Xiaomi Mi Band: The best $19.99 you'll ever spend
Xiaomi Mi Band: The best $19.99 you'll ever spend
An activity tracker for the masses
Xiaomi's Mi Band has been available in China for a while now, but the activity/sleep pattern tracker will soon be available in Singapore when it launches next Tuesday (16th December) for S$19.99 (as usual, you'll only be able to buy it from the Xiaomi website).
At that price, you might think you're only going to be getting a glorified step counter and, to be fair, it's true that the Mi Band doesn't have as many features as other, more expensive activity trackers, like the Jawbone UP (S$189.90), the newer Jawbone Up24 (S$249) or the Fitbit Flex ($129) but it does boast much of the same core functionality. On top of tracking your steps while walking and running, it can also monitor rope jumping and sit-ups, and it will track your sleep patterns when worn on your wrist at night too. It's also IP67 dust and water resistant, and you can set it to alert you with timed alarms, or to vibrate when you're receiving an incoming call. If you have a Xiaomi phone, you can also use it to automatically unlock your phone when you're nearby. Best of all, Xiaomi says its battery will last a whopping 30 days on a single charge!
The Mi Band sports a minimal, sleek design, consisting of an oblong black plastic sensor module with an aluminum top, fitting into a rubber wristband. The module and band together weigh only about 13g, so you'll hardly notice it when it's on your wrist, and the wristband itself is also pretty comfortable to wear. It doesn't get sticky when wet with water or sweat, and it has enough adjustment holes to accommodate most wrist sizes.
The tracking module can be removed, letting you clean the wristband or, if black isn't your thing, swap out the band for a more colorful option:
Right now the Mi Band is only compatible with Android devices, although an official chinese iOS version is also available (you can get the Chinese app here). Unfortunately, Xiaomi hasn't confirmed when or if an English version will be available.
Setting up the Mi Band is fairly simple, just download the app, and sign in with your Xiaomi account. The app will then activate bluetooth to search for your Mi Band.
The app will prompt you to enter your vitals like age, height and weight, and after that you can set up a daily target for steps taken (you can also change this later in the options menu if you find you were a bit too ambitious during setup).
Once set up, the main app page will display steps taken, calories burned and distance traveled. A summary of any exercise done that day will also be displayed below. If you want to track specific activities, like rope jumping and sit-ups, you can access them in the app menu under Activities. One drawback of the Mi Band is that, unlike some other more advanced wearables, it won't suggest any exercise or fitness plans for you and, for the time being at least, it's also not compatible with third-party fitness tracking apps like Run Keeper.
Like other activity trackers, you don't have to take your phone with you for the Mi Band to track, the app will automatically sync as soon as you're back in Bluetooth range with your phone.
If you want to check your progress without accessing the app, you can raise the Mi Band to your face (as if you were checking the time) and the activity LEDs will light up - one for more than one-third of your daily goal, two for two-thirds, and three for goal completed. You can customize the color of the LEDs in the My devices option menu of the app. Choices include: blue, green, red or orange.
You can also use the Mi Band to track your sleep patterns. Just wear it at night and it will automatically monitor your sleep. To view last night's sleep activity, just swipe left from the step counter. You'll be able to see how long you were asleep for, as well as your deep and light sleep cycles.
Aside from activity and sleep tracking the Mi Band can also be used as an alarm. Just set an alarm in the app and it will vibrate a few times at the set time. Unfortunately, there's no snooze option or other functionality to keep it vibrating until you cancel it, so a backup alarm might be a good idea. The Mi Band can also be set to vibrate whenever you receive an incoming call.
One area where the Mi Band far out performs its rivals is its advertised 30-day battery life. We haven't been able to fully test this claim yet, but after a day of use, battery life dropped only 3 percent, which sounds about right for a 30-day charge. If Xiaomi's claim does prove accurate, that's a huge improvement over the Fitbit's advertised four-day battery life or the Jawbone UP's 10 days. You can check your remaining battery life by accessing the My devices menu of the app.
When you do need to re-charge the Mi Band, you'll have to take the module out of its wristband. The top of the module slots into a small supplied charging dock attached to a short USB cable.
The Mi Band may not have all of the features found in other activity trackers but at 1/6th the price of a Fitbit Flex or 1/9th of a Jawbone UP we're more than willing to overlook these things. Its core functionality - activity and sleep tracking - is just as good and seems as accurate as other trackers on the market and it looks and feels just as solid and well built too. If you're in the market for your first wearable, or you're just interested in tracking your activity but you're not enough of a fitness freak to justify dropping more than S$100 on a fitness tracker just yet, the Mi Band at S$19.99 is the perfect device for you.