Smartwatches and fitness trackers have been transformational for people’s health and wellbeing. A gentle wrist-based reminder to get up, take a walk or simply take a breath during a hectic day means smartwatches are playing a pivotal role in how we monitor and maintain our health.

The Honor Watch ES is an updated fitness smartwatch that offers will appeal to anyone looking to jump in, but who doesn’t fancy forking out a fortune on an Apple Watch. Its £99 price tag belies an impressive set of features that you’d expect to find on more expensive smartwatches, while it’s unusually tall screen and range of colours adds a unique flair that works to make this more fashion statement than cheap smartwatch wannabe.

Honor Watch ES review

It’s easy to be a bit snobbish when choosing a smartwatch. While Apple’s ubiquitous Watch is the default go-to for many, don’t dismiss the Honor Watch ES. This isn’t some cheap knockoff and we were hugely impressed with its battery life – we’re talking well over a week. Incredibly, Honor has squeezed a lot into its attractive design.

It’s a delightfully lightweight watch, with three colours – meteorite black, Icelandic white and coral pink. The plastic strap can feel, well, a little plasticy and as I have small wrists it meant that the watch face did feel a little too tall at times.

Recommended: Read our Honor Band 5 review.

A fashionable model

I tested the white model with its 1.64-inch AMOLED screen that is bright, crisp and responsive. It has a vividness that made keeping tabs on fitness tracking a breeze. You can personalise the watch faces, and there are six useful always on faces to choose from. I really liked the screen, finding it clearer and easier to read than an Apple Watch.

HONOR Watch ES - Icelandic White
We tested the sporty Icelandic White Honor Watch ES.

The 30mm frame is a smidge over 1cm think, and the case weighs just over 21g without the strap. When worn over the week I barely noticed it, finding it comfortable and unobtrusive. It also attracted a few admiring comments – it looks decent, and has a certain on-trend look that makes more of a differentiated fashion statement.

Honor Watch ES review – smartwatch features

For this Honor Watch ES review I tested it over several weeks, and while the smartwatch features are useful – music control, messaging and other handy timesavers are all present and correct – this is clearly a fitness tracker and health monitor first. That’s no bad thing, and by focusing on a range of health and fitness features, it’s pared-back approach works. That said, phone notifications were useful, and the ability to scroll through and control music during workouts away from the phone was helpful at the gym.

Health monitoring is impressive. It’s 24/7 heart rate monitor proved accurate, while you can measure your blood oxygen level with the built-in SpO2 monitor. Apple’s latest Watch has only just added the latter feature to its line up, making the Honor Watch ES something of the little watch that can.

Sleep tracking is effective at switching on and simple to use thanks also to the lightweight of the watch, with useful recommendations on sleep improvement. I liked the fact it automatically switches on when you doze off in case you forget to turn on sleep tracking. However, accuracy was a little questionable – it was a little off compared to a comparable sleep tracker I used at the same time. I liked the stress monitor and female cycle trackers – great wrist-based wellbeing tools that nudge you towards being better informed about all your health.

Honor Watch ES review - heart rate tracking
We really liked the helpful heart rate tracker that shows which zone you’re in, such as fat burning and aerobic.

A standout was the ability for the fitness tracker to show what fitness zone your heart rate was in during a multi-intensity workout, such as fat burning and cardio, which saves a bit of mental arithmetic that you need with other smart watches that just show heart rate.

Honor Watch ES review – fitness tracker

As a fitness tracker, there’s lots to recommend. I took the Honor Watch ES on several 5k runs over a week, and activity was recorded accurately, and it was comfortable while pushing hard on uphill sprints. Icelandic white certainly looks sporty, and pairs well with the current trend to a white sportswear edit.

Visit to the gym and the Honor Watch ES certainly won’t leave you shortchanged. There are 95 workout modes covering pretty much every gym activity you can think of and then some, while the 44 animated exercise moves were helpful for gym newbies or those looking to perfect their technique. Other fitness tracking features performed well, with calorie burning and step counting included, and I found it to be as accurate as a second fitness tracker I wore at the same time to compare.

For a £99 smartwatch and fitness tracker mashup, the Honor Watch ES holds a lot of appeal. Don’t discount it due to its bargain price – this is good value, and a good looker as well. Better still is the battery life. I used it over a two week period and didn’t need to charge the battery. While it’s rated for 10 days, and we didn’t use it 24/7, a single charge is good for a week of fairly intensive use including workouts, running and sleep tracking. Charging is quick – just under two hours for a full charge.

It may not have all the whistles and bells – and the pedigree of an Apple Watch – but if you’re budget-minded the Honor Watch ES is a fantastic solution that successful combines fashion and fitness into a lightweight, long-lasting watch.

The Honor Watch ES is available from Amazon.

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