Everyone is making fitness trackers these days. From those who have been in the game a while like Fitbit and Garmin, to newcomers like Sony, Samsung and even Xiaomi.
Huawei entered the market last year with the pretty awful TalkBand B1, but it didn't really do enough to impress users.
The early signs however, are good. Huawei has ditched the rather toyish plastic band of the B1 and given the Talkband B2 a metal housing which instantly looks and feels more premium.
The highly angular design won't be to everyone's taste, but it's a distinct improvement and it didn't feel silly strapping it to my wrist.
Most notably, it's had a design overhaul -- including a fancy-looking gold version -- the screen is touch-enabled and tracks more than just your steps. Akansha Srivastava of GizBot has shared all the features for the TalkBand B2 from an ongoing event in Bangkok.
Huawei TalkBand B2 has a stylish and sophisticated design:
The first thing I noticed about the TalkBand B2 is that the design has been significantly improved since the original TalkBand B1, both in terms of the way it looks and the practicality.
TalkBand B1 was a fairly uninspiring black unit trapped in a blue rubber wristband, the B2 has a little more flair. There are three different designs to choose from: a black version with a plastic strap, a silver version with a white plastic strap, and a gold version with a leather brown strap.
The computer unit itself is made from what looks like metal, for one and clips into a metal surrounding. It's slightly wider than its predecessor, but it's not too big as to feel cumbersome on your wrist.
Our review unit was the gold model with the leather brown strap, which I felt comfortable wearing with most outfits, unlike some other fitness trackers we've tried. The strap is easy to adjust, easy to put on and take off quickly, and comfortable to wear.
Two little buttons on the side of the band makes the unit pop out of the strap. On the underside of the unit is a rubber earpiece which will hold it in place in your ear to function as a Bluetooth headset. It's a generous size and seemed to fit snuggly in my ear.
The lightweight build of the unit itself means it should be fairly stable in your ear when moving around. There's a single physical key on the right which acts as a power/lock key. The rest of the functionality is handled by the 0.7-inch PMOLED touchscreen display. There's not a great deal happening on screen, with the time, date and battery life displayed as default.
Also nice is that the screen becomes completely invisible when not in use, making the TalkBand B2 look more like a bracelet-type accessory than a piece of tech. Twisting or raising your wrist will cause the screen to illuminate.
It's been slimmed down a bit compared with the previous model, now measuring 11.8mm compared with 15mm, but I still found it to be a bit chunky for my liking.
Huawei TalkBand B2 flaunts amazing features:
In terms of fitness tracking, the TalkBand B2 has everything you'd expect from a smart band. It'll track your steps, distance and estimated calorie burn using the built-in 6-axis sensor that detects what type of exercise you're doing, and can also be used to monitor your sleep.
All of that information can be accessed from the 0.73in touchscreen, which I found to be pleasantly clear and responsive. A slide of the finger will scroll you through the Talkband B2's four core functions; calories, steps, sleep and timer. It is, at least, very easy to use.
You can set it up to notify you when you haven't been active for a set period of time, your wrist starts buzzing and a little man will appear on the screen and will be waving at you.
We liked the TalkBand B2's optional activity reminder feature as you can have the device prompt you to get up and walk around if you've been sitting still at your desk or on the sofa too long.
It's a novel idea, and while Bluetooth headsets are marmite devices it does give the Talkband B2 a clear advantage in the market. You will look a bit silly walking round with an empty watch strap on your wrist though.
But using a Bluetooth headset almost feels like taking a step back in time, when everyone simply uses headphones with a built-in microphone these days. Huawei seems to know this - it's launched the TalkBand N1 too, which are in-ear headphones that offer pretty much the same functionality as the TalkBand B2 aside from the touchscreen.
The call quality is great, and those calling said they hadn't noticed a difference in sound quality from my end - they were under the impression I was using my phone.
Flaunts a strong and steady battery backup:
In terms of battery life Huawei told us to expect around five days from the relatively tiny 90mAh battery, which is pretty impressive. That dramatically drops if you start taking calls on the B2, with it claiming a seven hour call time.
Annoyingly the microUSB charging port is hidden under the main core of the B2, meaning you have to remove it from the strap to charge.
Compatible with Android and iOS:
The TalkBand B2 is compatible with both Android and iOS, with Android 4.0 or above and iOS 7 or above required. All you'll need to do is download the Talkband app from Google Play or the App Store to begin the setup.
The dedicated Huawei Wear app has a simple, easy to understand interface, presenting data as circles that will fill up as the day goes on, and more in-depth charts if you want a breakdown of the data over the day or month.
The Huawei Talkband B2 is an unique device with a rather compelling party trick - but only if you're one of those people who actually likes using a Bluetooth headset.
The price is likely to be a lot more than most dedicated fitness trackers, when you consider that you can get the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR or the Jawbone Up24.
Of course neither of these has a built-in Bluetooth headset and so if you are looking to buy a fitness tracker and a Bluetooth headset then it is worth considering the TalkBand B2.