Huawei Band 2 Pro review: A fitness band worth keeping track of

Getting (and staying) fit is serious business, and while Android Wear smartwatches can function as fitness trackers, sometimes you want to dig a little deeper into your exercise routine. This is where dedicated fitness bands such as the Polar M600 come into their own, with Huawei’s Band 2 Pro being one of the latest and cheaper options to choose from. With built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, 21-day battery life and a price tag of just $69/£79, is the Band 2 Pro worthy of your hard-earned cash? Join us after the break to find out. 

Design

As fitness bands go, Huawei’s Band 2 Pro is a little on the bland side of things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pleasant enough to look at and the brushed stainless strips either side of the display are enough to break up the design, but it’s just not inspired. It also has more than a passing resemblance to the Fitbit Alta HR that the Band 2 Pro aims to compete against. That being said, it does blend in nicely with whatever you are wearing, so there’s that to consider.

Besides Classic Black, you can get the Huawei Band 2 Pro in red or blue if you want to liven things up a little. With dimensions of 114.67 + 101.35mm, the Huawei’s fitness band is quite slim and light, as well as being waterproof to 5ATM which is pretty handy. There’s a user-friendly single button embedded beneath the display for navigating through the Band 2 Pro’s functions.

The strap design reminds me a little of the Elastoplast effect we saw back on the Galaxy S5‘s rear panel, somehow it suits the Band 2 Pro much better. I do have a couple of niggles with the TPU strap, though, one being that there are no third-party straps and secondly the clasp with its two notches is a little irksome. I found I was fastening the Band 2 Pro either too tight or too loose most of the time. The two-notch clasp is certainly secure enough once you’ve managed to fasten it, but I would have preferred something a little more traditional.

Performance

They say a team is only as strong as its weakest member and that holds true for the Huawei Band 2 Pro as well. The Passive-Matrix display (PMOLED) doesn’t quite match the rest of the fitness band in quality. While it is easy enough to read indoors and after dusk, reading the display in daylight can be difficult at times due to the display not getting brighter enough. You can turn the display on with a turn of your wrist or by tapping on the home button which shows you the time, date, battery life, and whether the band is connected to Bluetooth.

The home button beneath the display is nice and responsive and moves the Band 2 Pro slickly through its functions. Pairing the band up with a smartphone was painless, and syncing up to Huawei’s Health app went without incident. You can also synchronize data with the Apple Health app, Up by Jawbone, MyFitnessPal, and of course Google Fit if you wish.

As for the actual fitness features, well I can tell you that the GPS function works pretty much as intended, grabbing a signal without a hitch. There are two modes of heart rate tracking, one that you turn on and off manually for specific tasks, and the other that is on all the time, regardless of what you are doing. In my experience, I found the permanent option to be the more accurate of the two, albeit more demanding in terms of battery life. Sometimes the heart rate sensor was off by around 20 beats per minute, which was a little alarming at times. Once I managed to crank my creaking bones into something resembling a jog the Band 2 Pro took great delight showing how unfit I am. But that’s a good thing I guess.

I was particularly impressed with the Band 2 Pro’s TruSleep monitoring. I usually sleep like a baby wherever I am but on the few occasions that I didn’t, the Band 2 Pro was able to track how long I spent in deep sleep, REM sleep, light sleep and how many times I woke up during the night. I never knew I was waking up during the night, I guess it’s one of those things you don’t quite realize you are doing until you see the cold hard data. The TruSleep function also gives you a rating on how well you slept with tips on how to improve your sleep.

Battery

Battery life was surprisingly good, even with Huawei’s TruSleep enabled and the heart rate monitor permanently on. With the heart rate sensor and the well-known battery hog known as GPS switched on by default, the Band 2 Pro managed close on four hours of usage. When the GPS is turned off, that’s when the Band 2 Pro really begins to shine, so much so that you’ll probably get caught out when it does eventually need to be charged, as I was. But even when the 100mAh battery does eventually run dry, it just takes 90 minutes to fully charge the Band 2 Pro.

This brings me to my other main complaint with the fitness tracker, the charging cradle. As you can see from the image above, the charging cradle is an awkward little thing with a MicroUSB slot on the side. Personally, the charger is too small, and I thought I had lost it a couple of times during the review process. It’s also not the easiest thing to attach unless you pay very specific attention to the task. Still, it does the job it’s supposed to do.

Software

Much like Android Wear devices partner with the accompanying app on a smartphone, so the Band 2 Pro hooks up with the Huawei Wear app that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. You’ll be prompted to download Huawei’s Health app if you don’t already have it, which will then give you full access to your data. This is where you can deep dive into the data to see how you slept, the various rates that your heart was pounding away while exercising, as well as how many steps you’ve taken and how far you shuffled ran. The Health app breaks everything down by day/week/month/year and really lets you analyze your performance, and how your fitness has improved or perhaps slipped over time. In the Huawei Wear app, you can choose to set the Band 2 Pro up as a left or right-handed person. Handily, you can even set up your morning alarms.

You could say that the software on the Huawei Band 2 Pro is pretty basic in and of itself. Tap once to cycle through the Steps, Heart Rate, Cycle, Swim, Breathe, and Sleep Tracking functions and just long press to launch the function. It’s very user-friendly if a little simple. When you need more detail on how you slept or your exercise routine performance, you can always pick up the phone and open up the Health app for deeper analysis. For what it’s worth, the Huawei Band 2 Pro is running firmware version 1.2.13.

Besides syncing data to the Health app, the Band 2 Pro can also display notifications such as messages, giving you a short preview of the text and let you know when someone is calling, you can’t reply to messages or initiate calls, but then this isn’t meant to be a smartwatch. There is a Do Not Disturb option as well for when you want to stay ‘in the zone’ or when you are sleeping. The Huawei Band 2 Pro is compatible with devices running Android 4.4 KitKat, iOS 8 or higher.

Closing

For $69/£79, the Huawei Band 2 Pro is a solidly built fitness tracker that punches above its weight, and successfully so for the most part. Its sleep tracking, GPS, and steps measurements were spot on and gave more than enough data to see where I was going wrong. If you are a fitness junkie looking for absolutely spot-on VOX and heart rate readings though, the Band 2 Pro is outgunned by its more expensive competitors.

For a general fitness tracker that has loads of features and lets you set fitness goals, the Huawei Band 2 Pro could be just what the doctor ordered. Especially when you take its $69/£79 price tag into account and that it’s compatible with a ton of devices running Android or iOS.

Buy it now: Amazon


About the Author: Peter Holden

He's been an Android fan ever since owning an HTC Hero, with the Dell Streak being his first phablet. He currently carries a Pixel 2 XL, Huawei P20 Pro, and a Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 around in his pockets. When not immersed in the world of Android and gadgets, he's an avid sports fan, and like all South Africans, he loves a good Braai (BBQ).