Amazon Halo — A review from a former Athlete

A few weeks ago I received an email from Amazon congratulating me that I’ve been chosen to receive an early launch version of the Halo. As a former athlete and Whoop wearer, this was especially exciting for me coming back and getting my first smart band after 3 years.

I accepted the invitation on the email and was immediately directed to the Amazon store. There they confidently displayed the early launch version of the Halo and let me select between 3 different version and 3 different colors. I chose the black medium sized band. There was a convenient sizing chart to help me pick my perfect band size. It looked the pink and white were also out of stock when I was ordering.

I hit place order and I got the all too familiar email subjected ‘Amazon.com thanks you for your order’, with a shipment estimate of 3 days.

I closed the email and we were off the races.

Introduction

The Amazon Halo is a low cost fitness band from Amazon that is meant for people that are interested in getting a fitness band, but aren’t willing to spend a large amount of money on a full blown smart watch. It is an inconspicuous black band that fits snuggly on the wrist. It has all the frills of a full blown fitness tracker like on the Apple Watch but only costs $99 with a $3.99 monthly subscription.

Unboxing

The band came in a few days later in very subtle white and green box. I tore into it immediately and found the small Amazon Halo band inside with a welcome guide that said ‘Welcome to You’. The branding and packaging left something to be desired, but I was every excited to start using it anyways.

The band was small and doesn’t attract much attention. The actual electronic is a black rectangle with a green light on the back. From a distance you probably wouldn’t be able to recognize it as a smart band, it looked like more of a tracking bracelet. The band itself is made of a velcro like material and is somewhat of a premium quality. It looks like the band is glued onto the electronics so it’s unlikely theres any chance of switching out the band when it gets worn out.

Design wise it is very utilitarian. The velcro has multiple notches to make adjusting the band extremely easy. It is also strong and can be changed to be as tight, or loose. The velcro is made of an interwoven plastic material that makes it strong but also stretchy. It gives your wrist a chance to breathe. At it’s tightest the band will sit extremely snug to your wrist and the chances of it falling off when active is close to impossible.

I discovered on my second day sleeping with it, however, that the tightest setting on the band will actually be too tight for my wrists. I woke up that morning feeling the blood circulation cut off from my wrist. My hand was actually in pain from how tight I put the band from the previous night. After that I changed the band to be a moderate snugness and I have actually enjoyed it way more now. The band is sitting on my wrist as about a 50% tightness and now I forget that I’m even wearing it.

Exercising with the Halo

The most important of a fitness band is finding out how good it is to actually measuring your fitness. I am glad to say that I actually really enjoy wearing my band for tracking my movement. I believe the app doesn’t prioritize working out and athletics, but it does feel like it’s helping hold me accountable.

The home screen of the app features 4 major panels, Activity, Sleep, Tone and Body. The activity panel is an interesting feature by Amazon. It’s made to track your activity through the week by giving you an Activity score. This is meant instead of showing each individual activity. It also tracks every and all activites. Living in New York City, it would track short walks to the Bodega or walks around my apartment as an activity. The activity score seems like a way to aggregate all those exercises into a single score that’s easy to read and understand.

I also found the activity score to be a bit addicting where I would come back into the app every now and then to see how my activity score has changed because of my steps.

Amazon automatically sets goals for your week with 150 points but this is adjustable. I love checking the app after a long day to see how my score increases and decreases. If you’re not an athlete its very possible to achieve the 150 points per week just by walking and remaining active. It seems like the 150 points is similar to the 10,000 steps per day goal.

Each exercise is automatically categorized and then added into the app. This is a great feature coming from the Whoop. On the Whoop if you forget to log an exercise you would have to log it yourself. This was one of the main reasons I left the Whoop. Individually going into the app and scrolling through the heart rate logs to find the particular time where your heart rate spiked and then create a new activity and registering it as a workout activity became extremely repetitive and exhausting after a while.

My typical workout routine is hitting the gym 5 times a week with 4 days cardio running to the gym and hitting the pool twice during that. The exercise tracking is accurate but I’m a bit disappointed that the app doesn’t let you scroll through your past workouts to see how you did. They are hidden until you actually open the app after a workout and try to find the activity you just did.

One of my biggest gripes with other exercise bands is performance in the pool when swimming. 3 years ago I had a Whoop and I brought it surfing and can say that it fell off my wrist during an extremely strong wave and disappeared into the depths of the Pacific ocean. Some way my Whoop is still tracking out there even to this day, making sure the dophins stay fit. However, It doesn’t feel that way with the Halo. The velcro was built handle submersion and it’s a great design feature that you can readjust the band underwater. I get the feeling that this band will never come off unintentionally. The velcro material is really something else and after a few lap sessions, it doesn’t seem to be showing any significant wear and tear at all.

So far I haven’t really had a lot of time to see how it holds up over time but I am very impressed so far.

Sleeping with the Halo

The sleep tracking is another major feature of the Amazon Halo and arguable my favorite. The Halo will track your sleep cycles and assign you a sleep score 0–100. This score is displayed in a big card right next to your activity card on the Halo home screen. The first couple days it will take some time to gather day but now it’s something that I look forward to when I wake up every morning.

My new morning routine is first roll over in my bed and second grab my phone and open the Halo app to sync my data and see how the Amazon AI scored my sleep over the night. Seeing the sleep score pop up and hit the typical 70–80 is a source of joy for me and compared to the Whoop, I think the Amazon sleep score is much more generous. I typically score between 50 to 100 with nights that I was drinking to be typically lower (closer to a 50), comparably for the Whoop a 70 on the Amazon app would be a 50 on the Whoop app. I think this is generally because the Whoop is marketed towards extremely serious athletes and the requirements for recovery might be higher for them.

They let you see the breakdown of your sleep cycles in the app, with deep, REM, and light sleep displayed prominently in the breakdown. They also give a little description with how much you should be getting for each cycle in the app.

Overall the sleep tracking is great and is definitely one of my favorite parts of the Halo.

Conclusion

The Amazon Halo is an inexpensive Fitness band and tracker from Amazon. It has several features but the activity and sleep tracking take center stage. For just $99 it is relatively inexpensive but does operate on a subscription plan ($3.99/month). After using it for the past 3 weeks I believe that it is a great low cost alternative for those that want to improve their fitness but aren’t prepared to spend a large amount of money on a full blown smart watch or expensive fitness tracker.

Overall I would give it a solid 8/10

NYC