Honor Band 6 review: smart bracelet with a large AMOLED screen

The Honor Band 6 fitness bracelet came out more than a year and a half after the fifth version – probably due to the pandemic and the difficulties associated with it. But the changes compared to the 2019 model are immediately visible: the screen has become significantly larger. In this regard, the novelty is much closer to the Honor Watch ES. There are also functional innovations, the main of which is the appearance of the pulse oximeter (SpO2), which the Band 5 did not have, but the Watch ES had. We have carried out detailed testing.


Specifications Honor Band 6

  • Screen: AMOLED, touch, color, 1.47 ″, 194 × 368
  • Water protection: yes (5 atm)
  • Strap: detachable
  • Compatibility: devices based on Android 4.4+ / iOS 8.0+
  • Connection: bluetooth 5.0
  • Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, pulse oximeter
  • No camera
  • Internet: no
  • Microphone: no
  • Speaker: no
  • Indication: vibration signal
  • Battery: 180 mAh
  • Dimensions: 43x25x11mm
  • Weight 29g

The characteristics are quite standard and not very different from both the previous generations of the Honor Band and from competitors. The main exception is the large AMOLED screen, the diagonal of which has increased by about one and a half times compared to the Band 5. This is still smaller than that of the Watch ES, but still a lot. Well, since the volume of the case also increased, it was possible to install a larger battery. Just don’t think that this automatically means an increase in battery life, because the screen now consumes more power. Here we have to look at it in practice, which is what we will do.


Packaging

The bracelet came to us in a neutral box, mostly white, but with blue sides.

Honor Band 6

Inside is the bracelet itself, a quick start guide, a warranty card and a charging cable.

Honor Band 6

Note that this cable is a bit short – about 60 cm. I would definitely like more, and it is not clear what the manufacturer is guided by. However, this is typical of many wearable devices, sometimes in the box you can find a very short “tail” with a length of 45 cm.

Honor Band 6

Design

We can characterize the appearance of the bracelet as neutral. You cannot call it particularly stylish, but there is nothing striking either, the bracelet is universal.

Honor Band 6

First of all, attention is drawn to itself, of course, the large display. It occupies almost the entire frontal surface. The bezel around the image is rather narrow, and if you are using a dial with a black background, it is not visible at all.

Note also the slight rounding of the glass edges – a solution known as 2.5D. Not that it is very striking in this case, but when interacting with the bracelet, the rounding is felt.

Honor Band 6

The body is made of plastic. There are no metal inserts here, just as there is no attempt to disguise the plastic as metal. And this, on the one hand, is honest – they are not trying to convince us that the device is made of a more noble material. On the other hand, after all, the overall look turns out to be rustic, you can hardly wear such a device with a jacket, it is unpretentious casual.

Honor Band 6

On the right side of the device there is a single button “Home” / “Menu”, in the center of which there is a red stripe (apparently to make it more visible). And on the left side there is a large inscription Honor. What for? To be proud, of course.

Honor Band 6

Like the Honor Band 4 and Band 5, the strap has a standard watch-type clasp. The strap itself is silicone and detachable from the case. The problem is that, firstly, it detaches very tightly, you cannot do without improvised means, and secondly, since the mount is proprietary, it is impossible to buy universal third-party straps and use them with the Band 6.

Honor Band 6

On the back side of the case there are contacts for connecting a charger and optical sensors of heart rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Honor Band 6

The overall impression of the design is neither good nor bad, rather normal. The most interesting thing about the device is the screen. It catches your eye first, so we’ll test it in detail.


Screen

As already noted, the main feature of the bracelet is a rather large, by the standards of this form factor, AMOLED screen with a diagonal of 1.47 ″ and a resolution of 194 × 368. Therefore, we paid special attention to testing it. Below is the conclusion of Alexei Kudryavtsev.

The front surface of the screen is made in the form of a glass plate with a mirror-smooth surface, resistant to scratches. On the outer surface of the screen there is a special oleophobic (grease-repellent) coating (effective, noticeably better than that of Google Nexus 7 (2013)), so fingerprints are removed much easier, and appear at a slower speed than in the case of ordinary glass. Judging by the reflection of objects, the antiglare properties of the screen are no worse than those of the Google Nexus 7 2013 screen. For clarity, here is a photo in which a white surface is reflected in the switched off screens:

The bracelet’s screen is only slightly lighter (the brightness in the photos is 107 versus 105 for the Nexus 7) and does not have a pronounced shade. The reflection doubling is weak, which indicates that there is no air gap between the layers of the screen. In the settings there is a brightness control (5 steps). When the white field was displayed on the whole screen, the maximum value (5 on the scale) of brightness was 450 cd / m2, the minimum (1 on the scale) – 70 cd / m2. Taking into account the good anti-glare properties, such a maximum brightness will make it possible to see the image on the watch screen in conditions of strong illumination (a clear day outside). In flashlight mode, the screen brightness is increased to 470 cd / m².

