Microsoft Band 2 Review

Introduction


When we think about fitness bands, the last thing to come to mind for most folks will probably be Microsoft, but it shouldn’t, as the original Microsoft Band proved itself in being a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for the segment – attached with an equally comprehensive fitness ecosystem as well. Back for round two, the Microsoft Band 2 aims to squash any of the major complaints about the original model, seeing that it sports a sleeker package and a new display.

Interestingly, though, it’s slapped with a slightly higher introductory price of $249.99, up from its predecessor’s initial cost of $199.99. That’s a hefty offering considering what it’s competing against in the space, but let’s put it through the paces to see if it can win over that precious real estate on your wrist.

The package contains:

  • Microsoft Band 2
  • Magnetic USB cable charger
  • Get started guide
  • Warranty information

Design

Streamlined and more ergonomically contoured, the Band 2 looks and feels considerably better.

Wanna know what’s most improved about the Band 2? Well, it’s none other than its design, which thankfully doesn’t look as hulky or gargantuan as last year’s model. That’s certainly a relief! Although it’s sporting the same design language as before, an adjustable rubbery band worn on the wrist, it’s comforting to see Microsoft streamlining it considerably – whereby its thickest point is now situated on the clasp. The material employed here is technically thermal plastic elastomer silicone vulcanite (TPSV), which has that rubbery texture feel to it.

In the process of giving it a more uniform body, they’ve also improved its fit and comfort around our wrist. This time around, it contours our wrist better because the new display here is now curved, offering a better ergonomic shape for it to rest on our wrist. However, if you happen to have that boney hump protruding from your wrist, the Band 2 can sometimes cause a little bit of discomfort because there’s very little leeway for it to naturally expand. Despite that, it’s still nice knowing that they’ve trimmed off a lot of the fat off this one.

Much like most other fitness trackers, the Band 2 has some degree of water resistance. As Microsoft puts it, the IP67 certified construction of the Band 2 technically ensures that it’s dust resistant and offers protection against temporary immersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. In reality, however, Microsoft refrains users wearing the Band while swimming or in the shower. That’s unfortunate because we were hoping to see its water-resistance improved, but instead, we still need to be mindful of what occasions to not wear it.

Even with the sleeker design, the Band 2 houses all the components and sensors found with its predecessor – so that includes a 3-axis accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, capacitive sensor, galvanic skin response sensor, and a microphone. Two new additions to note, however, include the new barometer that can measure changes in altitude, which is useful if you’re into step climbing, and the UV sensor embedded into the clasp that can measure the amount of ambient UV light. Of course, that’s useful for those who have stronger sensitivity to light.

And finally, when it comes to charging the Band 2, Microsoft improves the process by embedding the charging pins into the end of the clasp – where the accompanying magnetic USB charger quickly establishes the connection.


Display

The switch to a curved screen and AMOLED technology is welcome!

The Band 2’s notably improved design is attributed to the new curved display it’s packing on, which has a footprint of 1.25 x 0.50 inches. The technology is AMOLED and the resolution stands at 320 x 128 pixels, which delivers acceptable details and sharpness that allows us to effortlessly read out messages on its screen. In our experience, the AMOLED panel here delivers a punchier, more robust color selection than the TFT panel used by its predecessor. Don’t worry about its visibility outdoors, where AMOLEDs tend to perform poorly, mainly because it emits enough of a potent punch with its brightness.

Not only it is effective is registering touches and swipes, but it’s nice to know that it’s less prone to scratching this time around – it was a troublesome thing with the original Band. That’s because the curved screen is safeguarded by Gorilla Glass 3, and we have to admit, it does a considerably better job at protecting from scratches. And due to its curved nature, it blends in well with the body’s uniform contour on our wrist – whereas before, the flat edge hugging our wrist didn’t make it all that comfortable to wear.

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26 Comments

1. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Again John V. Again low result on any non Apple device. Again and again... Give at least popcorns.

