Honor Band 5 review: a fitness tracker that impresses with affordability

Honor has carved out a small reputation for itself within the tech community through a series of steadily improving low-cost smartphones.

The brand is an offshoot from Chinese tech giant Huawei and focuses on style and affordability. Those two nouns can definitely be applied to the Honor Band 5, the company’s latest fitness tracker, which launched in the UK this month.

There’s a choice of three colours: Classic Navy blue, Meteorite Black and Dahlia Pink. The front of the device is a 0.95-inch AMOLED colour touchscreen that looks really sharp even in broad daylight. The back is a simple watch clasp and the silica gel band has minimal stylings on it. It’s comfortable to wear and I didn’t experience any weird rashes or anything like that.

The affordability shines through in that this only costs £30 – a bargain compared to the £89 Fitbit Inspire or the £200 Apple Watch Series 3.

If you want the simplest, cheapest way to start tracking your exercise and your sleep, this is the way to do it.

Obviously most of the information isn’t stored on the tracker – it’s in the accompanying Huawei Health app which you’ll need to download. And, given that we’re talking about personal fitness, there’s an awful lot of data you need to be comfortable giving up. You’ll be asked to assign permissions to plenty of things on your phone such as location data and phone calls/messages.

We’ll get onto the fitness stuff in a minute, but the Band 5 does have a few extra features. It will read and display your incoming messages and vibrate when you get a phone call. You’ve also got a timer, stopwatch and a ‘Find Phone’ option that will make your phone call out to you.

The Band 5 boasts 24-hour continuous heart-rate monitoring through what’s called a photoplethysmogram (PPG) optical sensor. Basically, it uses small pulses of light to detect changes in blood flow during heart activity. A big plus point is the heart rate monitor won’t flash at light – meaning you won’t get woken up by a blinking green light on your wrist.

The reason you may wear it at night is because it’ll also track your sleep – breaking the night down into deep, light and REM sleep based on your heart rate. At less than 20g in weight, you won’t notice it after a few nights.

The fitness tracking is broken down into a range of exercises: outdoor run, rower, indoor cycle, pool swim (yep, it’s waterproof to 50m) as well as ‘free training’ for weights. There’s no on-board GPS so the Band 5 won’t be as accurate on a run as some of the Garmin or Fitbit products, but then again it’s much cheaper.

I found the breakdown pretty useful (it’s all displayed on the app) as well as fairly accurate. I should be able to torch roughly 200 calories in a 25-minute gym session mixing cardio with weights. As ever with fitness trackers, they’re never going to be dead-on accurate so are best used as guidance rather than gospel.

The battery life is also plenty good enough. I got five days of solid day-and-night wearing with a couple of workouts thrown in before the Band 5 needed recharging again. It comes with a little proprietary clip that attached to a micro USB cable for recharging.

Given the sheer amount of fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market at the moment, you’re spoiled for choice if you fancy getting one. The Honor Band 5 can really hold its own thanks in no small part to the bright, crisp screen and appealing price tag.

If you’re looking to take the first step on a new fitness journey, then the Honor Band 5 will certainly help you do it.

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