There is significant modulation on the graphs of the brightness (vertical axis) versus time (horizontal axis), but the minimum of the brightness value does not decrease to 0:

With a quick eye movement or in a test for a stroboscopic effect, flickering is visible, and the brightness clearly decreases to 0, apparently, the modulation phase is distributed over the zones, and several zones fall into the sensor’s field of view. However, such flickering is unlikely to lead to increased fatigue, especially given the fact that there is no point in looking at this screen for a long time.

This screen uses an AMOLED matrix, an active matrix organic light-emitting diode (OLED). A full-color image is created using subpixels of three colors – red (R), green (G) and blue (B) in equal numbers, which is confirmed by a fragment of the micrograph:

The spectra are typical for OLED – the areas of primary colors are well separated and appear as relatively narrow peaks:

Accordingly, the coverage is noticeably wider than sRGB. Note that the colors of conventional images optimized for devices with sRGB screens appear unnaturally saturated on screens with a wide gamut without appropriate correction:

Pay attention to the tomatoes and the shade of the girl’s face. The color temperature of the white and gray field is approximately 7500 K, and the deviation from the spectrum of a black body (ΔE) varies from 3 to 5 units depending on the brightness. The color balance, at least in the white field, is good. Black is just black at all angles. It is so black that the contrast setting is not applicable in this case. When viewed from a perpendicular view, the uniformity of the white field is excellent. True, when deviated even at small angles, the white color acquires a light blue-green tint. The screen has excellent viewing angles with much less brightness drop when viewed from an angle compared to LCD screens. In general, the quality of the screen can be considered very high.


Software and features

Let’s see what the bracelet is capable of. To work, it must be connected to the mobile application “Huawei Health”, which is well known to us from other devices of the manufacturer.

There are no surprises here, so we will not dwell on general descriptions in detail, but go straight to the most interesting – training, measuring the level of oxygen in the blood, sleeping and working with dials.


Workouts

The Honor Band 6 has the same 10 training modes as the Honor Band 5. Except that they can be called a little differently: for example, here it is not “walking indoors”, but simply “walking”, not “free training”, but “other”. Here’s a complete list:

  • running on the street
  • Treadmill
  • walking in the street
  • bicycling
  • exercise bike
  • swimming in the pool
  • walking
  • rowing machine
  • ellipse
  • other

As before, in most of them you can track your heart rate, including setting threshold values, the achievement of which the bracelet should signal.

However, the number itself – 10 modes – seems very modest by today’s standards.

There is an assumption that the bracelet for some reason cannot connect to a smartphone and, therefore, access GPS data. If you unlock your smartphone and sync the bracelet with the app before training, the training starts immediately after that.

It is curious that if you choose to walk on the street, then although the problem with GPS remains, the device will offer to start the workout without it, warning only that it will not be able to build a track. Why this option is not offered in the case of a bike ride is not clear.

One last thing: we noticed one oddity in the statistics.


Sleep tracking

The bracelet automatically tracks sleep, and does it quite correctly. Having used the device for more than a week, we did not notice a single case when the results would be radically different from reality. However, we note that he notes awakenings only with serious activity. For example, if you woke up in the middle of the night, looked at what time it was (by pressing a button on the bracelet), and fell asleep again, then Honor Band 6 may not recognize this as awakening – it just records it as a “REM sleep”. Another thing is if you got out of bed, went to the toilet or poured a glass of water. Then yes, it will be noted.

What’s more curious: the advice of the device for sleeping is sometimes unrealistic and overly demanding. For example, the bracelet considers 22:00 and 6:00 to be the normal time for going to bed and waking up, respectively. This, of course, is very correct from the point of view of a healthy lifestyle, but it is difficult to achieve from the point of view of the lifestyle available to most of us. If you went to bed at 11 pm, let alone after midnight, the app will tell you that it’s too late the next day.

Of course, the device and app also criticize you for not getting enough sleep. But if you, on the contrary, oversleep too much, then you will also read persistent advice (“This is more than the recommended amount”).


Blood oxygen measurement

Like many other wearable devices from 2020-2021, the Honor Band 6 is able to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood (SpO2). And, admittedly, the results shown by him caused less criticism from us than in the case of the vast majority of other devices. Let us recall our testing method: we simply make a measurement several times in a row, following all the recommendations on the fit, screen orientation, etc. And we look at how many measurements were successful (for many devices this indicator was around 50%) and what was the spread of the results ( here, too, there is a strong discrepancy).

