Huawei Band 3 Pro hands-on: Affordable fitness band with GPS and color touchscreen

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Last month I reviewed the Fitbit Charge 3 and enjoyed using a smaller form factor wearable for a few weeks. However, I prefer having GPS for tracking my outside runs and bike trips.

Last week, Huawei released the Band 3 Pro in the US with availability now at Amazon and other retailers. You can pick it up in Obsidian Black, Quicksand Gold, and Space Blue for just $69.99.

Hardware

When the Huawei Band 3 Pro first arrived, I immediately thought it was another Fitbit Charge 3 activity tracker. The Band 3 Pro has a narrow band form factor with 2.5D curved glass display that extends around your wrist.

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The center area of the Band 3 Pro is made of metal and glass, colored to match the rest of the tracker. The silicone band is comfortable and flexible with a plastic clasp.

The AMOLED screen is vibrant with bright colors and dark blacks. It is a touchscreen with an interface that is controlled entirely by touch. You swipe up and down to go through the various widgets and touch on the area below the display to go back to the home screen/watch face.

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Huawei uses its TruSeen 3.0 heart rate monitoring system to track your heart rate 24/7. Below the heart rate sensor are two contacts where the charging dock attaches. The very small charging clip snaps on and then connects via a microUSB port to charge up the Band 3 Pro.

Specifications

  • Display: 0.95 inches, 120x240 pixels resolution touchscreen AMOLED
  • Materials: Glass and aluminum body with durable material band and an aluminum buckle
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 4.2
  • Water resistance: Up to 50 meters and sweat, rain, and splash proof
  • Sensors: 6-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor
  • Battery life: Up to 12 days typical usage and seven hours with GPS
  • Dimensions: 45mm long by 19mm wide by 11 mm thick with a weight of just 25 grams (with the wrist strap)

Band 3 Pro software

When you twist your wrist or touch the display, the Band 3 Pro shows your selected watch face. There are currently two different watch faces to select from on the watch. One shows the current temperature and even when I chose Imperial units it still shows the temperature in Celcius.

From the watch face, you can swipe up or down to move through the following: step status, heart rate, sleep status, workout, more, and messages. You can reorder these using the Huawei Watch app installed on your phone. The more option lets you change settings, such as watch faces, find phone, timer, stopwatch, brightness, and more.

The find phone option works well and sounds a loud alarm on your phone when activated. There is a camera remote advertised on the Amazon webpage, but I have not yet been able to find this functionality.

Workouts include outdoor running, indoor run, outdoor walk, outdoor cycle, indoor cycle, pool swim, open water, and free training. Options for these workouts include setting distance, duration, or calorie burn targets and setting interval alerts. While working out you will see status of your time, distance, heart rate, current pace, calories burned, and cadence. Press and hold on the bottom bar to pause your activity and then you can choose to stop it or continue after the pause.

Huawei Health software

In order to fully setup your Band 3 Pro and also see notifications on the band from your phone, you need to install the Huawei Health application. I installed it and used the app on the Huawei Mate 20 smartphone in order to test out the direct Huawei connection.

When you first launch the Huawei Health app it starts with a dashboard view on a Home tab that shows your current day's stats up top. This data has steps, active minutes, distance, calories, and elevation climbed. Below this is exercise records and then sleep, heart rate, and weight cards.

The exercise tab shows the workouts recorded and synced from the Band 3 Pro. You can also use this app to start and record workouts using your phone, but we are focused on the Band 3 Pro at the moment. Exercise data captured and shown in Huawei Health are shown on trajectory, pace, charts, and details. Lots of data and details are captured, including VO2 Max. I ran with a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus and the results from the Band 3 Pro very closely matched the Band 3 Pro.

Unfortunately, data cannot be exported from Huawei Health, but you can sync to Jawbone UP, Google Fit, or MyFitnessPal. I would love to see Strava as an option since that is a standard service across many wearable devices and one I use for my workouts.

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Sleep tracking looks to be one of the most powerful functions of the Band 3 Pro. The synced data provides some great stats when you scroll below the chart to show the percentage of time you were in each stage and what is typical. Naps are also recorded, which is something I haven't seen on other wearables. Sometimes on the weekends I get up very early to get things done and an early afternoon nap is refreshing.

A sleep score, between 0 and 100, is also awarded each evening with feedback on how to improve your score. The feedback is provided by the Center for Dynamical Biomarkers, Harvard Medical School. There are 200 potential solutions and suggestions provided within the app to help you sleep better and make mornings easier.

Settings within Huawei Health include notification management, heart rate warnings for high levels, do not disturb settings, and much more to make the Band 3 Pro fit your desires and daily wear practices.

Daily usage experiences

For just $70, I never thought that the Band 3 Pro would be worth considering. It offers more than a Fitbit Charge 3, priced twice as much, with integrated GPS and a color display. However, it doesn't have the ecosystem and community that is found when you wear a Fitbit.

The GPS results very closely matched one of the best Garmin wearables available today so if you want a smaller band form factor with GPS then the Band 3 Pro is tough to beat.

Sleep results very closely match the Fitbit Charge 3 I was wearing on my other wrist. The deep and light sleep stages matched within a couple of minutes. The Huawei Band 3 Pro did not distinguish between REM and awake for any of the nights I recorded sleep.

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Basic notifications are provided on the Band 3 Pro, but very little information is shown and I did not find much utility with them. This is really not a device to replace a smartwatch, but is an extremely capable activity tracker with GPS. The battery life matches what is advertised on the Huawei website. Functionality exceeded my expectations and for $70 I don't see how you can go wrong choosing this wearable if you don't need a full smartwatch form factor device.

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