The Huawei Band 7 is an activity tracker and fitness band that does a lot more than you might expect given its price. Record steps, runs, workouts, heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep and more.
The market for activity monitors, fitness bands and smartwatches is awash with products and there is a huge variety to choose from. In fact, there are so many and at such a wide range of price points that it is difficult deciding what to buy.
I know how hard it is to choose the right gadget to wear on your wrist and while the Apple Watch is a fantastic device, the latest model is also expensive. Yes, there are cheaper Watches, but they are smaller and have reduced capabilities. Even the cheapest Apple Watch is not what most people would call cheap.
Premium watches, bands and trackers are aimed at young, fit, healthy and wealthy people and if you are one of them, then they are great. There are many alternatives if you are not so wealthy and the budget end of the wearables market is more crowded than the top end. The Huawei Band 7 doesn’t cost the Earth and has a good range of features.
Huawei Band 7 features and specifications are on the website, but here is what I found.
Price and unboxing
The Band is discounted by Huawei and retailers here in the UK, and it is sold for £39.99 at many stores, which is £10 off the regular price. (It may be discounted in your country too.)
If you use Microsoft bing.com search engine in your web browser, and you are signed into your Microsoft account, you earn points. You can then exchange those points for gift cards from a variety of retailers.
I converted some of my points into a £5 gift card, so I ended up paying £34.99 for the Huawei Band 7. That is cheap! Of course, cheap devices are not always good ones, but this one is an exception.
Inside the box is the watch itself and a charging cable, which has a USB plug at one end and magnets at the other, which clamp it to the back of the Band for charging. There is a manual, but you will not need it, even if you could read the microscopically small font.
Huawei Band 7 hardware
The Band weighs just 16 grams without the silicone strap and not much more with it. The strap has a lot of adjustment, so it will fit both large and small wrists. It is so light that it cannot be felt when it is being worn.
The screen is taller than it is wide and has a 1.47-inch AMOLED display that is bright and has a resolution of 194 x 368 pixels. The total size is 44 x 26 x 10 mm and it is larger than some other fitness bands, but is not as big as a smartwatch like the Apple Watch.
The Band 7 is waterproof and it can be worn while swimming in a pool or the sea, or having a shower. Technically, it can go down to 50 m, but it is not recommended for diving.
There are optical sensors on the back of the Band to measure your heart rate and SpO2 blood oxygen level, and it contains an accelerometer, gyroscope and accelerometer. The information it shows is comprehensive and it is more like a watch than a typical fitness band.
There is a single button on the right side that is used to access certain functions. The screen is touch sensitive and responds to taps and swipes and you often use a combination of the button and screen to interact with the device.
The battery life of the Band 7 is excellent. It arrived with 75% charge and after several days of heavy use trying all the functions, it is only down to 40%. Huawei claims 7 days of heavy use and 14 days of light use, and this seems about right. This is a device you can put on your wrist and forget.
Setting up the Huawei Band 7
There is nothing to do on the Band itself and it is ready to wear straight out of the box, but there is a lot to do on your phone. A problem you will encounter is that apps in the Google Play Store and iPhone App Store are out of date and are not good.
I installed the Huawei Health app from the Google Play Store on an Android phone, which seems the best option for the Band. Immediately, the app said there was an update available. However, it is a direct download of the Health app APK file (a standard Android file format) from Huawei.
You must enable installation from outside of the Google Play Store in the phone’s settings, in Settings > Apps then Special Access on the three dots menu on my Samsung. I enabled Health, My Files and Chrome, then went back to the downloaded APK file and tapped it to install it. You get the latest version of Huawei Health app with support for the Band 7 and it is much better than the app in the store.
Even after updating, there is still a lot to do and the app prompts you to set various permissions and enable it to run all the time and in the background. It even suggests locking it so it cannot be closed.
You are guided through all this and I was fine with it, but complete novices might find it difficult. I also found that the suggested settings led to increased battery usage and I undid some of them related to power, location and background activity. It reduced battery use quite a lot and it is now running OK wit normal battery usage.
