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Honor 5 Band Review: Few extras make it more fun than other entry-level rival fitness bands

Entry level fitness bands have been about making the basic fitness tracking capabilities available to users at really low prices. The screens are usually smaller, customisation options are limited and design is bland.

However, with the growing interest in fitness bands, OEMs in this space have been making some upgrades to entry level devices too. The likes of Goqii have even added a blood pressure monitor to their products.

The new Honor 5 Band, priced at 2,999, belongs to this new breed of fitness bands that offer colour screens that users can customise, and the design is just good enough to go with your everyday look.

The band has a slim and light form factor and the rubber strap feels comfortable against the skin. There is a cross pattern on the outer side and in the light colour variants. For instance, the blue version looks more stylish than bands with a plain strap.

At the top of the band’s central unit is a 0.95-inch AMOLED screen with a large circular touch-based home button next to it. We don’t see the point of this button when the screen already supports touch input and allows users to swipe to navigate and tap to select items they want. Perhaps Honor could have used that space to offer a bigger screen.

At the base of the unit is the optical heart-rate tracker. The watch straps are detachable but they are not as easy to take off. While that feels reassuring, it can be a bit frustrating. The good thing is that you don’t have to remove the strap to charge the watch. The band can be placed on the tiny charging dock without removing the strap.

The colour display adds life to the on-screen elements, be it watch faces, heart rate measurement or sleep tracking. The option to change watch faces from the band itself is something rivals don’t allow. This feature is usually found in smartwatches or more expensive fitness bands.

You can keep track of heart rate, time, steps, duration of sleep and even get message notifications on the screen. The Band 5 is fast and doesn’t feel laggy at any point. Battery backup is impressive. After 5 days of usage, we still had over 50% battery left. The Huawei health app on Android, when connected to the Band, syncs all the data and provides users an overview of everything from heart rate to steps and sleep quality to swimming performance over a week or month. This might change based on how many notifications you get, and how often you exercise etc. but the deviation shouldn’t be huge.

The watch is water-proof up to 50 metres, so users can keep it on while swimming or washing hands.

It also supports some cool gestures like lifting the hand to light up the screen. This comes in very handy when one has to see the time.

The Honor Band 5 costs slightly more than Xiaomi’s Mi Band 3 ( 1,999), but it also brings more to the table, like the slightly bigger and more colourful screen, the option to add watch faces and a more reassuring strap with a proper watch like buckle.

If you want an entry-level band with a blood pressure monitor, you can go for Goqii Vital ( 2,999). It is water resistant to up 50m and has a colour OLED screen but with lower resolution.

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