Huawei TalkBand B2
Huawei has unveiled a new version of its TalkBand, the B2, a wrist-worn fitness tracker that also doubles as a Bluetooth headset.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the design has been significantly improved since the B1, both in terms of looks and practicality. The original TalkBand was plasticky and cheap-looking, whereas this version looks much more stylish and sophisticated, from the strap and the device itself, through to its packaging.
There are three designs to choose from: black and white offerings with plastic straps, and a gold option with a leather strap.
The tech is housed within the removable portion of the device. This pops out easily when you squeeze the two buttons on the strap, and is simple to pop back into place. We’re happy to see that Huawei has improved the design to make it easier to remove and replace the earpiece, something we found frustrating with the B1.
We also like the fact that the screen becomes 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, too – measuring 11.8mm compared to the B1’s 15mm – though we still found it a little chunky for our liking. Most smartwatches are a little on the thick side compared with regular watches, but the TalkBand looks significantly thicker, which many will find off-putting.
In terms of fitness tracking, the B2 has everything you’d expect from a smartband. It tracks your steps and distance, and estimates the amount of calories burned using the built-in 6-axis sensor. This detects the type of exercise you’re doing, such as walking, running and cycling, and can also be used to monitor your sleep. All of this information can be accessed via the 0.73in touchscreen, which is clear and responsive.
The accuracy of the B2 seems to be on par with the likes of other fitness trackers we’ve tried, and measures how many calories you’ve burned. You can also set yourself a goal, and once this is reached, the TalkBand buzzes, displays a fireworks animation and awards you a trophy.
You can take a look back at your past activity by opening the dedicated iOS or Android app. This offers day- and month views. .
The B2 can also measure your sleep patterns, letting you know how long you slept, and whether that was deep- or light sleep. Unfortunately, we found that the TalkBand was too uncomfortable to wear in bed, and so took it off.
The TalkBand’s Bluetooth earpiece for hands-free calling has divided opinion here in the office. It actually makes a lot of sense – certainly more so than talking to your wrist.
But using a Bluetooth headset feels as though you’re stepping back in time, especially since you can get headphones with a built-in microphone. Huawei is aware of this and has announced that it is to launch the TalkBand N1 – in-ear headphones that offer pretty much the same functionality as the B2 aside from the touchscreen.
The first time someone called while we were testing the B2, we were notified by the device’s vibration alert. We found it a little fiddly to get it to sit in our ear to begin with, but soon got the hang of it. The quality of calls is great, and those contacting us said they hadn’t noticed a difference in sound quality from our end. Once the call was over, we didn’t have any problems popping the earpiece back into the wristband.
You can turn on notifications for messages, but this didn’t seem to work for us and the manual didn’t offer any help. A quick check online offered no answers either – Huawei’s support documents are lacking (in fact, they’re nonexistent). Anything else, such as Facebook notifications or emails, won’t show up at all – you’ll have to check your phone for.
You can, however, set an alarm on the TalkBand to wake you up in the morning, and use the device to help find your phone if it’s fallen beneath the sofa.
The B2 is also water- and dust resistant, so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re washing your hands. We wouldn’t recommend wearing it in the shower, though, particularly if you’ve got the leather strap.
To charge the device, you’ll need to use the provided MicroUSB cable. This plugs into the port on the back of the removable portion of the device, so it’s always hidden while you’re wearing it. The TalkBand takes around an hour-anda-half to charge, and this should last for four- to five days.
The TalkBand B2 is an enormous improvement over the B1 in terms of design and practicality, but we’re still not sure we’d buy one. It’s an opinion divider, but we think for a (probably small) number of people, this device is going to be really exciting, and exactly what they’ve been looking for. You’ll know if you’re confident enough to wear and use the Bluetooth headset in public, and if you are, this smartband could be an excellent investment as it does its job brilliantly and looks good while doing so.