In the world of fitness bands, there are many big players. Garmin and Fitbit are two of the most notable, though companies such as Xiaomi, Honor, and Samsung have tried to steal a slice of the pie as well. I like to use the Xiaomi Mi Band 3, but at Honor’s press event in Berlin for IFA 2019 I picked up the all-new Honor Band 5 for review. I’ve used it ever since, clocking over 5km for most of the days I’ve used it since then, and I have a lot to say on it. I paired the Honor Band 5 with the OnePlus 7 Pro instead of the Honor 20 Pro deliberately, so that I could see how the Band 5 plays with non-Huawei or Honor devices.
This device launched in India back in August, with its main highlight being the 2.5D 0.95-inch AMOLED full-color display with a resolution of 240 x 120 pixels, which can display up to 45 characters at a time. This allows users to use the Band 5 with different watch faces as can be found on the Watch Face Store. The Honor Band 5 can also display real-time information from the phone and allow users to accept and reject incoming calls. You can also use Find my Phone features as well as use the Band as a shutter button to take photos. The Honor Band 5 promises two weeks of battery life. For sensors, it comes with a 6-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and an optical heart rate sensor. In terms of connectivity, the Band syncs with the Huawei Health app on your smartphone, using Bluetooth 4.2.
About this review: Honor loaned XDA a review unit of the Honor Band 5. The opinions in this article are my own.
Look and feel
The Honor Band 5 is incredibly comfortable to wear and has a wide waistband with a lot of room to maneuver. The display of the watch is built into the wristband itself, so you can’t remove it. You can buy it in three different color options though – Midnight Navy, Coral Pink, and Meteorite Black (our unit). It’s light and easy to forget that you’re even wearing it, though part of that is helped by the admittedly small battery – more on that later.
I absolutely love how the Honor Band 5 looks. The home button underneath the display looks clean, though I can’t help but feel it could have been removed entirely. You can swipe to navigate all of the screens anyways, swiping up and down to navigate and swiping left to right (or vice versa) to close an opened menu. It does make the overall experience nicer to have, though. I just feel like it’s a missed opportunity for a bigger screen that could have had even nicer watch faces.
And that’s another thing: there are so many preinstalled watch faces to choose from and so many more on the watch face store as well. You’ll never be stuck for choice, and the one that I’m using now is one that I found for free in the Watch Face store. Watch Faces can display lots of information such as calories burned, steps taken, and kilometers walked, though you can have a more basic one like I have that just shows steps. There’s just so many to choose from. There’s a lack of prominent branding visible as well, which I like.
Honor Band 5 Features
The Honor Band 5 is packed to the brim with features. It has pretty much everything you could want from a fitness band, which is why I’m surprised by the low price. €29.99 ($33) gets you an always-on heart-rate monitor, sleep tracking, workout modes, and more. The Huawei Health app is where you can view the bulk of the information that the Band 5 gathers.
Heart rate monitoring
Heart rate monitoring is probably the primary selling point of the Honor Band 5. If Honor’s testing is correct, it’s scarily accurate. At their launch event in Berlin, they showed it in comparison with an actual EKG that was hooked up to a person, and it was within a few beats per minute of the EKG at every measurement. If you want to keep on top of your heart health, the Honor Band 5 doesn’t seem like a bad device to pick up to help keep track of that kind of thing. You can even set alerts for if your heart rate goes above a certain threshold.
My personal favorite feature is sleep tracking. I love to keep on top of my sleep and make sure that I’m getting enough. My typical night’s sleep comes in at around 7 hours a night, and having a breakdown of how exactly I slept is pretty cool. I find that it is a bit conservative on when it starts to track your sleep, though. I think I fell asleep around 2:30 am last night, but the Honor Band 5 thinks it was 3:04 am.
The Honor Band 5 acts as a day-to-day assistant
When not in use to track workouts or sleep, you can use the Honor Band 5 simply as a day-to-day assistant. It can provide you with weather reports, notifications, call acceptance or rejection, and can even help you to find your phone if you lose it. You can view notifications for any apps on your phone – all you need to do is make sure that they are added as apps that you want to see. It adds certain apps like your SMS app and Facebook Messenger to the list when you set it up initially, but I manually added Discord, Twitter, and Snapchat as well. It’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t display any emoji, so some messages can just appear blank.
Honor Band 5 battery life
One of the only pitfalls of the Honor Band 5 is the battery life, and it’s not even all that bad for what you get. Obviously, always-on heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring will drain the battery, but it sucks as this device is marketed as lasting for two weeks on a single charge. I’m sure it can, but you’d need to disable some of those headlining features to reach it. I find myself charging it every couple of days, typically lasting about 5 days on a single charge. I charged it up fully yesterday evening, and the following day at 4 PM I’m already at 85%. It does charge reasonably quickly at least, taking somewhere under an hour to reach 100% from close to 0. Still, if you want to use it to its full potential, you’re going to need to charge it at least once a week.
Honor Band 5 – A band to remember
If you’re in the market for a new fitness band, the Honor Band 5 is certainly worth your money. At a starting cost of €29.99 ($33), you really can’t go wrong. It’s available for purchase on Amazon throughout Europe and on Flipkart in India. Let us know in the comments what you think of it!
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