Wyze made its bones with affordable smart home devices and is bringing that ethos to wearables, starting with the $29.99 Wyze Band.
The price undercuts budget picks like the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, Honor Band 5, Amazfit Band 5 and more. We’ve concluded that in 2021 there’s no need to be paying more than $50 for a fitness tracker, but can Wyze lower that to $30?
Most budget fitness trackers get you adequate step, sleep and continuous heart rate tracking and varied activity tracking modes. You can expect swim-proofing, smartphone notifications, long battery life and, in some cases, Alexa integration.
You’re not going to get Fitbit or Garmin-level data, but enough to get your started on your connected-self journey.
How does the Wyze band, which is available in the US now, stack up to that wish list?
Wyze Band key features:
- Step and sleep tracking
- Indoor running and free-training activity modes
- 24/7 HR tracking
- Alexa built-in (not hands-free)
- 5ATM (50metres, 10 minutes) waterproofing
- Smartphone notifications
- 10-day battery life
- 0.95-inch AMOLED screen
- Easy control of Wyze smart home products
Wyze Band review: Design and specs
The design of the Wyze Band couldn’t be more atypical for a budget fitness band. Black silicone strap, black plastic case, and a small 0.95-inch AMOLED screen (120 x 240 pixel, 282 ppi) and large bezels.
There’s an optical heart rate sensor and charging pins on the back. It weighs 2.6oz (74g). There’s a dual microphone for Alexa commands and a pretty standard 5ATM water resistance, which makes it suitable for swimming in shallow water (certified at 50m for ten minutes).
Behind the display, there’s a 120mAh lithium battery that promises (and delivers) up to 10-days of battery life. The band comes with a charging clip that grips the outer edges of the device. It took 90 minutes to replenish the device from 4% to 99%.
Powering the Wyze Band is a Cypress PSOC6 dual-core processor, while connection to the Wyze app is handled by Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0. Naturally, there’s no Wi-Fi or LTE built in.
There’s also no built-in GPS, unlike the Huawei Band 4 Pro ($57.99), nor is there connected GPS for workouts (unlike the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5). So, immediately, here’s one trade-off for the price. Wyze did tell us it is investigating ways to add connected GPS in a future update.
Overall, the construction feels really solid, especially for the price point. The replaceable bands are attached firmly to the tracker and actually take a little elbow grease to remove. You can put pressure on either side and the connection feels very secure.
Wyze Band review: Display
The sub-1-inch AMOLED display is decently vivid display for the price point. The size of the display, however, limits the amount of information displayed on the face beyond the current time.
There are options that add the date or your step count, but that’s your lot. I feel Wyze could have gone a little larger with the display overall, especially given the size of the bezels.
You’ll need to whack the brightness up in order to get any visibility in sunlight, but fingerprints don’t pose too much of a problem.
Wyze Band review: Activity tracking
The focus on smart home devices and Alexa is helpful, because activity tracking is very limited. The only dedicated workout mode is for indoor running. The other option is free heart rate-based training, which will give you some metrics without the tuned-in sports modes we see from rivals like the similarly-priced Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5, which has 11 dedicated smart modes.
We took the Wyze band for an outdoor 5K and selected the “indoor running” mode. Considering the absence of GPS (neither on-board nor indirect) it did a remarkable job of estimating the distance with the step count.
While the Polar app estimated 3.25 miles by borrowing the iPhone’s GPS, Wyze counted 3.23 miles. That’s pretty good going considering it hasn’t been calibrated to my gate in any way. Or it could be blind luck.
Unfortunately, that particular run failed to pick up my heart rate exertion throughout, citing a max heart rate of just 83bpm, when the Polar averaged 168bpm. Wyze recommended a tighter fit, so we made it uncomfortably tight to be sure. A two-mile run averaged 152bpm compared to 158bpm from Polar. Problem solved, but possibly not to be recommended.
For the rest of your activities, you’re relying quite heavily on the cardio load. You can swim in the Wyze band, for example, but there’s no dedicated algorithm for swimming and no ability to measure the distance swum.
However, these readings are still within a good range of accuracy for calorie burn and heart rate.
A “free training” 6.89mile bike ride, for example, estimated a calorie burn of 439, with an average HR of 126. This compared to the Polar H10’s 426 calories and average HR of 127 for the same workout. Not bad at all, Wyze!
Speaking of heart rate, you can manually measure at any time directly from the watch. Otherwise, a reading will be taken at regular intervals (set within the app).
Wyze Band review: Sleep tracking
Your basic sleep stats sit on the activity screen alongside your step count and average HR, which is easily accessible from the home screen.
Aside from accidentally activating Alexa and waking myself up, I didn’t really find much use for the sleep tracking capabilities on the Wyze band. The band is uncomfortable to sleep in and, because the information is based only on movement, the data doesn’t seem worthwhile right now.
