Lenovo HX03F Spectra review: Good fitness tracker, but could be better

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It seems like Lenovo has got the budget fitness tracker segment squarely in its sights. The company launched the Lenovo HW01, HW01 Plus, and HW02 Plus (review)within a span of a year and a couple of weeks back, it unveiled two new devices for the Indian market. The HX03F Spectra and the Cardio HX03. Both device are pretty much the same hardware-wise. However, the HX03F Spectra comes with a colour display, something that’s very rare in this price range. But is that all the wearable offers, or is there something else? Let’s take a look at how the new wearable performs.

Design and build

Lenovo’s past weables like the HW01 and the HW02 haven’t been too flashy and I personally quite liked that. The simple, bracelet-like design is quite subtle and looks pretty good. However, the Spectra looks more like a watch as compared to its predecessors. it’s still quite subtle though and there’s no mistaking that it’s a fitness tracker. The band itself can be broken down into two components – the central module, and the two straps.

The strap in the Spectra attaches to the wrist via a traditional buckle which is a very good thing. I really disliked the prong system they used in the Lenovo HW02. It was too clunky and was a two-handed task that you had to perform with one hand. Coming back to the Spectra, the two straps can be twisted off the central module to reveal the charging slot. This slot can then be plugged into a USB port for charging.

The central module features the display as well as the optical heart rate sensor. Like most other trackers in this price range, the Spectra features a single touch sensitive button just below the display that is used to control and access the various features of the device. When it comes to build, the biggest factor is that the Spectra offers IP68 certification for water and dust resistance, so you can take it swimming with you if you want.

Display and UI

The display is possibly the highlight of the Lenovo HX03F Spectra. It is quite large for its price point at 0.96-inch . While the screen might not be the most vibrant or offer a range wide enough to allow it to show photos, its does make a pleasant change from the dull and monochrome displays that you get in fitness trackers like the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, or the Intex Fitrist Cardio (review) in this price range.

Even though the display on the Spectra is quite colourful, it isn’t very bright. In bright sunlight, the display is impossible to read without shading the screen with the other hand. Considering the fact that the watch is designed to be used mostly for outdoor activities, this is a pretty big issue. It was also an issue with the company’s HW02 Plus tracker.

The UI of the watch is pretty straightforward and should be familiar to anyone who has used a budget fitness tracker before. Tapping the touch sensitive button just below the display lets you scroll through the various features like sports mode, heart rate and steps taken and more. To select a particular feature, you press and hold the button. The Spectra also displays a little loading bar at the bottom of the display to let you know that. It’s a handy little feature that should help new users understand how to navigate the device.

App

The Lenovo HX03F Spectra links to the smartphone via the Lenovo Health app. The app lets you access records like the steps taken, calories burned, heart rate, sleep tracking and so forth.

Tapping on each of the metrics in the Health app gives you a more detailed view of of each of them. For example, a detailed view of the steps metric would show you the total amount of time you walked on a particular day, steps taken, calories burned and distance walked.

The heart rate tracking metric is also quite interesting, especially if you prefer to workout rather than go for a run. The Health app can show you your average heart rate for the day, as well as the average heart rate when sport mode is on. You are shown a graph, and tapping on specific parts of the graph will show you your heart rate at that time. This is pretty helpful as you can see spikes on the graph, and correlate it with what you were doing at that time.

It should also be noted that my the first Spectra I got for the review didn’t pair properly with the Lenovo Health app on my smartphone. However, the replacement worked fine.

My biggest problem with the Spectra is that it doesn’t do anything new. These features are something that other wearables in this price range, like the company’s own HW02 already offer at a lower cost. As a result, I don’t feel like there is a compelling enough reason to buy the Spectra is you already have a fitness tracker.

With IP68 certification, I was hoping that Lenovo would also include the option to track lap times while swimming. However, that’s a compromise that one would have to make in order to reach the device’s budget price point. Hopefully, the feature will be added via an OTA update or something, which would really add something new to the device.

Battery and charging

The Lenovo HX03F Spectra sports a 100mAh and it’s enough to last for about 4-5 days. It should be noted that other devices in this price range can offer a week’s battery life, however that’s the price you pay for a colour display.

The system of changing the Spectra is something I quite liked. Instead of a cable, one of the ends of the central module sports a USB slot that can be inserted into any USB port. This slot is covered by the strap of the wearable. This means that there is one less charging cable you have to worry about when travelling, which is always a good thing if you ask me.

Bottom line

The Lenovo HX03F Spectra is a pretty interesting wearable at Rs 2,299, for those looking for a fitness tracker with a colour display. It offers IP68 certification as well and these are features you don’t usually get in fitness trackers within the sub-5K. As a result, the Spectra makes for a good purchase if you don’t have a fitness tracker yet. However, the lack of any breakout features when it comes to the ‘tracking’ part of the fitness makes it hard to recommend if you already have a budget tracker like any of Lenovo’s previous devices. So if you don’t have a fitness tracker yet, or if you really want that colour display, then you can consider the HX03F Spectra. Otherwise, you’re fine with the tracker you already have.

(digit.in, https://goo.gl/yeY6Gz)

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