Honor Band 5 enters a competitive field at a time when it seems that absolutely everyone and their mum is fully embracing the fitness wave. It’s been exceedingly difficult for anyone other than Garmin or Fitbit to shift significant numbers of fitness bands. Xiaomi and Samsung have both made efforts to gain a foothold but neither has made much of a mark in this tech category. It’s gotten so bad that the “Fitbit” brand name has become interchangeable for much of the general public when referring to smartbands.
Honor, being the rebels that they are, have returned to try and crack the market again with the Honor Band 5 “Smartband”, a band that promises to compete not only with other bands but also tempt people on the fence when it comes to smart watches.
- Up to 2-week battery life (100mAh)
- Bold AMOLED display
- 24-hour real-time optical heart rate monitor
- Versatile full-colour watch face designs via app store
- 50m depth water resistance + swim stroke counter
- Huawei TruSleep monitoring and quality assessment
- Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC
Honor Band 5 – Design
The Honor Band 5 is sleek with a rectangular face that’s covered in scratch-resistant 2.5D glass, giving it softly contoured edges. The top two thirds of the face house a 0.95-inch AMOLED full-colour display (282 PPI). The bottom third features a circular soft key. As mentioned in the intro, the Band 5 is being positioned at watch wearers too. And to help it crossover, Honor has created an all-new watch face store for Android users. With a wide variety of full-colour faces available, the Band 5 becomes a much more versatile device. One that can follow you to the gym, but also to work and to an evening out.
Honor Band 5 – Features
What do most people want from smartbands? Sleep tracking? Heart rate monitor? Physical activity planner and tracker? Calorie burn counter? The Band 5 does all of the above and more. Additional features include the ability to count swim-strokes, water resistance up to 50m, AI-powered TruSeen 3.0 heart rate monitoring + Infrared tech to continuously provide readings day and night. Furthermore, with an OTA update that began rolling out on September 29, the Band 5 gains the ability to remotely control music on your smartphone via Bluetooth (Android 5.0 and up) and can also provide an estimate of the wearer’s peripheral oxygen saturation (Sp02) levels. Although, Honor points out that its Sp02 monitor feature is not certified by a medical body. Do not rely on it for legitimate medical instruction. We haven’t had enough time to test these features, but we will provide an update when we can.
Honor Band 5 is designed to track 10 physical activities and uses a 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope combo to take its measurements. But sadly lacks GPS. Its integrated silicone strap fits comfortably. It didn’t irritate the skin and weighing less than 20g it’s so light that it’s barely noticeable during exercise. This represents an advantage over most smart watches, which are heavier and take up more wrist real estate. Inconspicuous is precisely what you want from any fitness tracking device.
Honor Band 5 – Performance
We paired the Band 5 with both the Honor 20 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro – both were equally straightforward. Connecting and setting up the Huawei Health app on the Honor phone was smoother. That’s because it was already logged into a linked Huawei account and app store. No surprises there. There’s a selection of eight default faces to choose from, ranging from fairly basic to bold, more stylish designs. Some provide quick visibility of steps and calories walked and burnt for example. The screen is easy to read in direct sunlight, even without being on full brightness. This is great for the longevity of its battery. It can also detect low light situations and can dim the display accordingly.
Swiping up or down on the face of the Band 5 provides access to its numerous functions. This includes basic menu options like brightness, faces, timer, stopwatch, screen-on, find phone, battery and system settings. The Band 5 also provides weather and message notifications (but no emoji). It will also let you answer or reject calls.
Honor Band 5 promises up to two weeks battery life depending on usage (based on lab conditions). However, we got up to 5 days of continuous use on average from a single charge while testing its features. Charging back to full to about an hour. But those five days does include sleep tracking, which is one of our favourite things about the Honor Band 5. Another neat energy-saving feature is that you have visibility of efforts while working by simply raising the watch. So there’s no less to leave the 5 minute Screen-on function active when training.
Tracking and monitoring
There are sleep tracking apps and devices that start at a couple of pounds right the way up to hundreds. But the Band 5 combined with the free Huawei Health App does such a good job at monitoring three phases of sleep; light, REM and deep sleep. Along with providing tips for helping you improve your sleep cycles. That the combo is worth at least half of its full price if that was the only thing it offered. The health app can even give you a nudge if you’ve been sedentary at your desk for too long and suggest drinking water at key times.
Nitpicking, it appears that the watch can be reluctant to wake once off manually without plugging it in to charge. So you’ve got to leave it on or take your charger with you if you plan on turning it off or allowing it to completely discharge. Other minor issues included the screen responsiveness when operating after swimming. The screen locks when submerged, which is good, but operating it with wet fingertips once you’re out is frustrating. Touch displays still aren’t ready for wet touch control, so it’s best to wipe the face and your hands with a dry towel before operating.
We found that the Band 5 reliably tracked the four strokes that its compatible with (front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly). The Huawei Health app collects and displays helpful data, including calories burned, swim length as well as lap and stroke count, with averages of stroke performance. Its step counter was equally reliable, but as mentioned above, it doesn’t have GPS so if you leave your mobile phone behind, there’s no way of accurately recording your jogging/walking/cycling distance or location.
Honor Band 5 – Verdict
If you’re casually into fitness and you were wondering why you should bother with a smartband when you’ve got a watch, the Band 5 provides an attractive answer. It adequately delivers standard smartwatch functionality as well as a comprehensive fitness and health package via the Huawei Health App. At £30, it’s hard to find a better option than the Honor Band 5 if you’re in the market for a fitness band.