Low price. Long battery life. Includes GPS and heart rate monitoring.
Inaccurate steps and distance in testing. Not fashionable. Cannot swap strap.
- Bottom Line
Huawei's Band 2 Pro fitness tracker offers a lot for the price, but suffers from inaccurate data readings and other issues.
For $69.99, Huawei's Band 2 Pro offers up a list of features that other fitness trackers might charge twice as much for. But upon close inspection, the Band 2 Pro doesn't deliver all that it promises. Step counts and heart rate were inaccurate in testing, and push notifications, while available, are switched off by default and hidden in a menu that's labeled in Chinese. It also isn't the most attractive wearable, and you can't swap its band out to switch things up. Trackers like the Fitbit Alta HR and Garmin Vivosport are more expensive, but represent better ways to spend your money.
With its slim shape and vertical rectangular display, the Band Pro 2 takes the same basic appearance as the Garmin Vivosport, Fitbit Alta HR, and a few other wristbands. In general, I find this form factor too sporty and inelegant for all-day wear. It works fine in the gym and in casual environments, but if you dress in anything but streetwear, it looks out of place.
The silicone band, which does not detach from the device and therefore can't be swapped, comes in three colors: black, blue (more of a midnight blue), and red, which is more of a strong coral.
To fasten the wristband, you thread one end through a loop in the other and then snap two prongs into two facing holes. In my experience with other devices with a similar closure, they tend to hold up well for some months, but eventually stretch and become loose.
The OLED display remains off until you raise your arm or flick your wrist, and then it lights up with pale blue light on a black background. An area at the bottom of the display is sensitive to touch and acts like a button for moving through different screens that show the time of day, step count, heart rate, and other data. You press it once to change screens, and hold it down to get additional information about any screen.
Battery life on the Band 2 Pro is the most impressive thing about it. After five days of wear without using GPS, it still had more than 50 percent battery left. To charge it, you plug in a USB-C cable to a proprietary connector piece that snaps onto the unit.
As with most fitness trackers, the Band 2 Pro counts steps, distance, and sleep. It has a standard activity reminder, too, also sometimes called a move reminder or idle alert, that nudges you to move if you've been sitting still for more than an hour. The Band 2 Pro estimates the percentage of your steps that were spent "climbing," but doesn't convert it to flights of stairs. Worse, it never recorded any climbing for me whatsoever, even after a hike that involved significant elevation change and steep slopes.
The Band 2 Pro captures heart rate and shows the latest reading, resting heart rate, as well as lowest and highest heart rate for the day, which the app incorrectly labels "minimum" and "maximum." Word choice is important here, as "maximum" heart rate means the heart rate you should not exceed during exercise.
The device has GPS for tracking runs, bicycle rides, and swims. It has a water resistant rating of 5ATM, so you can swim laps and shower with it on, but no diving. There's also an on-device setting for measuring indoor runs.
There are some included programs, such as a Run Coaching feature, that I was excited about when I learned of them. I set up a training schedule in the app to run a half marathon. And then…I never heard any more about it. Neither the app nor the tracker itself reminded me to run or added scheduled runs to my calendar or anything. When I did run, I got no feedback or information about the training schedule. I don't know what good a "coaching" feature is if it can't even remind you of upcoming workouts.
The Breathing Coach feature disappoints, too. It's an on-watch program that very simply coaches you through slow breathing exercises. It does nothing more than show you a ring on the screen that grows bigger and then shrinks while displaying the words "inhale" and "exhale" below it. A progress bar on the bottom gives you an idea of how much longer it's going to take before you reach the end.
After 14 breaths, it's over and you get a numerical score (it's unclear what this score means or how it's calculated) and either a descriptor of your breathing session or perhaps a word of encouragement, like "excellent." I found the whole exercise underwhelming, unclear, and awkward because you have to stare at your wrist while breathing rather than sitting with your back straight and eyes closed. The fitness tracker Spire has audio-coached breathing exercises included in its mobile app, and they are much better than what you get with Huawei's Band 2 Pro.
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So while the Band 2 Pro has a lot of functionality on paper, in reality it comes up short. More examples: There is a move reminder, but you can't customize the time interval for it. Twenty-four/seven heart rate monitoring sounds like a great feature, but it's off by default, and it's never brought to your attention that you can or should enable it. Push notifications from a connected smartphone are off by default as well, and I only found them by thoroughly exploring the app menus. The setting is hidden in a menu option that's labeled in Chinese (everything else is in English).
The Huawei Band 2 Pro consistently under-reported step counts and distance in testing, compared with data collected by a Misfit Ray wrist tracker, a Wahoo Tickr X chest strap that doubles as a run-tracker, and a treadmill.
I wore the Misfit Ray simultaneously with the Huawei Band 2 Pro for several days. Whenever I do comparative testing, I expect to see some difference in step counts, but this time the difference was too large to wave off. In general, I consider good data to show a difference of about a quarter mile, or roughly 500 steps, between trackers. I also consider it a good sign when one tracker does not consistently report higher or lower results. In other words, the tracker with the greater number of steps is not always the same one.
When looking at step counts from the Huawei Band 2 Pro, it always had a lower step count and by a significant number. Over five periods of activity, two partial days and three full days, the average difference between the Ray and Band 2 Pro was 1,676, which is about three quarters of a mile.
Distance recorded during runs and treadmill walks were off too, and again the Huawei Band 2 Pro was consistently short. A one-mile walk, recorded on target with the Wahoo Tickr X and as reported by the treadmill, came up to only 0.65-mile with the Huawei tracker, which is too far off. While not every fitness tracker nails it on the first go, others at least give you the option to correct the mileage and other data to hep calibrate the device. Garmin watches have this capability, for example. There are no options for correcting data in Huawei's app or tracker.
Heart rate readings were better, both at rest and during low- and high-intensity workouts. While sitting still, the heart rate reported by the Band 2 Pro was usually within three beats per minute (bpm) of what the Wahoo Tickr X showed. At times, however, it differed by as much as 7bpm. During a treadmill walk, the heart rate reading was within a few bpm to that reported by the treadmill handlebar heart rate monitors and the Wahoo Tickr X. Similarly, readings were only a few beats off during a treadmilll run.
Comparisons and Conclusions
The Huawei Band 2 Pro has long battery life and a low sticker price, but it falls behind other fitness trackers in functionality, accuracy, and style. The app doesn't offer any real insight into your habits, and some of the advertised special features are lackluster. For another relatively low-cost option, the Misfit Ray has been out since 2015, but it's gorgeous, comfortable, and accurate. The Fitbit Alta and Alta HR cost less than $150 and are much more reliable than the Band 2 Pro. The same goes for the Garmin Vivoactive 3, and if you're willing to spend more, it's our current Editors' Choice.
About the Author
Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital forma… See Full Bio
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