So, five measurements in a row with the Honor Band 6 – all successful – gave the following results: 98%, 96%, 98%, 100%, 99%. In principle, at a rate of 95% -98%, this is very plausible. Except that 100% is a bit overkill. As a rule, we encounter much more critical jumps between measurements. So we recognize the test as successful.

However, it should be remembered: Honor Band 6 is not a medical device, the bracelet is not intended for diagnostics, treatment or prevention of diseases, and the measurement results can only be used for personal reference purposes.


Other features

Of course, the bracelet can display notifications. Even long enough. However, if they are too long, then there is no way you can see them in full. In addition, the sender’s name is almost always incomplete. Above the notification, the icon of the application that sent it is displayed.

Honor Band 6 also knows how to track stress. It is clear that all this is done primarily on the basis of heart rate data. But we checked – yes, the result is quite true. Those moments when there were some responsible and exciting events, the device marks with orange stripes as the average level of stress. However, we have never managed to reach a high level (despite a trip to another city by plane, two speeches at conferences, a couple of forced runs, etc.). In general, the device here is just much less strict than in relation to sleep.

Finally, we note the impressive selection of dials (at the time of testing there were 85), as well as the ability to use an arbitrary image as the basis for the dial. It is very easy to download it from your smartphone.

True, there is a possibility that the light selected picture will consume more battery than standard dials with a predominantly black background – this is a feature of the AMOLED screen technology.

Finally, we will simply list other applications that do not require detailed explanations: “Weather”, “Timer”, “Stopwatch”, “Alarm”, “Find phone”, “Breathing exercises”, “Flashlight” (a white field is displayed on the screen, the brightness rises to the maximum).

Some functions only work in conjunction with Honor smartphones running Magic UI 2.0 or higher: remote camera control and female cycle tracking. And music control works on any smartphones with Android, but does not work with iOS. It is not entirely clear what is so specific about these capabilities and why they cannot be implemented on all platforms.


Autonomy

We tested the bracelet, setting the screen brightness to maximum, heart rate and sleep were measured automatically, in addition to this, there were several SpO2 checks and several workouts with a total duration of about an hour. In this mode, Honor Band 6 worked for eight days with a little.

The manufacturer promises 14 days of “standard use” and 10 days of “intensive use”. Our regime roughly corresponded to what is meant by “intensive”. Probably, if you lower the screen brightness to medium, the result will be exactly as stated. Another thing is that 60 minutes of workouts per week, and that is how much is supposed to be done in the “intensive” mode, is still very little. Even a couple of bike rides is more. Or two sessions in the pool. We would say that an hour of sports per week is less than average. Accordingly, be prepared for the fact that if this indicator is exceeded, the battery life will also significantly decrease.

As a plus, we note that the battery is discharged evenly, that is, 4-5 days after a full charge, you have 50% left, and over the same period the charge level drops to zero. We regularly observe a different situation when testing wearable devices: from 100% to 50%, the battery is discharged for a long time, and then much faster. So we can praise the manufacturer for such a result.

The Honor Band 6 has another big advantage. The bracelet quickly charges even from a regular single-amp charging. Having connected it to the network, when 5% of the charge remained, after 15 minutes we saw 60%, and after another 15 minutes – 90%. Thus, we can say that it is enough to charge the bracelet for only half an hour, then to actively use it for a whole week. But from 90% to 100%, the charge is replenished longer. However, it takes less than an hour to fully charge the bracelet, and this is an excellent result.


Conclusions

Honor Band 6 will go on sale in Russia on May 4 at a price of 4,490 rubles, but in case of pre-ordering through the Honor website, you can get a discount of 1,000 rubles. Is it a lot or a little?

The novelty has two indisputable advantages: firstly, a rather large AMOLED screen (in this regard, it is especially nice that you can put any photo as the background of the dial), secondly, more than a week of work on a single charge, even with active use, and rapid recharge. In addition, the results of measuring the level of oxygen in the blood of this device were much more believable than most other models passed through our hands.

We liked the design less, as well as the workings of the training – I want to believe that the manufacturer will solve the problem with obtaining GPS data in future firmwares.

Returning to the question of the price, it is worth comparing the new product with the Honor Band 5 and Honor Watch ES, since in terms of functionality they are close. The first one costs about 2,500 rubles, the second can be bought for about 8,000 rubles. It turns out that the Honor Band 6 is about in the middle, but if you take into account the discount of 1000 rubles, then it is much closer to the Band 5. And then this offer turns out to be very attractive, since the Band 6 differs not only in a significantly larger screen than the Band 5, but and better autonomy, overtaking even the Honor Watch ES in this parameter, since with a smaller screen it has the same battery as the Honor Watch ES.