Honor Band 3 review

Basic tracking on a budget

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Our Verdict

The Honor Band 3 is an affordable way to get swim tracking and offers a month of battery life, but for most other things there are either better or cheaper alternatives.

For

  • Swim and sleep tracking
  • Heart rate on the wrist
  • Long battery life

Against

  • Basic tracking
  • Average app
  • No GPS

Simple yet affordable activity trackers are still coming to the market and they’re adding more features all the time. Honor is in that pack, offering its Band 3 as a way to enhance fitness, sleep and activity tracking all while remaining unobtrusive and simple.

But the competition is fierce and there are even more affordable options like the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 undercutting it.

The Band 3 adds swim tracking to the mix, yet there are more proficient options for that, like a Garmin or Fitbit, so does the Honor Band 3 have a place at its £70/$59 (roughly AU$125) price point?

Design

  • Simple, minimal design
  • Comfortable but has to be worn tight to track heart rate

Simple and minimal works for Apple, so why not for an activity tracker made by Honor? Alright, we’re not really comparing the design of this fitness band to an Apple product, but it is good. Yes, good, not amazing, not terrible, but good. It’s a fitness tracker, how far wrong can you go?

This ticks all the boxes, the rubberized band is comfortable and slim enough to be unobtrusive. The display is simple but crams plenty in and is clear in daylight while not drawing too much power.

Controls are simple and intuitive while all staying in a single button which, impressively, works even when you’re wearing gloves.

The only faff is a special charger the unit needs to clip into, but even this uses micro USB to power it, so should be easy enough to take anywhere and have access to power.

That said, the fit might not suit all. To get the heart rate tracker into position the Band 3 had to be slightly too tight, any looser and the tracker was slipping about uselessly.

Specs, performance and tracking

  • Consistent heart rate monitor
  • Basic run and swim tracking
  • Stat-packed sleep tracking, but questionable accuracy

This is a simple fitness tracker with an accelerometer and gyroscope but no GPS. So you can track runs but they will never be as accurate as a GPS wearable, or even your phone. That said, the Honor Band 3 does track steps accurately whether out on a run, going for a walk or even on the treadmill in the gym.

Swimming is another metric that is tracked, which in some part goes towards explaining the price hike of this over the likes of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2.

This is an underrated feature as it lets you focus on the swimming rather than constantly counting and trying to remember where you are.

Heart rate tracking works well on the Band 3, with fast acquisition, even on hairy arms, and pretty decent accuracy - and yes, even underwater. It’s not chest strap level good but it’s not far off and stays consistent, so works well for zoned heart rate training.

Though since you only have the options of outdoor run, swim and indoor run, even that zone training is limited. We tried to use this on indoor run mode to track a yoga class but the lack of regular movement made it useless, so be sure you plan to do one of the sports it covers.

Sleep tracking is also a bonus on the Honor Band 3, which uses what the company calls Huawei TruSleep (as Huawei is the parent company). This records lots of depth when sleep tracking and there is even detailed analysis of that sleep.

While this is a great idea and looks good, its accuracy was, well, interesting. This tester has a nine month old baby and was up several times in the night.

The tracker picked up on two of three wake ups and showed back to sleep in mere minutes, which might be accurate, but the speed of slipping into a deep sleep seems optimistic at best compared to previous trackers tested.

There's also a breathing score – though we're not sure how our perfect score of 100 was achieved there, or measured for that matter.