You need to be familiar with Android settings, configuring apps and setting permissions to get the best out of the Health app on the phone. A novice may struggle.
Using the Huawei Band 7
Raise your wrist to look at the Band and the screen comes on. It can be set permanently on, but that will use more power and it is not necessary anyway.
There is a large collection of watch faces and they are organized into categories like Sporty, Artistic, Modular, and so on. The Free category has over 60 watch faces, so the total paid and free must be in the hundreds.
The watch face in the photos above is a free one I installed. They are browsed, downloaded and installed on the Band using the phone app. You can view and set installed watch faces on the Band itself.
What you see on the home screen depends entirely on the watch face installed. Some show a lot of information, but minimalist designs show only the basics. The watch face I use is a great one and it has a mini weather forecast, date, time, steps, distance walked, last night’s sleep time, stress level, heart rate and battery level. That’s a lot of information!
Swipe left and the heart rate information is displayed. It shows the current heart rate and if you enable constant 24/7 heart monitoring, it shows a chart with your heart rate over time. This is useful for checking on workouts.
Swipe left again and your blood oxygen level is shown. Once again, it shows your levels over time if you enable 24/7 monitoring and you can see the last few hours on a chart.
Setting constant heart rate and blood oxygen level monitoring uses more battery, but even with these features turned on, you should still get a week’s use before needing change the battery. Turn them off and just measure them when you need to know will increase battery life beyond 7 days.
Keep swiping and there is a weather forecast, activity display, and music player. With Spotify on my Android phone, I could play and pause music and podcasts from the Huawei Band. You can also skip to the next or previous track in a playlist with a tap on the Band.
Pull down from the top and you can ring your phone, in case you misplaced it around the home, access settings, set an alarm, or enable Do Not Disturb mode. Do Not Disturb can be scheduled so you are not woken in the night by notifications and it defaults to 11 PM to 7 AM, but that can be adjusted.
Track activities with the Band
Press the button on the side of the Huawei Band 7 and a vertically scrolling set of functions are displayed and these include Workout, Workout Records, Workout Status, Heart Rate, SpO2, Activity Records, Sleep, Stress, Breathing Exercises, Music, Notifications, Weather, Stopwatch, Timer, Alarm, Torch, Find Phone and Settings.
The one you will use most is Workout, and this displays a short list of your favorite activities. Tap Customize and you can choose from 96 activities for your favourites list. Almost every activity you can think of can be tracked and with some, there are indoor and outdoor variations. This enables you to monitor real walks, runs, and cycling outdoors and also indoors using gym equipment.
I initially added each gym workstation as a separate item, and while it does work and you can track weights training, running machine, rowing machine, cycling, step and other machines, I found it irritating having to start, stop and switch activities between activities.
Although it is possible to monitor each gym activity separately, I found it easier to simply select the broad Physical Training activity when I entered the gym and stop it when I finished. Afterwards I can check myr activity, heart rate and so on, and see how hard I worked.
The Band automatically tracks your sleep and it can tell when you are in deep sleep, REM sleep, light sleep and when you woke in the night. It is interesting to see the results.
The Huawei Band 7 costs very little and it is at the cheaper end of the fitness band activity tracker market. However, the range of functions and features is excellent for the price. One of the few things some people might miss is GPS tracking and this does not have it.
I am more interested in how long and how hard I have trained, what my heart rate and SpO2 levels are, and I don’t need to see a map of where I have run. The best features are the light weight, the long battery life and the 24/7 monitoring of heart, SpO2 and sleep.
It is more like a narrow smartwatch than other fitness bands and it manages to show a lot more useful activity information on the screen. I have really only scratched the surface of the many features it has.
There are better fitness and activity trackers, but they are more expensive and the Huawei Watch Fit 2 is an example. The Band 7 is not perfect, but it is good enough for many people and it is more affordable if you are on a budget. The only negative is that novices may find the Android phone app installation and setup difficult. It’s fine if you know your way around Android settings though.