MEGATech Reviews: Xiaomi Mi Band Fitness Tracker Michael Kwan April 20, 2015 MEGATech Reviews Xiaomi is not a brand that most people in North America know, but that could be changing in the next few years. The Chinese company has really made a name for itself in its home market, becoming one of the top manufacturers of Android smartphones and tablets. The Mi Pad is a great tablet, even if it’s a pretty blatant copy of the iPad. And then we’ve got the remarkably affordable Xiaomi Mi Band, a $20 fitness tracker that’s arguably just as good as devices five times its price. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Fitness and Sleep Tracking on a Budget If you are already familiar with products like the Jawbone Up, the Nike FuelBand and the Fitbit Force, then you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what the Xiaomi Mi Band can do. The idea is that you wear it like a wristwatch and it’ll track your activity throughout the day. It’ll track your steps as you walk around and it’ll keep tabs on your sleep patterns too. As I mentioned in the unboxing video, the only functional part of the Mi Band is the pill-shaped piece in the middle. The rubber strap is just there so you can wear the thing. There are no buttons whatsoever, which gives me the suspicion that the Mi Band is effectively on all the time. This would be worrisome if it were not for the 30-day battery. Aside from tracking, the Mi Band also has an alarm function and it is compatible with both iOS and Android. In the case of the latter, since it connects via Bluetooth, you can use Smart Unlock if your phone supports to it too. At the moment, the Xiaomi Mi Band is not officially available in North America, but third-party resellers are listing it on various websites. Xiaomi has announced that it will be entering the North American market, so it’s only a matter of time before the Mi Band (or its successors) end up here in an official capacity too. Comfort and Design While you can buy additional wrist straps in other colors, the default retail package for the Mi Band will come with the default black rubber strap. There is a little bit of stretch to it, but not much. You simply thread the one end with the peg through the loop and into one of the available holes. It didn’t seem like it was particularly secure, but it did hold in place for the week that I used it. I will note that the band appears to be designed for Xiaomi’s home market in Asia. The reason I say this is the band itself is decidedly on the small side, accommodating smaller wrists. This is definitely something you’ll want to consider if you happen to have larger wrists. Aside from that, the band and the device itself are both very lightweight and I sometimes forgot I was wearing anything at all. That’s good, especially considering the IP67 waterproof rating that the Mi Band boasts. Setting Up and Using the Mi Fit Android App Getting started with the Mi Band is really easy. After downloading and installing the Mi Fit app from either the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store, you’ll be walked through the setup wizard. Pairing your phone with the tracker over Bluetooth requires you to gently tap the metal surface on the latter a few times. I guess it’s supposed to be touch-sensitive. I found this to be a little finicky at best, so it’s good you only have to do it once. You need to create an account with Xiaomi (“Mi Account”) and provide your basic information, like your birthday, gender, height, weight and daily step goal. After that, you’re all set and ready to go. The app itself is very elegantly designed with classy font choices. There is a circular meter that fills up with your daily steps and you can swipe to the side to reveal your sleep pattern from the previous night. The top of the Mi Band has three LED indicator lights and you can change their color through the app. In addition to activity and sleep tracking, the Mi Band is also equipped with some extra features. You can get notifications for incoming calls, for instance, or set up to four vibrating alarms. It’s quite beautiful. Missing Pieces of the Puzzle For the most part, the Xiaomi Mi Band performs as advertised and then some. However, there are two key elements that make it fall short of the mark. First, I liked how I could see my sleep pattern from the previous night, reviewing my periods of light and deep sleep. That’s the screenshot on the right. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, you can only see this from the previous night. If you wanted to review this pattern from two nights ago, the data looks to be lost forever. You only get access to a summary (total time in light vs. deep sleep), which is really too bad. The assumption is that the data, over time, could occupy too much space. That’s fair enough, so you’d assume that your tracking data is backed up to the Mi Account you created, right? Wrong. Logging into the web interface on the computer, I couldn’t find anywhere to review my fitness/sleep tracking data. It seems this information lives only in the smartphone app. MEGATechie Healthier Mi or MEGATechie Mi Too? I didn’t have the highest of expectations for the Xiaomi Mi Band. I figured that the app was going to be slow, crude and ugly. And I was wrong. The mobile app is actually responsive and gorgeous. The functionality is definitely there and the extended battery life is a blessing. When you consider that the Mi Band can be had for about $20 online, you really have to wonder why the alternatives (with nearly identical functions) cost $100. There are shortcomings that need to be addressed, like the lack of online backup, but it’s with affordable and elegant solutions like the Mi Band that Xiaomi has grown to become one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. The best is yet to come. Share This With The World!