Hands on: Huawei Band 2 Pro review

A slim, potentially capable wearable

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Pro version of the Huawei Band 2 looks to be one of the most capable wearables for its size, though whether we recommend outright it weighs heavily on its unannounced price and performance under pressure.

For

  • Streamlined look
  • Tons of features

Against

  • Might not be as cheap as we'd like
  • Not the most innovative design

Update: The Huawei Band 2 Pro is now available in the US through Amazon for $69. In the UK? You can do the same through Amazon right now for £79 with black, blue or red strap varieties available.

Huawei is launching the Band 2 Pro, the successor to a wearable that saw limited release outside of the US under the name Honor Band Z1.

Compared to that watch’s circular design, the Band 2 Pro looks more akin to the competition it aims to take on, the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta HR.

This waterproof wearable comes with built-in GPS, a limited touch interface for simple navigation on-the-go and rocks a style that blends in with your running gear and office dress code alike.

Huawei is also releasing the Huawei Band 2, a more stripped-back version of the Pro that won’t feature built-in GPS, the ability to monitor oxygen levels in your blood, smart coaching or sleep tracking.

Unfortunately, global pricing and release date information for either wearable isn’t currently available, but given that it appears to be a competent product in all regards, let’s hope that it sticks the landing on value. 

Design

The Huawei Band 2 Pro doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wearable with its design, though it’s quite the departure from its original’s more traditional timepiece style.

Instead of a circular face, the design has been streamlined to match the aesthetic of many popular wearables, like the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta HR.

Wrapping around your wrist with soft silicon bands that latch together, the brains of Huawei’s Band 2 Pro fit rather comfortably, clad in a combo of plastic, brushed stainless steel detailing and what appears to be curved glass on its front.

The touch interface on the Band 2 Pro's PMOLED display orients in portrait mode, making it easier to read than what we’ve seen on the horizontally-oriented Microsoft Band 2. To cycle between the different activity tracking functions of the wearable, swipe up or down. 

The interface is about as basic as they come, which is fine, though sensitivity to touch seemed off during our time with the early sample, with some attempts not registering at all. Hopefully Huawei has remedied that come time for release.

On the bottom of the unit, Huawei has implemented a heart rate sensor, an always-appreciated hardware feature. We’re eager to see how this performs in real-world testing, especially in tandem with its built-in GPS.

Performance

We’ll obviously have much more to say about the performance of the Band 2 Pro when we have a unit of our own to test, but we gathered some worthy tidbits during our short time with it.

The Band 2 Pro is relatively snappy during use. Like the Huawei Fit, it’s simple operating system lends well to reliability. Ideally, this will lead to a stutter-free experience, but again, we’ll only know once we get time with the final unit.

Huawei’s latest wearable feels really durable, which in addition to being totally waterproof, will help it resist the rigors of casual and hardcore use.

Something that we’re a bit concerned about is the battery life. What with built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor built into its tiny chassis, there’s only so long that its small battery can handle both, or either one for that matter.

Huawei says that the 100mAh battery charges in an hour and a half and can last up to 21 days of normal use. However, if you use GPS, it's said to drop to under four hours of use. Honestly, that's not a horrible target for this watch's diminutive size, though some may want more performance.

Early verdict

The Huawei Band 2 Pro has our attention, not just because of how it looks, but also because its promised feature set seems ambitious for the form factor.

We’ll be receiving a review sample shortly and we can’t wait to put it through the paces to see if it has what it takes to punch up to the competitors on our best fitness trackers list.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.