Honor Band 6 review: a top budget fitness tracker

A really likeable cheap fitness tracker
Honor Band 6
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If you're looking for a budget fitness tracker, the Honor Band 6 boasts plenty of health and fitness features at a great price.

The Band 6 is follow-up to the Honor Band 5, a budget fitness tracker that scored a deserved 4/5 when we reviewed back in 2019.

Two years later, it's been updated to offer a fuller rich fitness tracking experience, with a new-look design and affordable price tag.

We've fully tested the Honor Band 6 – here's our verdict.

Honor Band 6: Price and competition

Priced at £44.99, that's a little jump in price from the Honor Band 5 (£29.99). It's tricky to pick up directly from Honor's website in the US and the UK right now, but you can find it for that price on Amazon.

That puts it in the realms of budget trackers like the Xiaomi Mi Band 6, Amazfit Band 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Fit 2. It's cheaper than the Fitbit Inspire 2 (£89.99), Fitbit's cheapest available tracker and half the price of the new Fitbit Luxe.

Honor Band 6: Design and screen

Honor Band 6 Design and screen

It's worth remembering that while Honor started life as an off-shoot from Huawei, the two separated back in 2020.

It seems though that with the Band 6 at least, it's still adopting a design approach that mirrors Huawei's. It uses the same software and Huawei Health companion app to get things set up.

The Band 6's design is a departure from the Band 5 and much closer in look to the Honor Watch ES smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid that launched in 2020.

You're getting a black 43mm sized case that measures in at 11mm thick and weighs just 18g. That's paired up with a non-removable strap and you've got the strap color options of black, grey or pink.

We had the grey version with the black case to live with, which feels sporty, a little plain and not all that stylish, but it's been comfortable to wear, it wraps securely to your wrist and hasn't given us any reason to take it off.

Honor Band 6 strap and thickness

There's a solitary physical button on the right hand of the case and at the centre is the star of the show, that new screen.

The Band 6 offers a larger 1.47-inch, 194 x 368 resolution AMOLED touchscreen display with tempered glass adding some extra protection. That's a big jump up from the slim 0.95-inch display, but not quite as big or as impressive as the 1.64-inch screen packed onto the Watch ES.

That extra screen estate is welcomed though and means it's easier to absorb data and actually means Honor can fit more on that display for you to look at.

It's a strong quality AMOLED screen as well that can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet and can struggle for visibility in bright outdoor light. Overall though, it's a really good screen to find on a tracker at this price.

Honor Band 6 heart rate monitor

With that larger, wider screen in place, it does share a lot of similarities with the new Huawei Band 6. Huawei's tracker though does appear to offer a case similar to that used on the Huawei Watch Fit and provide more strap color options too.

It's still one you can jump in the pool with or keep on when you have a shower as it does have a 5ATM water resistant rating, making it suitable to be submerged in water up to 50 metres depth.

While it's not necessarily the most stylish tracker out there, that bigger screen and comfortable fit are definitely reasons to like what the Band 6 is bringing.

Honor Band 6: Fitness tracking

Honor Band 6 activity tracking

The Honor Band 6 like its predecessor is built primarily to deliver those core features of tracking steps and automatically monitoring sleep.

You'll find accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors to help deliver that and giving you step counts, distance covered and can keep track of your active hours. For sleep, there's Huawei's TruSleep sleep tracking software to capture sleep duration, stages, sleep scores and offer sleep quality insights too.

For daily activity tracking, you can view progress from watch faces that can display stats and from the daily activity tracking widget. Head to the Activity records menu as well to expand on those stats to see your activity trends over the week. You get a lot of data on the device itselft which should help you spend less time in the companion app.

step comparison

Step tracking compared: Honor Band 6 (left) and Garmin Enduro (right)

From an accuracy point of view, we found it was generally 100-200 steps within the daily step counts on Fitbit's Sense smartwatch.

The Honor Band 6 throws out inactivity alerts to keep you moving during the day, and the bigger screen makes it's harder to ignore them. Those prompts tell you to move, and quite uniquely, will also remind you to get up and walk after a meal.

In the app, you can see what activities those steps were generated from and you can view trends over larger periods like months and years.

When it's time for bed, there is a sleep menu on the Band to see most recent sleep and nap time tracked with more data found inside of that Huawei Health app. In the app, you can see a breakdown of sleep stages and along with a sleep score, which offers some insight into your sleep quality.

