Xiaomi Mi Band review: Great alternative over pedometers, but fitness enthusiasts should look elsewhere

We review the Xiaomi Mi Band which is priced at Rs 999

₹0

tech2 rating

0/5

avg. user rating

0/5

Xiaomi Mi Band review: Great alternative over pedometers, but fitness enthusiasts should look elsewhere


Xiaomi is known for releasing products at affordable price points, in most cases anyways. So when it had announced the Xiaomi Mi Band back in August last year, the price point surprised a lot of people. At just $13, this was the cheapest fitness band / activity tracker around then. It has been launched in India for Rs 999. But should you merely buy it because of its economical price point? Or is there more to it? Let's find out.

Build and Design: 8/10

 Xiaomi Mi Band review: Great alternative over pedometers, but fitness enthusiasts should look elsewhere

The Mi Band is as simple as a fitness tracker can get. There is no display on it. The sensors of the Mi Band are housed in a polycarbonate body with an aluminum top with chamfered edges.The capsule-shaped Mi Band measures just 14 x 36 x 9mm and weighs a mere 5 grams. There are two golden coloured charging ports that protrude out from one of the ends.

Jpeg

On the front face of the Mi Band you have provision for three LED lights, whose colour can be set as blue, green, orange and red, from the Mi Fit app. This Mi Band lodges into a hypoallergenic silicon band and Xiaomi offers them in multiple colours. The Mi Band fits snugly withing the wrist band and it requires some force to get it out or put it back in. This is quite desirable as you do not want a loose fitting housing for the Mi Band.

The silicon band has an average build quality and tends to accumulate dust which can be easily washed off. It is adjustable so as to fit multiple wrist sizes. Thanks to the IP67 certification, you can use the Mi Band even when its raining outside, but do not have it on if you are swimming. Apart from the Band, the box bundles a charging cable. There are no buttons on the Mi Band, as it is always on and syncs with the phone via Bluetooth.

Features: 6/10

Jpeg

The Mi Band houses an accelerometer, a DA14580 low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 chip which is capable of running for a couple of years using a 225mAh button cell and it has a 41mAh battery which can stay active for 30 days before you need to recharge it. That’s not a lot of sensors, which is the reason, Xiaomi could be able to price the Mi Band so low. There is also a vibration motor within, which basically helps the band vibrate for alarms or incoming calls or notifications.

Software (Mi Fit app): 6.5/10

The Xiaomi Mi Band works with the Mi Fit app, which you will need to download on your Android or Apple smartphone. The Mi Fit app for Android works with version 4.3 and up whereas the app on iOS platform requires at least iOS 7.0 and up. Once downloaded on the phone, you will need to log in to the app via a Mi account user credentials.

BM3

From L to R: Your daily activity after syncing the Mi Band with the Mi Fit app; A daily graph of your walking activity; A consolidated chart with average details

On first login you will also be required to enter your birth date, height, weight and gender. After this you will be prompted to set a daily target of steps - which can go from 2000 to 30,000. By default, the Mi Band is supposed to notify you how close you are to your goal of daily steps. One light blinking shows you’ve completed 1/3rd of your workout, three lights blinking with the Band vibrating indicates that you have completed your workout for the day.

BM2

From L to R: Daily sleep cycle chart; Consolidated sleep cycle chart; Menu options within the Mi Fit app which gives access to Alarm, Sharing feature, Services and so on

The app gives you information on daily distance walked, no. of steps, calories burnt, walk and run distance/time/calories burnt. You can also get a weekly or monthly update of your activities by clicking on the + and - buttons beside the activity. The Band can also measure your sleep patterns and the app shows you information about the hours slept, deep sleep duration, light sleep duration as well as sleep and wake up times. Just like the walking section of the app, you can get a weekly or monthly account of your sleep patterns.

