Xiaomi’s Mi Band has been available in China for quite a while now, but it is not available yet locally in our country so I decided to import it and review this nifty accessory out.
It is basically as they say a “fitness tracker”, as of now it allows you to track your steps and sleep activity. More about that and other functions later on.
Here is a tagalog unboxing video and quick review of the Xiaomi Mi Band:
I suggest you watch it to have more idea about what is this Mi Band thing.
Then we will tackle more details that are skipped on the video in this blog post.
Mi Band Unboxing
The Mi Band comes with a tiny box, with Xiaomi’s signature packaging of recycled material style.
Once you open the box, you’ll be greeted with the band and the sensor module or the Mi Band core fitted on it already.
Underneath are the manuals and the charging cable.
Out of the box, the Mi Band is slightly charged. I decided to charge it right away to full battery so that I would only need to charge it after 30 days, as claimed by Xiaomi.
Design and Construction
Lets look at the Mi Band core first, it is lightweight, made with plastic with aluminum top. No fancy interface or controls in the core, only 3 LED lights for notifications and other indications such as:
- how much battery it is already charged – when charging
- how much have you achieved for your set daily goal – when wearing
On the bottom side, the Mi logo is present. On one side, these contacts are for charging.
The strap or the band doesnt look and feel cheap either. By default, Mi Band comes with only black strap but you can also buy fancy colored bands as replacement.
The band has a rubber feel, but not too hard for it to easily crack neither not too soft for it to easily break upon high tension.
Wearing the Mi Band is really comfortable, it is so light, it feels like I am not wearing anything on my wrist at all.
Mi Band App aka Mi Fit
So lets now take a look at the app. The Mi Band communicates with our devices via Bluetooth and the interface is served to us by the Mi Band app, also called Mi Fit. It connects using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology so it doesnt consumes much battery from itself. Also, in my experience, having the Bluetooth always turned on for my device do not give me noticeable battery consumption. I am using Xiaomi Mi 3 as my daily driver, by the way.
You can download the Mi Band app from the Google Playstore or from the iOS App Store. It just requires Kitkat for Android phones and atleast iOS7 for iOS devices. I haven’t tried it yet with iOS devices, but I had already tested the Mi Band with other Android devices that aren’t Xiaomi’s (Cherry Mobile One and ZTE Blade Vec Pro) and it works just fine.
It has been almost a month since I started using the Mi Band and the battery is still at 60%, it really does holds to its promise of 30-day battery life. With the Mi Fit app you can also find the band, although the said feature only does makes the band vibrate and light the LEDs, then it will tell you if the Mi Band is vibrating which means the band is within Bluetooth range.
I have my Mi Band strapped on my left hand as I am right-handed. It is general practice to put such kind of wearable fitness trackers on your non-dominant hand.
The Mi Band also notifies me whenever I receive calls after 3 seconds. You can set the number of seconds you prefer after the first ring. Three seconds is the minimum. I prefer 3 secs so I can pick up my phone right away to answer the call in case I have the phone in my bag or somewhere else. It is pretty useful, one time I have this very important call I managed to answer because of the Mi Band, I was charging my phone upstairs in my room while I was playing my game console in the living room. The band vibrated and the lights told me I do have a call.
By default, only call notify is available but,
there is also a modified version of the Mi Band app which lets you take full control of which applications you want to send notifications for the Mi Band. That is the one I am currently using. You can get the app from here.
This feature only works for Xiaomi devices or Android 5.0 Lollipop devices. With my Mi Band, I can unlock my phone without the need of entering my set pattern.
The Mi Band acts as a step counter and gives you health insights about your activity. However, this feature of the Mi Band is not 100% accurate, as it really cannot know whether you performed walking or not. With its price, its forgivable. Other fitness bands sell for about Php8k ($200) or more while the Mi Band is at more or less than $20 so I do not really complain about this.
I am not really a fitness guy who takes regular walks or jogging everyday, but I always get this feeling of being motivated to take a walk instead of using my scooter if I need to go somewhere at walking distance. This Mi Band reminds me how healthy walking is, so for me, it does the job.
Sleep tracker and monitor
If you wear the Mi Band while you are sleeping, it will record your sleeping pattern and gives you reports about it right when you wake up. It is kind of cool and creepy at the same time as it is very accurate on telling exactly when did you fell asleep and woke up. Well, its up to you to find out how will this feature be useful for you.
Same as the steps counter, the sleep tracker also keeps log of your daily sleep records.
Notifications for any apps
I am using the tweaked version with access to notifications of other apps. I just use it for SMS notifications and Clash of Clans notifications right now. So when the band vibrates, I just look at it and I can determine what notification I got depending on the number of vibration and the color of the LED.
I always have my phone on silent mode, it is maybe just me but I do not really like loud and noisy notifications (be it calls or SMS), so the Mi Band is just a fitting accessory for me.
Early bird alarm
This is a separate alarm feature from the default one in your phone. There is an early bird setting that triggers the alarm 30 minutes before so that you can rest, as they say then alarms again at its set time. The alarm vibrates the band so you do really wakes up, its good in case there is other people whom you do not want to have their sleep disturbed by your loud sounding alarm. I hate it when it happens to me from other people’s alarm.
There is this Running Help feature with the Mi Fit app version I am using. The latest official one has this feature removed. It uses the device’s GPS to track and record your runs in a map and give you reports about it. I do not know why it was removed, maybe it is not functioning properly, it doesnt seems to use Google Maps but Chinese maps that’s why I am having problems making it work in my case.
Aside from monitoring your steps, you can also have other activities tracked by the band such as jumping rope and sit ups. More activities to be added in the future as promised by the devs, and while the official version has more activities enabled for selection.
There are other colors of Mi Band straps that you can buy. The Mi Band comes shipped with only black strap. Only blue and yellow strap are originally made and released by Xiaomi, other colors are just third-party.
There is also a pendant strap for the Mi Band where you can use the metallic sensor/Mi Band core as a necklace, in case you prefer it that way.
You can check your progress by looking at the Mi Band as if it were a regular wrist watch.
Rated at IP67, the Mi Band guarantees high degree of resistance to dust and water. I’ve seen people dipping their Mi Band in their coffee.
The strap is made of Dow Corning TPSiV (Thermoplastic Elastomers) material, which is safe for the skin while keeping durability and abrasion resistance. Strap length is adjustable between 157mm and 205mm.
Aside from keeping your fitness records, the Mi Fit app also lets you share your results easily to your social networks.
Where can you buy Mi Band?
Mi Band is currently not available from Mi Philippines, yet and no words wether Xiaomi is bringing it here officially in our country. You can buy it online and have it shipped. If you are interested on getting a Mi Band, I still do have some few extra’s here, still sealed. Let me know if you plan to grab one.
For its price, I would say, the Mi Band is forgiven on its flaws. Battery is amazing, the sleep tracker is amusing. I am really not fan of fitness wearables but when I have heard about this Mi Band as a cheaper pick, I said why not. No regrets with the purchase. It looks classy and “ma-porma”. With the growth in popularity of the Mi Band, it is possible for its software development to fill in the band’s shortcomings in the future.