Honor Band 6 sleep data vs fitbit

Sleep tracking compared: Honor Band 6 (left) and Fitbit (centre and right)

We tested the sleep tracking against a Fitbit Sense, which we consider to be the gold standard. You can see a side-by-side comparison above.

We found that the Band 6's sleep tracking on the whole delivered similar data. Sleep duration and was usually was within 20-30 minutes of the Sense recording that time spent asleep.

Sleep scores were generally 10 points higher, indicating a much better quality of sleep while deep, light and REM sleep stages were slightly longer. It was usually an hour more of deep and light sleep time recorded in our testing.

While the data didn't match up, the data felt like a good reference point and did offer a largely reliable picture of sleep time. The insights used alongside sleep scores that tell you about quality of sleep and why you might have had a good or bad sleep felt useful to have here as well.

In addition to those fitness tracking features, Honor does also offer guided breathing exercises, which has become a bit of a staple for trackers over the last few years. These can be followed on the band and you can adjust the pace of the breathing exercises that last no longer than 3 minutes. There's also a female cycle tracker feature here too, which does offer an on-band experience, letting users see upcoming fertile windows.

Honor Band 6: Sports tracking

Honor Band 6 Sports tracking

If you want a fitness tracker that goes beyond steps and sleep, the Honor Band 6 give you some sports tracking skills to tap into as well.

There's 10 workout modes in total and that includes running (indoor and outdoor), cycling (indoor and outdoor), pool swimming, elliptical machine, indoor rowing walking and a freestyle workout mode. There's the usual motion sensor on board to track activities and for outdoor time, you can make use of connected GPS to map those routes.

If you like the idea of the tracker knowing when to start working tracking for you, there's automatic exercise recognition for running, walking, indoor rowing and elliptical sessions.

On the tracker, you've got the Workout screen to start tracking, Records to view workout history and with that bigger screen, it makes for a much better tracking experience than the Band 5. It can fit more on that display and make it easier to absorb information on the move, which is the real appeal here.

Honor Band 6 swimming data

Swim tracking compared: Honor Band 6 (left) and Form Swim Goggles (right)

On the accuracy front, we've run, swum, cycled (indoors) and used it for indoor rowing and in general performed well. For rowing, it tracked identical average stroke rate and just slightly more total strokes. In the pool, screen visibility in the water was very good and tracking accuracy held up well against Form's Swim Goggles.

Honor Band 6 running data

Run tracking compared: Honor Band 6 (left and centre) and Garmin Enduro (right)

We used the run tracking with and without the connected GPS. Without it, it came up 1km short of a Garmin Enduro and run metrics were very inaccurate. With GPS in play (screens above), it was far more reliable and more in line with the data captured by our Garmin Enduro watch. You'll need to get things started on the app first though before you can start seeing those real-time metrics on the tracker's screen.

When you need to dig deeper into your stats you'll need to head over to the Huawei Health app. It's not the prettiest of apps, but it largely does a good job of breaking that data down in a way that's easy to digest.

Honor Band 6 review

Beyond the data though, there's also some useful running plans for 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon distances you can make use of here too. Those plans are powered through the app, so you'll need your phone with you on runs to use them, but is nice to see to have if you want some help to create more focused run training.

A word on that data, which can be shared to Google Fit, though fitness apps like Strava are not supported here.

Honor Band 6: Heart rate monitoring and SpO2

Honor Band 6 Heart rate monitoring and SpO2

Heart rate monitoring is often the achilles heel of most fitness trackers and it's something we've been critical of on Honor/Huawei wearables in the past, particularly for exercise. On the Band 6, you're getting Huawei's TruSeen 4.0 heart rate sensor technology to offer on the spot measurements, continuous monitoring, stress monitoring and heart rate data during exercise.

For that continuous and resting heart rate insights, it's a bit of a mix bag. Sometimes resting heart rate was 1-2bpm out from a dedicated heart rate monitor. On other occasions, the readings on the Band 6 against a heart rate monitor baked into a medical grade pulse oximeter were significantly higher.

Honor Band 6 daily heart rate data

All day heart rate: Honor Band 6 (left) and Garmin Enduro (right)

Our 45bpm resting heart rate came in at around 65bpm. It was a similar story against a Garmin watch, which offered similar data to the pulse oximeter. The data ranges of maximum and lowest heart rate readings for the day then were not hugely reliable.

