[Update: Now available to purchase] Amazon Halo review: a great passive health tracker

Amazon Halo

Update: Amazon Halo is now available to purchase without requesting an invite. Nothing has changed of my opinion from the original review.

The health and wellness industry has been something Apple has been focusing on for several years with the Apple Watch. After the first version focused on apps and communication, Apple pivoted in the following years toward the Apple Watch, becoming the ultimate fitness tracker by adding GPS, new workout types, ECG monitor, and much more. Amazon is relatively new to the health and wellness industry as a first-party product. While Amazon sells several fitness items, it has not branched out into a first-party connected fitness device until the Amazon Halo. I’ve been wearing the Halo for the first month, and I am finally at a place where I understand what the product is and what it’s not.

In the daily fitness-tracking market, there are a few significant players at the moment: Apple Watch, Fitbit, WHOOP, and now Amazon with the Halo. The Apple Watch is tightly integrated with the iPhone, so it makes a lot of sense for people who are heavily into the Apple ecosystem. Google purchased Fitbit in late 2019 to keep expanding into the wearables market. WHOOP has heavily advertised on podcasts throughout 2020, and its membership program has become very popular. Amazon announced the Halo in late August, and I was able to get one of the unit’s early releases.

The Amazon Halo retails for $99, but it’s in “Early Access” for $64.99. The purchase price is only one part of the investment, though. After an initial six-month period, Amazon Halo requires a $3.99 per month membership to keep using all of the advanced features. One of the ways Amazon Halo differentiates itself is it has no screen. The Halo Band consists of a sensor module and a band that clicks into it on top. It communicates via Bluetooth to the Amazon Halo app. The band lacks standard options like GPS, Wi-Fi, or a cellular connection. It’s not a pure fitness tracker. It’s not a smartwatch. It’s something completely new.

So with an understanding of what Amazon Halo is not, let’s look at what it is: It’s a passive health and wellness tracker. If you’re the type of person who wants to track your sleep, are moderately active with exercise, and want to track your heart rate, Amazon Halo will be an excellent product for you. If you’re training for a marathon, the Amazon Halo isn’t for you. The two key features that make Amazon Halo different from the other fitness trackers are “Body” and “Tone.” The body section takes a scan of your phone camera to take a 3D scan of your body and then calculates your body fat percentage. The tone function uses the Halo Band’s microphone to listen to your voice’s tone and document your emotional state throughout the day.

Setup process

The setup process is painless. The first time you launch the app, you’re walked through the initial pairing, applying any new firmware updates, and then configuring your profile. The entire process takes about 10 minutes. I would recommend completely charging it ahead of time, though.

Amazon Halo hardware

Outside of the charging cable, the Halo is a really nice device. It’s very comfortable to wear. It’s easy to adjust the Halo to the right fit because it uses a velcro strap. Because there’s no screen, you’ll really never look at the device once you put it on. I don’t like the charging block, though. I really wish Amazon would have used USB-C or even mini-USB instead of a proprietary cable.

‘Despite the rise in digital health services and devices over the last decade, we have not seen a corresponding improvement in population health in the US. We are using Amazon’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits,’ said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, principal medical officer, Amazon Halo. ‘Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep. Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the Halo Band sensors, and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness.’

Battery life

The battery life on Amazon Halo will largely depend on whether you’re using the tone feature. Without using the tone feature, the battery lasts almost all week. If you’re using the tone feature that I mention later, it’ll take it down to around two to three days in my estimates. Either way, not having to charge daily is a big win, and it charges fully in only 90 minutes.

Amazon Halo body scan

In scanning my body, I was asked by the app to take various photos wearing form-fitting clothes. The app then was able to calculate your body fat percentage. Amazon estimates that body fat scans are $80 per scan. The scan is compiled on Amazon’s servers, but Amazon has said they delete the scan immediately afterward. I was pretty impressed by the scanning process and the results after that.

Amazon tone

The microphone in Amazon Halo can monitor your voice throughout the day and report if your voice is proud, friendly, happy, calm, sad, angry, etc. This feature is optional, and it does use more battery. In my testing, it did seem to track with how I felt my day went. It’s a pretty unique feature that isn’t focused on your physical fitness but your mental health.

Amazon Halo wrap-up

The Amazon Halo is Amazon’s first attempt at a fitness tracker. It tracks sleep, activity, heart rate, and more with a $3.99 monthly fee. Without the monthly payment, the Halo can still be used but will work on a limited basis. Overall, it does a great job as a passive fitness tracker. It’s not going to be used by fitness enthusiasts, but it’s an excellent device as a passive health tracker. Many people have concerns about Amazon’s privacy stance, but I feel like they’ve answered all of the needed questions about it.

One of the very interesting prospects for the product in the future is integrations. Members of both WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and Halo can choose to link their accounts to share activity information from Halo, which the WW app translates to FitPoints on its end.

The key aspect of all connect fitness products is whether they will help people make the necessary steps to improve their health, and I feel like Amazon is pulling at a few strings they will be very successful with. The Halo app is easy to use, and the band is well done. Amazon has a hit with the Amazon Halo.

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