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Amazon Halo Review: Specs, Features, Membership Details

Amazon's new fitness wearable, Halo, and a phone screen opened to the Halo app.

Amazon

Key Takeaways

  • Amazon released the Amazon Halo, a health and fitness wearable.
  • It costs $99 and requires a monthly membership.
  • Two features spark privacy and discrimination concerns.

Amazon released the Amazon Halo, an AI-powered health and fitness wearable, in August 2020. The wrist-worn device embodies everything consumers have come to know and love about activity trackers.

Amazon Halo is the retail giant’s attempt to stake its claim on our wrists and advance its broad push into healthcare, fitness, and wellness. The Halo could rise to the ranks of Apple Watch and Fitbit—it is certainly powerful enough to appeal to the masses.

However, consumers and data privacy experts have voiced concern about a few Amazon Halo features, worrying that Amazon has gone too far. Learn all about the Amazon Halo here, including comparisons to top competitors.

The fitness wearable market is already very saturated, with just a handful of brands making up the vast majority of the sector. Amazon’s Halo could compete with Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin (the top five companies in the wearable market) and edge itself into the top of yet another industry.

Amazon Halo Cost

The Amazon Halo costs $99.99 plus a $3.99 per month membership, which gives you access to all of the device’s features and the Halo app. The membership is free for six months, and then you’ll automatically be billed for $3.99 plus taxes each month.

Halo is currently on sale for $64.99 as part of an early access promotion. You can request early access by filling out the Amazon Halo Early Access Survey.

Amazon Halo: Key Features

Amazon Halo activity band on a person's wrist.
The screenless design might come as a shock to some consumers. Credit: Amazon.

No Screen

Halo's screenless design might raise some eyebrows. Most people are used to activity trackers with screens, and on higher-end devices, these screens can do everything your smartphone can do. Amazon took a “no distractions” approach with the Halo, however, and designed it so that you can only see data via the Halo app. 

Activity Tracking

Like other fitness wearables, Halo tracks your activity. Amazon took this basic feature and upgraded it slightly: Halo tracks the intensity of your exercise rather than just the duration. You can choose from a number of activity types, as is expected from a modern activity tracker. The activity feature gives you points for all exercise, but you get extra points for more intense exercise. It also subtracts points for long stretches of sedentary time.

Sleep Tracking

Halo tracks and analyzes your sleep, largely with the help of temperature sensors, a feature that goes beyond the majority of basic health trackers. Halo captures an overall picture of your sleep each night, as well as time spent in different sleep stages.

The temperature-tracking feature is similar to the Oura ring, in that it doesn’t offer a precise temperature, but instead shows you more of a “hot-warm-cold” breakdown. Still, it’s interesting to see, and it could help you pinpoint patterns.

A smartphone showing a screen for a fitness tracking app.
Halo's home screen. Credit: Amazon.

Labs

Amazon seems to have put a lot of focus into collaborations with other health, fitness, and wellness companies for Halo, calling these partnerships “Labs.” Labs are short challenges, such as meditations, deep breathing practice, and workouts that encourage Halo members to pick up healthy habits and experiment with different ways to improve their health.

Brands like Aaptiv, Orangetheory, the American Heart Association, and Headspace all appear in the Labs section of the Halo app.

Third-Party Integrations

Halo integrates with a few third-party apps and services, most notably WW (formerly Weight Watchers), a partnership wherein WW members can link their accounts to Halo and share their Halo activity to earn FitPoints.

There is, however, no Google or Apple integration, which on the surface seems like a smart move, but puts Halo at a major disadvantage for people who already use Apple Health or Google Fit.

Two Questionable Features

The Amazon Halo has two features that can be incredibly powerful or uncomfortably overreaching, depending on how you look at them.

Tone

A person holding a smartphone showing an activity app interface.
Amazon Halo Tone Feature. Credit: Amazon.

This feature tracks the tone of your voice, which, yes, means Amazon Halo needs to listen in on your conversations. Tone is an optional feature and you can mute your mic any time. Amazon claims that no conversations analyzed with the Tone feature are stored anywhere, but that doesn’t stop people from wondering.

Not only does this feature present privacy and exploitation concerns, but AI has a long history of racial and gender biases. For example, a previous AI tool from Amazon discriminated against women and other tools have discriminated against Black people. Plus, Amazon acknowledges that the tool may not work as well for non-American English speakers.

