honor Band 5 is not trying to break the monotony, yet it delivers a flavour of premium look that is usually not found in fitness bands at this pricing. It’s a long rectangular slab with a little arch to align with the wrist shape. There is a 0.95-inch colour AMOLED display with 2.5D protected glass, which is impressive at the price point. The colours are reasonable bright and give the band its liveliness. The sunlight legibility of the display is decent – however, the brightness needs to manually controlled. Wearable makers still have reservations over going for a colour display on their fitness bands as customers have often, unanimously, preferred functionality over such frills. Honor is taking a chance by trying to give a smartwatch feel to the Band 5. You can even change the watch faces on Band 5, which is rare in a band under Rs 3,000.

The display covers almost 3/4th of the footprint, while a major portion is covered by a capacitive button at the bottom. I am not sure why this button exists as the display is touchscreen and I could easily find my way around without even having to touch the button. I think the display could have used the space reserved for the button.

There is a black silicone strap nesting the display in the centre. The design includes slanted lines running across the band, which has a single loop and a good number of adjustment holes so that you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect fit for your wrist. I did not find wearing the band for long hours uncomfortable, however, it causes light itch at times. Although it is detachable, you would not need to remove the strap to charge the wearable. Instead, there is a charging dock bundled with the band that wirelessly charges it. While this charging mechanism is good, I’m afraid people tend to lose accessories, such as the dock. Battery on the Honor Band 5 is impressive – it lasts for more than three days on a single charge under normal usage.

The Honor Band 5 can be paired with an Android phone or an iPhone using the Huawei Health app. However easy it may sound, pairing the band is a little tricky. First, you need to charge the band for to be able to allow pairing – the button on the band serves no purpose here. Then, the Huawei Health app needs to refresh the list of devices, after which you will see Band 5. Tap on the name of the band and wait for the band to prompt you with a pairing alert. The moment you tap it, the pairing begins. If there’s an update available, you can install it via Huawei Health app over a Bluetooth connection.

The fitness features on the Honor Band include workout tracking, steps counting, heart rate measurement, and synchronisation with the notifications for calls, messages on the paired phone. You cannot reply to the message notifications or pick up calls but, strangely, reject the incoming calls. There is no time gap between the notifications arriving on the phone and the band. You cannot control music either on the band, which, I think, may drive some buyers away. The wearable also lets you find your paired phone by ringing it, in case you’ve misplaced it.

Coming to the steps counter, it is mostly accurate except for the times when I’m driving a bike slowly on a jam-packed road and it mistakes it for a short walking session. This is, essentially, a quibble that I have with nearly all the fitness bands. You can begin a workout by choosing one from the menu displayed on the band or using the Huawei Health app. But if you don’t, it will automatically determine the workout, given your current bodily movements, which, to my observation, was not always correct.

The heart rate sensor gives acceptable readings, but I have found them dissimilar from other bands quite a few times. There is a single BPM reading, which could only be used for your reference to calculate your health quotient in the app. Also, the app lets you choose if you want the band to continuously measure your heart rate or do that less frequently. You can also enable the setting that would alert you when your resting heart rate, which needs to be predefined in the app, stays above the set limit for over 10 minutes. Sadly, there is no such feature for drop in heart beat rhythms measured by the Honor Band 5.

Honor Band 5 shows a detailed progress chart for my sleep. The REM time and non-REM time durations in my sleep were properly marked in the app, giving weightage to the overall information on my sleep. I liked how the entire sleep time was duly categorised on the basis of important sleep stages. If you have been staying awake for longer than the average time you’d usually sleep at, Honor Band 5 alerts you to go to sleep.

Honor Band 5 is a compelling option if you are in the market looking for a good fitness band. You get an impressive display with the option to change watch faces. Basic fitness features are spot on. Heart-rate sensing is reliable too. But there are a few tradeoffs that you may have to make, such as no option to quickly reply to notifications or control media playback. These are not really required if you want a band that can key in your workout data and log it for you to glance it over when referencing to your health regime. For Rs 2,599, Honor Band 5 deserves your money and desire to flaunt a fitness band.

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