2. SirYar

Posts: 351; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Apple devices "feel just right", which is why they get 9/10s although they are basically mid-high range with a super high end price.

9. raky_b

Posts: 398; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

well, i argue with you for facts you wrote, but... this Band don't deserve more then 6. if fitness band don't do at least 7 days on battery, and if it is so expensive it does not deserve bigger grade. problem with Phonearena reviews are that Apple and Samsung product are overrated, it's not like this Band are much worst then Apple wach or some of Samsungs similar products...

14. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

And you think the apple watch with worse battery life deserves more? Or you want to tell me the Apple watch is not a fitness device? Not that I'd give this any high rating, but definitely not worse than the inferior and limited apple watch that's only compatible with ios, way less sensors, and is still more expensive...this is just iphonearena doing what it does best; suck on apple's d!ck. They lied about one of the cons (it does do automatic sleep tracking)

15. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

and they're highlighting a con here that's also applicable to the inferior fruit watch (water resistance) yet they didn't highlight that in the apple watch review...again, this is just the typical biased non-trustworthy review iphonearena keeps doing.

26. raky_b

Posts: 398; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

as i wrote : "problem with Phonearena reviews are that Apple and Samsung product are overrated, it's not like this Band are much worst then Apple wach or some of Samsungs similar products..." so, no, i don't think iWatch should have better grade...at least not much bigger (let say i this one have 6, apple wach shouldn't heve more then 7, for more posebillities it offers)

16. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Agreed. I read the review, then saw the score and thought "words and figures differ".

25. cheetah2k

Posts: 2256; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Even beat the Gear S2 which scored 7?? how the fk? John V certainly isnt credible. Get someone unbiased

3. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Really expensive? Its not just a fitness tracker but ok And yes it does have automatic sleep tracking PA?!?! This is from MS own website, you can get here by going to Band 2 and hitting support and picking health and walla...https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band/en-us/support/health-and-exercise/sleep-tracking Even the first band has this, I know because I use it

7. sgodsell

Posts: 7383; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It's not much more than a fitness tracker, especially since it still comes with a cortex-M4 MCU, and its storage is very limiting. Just like the first band, they never added a lot of storage for apps or music.

21. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

It is a bridge. I like the gear S for being able to leave the phone at home, but most runners dont mind some sort of phone device is on them. So while i like it, its not 'needed'. Though i am with you that it should have had a 'storage option', like sd card slot for this. It didnt need to come built in, make the consumer supply it and move on. 200 would have been the sweet spot, but 250 is reasonable for what it does/doesnt.

4. jove39

Posts: 2146; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Since John VVVVVVV...failed to mention several features of band 2...here is list from MS product page - > Continuous heart rate monitor tracks heart rate, calorie burn, and sleep quality > Tracking for running, biking, golf, and more > Email, text, calendar, and call alerts on the go >11 sensors, including GPS, UV monitor, and barometer > Full-color curved display > Works with Windows Phone, Android, and iPhone Detailed Technical Specifications are here -http://goo.gl/8NDVPk

5. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 414; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

This review is crap. 3 cons gets a 7 but it has more sensors than a Apple Watch. Maybe if it could send heart beats it get a 9. The price of Apple watch band is more than the band 2 GTFO easily a 8.3 in my book.

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7383; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Let's get real. This band isn't much more than a fitness tracker. Sure it has a mic, and can transmit its data to a smart phone. But you are trying to compare this fitness tracker to other smart watches that can do a lot more because they have tons of ram and storage, plus a full fledged CPU. Both of which are tiny on this band. The last band had a Cortex-M4 MCU with 2 mb of ram, and 64 mb of storage. When you look at the Apple watch or any Android Wear, or Tizen device, they all come with a minimum of 512 mb of ram, 4 gb of storage, and a CPU clocked a 1 ghz or higher. So its dumb on your part to try and compare this band to any smart watch. The smart watches are better for the smart watch stuff, period. They can run all kinds of apps now. For instance you can run doom, half live, super Mario 64, gameboy emulators, and you can open locks, turn on/off lights, control Bluetooth devices, listen to music, and more on any Android Wear smart watch. All of which is completely impossible for the Microsoft band or band 2. So if you want to compare how smart this band is to other smart watches. Then put your money where your mouth is and lets see what this band is capable of doing. Until then, this band is not much more then a fitness tracker. Granted it's a good fitness tracker.

