It’s been a long time since we saw a new wearable from Huawei. The Talkband B2 was the last real mainstream launch here in Australia (we never got the B3) and since then we’ve seen the Huawei Band and now the Huawei A1 Color Band take the field. Yes, we’re calling it the Color Band (not Colour), because that’s what Huawei calls it.
The Color Band isn’t available for purchase at retail in Australia, at least by itself. Instead it’s being bundled with the Huawei GR3 in a bundle sold through Target for $279.
The activity tracker had one feature which caught my eye when I checked it out – it measures UV levels. Australia being located in the southern hemisphere, right next to the hole in the Ozone layer, means of course we’re extra sun conscious so I thought it would be worthwhile taking a look at this tracker.
The Huawei Color Band A1 is a tiny little thing, which sits on attaches to your wrist with a fairly rudimentary metal clasp that snaps through the holes punched into the silicon band. It’s a pretty secure fit, and the weight of the tracker itself is negligible, and when combined with the softer silicone strap it’s quite comfortable to wear – even while exercising.
The unit is ‘water resistant’, carrying an IP57 rating which basically means you can shower with it, but don’t head to the pool.
The unit itself is made of fairly unassuming, unadorned metal, while the more visible silicon band covering the unit is inlaid with a visually pleasingly geometric cross-hatched pattern. For the most part you’ll not see the top of the activity tracker, but a hole poked in the top will let you see the notification LED. Underneath you’ll find two pins exposed, Pogo Pins, used for charging the unit on the supplied cradle.
The charging cradle itself is small, like the tracker. It’s curved to fit the tracker itself and has two magnets embedded in it which both align the tracker and secure it so it doesn’t move while charging. Charging is achieved through a microUSB connection, plug it into one of those and the 70 mAh battery is charged in relatively no time.
In terms of battery life, I used it for a week and managed to drain it down to 61% but that’s leading a fairly active lifestyle which may cut into Huawei’s estimates of 28 days battery life. Either way, it’s longer than the 1-3 days I get out of Android Wear watches, though without the colour screen you’d expect that.
To connect the band to your phone, you simply pair it like a Bluetooth device, it uses Bluetooth 4.2 and you then jump into the Color Band A1 app which is available for free on Google Play.
The band will track three things: Steps, Sleep and UV. The band is able to detect whether you were running or walking, while the sleep tracking differentiates between light and deep sleep. UV? Well, it tracks UV.
I’ve been using step trackers for a while – I currently use a Polar M600 and find it surprisingly accurate. I actually added in the M200 as well while using the Color Band A1 to really get an idea of which was accurate. What I found was that the Color Band A1 is pretty well on par with both.
There’s some discrepancy between the three devices when it comes to tracking whether I was walking or running, with the M600 able to better determine the difference, but for basic step count I was pretty pleased.
Tracking sleep is great – that is if you’re getting some and to be able to find out what quality of sleep you’re getting is fantastic. While the Polar watches don’t offer much on this front, I was very pleased with the Color Band A1.
The software was able to show how much sleep I got, as well as differentiate what quality of sleep – deep or light. When I woke feeling refreshed, I could then compare those results with other days where I was not so refreshed.
The main reason I wanted to try out the Color Band A1 was the UV detection and during our recent heat wave, it gave me ample time to test it out.
We’re familiar with the old Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide – Ok, for those not familiar, the saying goes: slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses. If you’re not familiar with the saying, and you have school age kids, ask them. It will (or should) have been drilled in by age 5!
The Huawei Color Band A1 essentially measures the UV and recommends what level of protection you should be utilising, be it a hat, shirt, or even sunscreen, the software even recommends what Sun Protection Factor (SPF) sunscreen you should use. It does recommend up to SPF 70, however the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) only verifies up to SPF50+ so, that’s what you’re aiming for in that case.
It was interesting to run the UV test throughout the day, I tried around 9:30am and was told a UV rating of 2, and then in the heat of the day 1PM (it’s daylight savings remember) I got one of the highest ratings.
In Australia we’re all essentially conditioned from childhood to just automatically reach for the sunscreen, a hat and sit in the shade anyway but having this remind you just how bad it is in some parts of the day is pretty decent.
The software itself is very easy to navigate. The setup is a breeze, and once you’re done you just strap on your Color Band and you’re off.
The main view in the Color Band app is the screens which show Steps, Sleep and UV. Each time you load the app the band will sync which takes between 10-15 seconds but gives you the most up to date information.
You can set up a profile in the app, but it’s not necessary at all. Setting up a profile is done by swiping in from the right hand side and then tapping on each field, your basic data, including a profile name and picture as well as birthdate are here. You can also choose to set your fitness goals, which range from Sedentary through to Moderately Active and Active.
All your settings are in the slide out Nav drawer on the left, where you can see the pairing status and battery status of your Color Band. It’s in here that you can opt in or out of receiving notifications for incoming calls or messages.
You can also set a smart alarm for the Color Band.
I do like the ‘Find my Band’ tacker, which sets off the vibration motor and the Blue LED (helpful in a dark room) which will in theory help you locate your tracker. I’ve lost fitness trackers by the dozen over the years so this should help you somewhat if you lose it in your house.
There’s no cloud sync of data – somewhat of a downfall in our connected world. There’s no Huawei servers, nor is there Google Fit integration to save your data either.
The utility of the Huawei Color Band A1 is there, it’s a surprisingly good step and sleep tracker, and the addition of UV tracking is also a nice inclusion. Living in Australia it’s just not as compelling a reason to buy one as I first thought, mainly due to most Aussies just covering up as much as possible each time we go into the sun.
What I did find however is that the sleep and step tracking is useful and accurate, a nice find in what’s essentially a gift with purchase when you buy a phone.
While you’re not going to buy a GR3 handset bundle just to get a Color Band A1, if you do happen to grab one then the band itself makes for a very nice inclusion.