Wearables are pretty much the rage these days; everyone is coming out with their version of what they believe will be the definitive smartwatch, whether it’s Apple with their Apple Watch, the legion of Android Wear devices or fitness bands from the likes of Fitbit. Huawei is taking a different stab at the game though, with the release of the relatively barebones Honor Band Zl. At only a little over RM200, is it the smartwatch for the masses?
Featuring a polished steel watch face and a simple coloured band, the Zl doesn’t quite scream premium. Its hypoallergenic polyurethane wristband though, is pretty comfortable over long periods. Its featherweight construction also means you barely notice the device on your wrist In addition, it is IP68 certified, which means you can take it swimming and never have to take it of.
There are no external buttons on the Zl, and everything is touch only; double tapping the screen wakes it up while swiping up and down will bring you to the various screens and apps available on the watch. Unfortunately, the OS isn’t very intuitive, and it does take some time to know what to do to get to where you need to be. Even after a few days, the OS still managed to trip me up, which can be frustrating when you just want to do something simple like starting a stopwatch.
For a watch that isn’t running Watch OS or Android Wear, theZl’s functionality is predictably limited; it can count your steps, track how many hours you’ve been asleep (if you wear it sleeping, that is) and display simple notifications.
It’s limited in the ways it interacts with your devices, and is unable to even play/pause a music app or make a call. The response of the watch face is also pretty slow; I had to be very deliberate with my motions in order to activate the backlighting, and still this worked only half the time, making it pretty annoying even when used just as a watch.
The Zl connects to your smartphone through its Huawei Wear companion app, which is just as limited in its usefulness. You can view the aforementioned features on a larger screen on your phone, update the firmware, turn on some alarm settings and set a Do Not Disturb switch, but that’s about it.
Where the Zl doesn’t disappoint is in its battery life; on a full charge, the Zl can last almost 4 full days when used daily. This is pretty incredible as most Android Wear watches will be lucky to get through the day with charge to spare. The Zl also supports fast charging through the magnetic charging dock, allowing it to be fully charged in an hour and a half from a dead battery.
Still, despite its endless power, the Zl is little more than a digital watch with some neat tricks here and there. It doesn’t have the full functionality from a full-blown watch OS like Android Wear and it pales in comparison when it comes to the fitness capabilities of an offering from FitBit. If all you want is a stylish and cheap digital watch, the Zl is certainly a viable option.
DIMENSIONS: 229.4 x 38 x 9.5 mm WEIGHT: 25 g
OS: Android Wear
DISPLAY: 128 x 128 OLED touchscreen BATTERY: 70mAh
WATER RESISTANCE: IP68 dust resistant and waterproof
A basic smartwatch with a stylish exterior.