Huawei Band 2 Pro Review: This Budget Fitness Band Is a Sleeper Hit

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I wouldn't blame you for skipping over Huawei's Band 2 Pro, a $69 fitness band with a completely forgettable name. Sure, it's packed with premium features, but at such a low price and a design that looks a little too similar to a Fitbit Alta, could it really be any good? The answer is yes. It is very good. This is a budget band that deserves your attention.

The Band 2 Pro sports built-in GPS, heart rate sensor and deep sleep-tracking capabilities in a package that feels more expensive than its $69 price tag would suggest, with excellent battery life to boot. It's not a perfect fitness tracker, but at this price, I don't care.

Powerful sensors in a budget package

Fitness trackers are now a dime a dozen, and you can find a step-tracking band at just about every price. But it's rare to find a sub-$100 device with an optical heart rate sensor and built-in GPS, so I was skeptical that the Band 2 Pro could deliver accurate results, especially given its relatively slim size. I was pleasantly surprised.

To start a workout, you have to press the button on the bottom of the display to scroll through the list of activities. Once you reach the Run option, long press the button to start the workout, then press the button again to activate GPS.

It took a few seconds for the device to grab a GPS signal in Brooklyn, but in my experience that was typical for any other fitness-tracking device with GPS. On one run I did lose the GPS signal and couldn't figure out how to get it back, but that only happened once in my week of testing.

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Design: Well, this looks familiar

Another reason I doubted the Band 2 Pro's potential: At first glance, it looks like a slightly thicker Fitbit Alta, with a long black display framed by steel bands on both sides. A little too much alike. The Band 2 Pro doesn't have a tap display like the Alta; instead, you control the device with a button embedded on the screen's bottom bezel.

Design déjà vu aside, navigating the device using one home button is easy. You can press to view your daily step count, do breathing exercises or launch a workout from one of three options: running, cycling or swimming. Starting a run will bring up the option to turn on GPS, which you press again to activate.

After starting a run, you can see your stats, including heart rate and mileage, on the display. But the black-and-white screen is extremely dim and very difficult to see in even moderate sunlight, let alone in the brightness of midday. There's no way to adjust the display brightness, either, which is a flaw that keeps the Band 2 Pro from being a must-have.

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A sleeper hit

An unexpected bonus to the Band 2 Pro's continuous heart-rate tracking is detailed sleep analysis, which you find in the Huawei Wear smartphone app. The tracker uses its accelerometer to detect movement and its heart-rate sensor to determine how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep.

This is similar to what Fitbit's Sleep Stages feature does, but Huawei manages to go deeper with a breathing quality score and nap measurements. Fitbit doesn't track naps.

I typically get about 8 hours of unperturbed sleep every night, a blessing reaffirmed by the Huawei sleep dashboard. But although there were no surprises in my sleep analysis, learning what amount of time spent in each stage is normal and why each stage is necessary was useful.

The Huawei Wear app would benefit from a better interface, but it syncs your data to Apple's HealthKit and MyFitnessPal, which is useful.

MORE: Best Running Apps for iOS and Android

Solid battery life

The biggest problem I have with feature-packed fitness trackers is battery drain.

I wore the Band 2 Pro all day every day, using it to track my sleep, log my daily runs with GPS activated and  check notifications from my phone, and it lasted more than three days on a charge. That's impressive for a fitness band in general, let alone a tracker at this price.

Bottom line

Huawei's Band 2 Pro isn't perfect. Its display could be brighter, and interchangeable bands would make it more versatile. But this affordable fitness tracker is packed with powerful sensors that deliver surprisingly accurate workout and sleep analysis. It's one of the best bands under $100.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide

Caitlin is a Senior editor for Gizmodo. She has also worked on Tom's Guide, Macworld, PCWorld and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. When she's not testing out the latest devices, you can find her running around the streets of Los Angeles, putting in morning miles or searching for the best tacos.