Huawei Fit review

A fitness watch not fully fit for the job

The Huawei Fit is the fitness watch successor to the Huawei Band and essentially the Honor S1 just under a different name. The screen-packing wearable is part fitness tracker, smartwatch and sports watch that you won't have to pay a premium to get your hands on it.

It'll count your steps, log sleep and also tracks a handful of sports with a heart rate monitor in tow to measure your workout intensity. At $130, it's not going to break the bank, but does put it in the same pricing realms as the Fitbit Charge 2.

Essential reading: The best fitness trackers to buy right now

It's got a pretty big job on its hands convincing someone to go for the iOS and Android-friendly fitness watch over a Fitbit, Misfit or Withings tracker. So does it do enough to impress? We've been using the Huawei Fit for the past month to find out.

Huawei Fit: Design and comfort

Huawei Fit review

While the Fit doesn't exactly break the design mould, we've actually grown to like its minimalist look. There's no physical buttons breaking up the streamlined body with a aluminium casing and soft, watch-style 18mm band that gives it a very Pebble Time Round feel as far as stature and the space it'll accommodate on your wrist. It's light as well at just 35g and we found it very comfortable to wear 24/7.

There's a few different coloured bands on offer and the orange band we had is certainly the loudest and sportiest of the bunch. They're also interchangeable too with a mechanism around the back to remove them if you prefer a more understated look.

Huawei Fit review

The Fit's focal point is the circular 1.04-inch, memory LCD always-on monochrome screen that's surrounded by a sizeable bezel hogging up some of that potential extra space. For the simplistic nature of the menu screens, the small screen is a decent fit. It offers good visibility outdoors and there's a backlight to aid your night-time workout sessions. It's not the brightest, but we're glad it made the cut.

There's a big problem when you need to interact with the screen, though. While Huawei's recent software update has improved the responsiveness, overall it's still a mess. It doesn't handle sweaty fingers well at all making it a nightmare to use during workouts. Switching between data screens or even trying to end a tracked workout session is often a fiddly and ultimately frustrating experience.

Something that the Fit does have in its favour is the fact it's waterproof to a IP68/5 ATM rating so you can go swimming with it. That's little consolation when the display is such a nightmare to use.

Huawei Fit: Activity tracking

Huawei Fit review

In terms of fitness tracking, don't expect anything out of the ordinary from the Fit. There's a 3-axis accelerometer and a six-axis accelerometer and gyrometer motion sensor setup to track steps, measure distance and estimate calories burned. Unfortunately, it was often quite a way out from the fitness trackers we paired it up against. We always allow for some degree of difference in step count as all companies use their own algorithms to crunch the data, but it was noticeably higher on the Fit.


These motion sensors are also used to log sleep, which on the whole matched the Withings Aura and TomTom Spark 3's automatic sleep tracking for accuracy but offered limited data.

What's more disappointing is the sports tracking. There's the option to track running, cycling, walking, treadmill and swimming but it's mainly optimised for running. There's no GPS on board here so you're relying on the other motion sensors to record the data or your smartphone and that's a problem. On several runs against the TomTom Spark 3 GPS sports watch it was at times 2-3 miles off the pace. Data that's viewable on the watch itself is pretty limited as well. I wouldn't feel comfortable relying on it for a run tracking session again.

Huawei Fit: Heart rate tracking

Huawei Fit review

One of the few positives somewhat surprisingly is the performance of the optical PPG heart rate sensor. While we've had a pretty underwhelming experience with the majority of wrist based heart rate monitors, the Fit actually stands up to be one of the better ones we've tried.

Huawei isn't doing anything drastically different on this front from a technical perspective. It still uses a light based sensor that flashes against the skin to detect blood volume and relay the heart rate data.

You can toggle continuous readings on or off to deliver on the spot readings and resting heart rate data, which can be useful if you how to interpret the data. Huawei doesn't do a particularly good job of that but the readings are at least reliable based on our experience.

Huawei Fit review

Left to right: Huawei Wear app (left and centre) and Polar Beat (right)

You can also use the heart rate sensor during sports tracking sessions giving you real time BPM readings. We put it up against the Polar H7 heart rate chest strap and was pleasantly surprised how well it did, even with high intensity training. You can see from the screenshots below of an interval training session on a treadmill that graphs were pretty consistent and there was only a 1bpm difference in the average heart rate data readings.

Huawei Fit: Notifications

The Fit does do notifications although it's nothing to write home about. You can customise alerts from the app including native and third party applications like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. While the range of notification support is welcome, it's all a little wasted when they appear on the watch face.

That small display and big bezel means there's little room for notifications to be displayed in a really useful way. Unless it's the briefest of updates, you're going to have to wait to scroll through the message before you know whether it's worth breaking from your workout. You're better off reaching for your smartphone instead.

Huawei Fit: App

Huawei Fit review

When it's time to review data, adjust watch settings or even set up workout plans, you'll need to head to the Huawei Wear iOS or Android app. It's a pretty consistent experience across both platforms and while on the surface it looks great, it doesn't take very long to realise that it's a very clunky experience.

At first glance everything seems to be well laid out with steps, exercise tracking, heart rate information, sleep tracking data given the snapshot view treatment on the main home screen.

Huawei Fit review

It's just a shame syncing that data is so temperamental. It's been a long time since I've had to experience the kind of issues I had getting the data from the Fit into the app. Despite using it for than a month, it's failed to save a huge amount of my workouts. That's further compounded by the fact that workout history feels buried away that makes it very difficult to locate. Intuitive this most definitely is not. These are the kind of basics even budget fitness trackers get right and Huawei really disappoints on this front.

It's a bit of shame because there are some elements that I do really like here. You do get some third party app support albeit only from a handful of apps (Jawbone, MyFitnessPal and Google Fit). The running training plans are a nice touch as well. While you're not going to get the same level of sophistication you get from the customisable running programs you get from Polar or on the Adidas MiCoach platform, the plans are easy to follow and one of the few things that reliably syncs back to the watch.

Huawei Fit: Battery life

Another one of the few positives is the battery life. There's an 80mAh battery on board that doesn't sound all that impressive, but will get you six days making regular use of all the core features.

When you factor in the lack of a colour display that's perhaps not all that surprising that it can go the distance. It's really down to the optical heart rate monitor to sap the power, which can thankfully be turned off. Huawei promises 30 days in standby and we have every confidence that it's capable of going the distance.


Huawei Fit
By Huawei
The Huawei Fit is an ambitious device that tries to cram in a lot for a really affordable price. But if you're asking me whether you should buy this over a similarly priced Fitbit, Withings or Garmin tracker, my answer would be no. Aside from the surprisingly decent heart rate tracking performance, there's so many reasons to avoid this fitness watch. The screen issues alone are reason enough to leave this one on the shelf. If you want a fitness tracker with a screen that offers largely the same features, go for a Fitbit Charge 2 or a Garmin Vivosmart HR instead. You'll only regret it you spend your money on what Huawei has served up.

Hit
  • Slim, light and comfortable to wear
  • Surprisingly reliable heart rate tracking
  • Strong battery life
Miss
  • Temperamental navigating display
  • Inaccurate distance tracking
  • Constant syncing issues


What do you think?

Reply to
Your comment