Just prior to the 2015 summer season, rumors started filtering down through the heights of the Internet (and other sources) about what we might expect in the next iteration of Microsoft’s fitness wearable. At the time, it was pretty clear what people wanted in the next Band. Scratch-proof screen, waterproof for swimming, longer battery life, better durability, and more were tops on Band v1 owners’ lists.
With my Band v2 firmly and constantly attached to my wrist for the last few days, I have a lot to share from a fitness perspective. Keep watching this spot for insights. But, before that, I think its important (particularly for Band v1 owners) to highlight each of those wants and rumors to grade Microsoft on how well it met customer satisfaction this time around.
After a few days with Band v2, I can honestly say that this version shows Microsoft is actually serious about the device this time. It’s not a fashion statement, like the Apple Watch, but a true fitness device capable of collecting some amazing insights into your health regimen.
So, let’s dig back through the desires and rumors and see just how well Microsoft did.
Rumor 1: Microsoft Band v2 will be thinner and better form fitting (could have a curved screen). Microsoft definitely paid attention here. Band v2 sports a larger screen that is bright, readable, and curved. The Band v2’s straps are thinner (but wider) than v1 and is much more comfortable to wear. And, it’s not ugly. It’s not as pretty as the Apple Watch, but honestly, I’d trade a fashion faux pas any day of the week for my health. For any serious health conscious person, the Apple Watch’s fitness abilities are inadequate. Grade: A-
Rumor 2: Microsoft Band v2 will be tougher (a scratch-resistant screen, a battery junction that doesn't corrode, new clasp design, and possibly a different material covering the sensors). Microsoft really did its research in this area. Band v2’s screen is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3. I wore Band v2 during some bathroom remodeling yesterday with nary a scratch. The clasp has been improved, making it feel more durable. The sensors and batteries have been moved around into more logical places to protect the battery and connection junction from sweat corrosion. I have confidence that Band v2 will be replaced a LOT less during warranty than v1. Grade: A
Microsoft Band v2 will introduce new functionality, expose new sensors, and will eventually be part of the Windows 10 family (through software improvements and updates). Band v2 provides some unique new functionality that can only be experienced using it as a fitness and health device. There are a lot of reviews of Band v2 out there already, and none of them cover some of the smaller nuances. It’s the attention to detail that makes Band v2 an awesome purchase. I’ll be covering all of the neat little enhancements soon. The new Barometer sensor is a good example, providing for better accuracy in monitoring effort and elevation. Additionally, adding a Smart Alarm to Sleep tracking (I’ll cover this in a separate article) is brilliant. Band v2 still runs a proprietary OS (not Windows 10), and there’s very little to even stoke a rumor that Band v2 could ever run Windows 10. It may be Band v3 before we see that happen, but, really – who cares? Grade: A
Want: Better Battery Life. My experiences with Band v2 so far suggest that it actually consumes battery far quicker than v1. I’m still deep in testing, but what took v1 down to about 90% (a sleep activity with a non-GPS activity) now takes v2 down to about 70% for me. Even GPS tracked activities are consuming more battery than v1. It’s possible that a few tweaks are need and those can be solved through a firmware update. I’m even more mindful of giving the Band an extra bump charge here and there and may have to alter my original Charging Routine suggestions. Grade: D (but I’ll revise should I find a tweak or solution)
Want: Waterproof. With its current capabilities, I’m sorry to say that this is never going to happen. In v1 there was a hole for the Cortana microphone. This still exists in Band v2, but now Microsoft has added a new, pin-sized hole for the new Barometer sensor. As long as these are needed, Band will never be a solution for swimmers – or those that like to take showers wearing their gadgets. I’m sure Microsoft took this into consideration, but in its current form, with its current capabilities, it’s just no doable. Sorry, folks. Grade: F
Band v2 owner? What’s your take? Are there any flourishes that have surprised you? Are there features that you still want to see?