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Honor Band 5 review: A whole lot of wearable for £30

Our Rating :
£31.99 from
Price when reviewed : £30
inc. VAT

The Honor Band 5 proves that you don’t need to spend the earth to get a decent fitness tracker


  • Cheap
  • Excellent heart-rate and sleep tracking
  • Excellent battery life


  • GPS piggybacking problematic for serious runners
  • Huawei Health app has its limitations

Update: Since publishing this review, I’ve also put its main rival – the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 – through its paces. You can read the full Mi Band 4 review here, but the truth is there’s isn’t a great deal between the two. 

Each has one pretty minor advantage over the other. The Honor Band 5 can measure blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), which the Mi Band 4 can’t. On the other hand, the 135mAh cell in the Mi Band 4 trumps the 100mAh battery in the Honor Band 5.

In short, it comes down to personal preference and any offers you see. Both come highly recommended.

The original review continues below.

Earlier this year, Huawei released the Band 3 Pro at a very reasonable £80: a product that bested the Fitbit Inspire HR on features while slightly undercutting the price.

Now Huawei’s subbrand Honor has made a band that matches the aforementioned Fitbit for features, and the price is even better: it’ll set you back less than half the money.

Honor Band 5 review: What you need to know

The Honor Band 5 is a fitness band for those who want to be a bit more active but don’t need the advanced features of a running watch. That means that you don’t get GPS, but you do get a heart-rate monitor, a step counter and notifications showing up on the Honor Band 5’s 0.95in OLED screen.

It tracks steps, sleep and exercise, while diligently logging it all in the Huawei Health app, so you can keep tabs on how you’re doing.

Honor Band 5 review: Price and competition

Essentially, this a Fitbit Inspire HR rival but while the Inspire HR sells for £89 the Honor Band 5 goes for a third of the price: it will set you back a mere £30.

At that price point, the list of competitors is pretty short. There’s the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 which offers a similar experience for £27 or, if you’re feeling flush, the Mi Band 4 for a tenner more.

Finally if GPS is a dealbreaker, then you can either look at the Huawei Band 3 Pro at £80, or try the the Amazfit Bip smartwatch which goes for around £50.

Honor Band 5 review: Design

What’s immediately impressive about the Honor Band 5 is how similar it looks to the Huawei Band 3 Pro. That’s probably because the main differences are inside but it’s still reassuring that it can go toe-to-toe with a product that’s more than twice the price.


Actually, it’s not quite toe-to-toe. The Huawei Band 3 Pro has a glass screen and metal frame surrounding its display, while the one on the Honor Band 5 is only 2.5D curved glass.

Fairly thick bezels surround the Band 5’s 0.95in OLED, 282ppi touchscreen, which is par for the course with this type of fitness wearable, and you can bring it to life with a quick tap of the touch-sensitive panel beneath it. Because all the backgrounds are black, it’s not obvious where bezels end and screen begins, so those bezels don’t look as ugly as they might.

In fact, despite having a different band stamped on it, the Honor Band 5 seems to share a lot of the same DNA as the Band 3 Pro, right down to the plugs holding the replaceable straps in place, which require fingernails of steel to remove. It’s not something you’ll want to do often, nor will you be able to put any old watch strap on, as these are proprietary attachments.


In short, the Band 5 is an attractive enough device, but you won’t be fooling anyone into thinking you’ve paid any more than £100 plus for it. But then, if that’s your aim, you should probably not be looking at a simple step tracker anyway.

Honor Band 5 review: Performance

The Honor Band 5 gets the basics right, though. Lift your arm or tap below it and the screen springs to life with a view of your step count and the time. Swipe down and you’ll gain access to your heart rate, sleep log and the option to start exercises. Other, less frequently used function, such as the timer, stopwatch and find phone facilities, are hidden behind another submenu. If you find swiping annoying, you can set it up so twisting your wrist cycles through screens but, given you need to touch the screen to confirm, this feels a bit of a waste of time.

