Smart watches have entered the technology world like a storm. Every third person you see in public now is often doing one of the following from their wrist: checking their messages, analysing their heart rate or explaining to someone else how it works. Given the availability of these devices from companies like Apple, Huawei, Pebble, Samsung, Sony, Fossil, Tag Heur and others; it can be a difficult task to choose the ‘smart watch’ that is best for your needs. For myself, the choice was made by Huawei, who generously gifted me the new Huawei Band B0; and so my journey with a smart watch began.
I must be honest, when the watch arrived I was not sure what to expect. Most of the smart watches I have come across have been quite bulky. I have not really seen a smart watch that is suited to the slender figure of a women – at least not one that is not labelled as an “Athlete”. That being said, I must admit that the Apple Watch fits the bill… but speaking on behalf of all my fellow students out there, an Apple Watch could probably pay for all of my textbook at university. Therefore, with its R6500 starting price, it falls out of the range of smart watches that my pocket can afford. This is where the R1500 Huawei Band B0 comes into play.
The Huawei Band B0 is advertised as a simple and elegant smart watch that has long battery life, is water and dust proof, can track your exercise routine and even your sleeping patterns. With this in mind, I decided to put it all to the test. Needless to say, the moment I opened the box, excitement took over.
Taking the Huawei Band B0 out of the box, I was impressed with how light it was. It includes a beautiful and stylish plastic band, which is very comfortable. Unlike more expensive smart watches, however, you are not able to change the band. This immediately made me think of how useful the watch would be during all of the *cough* – non existent- *cough* exercise I will be doing in the near future.
The Huawei Band B0 I received came in white. There are other colours available, such as black and cream. The screen is also scratch resistant, however the stainless steel ring around the display face is not. After only a few days, I noticed a lot of little, but noticeable, scratches. This is obviously not a rugged watch, nor is it advertised as such, but users should just be careful with it. In terms of the screen, the brightness of the monochrome display is perfect for indoor use. Sadly, once under direct sunlight, it becomes terribly difficult to use and see.
Unlike the glass and stainless steel front, the rear of the Huawei Band B0 is plastic. The first time I turned the watch around to see the back, I got excited for a moment because I thought there could perhaps be a heart monitor. Rather, it turned out to be where the battery magnetically attaches to the watch to charge. Although having a heart monitor would have been a great extra perk, the magnetic charger is just as cool.
After unboxing the watch, and getting to grips with how it worked, I did the first thing that any responsible student would do with a new watch: I jumped straight into the pool with it. Most people would probably be more careful, but I could not wait to try out the dust and water proof features. According to Huawei, the B0 has guaranteed water protection for up to a depth of 10 meters. Granted my pool is not that deep, but the excitement was there nonetheless. I am also happy to report that the Huawei Band B0 survived my pool escapades, which included diving, a few laps and some mandatory sunbathing.
Since the Huawei Band B0 is water and dust proof, it means that it is also resistant to sweat. This is great, since the watch is able to track certain levels of fitness. It does this with its built in step counter, which goes hand-in-hand with its calories tracker – a feature that allows you to set your fitness goals, like making sure you burn at least 200 calories for the day. It also has a timer feature for when you would like to track those runs… or walks. Once you have reached your set fitness goal, the watch will notify you with some cute fireworks and congratulations animations. Another feature that I enjoyed, and made full use of, was the alarm option, which causes the watch to vibrate and make a sound. It definitely came in handy for getting me to wake up, since I can be quite a heavy sleeper. Similarly, the watch will also notify you if you have been sitting for too long. This initially did prompt me to get up, but after a few days I would end up ‘cheating’ by simply waving my hand around to make it think I decided to get up (the lazy student life struggle is real).
As inactive as I may seem to be, I did do some exercise while wearing the watch. The good news is that when the watch tracked my steps and calorie count, it synced all of the data to the My Fitness Pal application. This was handy because it meant that I no longer needed to manually enter my activities into the app. Everything automatically recorded and synced, and I would often be amazed at how much I had actually done throughout the day.
I must also note that the watch is able to track your sleeping habits, which is quite nifty, but this feature is a little hit or miss. I was slightly disappointed during the first week using the watch when I got up during the course of the night to go to the bathroom, and the watch did not track the step count. Even worse, it recorded that I was still asleep. Perhaps this might be fixed in a future software update, but it really should work out of the box since it is an ‘advertised feature’.
Although sleep tracking leaves me wanting more, I am happy to report that the best feature of the Huawei Band B0 is the battery life. The watch charges fully in about two hours and can last up to four days. Granted, the battery life may vary depending on how much you use it. Even so, I found that even with constant use, I was getting around two to three days of battery life before needing to charge it. It definitely lasts longer than I expected it to, for a smart watch. Even Hans, with his first generation Apple Watch, was impressed.
Downloading the “Huawei Wear” app was simple, and the connection from my watch to my iPhone was relatively fast. The device supports both Android 4.4.4 and iOS 7.0 up to the most recent software updates. The three main functions of this watch are notifications, tracking fitness and monitoring sleep (It also tells tells the time).
In terms of notifications, it was extremely useful after putting the “Push Notification” option on. This allows the Huawei Band B0 to notify you of incoming messages and calls. It also allows you to mute or end any incoming calls. Interestingly enough, the “mute” option for incoming calls is an additional feature that is only available to iPhone users.
The watch has a touchscreen, which works quite well. Navigating menus on the monochrome LCD was easy and quite straight forward. There were moments when the Huawei Band B0 would freeze and become none responsive, but these issues were rare. As someone who enjoys a bit of change, I also really like the option of being able to change the digital watch face.
Fitness and sleep tracking features aside, the watch is quite basic. As such, you are not able to speak through your watch after answering a phone call. Instead, you need to revert back to your phone. An odd choice, but one that works well when answering a call whilst driving, but only if your phone is connected to a car kit. It also does not allow you to reply to messages or view any social media updates via the watch itself. It only allows you to view cropped notifications for messages, and take or end phone calls.
Speaking for all woman who have never really tried to use a smart watch and who can sometimes struggle with technology, using this watch was relatively easy. The performance of the watch was smooth overall and I really enjoyed using it. Truthfully, I would have loved a music option – either built in or streaming/controlling music from my phone, and while the watch does allow you to read part of your messages, it would be great if you could read a whole message on the screen. In a way, it is more of a complement to your phone, rather than attempting to replace certain features. As such, it is quite a decent device. By no means revolutionary, but definitely ‘good enough’. In comparison to other smart watches, and given the price point, this watch is beautiful and well worth its value.
|Acquisition||Review device courtesy of Huawei|