10. nenadmitrovic

Posts: 64; Member since: Aug 01, 2014

Compare it with apple watch, it have better battery life, gps inside and don't need you to have phone with yourself and drain phone battery. Measures your heart rate always, and it works. You can use it with WP, IOS and android... for less price

22. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I wouldnt say completely impossible. Can it run games? no but i dont game on a 1.5in screen, i left those 1.5in flipphones long ago, hell even 6in is worthless for 'real' gaming for me. But this is me and obviously not the person super mario on the worlds smallest game screen is geared towards. However, since the band can handle input and update the app on said input, if i create a music client i can control it from the band, meaning phone stays in pocket and i run. How about lights? Sure, let me create a tile, phone is in kitchen, band is connected, i press the tile, and press the room tile and the lights go on and off as the band sends it to the phone and the phone does the rest. Open locks? Sure why not, the band sends it to the phone, phone unlocks via wifi/data connection. So really it comes down to, what can it do when paired with the smartphone app. If anything the band is able to be a wireless simple controller for many things, letting it have longer battery life, and let the phone do the heavy lifting.

6. pureviewuser

Posts: 501; Member since: Nov 11, 2012

I dare to say a 9 it's an excellent piece of kit I would never give a 10 as nothing is perfect there's always room for improvement

11. Rydsmith unregistered

I love how everyone is bashing the review when honestly, it seems fair. The cons are the same cons brought up in: The Verge Engadget Polygon Etc... The band is just OK but nothing great. A 7 isn't bad is just meh

12. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 414; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Problem the band is better than meh. In that case Apple Watch and Android wear with less sensors and less cross OS ability is just Blaah.

13. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

So far i only see Apple devices getting a 9+ Is this site still phonearena or applearena?

17. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

The band is the only fitness device that works as a golf distance measuring device. When paired with an app from Taylor Made, it will show you distance to green. Get home and on your pc it can show you where you hit every shot in a round. The band registers you've hit the ball and adds one to the count. I've tried it on the band one, and it was good. Why on earth would I want to shower or bathe wearing a watch? It is waterproof enough to cope with a rain shower while I'm playing. I found that the charge during shower and dressing time was enough to last till the next morning. I used it with a Lumia and with a nexus 5. The health app is identical. Compared to a fitbit or similar, it does much more. Compared to a pretty faced watch, it does more. It isn't either.

23. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I regularly charge my band for about 15mins and it lasts all day. I can trust that i can forget to charge it, and the ten mins it takes to get me dressed, the band will last until i get home for its normal usage. I should charge it fully, but with how quick a simple charge gets my usage out of it, i have become accustom to the fast charge.

18. shinywindow unregistered

John v. Is a fruit loving pillow biter. Wouldn't expect anything less of a score on a product that clearly blows the or krapple toy watch away. I think they purposely promote or krapple here so the anti krapple crowd will click bait and earn them advertising revenue.

19. shinywindow unregistered

Can't wait to get this watch

20. gazmatic

Posts: 809; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

hahahahahahahaha. This is much better than the iwatch yet gets a lower rating,,, hahahahaha

24. Cslfiero

Posts: 68; Member since: Jun 29, 2015

Wishing it utilized solar and color e ink. Many watches from Casio come with most of those sensors and they operate for months on a days solar charge, so I don't see why the band 2 can't operate for at least 2 weeks of it utilized solar and e ink..

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