We review the Mi Band 3 Activity Tracker by Xiaomi

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The Mi Band 3 by Xiaomi

The Mi Band has been among first class performer since the day the gen 1 was released back in 2014. It was basic for a sleep- and fitness tracker but with a very long battery life and low price. Since then Xiaomi has added f an OLED screen, heart-rate scanner, app notifications and much more.

The latest reincarnation the Mi Band 3 is by far the best yet, adding an improved display, waterproofing and a large-capacity battery, as well as being able to read messages onscreen and track certain activities.

It’s still very well priced, currently available from Smartechnologies.co.uk for around £36.99, but even at this price nothing in our analysis comes close in terms of value for money.

So what does it do?

The Mi Band 3 is a fitness band with the ability to track exercise for example steps taken, distance moved, calories burned. It also monitors your sleeping patterns (deep, light and total sleep) along with heart rate (automatic or manual), over a 24 hour period, week or month. You can track fitness data in its dedicated Fitness app and the Mi Band 3 can also use Google Fit.

One of its biggest pluses apart from the price; is incredibly battery life. Though your exact mileage will vary dependent on how many notifications you receive from the110mAh battery inside. But never the less it’s a great improvement on the original 70mAh afforded the version 2, The new battery can easily last 20 days before needing a recharge. And when it does need to recharge, you can get it back up to 100 percent in just a little over an hour.

Navigation is straight forward, requiring simple swipes up, down, left and right to enter and browse the menus. A single large button can be used to return you to the main screen or select an option, such as the heart-rate scan. Whereas before it was able to count only your steps, the Mi Band 3 can now accurately differentiate between walking or running outdoors as opposed to using a treadmill or cycling, and during these activities you can configure the band to vibrate if your heart rate goes over a specified level, or if you start to run slower than you’d like.

For activities that don’t fall into these groups, such as jump rope or sit-ups, you can ‘tag’ the behaviour so that when you are later tracking progress you can understand what you were doing at that time

One popular activity not counted for here is swimming, and that’s something we hope will be resolved in a later generation. Though the Mi Band 3 won’t track your strokes, it can be worn in the swimming pool, bath or shower. Where its predecessor met IP67 waterproofing specifications, the third-gen Xiaomi fitness band builds on this with 5 ATM.

The new Mi Band also has some smart-watch-type functionality, and it’s now much easier to activate the screen by lifting your wrist than with the awkward twisting action required by past generations.

The Mi Band 3 shows you at a glance the time and date, the weather forecast, incoming messages, emails, phone calls and other notifications. The larger 0.78in OLED screen; up from the previous models 0.42in allows you to read the full message, or if it’s an email the sender and subject line.

It’s always been easy to locate the Mi Band via the app on your phone, but new in this version is the ability to find your phone via the band. Select the option on your wrist and an alarm will sound on the phone, even in silent mode.

You can set target notifications, idle alerts, alarms and event reminders, and the Mi Band 3 can offer smart analysis on your sleep cycles. There’s also a Do Not Disturb mode.

So how does it really stack up?

It’s incredible what’s on offer for such a great price, so it feels a little wrong to pick faults with it. But here we go;

The Mi Band’s has a silicon band, making it easily adjustable to the size of your wrist anywhere between 155 and 216mm. The new band adopts the same design as the hypoallergenic wristband we’ve seen on the previous versions, which means we have the same issues. While it holds the tracker snugly when new, over time we expect the band to deteriorate the same way the earlier versions did. You must take the tracker out of the band to charge it which is fine. But each time you remove it to charge, you loosen the band’s grip on the tracker.

It is possible to buy replacement bands for the Mi Band 3, and these will be available in black, orange or blue.

The tracker itself is bigger than before, which admittedly means you’re more likely to notice if it falls out its band, but it also causes it to feel more bulky on your wrist. Don’t get us wrong, this is still a much slimmer and lighter alternative to a full smartwatch, and it still weighs an incredibly light 20g – 9g of which is the tracker itself and 11g the band.

The LCD is not only larger but also brighter,  but we still found the super glossy surface made it difficult to read in direct sunlight. It also picked up fluff and dust from places we didn’t even know fluff and dust existed, so we were constantly wiping it clean.

For users in China, which is obviously the Mi Band 3’s home marketplace, the larger screen allows for more information on the display. Unfortunately for UK users much of this naturally comes in the form of Chinese characters.

