As far as a smartwatch review goes, this one is different for a lot of reasons. Firstly, I’m not reviewing a new device. Secondly, this device has been reviewed extensively and is currently being discontinued in many markets. Most importantly, this review is more about the concept than the device itself. Without any more ado, I present to you, the Huawei Talkband B2.
For those of you familiar with the concept, the Huawei Talkband is a smart watch which is part fitness tracker and part Bluetooth headset. It measures the steps you take, the calories you burn as you take those steps, your daily activity, sleep activity and comes with a stop watch to measure all of those things over a specific period of time. The device itself is a comfortable fit. The wristband is made of a soft durable plastic which, as you can see in the picture above, slips together with many options to fit the size of many wrists.
The device vibrates every time you have an alert which is helpful and unobtrusive. It also doesn’t depend on your phone’s alert settings. The unit itself is powered by any micro-USB capable charger or cord. This makes it extremely functional and the charge time is quick. The one downside is that the battery lasts two full days before it needs a charge so you may have problems if you want to focus on your sleep patterns.
As stated above, the device will tell you the time (always good in a watch). It will count your steps and the calories burned as you take those steps. The calorie function differs from the Fitbit (my previous device) in that the Fitbit mentality is to give you the amount of calories you burn during steps added to the calories you burn merely by being awake. You also have a stop watch which will measure these things over a specified period of time. This helps if you want to do focused exercise. It also measures your sleep patterns. The device gives you the duration of sleep in any 24 hour period, with the app giving you a better breakdown. In terms of fitness, the app can also monitor how long you have been sitting down and will alert you to the fact that you need to spend a few moments stretching or moving about.
The device offers a few other functions outside the fitness realm. The device is capable of finding your phone. It is also capable of functioning as a remote for your phone’s camera. Lastly, of course, is the ability to take phone calls without you having to lift your phone. This is a nifty idea. I do, however, have one bone to pick with it. When you look at your wrist, you only see the number. There’s no caller ID. I’d like to know who’s calling without having to remember the number. That way I know whether to pick up if I’m in a meeting. Hopefully, that will be fixed in the B3 which has already been released in some markets. The device fits well in the ear and does come with three different sized ear pieces.
The device talks to your phone through the Huawei Wear App which can be found in Google Play. Interestingly enough, the App also works perfectly on BB10. When I checked it on my Q10, it needed to be resized, but for every other BB10 device, there shouldn’t be an issue with orientation. Let us know in the comments if you run into any issues.
The app has the ability to sync any of the Huawei Smart Watches and Talkbands. As you would expect, it shows you your step, calorie and sleep measures. It also allows you to switch on and off the idleness reminders and weather reports (which you can enable by changing the front display on the device. What I like is that it gives you tips as to why these things are important. It isn’t just doing it for its own sake.
One of the disadvantages to this app is that there isn’t a social component. You can’t enter into competition with friends over who has the best steps throughout the week or who can get to their target. It also lacks badges. If there is an app which does all these things and is OEM agnostic, I have yet to find it. More likely I haven’t been bothered to find it. If you have one, post it in the comments below. One of the other things about the app I like is that it gives you the option to set your goals at light, medium and hard. So instead of changing one goal, it changes them all. Then you can have realistic goals depending on what you are able to realistically achieve through your day.
Not just a Smartwatch Review
My title implies that this is more than a smartwatch review and it is. In a smartwatch review, you would expect two things. Firstly, the smartwatch review would stay focused on the watch and only the watch. Secondly, the smartwatch review would be about a new or recently released device. This is neither of those things. I say this, because I contend that this would be the smartwatch that BlackBerry would make. I would also say that because of that, BlackBerry don’t need to make a smartwatch or wearable.
My case rests on this key characteristic of the Huawei Talkband. It is a device which oozes productivity. This is a device with the workplace in mind. It is practical, unobtrusive and a real extension of your mobile device. The device helps you keep going while still being active. It gives you all the information you need without overdoing it. The other thing I like is that you don’t have to have the app running to receive calls. It just needs Bluetooth connection. This is a device that everyone will find practical and uncomplicated. I would argue that if BlackBerry wanted to get into the wearable market, this is how they would do it. With BlackBerry’s Android solutions on both Android and BB10 devices, why should they?
Now that Huawei has released the B3, I would recommend you giving this fellow a try. The prosumer world of BlackBerry users will enjoy the productivity that this device has to offer. Sound off in the comments section.