Meizu, while relatively unknown here in Australia, is one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in China having received an investment of $590 million from Alibaba in 2015. In 2015 alone they sold over 20 million phones. Today, in an attempt to take Xiaomi head on, they have announced their own fitband, the Meizu Band.
The Meizu Band, branded the H1 SmartBand on the box, is Meizu’s first foray into the wearable field. Its features include:
- Touch screen display
- Heart rate monitor
- An integrated body design with a stylish concealed OLED screen
- Sleep monitoring including Smart Snooze Alarm
- Magnetic charging cable
- IP67 Splash resistant
Considering the Xiaomi Mi Band was priced around the AU$20 mark and the Mi Band 2 around $50 you would expect the Meizu Band to be also competitively priced — and it is. Priced at ¥229 it sits under the AU$50 mark but at this stage it is unknown how Australians will be able to get their hands on it, nor how much shipping will be. This is the first time we have been approached by such a large Chinese company with information about one of their products so we do expect it to be widely available.
Pre-Release Hands On Review
After having my hands on this device for the past week, and using their Android app (which at this stage is still in Beta form) I have to say I am very impressed with it. The lift to wake the display to view time, activity or heart rate works consistently and the display is easily seen on the black background. As with most displays it was difficult to see in bright sunlight but covering it with my hand made it readable.
The band is comfortable although a bit short so if you have average sized wrists I suggest you opt for the bigger band. The band itself is not easy to put on but I suspect that was mostly because the band barely got around my wrist. Once on it stayed there and did not fall off at any time, no matter what vigorous exercise I was doing (snoring is exercise isn’t it?).
In previous reviews of fitbands I made a point of comparing the numbers recorded by the device with engineer-tested medical devices (an ECG in this case). The Meizu Band performed admirably with the heart rate very close to that recorded by the ECG at the time — normally only a beat or 2 out. The steps recorded seemed accurate as well but I’m not a huge believer in step counting as I have no issues getting enough exercise on a daily basis.
The charging is done through a “magnetic charging cable” that magnetically clips onto the charging pins. It was easy to fit to the band and on the other end of the charging cable was a basic USB Type A connection so charging is simple. The battery life on the Meizu Band is heads and shoulders ahead of the last fitband I reviewed. I turned it on Friday evening and now Monday night it is still at 40%, having used it 24/7 except for the hour or so I was in the pool on Saturday. Truly impressive.
The Meizu Band does notifications but only in the form of a picture of a phone and an SMS icon when either of those reaches my phone. It does not go any further than those details which is disappointing, but as its primary function is a fit band and for less than $50, it is hard to expect more.
The software is pre-release and that showed by the lack of English in it. There were parts in English but most of it was Chinese (apparently it will have an English Android version very soon but for our iOS cousins there is an English app available already). Even with this I was easily able to follow the app and record my stats without any issues.
There is a Meizu Band app and a Meizu Health app. Obviously, the Meizu Band app is used to control the band itself and the measurements and statistics it takes while the Meizu Health app coordinates all your Meizu fit products (apparently they make a scale too) and allows you to share progress with others while also viewing their progress. It is not just a social network for your Meizu Band but also provides fitness information and articles (I think — my Mandarin is a little rusty). At this stage only the Meizu Band app (albeit in Mandarin) is ready to go with the Meizu Health app being planned for a future release.
The Meizu Band app tracks your steps, your sleeping times and patterns and your heart rate throughout the day. The Meizu Health app on the other hand allows you to input the activity you are performing (eg. walking, running, bike riding etc) and track it using Google Maps and the GPS on your phone. It records the time taken and your average speed for the activity. It also tracks your weight and your BMI (if that really accounts for anything).
All in all both apps are simple apps that don’t go over the top with bells and whistles and have the main information that most people require within. The Meizu Band itself could well be a winner at that price, given the ecosystem that Meizu are trying to build around it. The band is comfortable, accurate and relatively stylish. Time will tell to see if it is as successful as the Mi Band was.
Pre-orders start now in China, directly after the launch, and it will hit the shelves on 8th December so expect them to start showing up on your favourite grey market importer websites not long after. International marketing is currently not available and they don’t have a schedule for the international market yet.
If you are interested keep an eye out on those websites for deals, especially leading up to the holiday season. Once we know more about plans for Australia, we’ll share them with you.