It’s not hard, then, to wonder whether this new voice-recognition feature could label people as confused, aggressive, or something else they’re actually not, based on voice alone. The intention behind the tool is to support relationship health, which sounds impressive in theory, but might not translate well in practice. Only time will tell if it backfires.

Body

A person holding a smartphone showing a 3D body composition scan.
Amazon Halo Body Feature. Credit: Amazon.

Halo’s Body feature uses photographs of your body to analyze your lean mass and fat mass, and it offers suggestions for improvement based on your photos. Like the Tone feature, Body has given rise to privacy concerns, because being photographed naked or in “tight, minimal clothing,” as Amazon suggests, feels rather vulnerable.

This feature is also optional and Amazon says it does not store these photographs in the cloud after they’ve been processed. Still, concern abounds, and that’s not even to say anything of potential AI biases against different body types or body image issues that many people deal with.

The feature makes you take photos of yourself from various angles and then scans them into a 3D rendering of your body. This could be harmful for people who already struggle with body confidence and may reinforce unhealthy behaviors. Amazon did at least enable an age restriction on the feature—you must be 18 or older to take body scans.

These features have led to some pushback in the field, including some words of warning from Will Ahmed, CEO of WHOOP, a competing activity tracker:

Other Features

The Amazon Halo doesn’t have GPS, cellular radio, or WiFi connectivity, which is kind of odd, considering those features are pretty standard in activity trackers these days. Perhaps it’s in line with the no-distractions approach.

Amazon Halo Specs

The technical details on Halo are pretty basic as far as wearables go.

Tools: Halo includes an accelerometer, heart rate monitor, temperature sensor, two microphones, a mute button for the microphones, and an LED indicator light. Not all tools are available without the monthly membership.

Battery life: Halo lasts up to seven days with Tone disabled, or up to two days with Tone enabled. It takes about 90 minutes to get a full charge from an empty battery.

Water resistant: Water resistant up to 50 meters. You can safely wear Halo during showers and while swimming.

Warranty: One-year limited warranty.

Amazon Halo vs. Apple Watch vs. Fitbit

Amazon Halo accessory bands on a white background/
Accessory bands for Halo look a lot like Apple Watch bands. Credit: Amazon.

Halo has some similarities to both Apple Watch and Fitbit. For example, the silicone bands for the Halo look quite similar to Apple Watch bands. Halo has an activity ring just like the ring on Apple Watch, although since Halo doesn’t have a screen, you can only see it within the app.

The Labs section in the Halo app looks a lot like Fitbit’s Premium service, which has collections of fitness and nutrition challenges for users to partake in. Halo’s sleep-tracking interface also looks similar to Fitbit’s. The subscription approach seems like Amazon has plans to keep creating new content to retain subscribers—it wouldn’t be surprising to see exercise videos or virtual workout classes next.

Overall, it seems like Halo, Fitbit, and Apple Watch have many similar features and qualities, although Halo’s features are only available with a membership. Die-hard Apple Watch or Fitbit fans might not see a reason to switch to the Halo.

Amazon Halo’s Close Resemblance to WHOOP

Three fitness wearable devices against a white background.
Halo has a screenless design, just lke the WHOOP strap. Credit: WHOOP.

Perhaps unexpectedly, Amazon’s new wearable doesn’t closely resemble two of the top players in the wearable market. Instead, the Halo is nearly identical to WHOOP, a wearable company that appeals mainly to CrossFit athletes and functional fitness enthusiasts.

The screenless Halo resembles WHOOP closely in design and in function. Not only do the two devices look the same, but Halo is the only other wrist-worn activity tracker to utilize a monthly membership (not including premium services, like Fitbit’s). This has led Ahmed and WHOOP devotees to scrutinize Amazon’s new wearable.

What This Means For You

If you love all things Amazon, the Halo could be a great new tool to add to your collection. 

However, it’s worth researching all of the features on the new Amazon wearable, because, like mentioned before, privacy and discrimination concerns have bubbled to the surface despite Amazon's commitment to privacy. Only you can decide if you’re OK with the Halo monitoring your conversations and taking photos of you.

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Article Sources
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  2. Amazon. What Is The Difference Between the Halo Member and Non-Member Experience?.

  3. Amazon Halo. Frequently asked questions.

  4. Lynch A. WHOOP. Enter the Real World of Functional Fitness. May 19, 2017.