Though you can work out what’s going on even without understanding the language thanks to the accompanying icons, there is no way to switch this off. It seems almost petty of us to criticise it just for this, but in our review targeting an English speaking audience we thought it worth mentioning.

One way in which the Mi Band 3 cannot compare to the likes of Fitbit is with regards to competitive analysis and sharing between friends

Xiaomi Mi Band 3: Specs

  • Pedometer and sleep tracker
  • 0.78in OLED touchscreen
  • 24.7cm wristband, wearable length 155-216mm
  • Waterproof to 5ATM
  • heart-rate scanner
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 110mAh battery (20-day life)
  • 20g (11g band, 9g tracker)
  • compatible with Android 4.4+/iOS 9.0+

Smartechnologies review the Mi Band 2 Fitness Tracker by Xiaomi

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The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is probably one of the best value Fitness Trackers around today. With a 1.0668cm OLED display it lets you monitor your steps and pulse as well as the time, without you ever having to pick up your phone.

With a class leading 20 days use between charges from a 70 mAh battery, Xiaomi’s lack of a battery indicator on the screen really doesn’t matter.  The only real down side here is the fact the Mi Band 2 still uses a proprietary cable for recharging, so you’ll need to be careful not to misplace it.

In order to scroll through options the Xiaomi has a button. This anodised button lies flush with the display, and is activated with a simple touch rather than a press. It’s large in comparison to the tracker itself, but we don’t think that detracts from the overall design which looks cool. In fact, we think the Mi Band 2 looks much more like a premium device than many of the others in its price range

While you might pay more than the RRP due to the fact Xiaomi products are not officially sold in the UK, you can pick up the Mi Band 2 from just £29.99. That’s from smartechnologies which supplied our Mi Band 2 for appraisal. Okay, so the price is a little more than the original Mi Band which, costs around £21. But even at this price the Mi Band 2 offers fantastic value for money. More so when you consider that Xiaomi has within this budget managed to add an OLED screen.

As a Fitness Tracker the Mi Band 2 retains the optical heart-rate scanner and can also track your sleep quality and duration. While we can’t vouch for the quality of our sleep, its timings do seem to be very much in line with when we think we dropped off to sleep or indeed woke up.

The Mi Band 2 remains an incredibly lightweight Fitness Tracker. The removable tracker itself weighs just 7g and comes with a 155- to 210mm adjustable hypo-allergenic band. As before, the entire thing is waterproof (rated IP67), and lifting it to your face (as you would a watch) returns a status update.

The Mi Band 2 has introduced a new polycarbonate band which is a lot tougher than those supplied on its predecessor. Even if you have issues, it’s relatively easy to get hold of spare bands, and these come in various colours should you not fancy the standard black version!    Mi says it has upgraded the pedometer algorithm for the Mi Band 2, and much to our delight it has also tweaked the accompanying Mi Fit app. Not before time.

As before Mi Fit syncs data with the band as soon as you launch the app. It offers the usual step-, sleep-, pulse-, distance and calories burned counters, and you can track your activity, sleep and heart-rate by day, week or month. The Mi Band 2 also lets you set alarms, idle alerts and have the Mi Band 2 warn you of incoming calls and texts by gently vibrating on your arm.

With the Mi Band 2 (as with the original 1S) you can also add app notifications: you can choose up to five apps for which the Xiaomi will vibrate to alert you to new notifications. Do bear in mind, though, that the more you use this feature the lower the battery life will be.

Setting up app notifications isn’t easy since there is no order to the list of apps you can choose, and Mi Fit lists every service running, but you do this once.  Of more concern is the fact Xiaomi hasn’t better utilised the new screen for alerts. We accept that the display is too small for printing even just the subject line of a notification, but we’d like to see the icon of the app the notification relates to rather than the word ‘app’ when a notification is received.

The one place the Mi Band 2 continues to fall down unfortunately, is third-party app integration – particularly within the UK. Though it does now tie in with Google Fit. One of the most attractive aspects of Fitbits and other popular fitness Trackers is their ability to allow you to compete with friends when desired.

You can, of course, set your own activity and weight goals using Mi Fit, and by default you’ll get notifications when you achieve these each day. In Summary this is a cracking piece of kit and scores highly in terms of value for money.

 

You can find the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 at Smartechnologies priced at £29.99