You’ll get an overall sleep time with only basic deep/light sleep readings and time awake. No REM sleep measurements are offered. Unfortunately, there’s no breakdown of time spent in either sleep stage, beyond an imprecise indicator on a bar graph. Wyze did tell us it is working on an update that’ll better break down sleep based on stages.
Compared to my normal sleep tracker, the Whoop Strap 3.0, the Wyze Band seemed to overestimate sleep somewhat. A total of 7hr and 36m was recorded by Wyze, compared to 5hrs 38mins on Whoop. As closer look at the registered times suggests Wyze mistook a solid chunk of time in bed with time asleep. That’s really unhelpful, if you’re trying to make your sleep routine more efficient, but passable if you’re looking to identify some basic trends.
Wyze Band review – smart home and Alexa
Wyze gained popularity for dirt-cheap home security cameras, like my unofficial pet cam. I can see him in HD and call him a “good boy” via two-way audio. It doesn’t spit-out treats, but it was $30 and it works.
Since then, Wyze has expanded rapidly to offer a wide range of cameras, smart plugs and bulbs, a scale, thermostat, lock, video doorbell and robot vacuum cleaner – many with Alexa functionality built-in. Think of it as a budget Ring, Nest and Philips Hue and more combined in one ecosystem.
Why am I talking so much about smart home tech for a fitness tracker review? Well, largely because it’s one of the Wyze Band’s central propositions. “A smart band should work with your smart stuff,” the company says.
The Wyze Band is a much a smart home controller as it is a fitness tracker. Using the Wyze app you can set on-screen shortcuts for quick access to smart home functionality. I can turn on Wyze Cam when I leave the house and turn off motion detection when everyone’s home. This aspect of the tracker is only really useful if you have other Wyze products in your arsenal, though.
However, you can deploy voice commands for all Alexa smart home devices connected to your Amazon account. So, you can dim your Hue lights without delving into the app, for example. Because Alexa is accessed by a long press, you don’t need to use a wake word either. The voice recognition from the pair of dedicated microphones worked fine.
There’s also some handy, if limited, aspects of Alexa’s wider functionality. You can ask for the weather, add items to your shopping list, or set an alarm or timer. You can ask simple questions, receive unit conversions, sports scores and summon information from Wikipedia, etc. However, you can’t get your Flash briefing or play games, for example.
Wyze Band review: Battery life
You can largely forget about the battery on the Wyze Band. The company advertises around ten days is possible between charges and we found that played out in our testing.
Of course, display brightness (what there is of it), frequency of heart rate measurements, Alexa requests and general use habits will cause variances, but we found 10 days to be a reliable guide. The baby-sized 120mAh battery requires around 90 minutes to fully replenish.
Wyze Band review: User interface and app
The touch response isn’t quite as fluid as we’d like here. You need to be precise and purposeful with your swipes and taps to ensure the desired response.
Tapping to wake can be a little temperamental, as can holding the capacitive tab beneath the display to summon Alexa. Unfortunately, I found myself summoning Alexa by accident a lot. I occasionally sleep on my wrist and pressure from my chin would cause the screen to light up, the device to vibrate and me to wake up.
The small screen can make navigating the interface a little fiddly. A swipe up unlocks the interface, while swiping up and down cycles through the features like Activity, Shortcuts, Alexa Alerts, Workouts, Heart Rate, Alarm, Weather, Find Phone (summons a little ring from your phone), Settings and Tools.
You tap an option to access the functionality and further options. There’s no physical button, so a capacitive tab below the display enables back/home.
The Wyze app enables the interface to be rearranged, while you can also delve deeper into your workout, activity and sleep statistics. Here’s also where you’ll get to change the watch face. You can set the font colour, display layout including uploaded photos from your library.
The Wyze app can also be used to add and edit your alarms and customise the smartphone notifications you receive via the band. On that front there’s a pretty wide array of supported apps, including incoming phone calls and text messages.
Beyond that your phone will also send you sync alerts from WhatsApp, Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger, Spotify, Google Maps and many more. It’s actually such a comprehensive list that our wrist was vibrating more often than not.
If you share your Wyze smart devices account with other members of your household, they will be pestered to connect to the Wyze Band initially. A minor inconvenience.
Verdict: The Wyze band offers a wide array of functionality, but doesn’t excel anywhere. Fitness tracking is seriously limited and sleep tracking is an afterthought. There’s no GPS either, although distance estimates do a good job for running. However, it’s a well-built device with waterproofing and easy access to Alexa. The smart home controls are only handy if you have other Wyze gadgets. The $30 price point is probably about right.
- Accurate distance, calorie estimates
- Access to Alexa
- Solid construction
- Wide range of notifications
- Long battery life
- Tiny display lacks info
- Limited sleep data
- No GPS (for now)
- HR tracking patchy during workouts