Turning our attention to our exercise, and it's a case of handling less intense workouts well, but struggling at high intensity. On indoor rowing sessions in a mix of long rows and HIIT workouts, it generally delivered similar average and maximum heart rate readings. On steady paced runs, it was a similar story with maximum and heart rate monitoring readings at most 3bpm out from a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor.

Honor Band 6 running accuracy test

Heart rate during running: Honor Band 6 (left) and Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap (right)

When you up the intensity for activities like running and cycling intervals, the problems start to creep in and the data become less reliable.

Along with heart rate monitoring you're once again getting an SpO2 monitor here just like the Band 5 to measure blood oxygen levels as an indicator of your general wellness. Like the heart rate monitoring, it's not designed for medical use and is one to really use as a reference point for your health than anything else.

It's on the spot measurements only, so there's no support to continuously monitor blood oxygen levels, with readings stored in the Huawei Health app. We found that measurements were usually a couple of percent off a clinical grade iHealth pulse oximeter.

Honor Band 6: Smartwatch features

Smartwatch features

The Band 6 runs on proprietary OS that while isn't referred to as Huawei's Lite OS, looks very much like what you'll find on other Honor and Huawei watches and fitness trackers.

It works with Android phone and iPhone owners, but the most complete support is on offer for Android users. That gets you the ability to view notifications from native and third party apps. There's music controls (for Android users only), weather forecasts and remote camera shutter feature. You do have a collection of watch faces here too with the ability to add your own photos to create more personalised watch faces.

Honor Band 6 review

The bigger display inevitably means these features are a lot nicer to use. You can swipe up from the main watch screen to see your notification stream with app icons used to clearly identify where they're coming from. You can't respond to notifications and things like emails only show subject lines, but the experience worked well enough for us.

Features like music controls and weather forecasts are well optimised for that larger screen and getting around the software is pretty straightforward. For the price, the smartwatch features you get here work well. As we said, iPhone owners miss out on those music controls, but if you care about notifications, watch faces and weather updates, the Band 6 does a really solid job.


Honor Band 6: Battery life

Despite the jump in screen size, Honor is still promising weeks of battery life with its fitness tracker as opposed to days and it's capable of doing that.

There's an 180mAh capacity battery here, up from the 100mAh one used on the Honor Band 5 and that should deliver up to 14 days in typical usage and up to 10 days in heavy usage. That typical usage involves having continuous heart rate monitoring enabled and tracking just a single 30 minute workout a week. With heavy usage, that's adding in the more advanced sleep monitoring and working out for 60 minutes a week.

Our time was definitely more on the heavy side, regularly tracking indoor and outdoor workouts, having the screen to set to medium brightness and having that continuous heart rate monitoring and richer sleep monitoring turned on. The daily drop-off was anywhere from 5% on light usage and 10% on heavier usage days and was closer to the latter when using connected GPS. Using connected GPS for a 30 minute run saw battery drop by 3%.

So it's absolutely capable of managing up to 10 in this scenario. Ditch the heart rate monitoring, advanced sleep tracking, and track one or two workouts a week and there's every chance you can get longer and closer to that 14 days.

That's an improvement on the week we got with the Honor Band 5 in real-life testing, where Honor also promised up to 14 days when you restrict the use of some features.

When it does come to charging, there's a small proprietary charging cable that clips into the back of the Band 6. The nice thing here is that there's fast charging support here that gives you 3 days of battery life off just 10 minutes on the charger. That's really impressive stuff.


Honor Band 6
By Honor
The Honor Band 6 is a really likeable fitness tracker. It's clear that the Huawei equivalent will offer you a nicer overall look, but for the money, you're getting a solid fitness tracking experience overall. That larger display makes it a lot more enjoyable to use as well. It falters in the usual places most budget trackers do, but as a package, there's more that works than doesn't with the Band 6 to make it a strong alternative to Xiaomi, Samsung, Amazfit and even Fitbit's cheapest fitness trackers.

Hit
  • Nice, big display
  • Good battery life
  • Solid fitness tracking
Miss
  • Sporty look not for everyone
  • No built-in GPS
  • Heart rate accuracy for high intensity exercise