BM1

From L to R: Setting your daily goal; Your profile page; Battery charge remaining on the Mi Band

Apart from the tracker functionality, you can also set the Mi Band to vibrate whenever you get an incoming call or a notification or even 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. You can also unlock your phone using the Mi Band. Apart from this, Mi Fit app offers you the chance to share your workouts with friends on Facebook, Line, WeChat and so on. There’s no provision to tweet out your workout chart. There isn’t any option to export the data to any other fitness app.

Performance: 6.5/10

The Xiaomi Mi Band works well as an activity tracker. Although you need to note that since you will be always wearing the Band, the sensors will also end up taking into account some irrelevant data. For instance, if you are just walking, the app may also show some ‘Run distance’ along with duration and calories burnt, even if you haven’t really run. In other instances, if you are working on your desk or gesticulating a lot while talking, the app will consider your some of your hand movements as steps walked. So it is definitely not 100 percent accurate. But on the whole the app gives you a reasonably good idea of your activity throughout the day.

Jpeg

With the sleeping mode, one thing that is impressive is that you do not need to manually input when you will be sleeping. It just happens automatically based on your hand movement. The sleep is divided into light and deep sleep. I quite liked the alarm vibration feature which wakes you up.

The Mi Band connects to your phone via Bluetooth and you do not need to keep your phone’s Bluetooth on constantly. You can go for a walk or a run without your phone and later when you are home, just connect the app the the Band via Bluetooth to sync the data.

The Mi Fit app works well, but there were a couple of days while testing when I faced issues connecting to the app. There were instances when the app would randomly disconnect from the Mi Band and ask me to sign in again. Also signing in took ages. Xiaomi acknowledged the issue and said that there was an outage in the Mi Fit backend server which caused the issue for many users. When switching handsets, I ended up losing data for some days on which I was wearing the band. The data shows up on the Xiaomi Mi 4i, that I had paired it with earlier, but with the Asus Zenfone 2, I could see not data points on some days. At the moment the problem seems to have been resolved.

The chart on the left shows Mi Fit data on the Xiaomi Mi 4i whereas that on the left shows data on the Asus Zenfone 2

The chart on the left shows Mi Fit data on the Xiaomi Mi 4i whereas that on the left shows data on the Asus Zenfone 2

Battery on the Mi Band is really long lasting. In the 10 days that I have used the Mi Band, the battery level just dropped from 44% to 33%. At this rate it will very well last over a month.

Verdict and Price in India

So who is the Mi Band meant for? Well, if you are someone who needs an affordable activity tracker and aren’t bothered by the limited data available, but just want to track how many steps you’ve walked and how much you’ve slept - then the Xiaomi Mi Band is the only option to consider. The Mi Fit app also allows the band to notify you by vibrating on your wrist for some functions which is a plus. So far the cheapest activity trackers / fitness bands you could get your hands on were pedometers. At Rs 999, the Mi Band is a much better alternative to those.

The best thing about the band is that you wear it once, pair it with your handset and forget about it. Wearing it for long durations isn’t an issue and also when sleeping, you barely feel its presence on your wrist.

The app is limited in its functionality though. In the sense that if only gives you information on your walking and sleeping patterns. One may argue that for Rs 999, it is foolhardy to expect more. But Xiaomi can surely make use of the vibration motor to add more features. For instance, add in a feature which vibrates if you have been inactive for a long duration or vibrate every 2 hours to remind you to get off your chair and walk around or have different coloured LED notifications for different apps and so on. These are features that need some work on the software side. The option to share your activity on Twitter is a no brainer really.

For someone who is a fitness freak, there aren't as many data points as you would like. Maybe Xiaomi has plans to incorporate a display and more data points in the next variant of the Mi Band. Who knows, may be a heart rate sensor as well? So enthusiasts should consider waiting, or there are other alternatives from Jawbone and FitBit apart from the plethora of smartwatches out there for which you will naturally have to spend a pretty penny.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

Specifications





also see

science