Huawei Band 7 review: fit for purpose
- Big screen
- Mostly high-end design
- Simple to use
- Squiffy Sleep Tracker
- No sustainability commitment
- Unable to interact with notifications
The Huawei Band 7 is a smart band that performs well. With a large screen, nice design, simple software, and reliable exercise tracking, it nails the essentials for a relatively low price.
Huawei has regrouped. It was once on track to become the leading smartphone brand in the West, but following political troubles, it has now set its sights elsewhere and aims to become a top-selling smart device brand.
The Huawei Band 7 is the company’s latest attempt to claim a spot at the top, focusing on fashion and fitness at a nice price. But in a sea of competition and with a slightly tarnished name, stealing a march is no easy task. Does the Band 7 have what it takes, regardless of price, to stand out from the crowd and help revive a flagging brand?
Design and build
- Slim and attractive design
- Decent strap color options
- Very light
In the decade since the very first smartwatches were launched, we’ve seen several distinct product “types” emerge. Of these, the most ubiquitous by far is the smart band, aka the activity tracker. Often costing less than $50/£50, they offer durability and rudimentary features mostly geared towards fitness and nothing else. Makers of almost every stripe have dabbled in this medium, and many have tried different tricks in the process.
With the Band 7, Huawei has produced something that’s cheap but not cheap, premium without being expensive – and design is a key part of that.
It comes in pink, red, black, and green, with my review unit in the latter shade. It’s nice to have a bit more choice compared to most cheaper competitors, which usually only offer generic black bands.
The device itself is constructed from a nice and sturdy matte plastic, with a single button on the right side and various sensors underneath. At 16g (without the strap) it’s light on the wrist and at 9.9mm thick it should slide easily under most shirt sleeves, while the strap is a relatively breathable plastic/rubber composite.
As for durability, while no big claims are made for impact or scratch resistance, the Band 7 is rated for 5 ATM water resistance. This should theoretically mean that it will withstand swimming, although it may need a bit of coddling in general use to avoid damage.
That aside, the case itself feels solid and well-built, and is worth the price of entry for the most part. Smart bands will never be considered the most premium product category, but this one can pass for a general purpose watch as well as for running.
- 1.47 inch screen
- Option always active
Screen quality is key to the success of any fitness tracker. Any screen used should remain legible in all lighting conditions, be large enough to display the necessary information, and sharp enough to be read without squinting.
According to these highly scientific measurements, the display used in the Band 7 is of good quality. That is, it gets dark enough to use at night, but bright enough to fight off a particularly strong summer sun. It’s large enough (1.47 inches) to display a wealth of information without feeling cluttered, and while it doesn’t win awards for its sharpness, it’s very readable for the most part. As an OLED screen it offers inky blacks and nice contrast, although it doesn’t quite challenge the best in this regard.
An additional price advantage is the presence of an always-on display, which significantly drains the battery, but significantly improves the quality of life. This allows the Band 7 to act more like a watch replacement than would otherwise be possible, and it’s more than the Apple Watch SE can deliver at around five times the price.
Software and Features
- Huawei’s own software
- Notification Alerts
- Works with Android and iOS
As a smart band rather than a smartwatch, expectations from a software standpoint are rather lower for the Band 7 than they might be for the likes of an Apple Watch. While the latter should be able to function almost like a mini-smartphone, the main purpose of a smartband is to track health information and display the time.
It’s a pleasant surprise to see then that the Band 7 not only offers quite a lot of software features for the price, but most of them are well thought out and fleshed out.
The Band 7 runs a custom operating system from Huawei. It’s not like the options from Apple and other companies that allow installing apps, but rather a set of options that can only be extended via a software update directly from the company itself. .
Fortunately, for the most part this isn’t a problem, as the bundled software is fairly comprehensive. Along with the expected suite of fitness and health tracking options, there’s a torchlight option, the ability to ping your phone if it’s lost, alarms and more. Although the likes of the Apple Watch offer options for music control and more, this is a device focused only on the essentials, with a few extras thrown in for good measure.
Notifications can also be received on the Band 7, and given the size of the screen they’re fairly easy to read although they can’t be interacted with in any meaningful way. I tested the watch with both iOS and Android, and found no issues or bugs when interacting with either.
Interactions with the device are only through the touch screen and the side button. The button wakes the device and opens various menu options, while everything else is handled by swiping across the screen. There are obvious downsides to this approach, offering physical controls allows more of the display to remain usable while you’re watching it, but in practice I quickly got used to this control scheme, finding that was not a problem.
Changing watch faces etc. is handled through the Huawei Health app, which is generally well-equipped, although I was dismayed to see a proliferation of paid watch faces available. If you’re giving this to a child or teenager as a gift, it might be something to watch out for (no pun intended).
Performance and fitness
- Slightly offset
- 96 sports tracking options
- Good for runners
In general operation, the Band 7’s software runs well and without issues. I didn’t experience many delays in scanning the interface, although opening certain features (i.e. the alarm function) usually caused a slight delay – although that is predictable given the price. It has never been an obstacle to use.
As for fitness, the Band 7 can monitor heart rate, SpO2 levels, can track sleep, offers assisted GPS for runs (meaning it has to connect to your phone to track your route) and has 96 distinct workout options, covering at least all the bases. An important caveat to the above is that while it can take measurements these will never be as accurate as a real medical device and as such all readings should be taken with a grain of salt. salt.
This is especially true for areas of data that are a bit more difficult to get an accurate picture of. I found the sleep tracking, for example, to be a little skewed, reporting great sleep at times when it was obviously wrong.
Fortunately, outdoor tracking proved fairly accurate, following our route closely on various long walks through areas of patchy connectivity in the countryside. As a result, it is a group that will be particularly suitable for avid runners.
While it’s not a device capable of delivering the same level of tracking and monitoring accuracy as some high-end competitors, it also comes at a fraction of the price. As such, it will certainly be sufficient for those interested in fitness, if not elite athletes.
- Two week claim
- In reality, only four days
- Charging cable in the box
Of all Huawei’s claims about the Band 7, its battery life is among the most important. According to the firm, it is possible to get up to two weeks of use without much effort.
This can certainly be possible if the device is left in a drawer with nothing to do for that amount of time, but the figure certainly doesn’t reflect our experiences. With the always-on display and incoming notifications, I found I could get through a solid 3 days of use before it was time to plug in. By disabling them (and therefore removing functionality from the device), I could extend another 3 days to 4 days on average.
Whether you want to disable many of these features for battery gain will be a matter of personal choice, but we think most will be able to find a balance that meets their needs.
Price and availability
The Huawei Band 7 is now available direct from Huawei in the UK for prices starting at £49.99. Four color options are available: Wilderness Green, Graphite Black, Nebula Pink and Flame Red.
You can buy it from Huawei, Argos, Amazon and Currys.
There are many different smartband options on the market today, from small Chinese manufacturers to big names like Garmin and Fitbit, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Against this stiff competition, the Huawei Band 7 offers more than enough to stand out.
With a good look, sturdy build, large screen, decent battery life, solid exercise tracking (for the most part), and simple software, it makes a great first impression. Without any kind of scratch or drop resistance, slightly spongy sleep tracking and a few other downsides keep it from being really great, but for the price it’s more than adequate. If you are looking for a good value for money smartband today, the Huawei Band 7 should be at the top of your list.
- Huawei operating system
- Huawei Health app
- 1.47 inch OLED display
- 96 fitness/sports tracked
- Assisted GPS
- heart rate monitor
- SpO2 monitoring
- sleep tracking
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