Regardless, the features all work well, with the usual caveat that step tracking can vary compared with other devices. In other words, if you wear two different trackers, they’ll likely give you different scores – sometimes dramatically different. That’s not as big a deal as it sounds, because the whole point of step trackers is to encourage you to do more steps than yesterday. As long as the device is consistent with itself, in other words, it doesn’t matter whether your stroll is measured as 1,000 steps or 3,000.

What is important for runners, however, is accuracy at tracking distance. If distance is off then the live pace measurement on your wrist is also wrong and that will impact your chances of getting a personal best on a given run. Here, without built-in GPS, duties are outsourced to your phone, which is a perfectly serviceable solution but only if it has a reliable GPS chip in it.

That’s a big ‘if’ – and even running watches with built-in GPS trackers have been known to be inaccurate. Linked to my Huawei P20 Pro, the Honor Band 5 was imperfect but not far off the Polar M430 on my other wrist. At parkrun this weekend, I ran the 5km course with an official time of 24mins 51secs; the Huawei Health app, which syncs with the Honor Band 5 marked it as 4.97km, which is very good indeed, especially considering the usually accurate Polar M430 logged it as 5.09km.

But your mileage may vary – in every sense of the word. Another run around a more built-up area showed the possible perils of relying on phone GPS. A short run was measured as an accurate 3.81km by the Polar watch, and a short 3.67km by the Honor Band 5. Why? A close up of the GPS data tells the full story:

Neither is perfect, but you can see here that the Polar is a fair bit closer to the street than the Honor Band 5 – I wasn’t running through people’s houses. In other words, if you know your phone’s GPS is flakey, or it has aggressive battery saving that kills GPS when the screen is off, then this function isn’t ideal for you.

That’s extremely forgivable in a £30 wearable however, especially because everything else about it is so commendable. The heart-rate tracking, for example, can be switched off, constantly taking readings or put in “smart mode” where it automatically limits tracking when it detects you’re not doing much. And it’s pretty good too. Here’s my chart for the duration of my aforementioned parkrun:

If you have continuous heart-rate tracking enabled, you can even set it to give you an alert if your heart rate is unusually high for more than ten minutes (and you can set the threshold for what you consider to be unusually high too: anything from 100bpm to 150bpm.)

All these advanced features are off by default to save on battery life, but I’d recommend you flick them all on straight away. Yes, you’ll need to charge it more often, but that’s still not hugely regularly. Honor reckons you’ll get 14 days with just basic functionality, down to six if you turn everything on. That feels right to me, and six days is a perfectly reasonable time to me, even if it can be more than doubled.

By default, you also only get basic sleep tracking. Again, you should switch on the TruSleep if you have any interest in knowing how well you’re kipping. If it’s off, it just tracks the accelerometer to measure movements. If it’s on, the heart-rate sensor comes into play, allowing the watch to estimate sinus rhythm and breathing signals, which in turn gives you a better analysis of your sleep: when you’re light sleeping, deep sleeping or enjoying a dream in the REM stages.

This seems accurate to me. My sleep is typically around the 80% mark, but this dipped to 60% when I was staying at a friend’s house in a bed that was comically short for me. The app then offers advice on how to improve your sleep, but oddly “get a normal-sized bed” isn’t one of the nuggets it provides.

Which brings me to the Huawei Health app. As I said in the Huawei Band 3 Pro review, it’s fine as far as it goes, but it has two big problems for me. Firstly, there’s no web interface at all, meaning any analysis you do will be on your phone. More seriously, it only connects with MyFitnessPal and Google Fit. There’s no option to export things to Strava, Runkeeper, Endomondo or any other running app.


Honor Band 5 review: Verdict

Any issues I have with the Honor Band 5 can be immediately countered by its £30 price point. Yes, relying on GPS data from your phone is problematic, but it’s £30. Yes, the app doesn’t play nicely with others, but it’s £30. Yes, there are more handsome wearables around, but it’s £30.

In short, for the price, it’s about as good as it gets. It’s incredible you can get this functionality for less than the cost of a decent meal out for two. If this is where your budget is at and running isn’t your life, then you don’t need to look any further.

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