Pedometer, burned calories counting, sleep monitoring, a smart vibrating alarm clock, incoming calls notification, IP67 protection, 30-day-long battery life, integration with social networks, a tiny case, and the weight of only 5 grams. And all of this for $13?! What’s the catch?
Oh, there are many catches. The first and the most obvious one is that you can buy this lovely bracelet for $13 only if you live in China and have certain luck. Relatively small batches of Xiaomi devices appear at the only official online store of the company and are immediately bought up and resold on expensive markets – offline and Internet ones.
In the case of Mi Band, the most important limitation is that it only works with Android 4.3 or later versions, officially – 4.4+.
There is no compatibility with iOS yet, although the company promises to release the application for this platform, as well. Windows Phone users seem to be the least fortunate. In addition, Xiaomi apparently, is not going to open the API for Mi Band in the near future, so we will have to use only the official application.
The set includes the tracker itself, a strap for it, a cradle for charging and instructions in Chinese. The tracker case is 36x14x9 mm large and weighs 5 grams. The upper lid is made of magnesium alloy, and the rest of the case – of black polycarbonate. At one end, there are two gold contacts to charge the device, and the case is fully protected against dust and ready to endure short-term dipping at a shallow depth.
A choice of strap colors is still poor. The officially available colors will be orange, pink, turquoise, green and blue, but now only black is easy to find on sale. The original strap is made of thermoplastic silicone elastomer TPSiV from Dow Corning, which is completely safe for the skin, designed specifically for wearable devices.
The strap holds the tracker very reliably. You should not worry that the slot where it is inserted will wear out – it will have to be removed once a month or even less often. According to the official specifications, a charge of the built-in Li-Po battery with the capacity of 42 mAh is enough for at least 30 days of work, and it’s really so. In practice, 1-2% battery charge is spent every day. To recharge the battery, the company provides a USB adapter. It is curious that Mi Band is always on, and there is no way to turn it off . High battery life is achieved through ultra-low accelerometer module and Bluetooth 4.0/4.1 LE. In addition to the above-mentioned indicators, Xiaomi Mi Band has a small but very vigorous vibration motor. There are no additional sensors in it, but the biggest advantage is the fact that the bracelet is very light, almost weightless on the wrist. The operating temperature ranges from -20°C to +70°C.
The latest version of the official application is available on the Mi Market. The application has Chinese and English interfaces.
The program requires access to the network and a Mi account, which is better to create right on the site, and not through the application. All the statistics will be saved there. For pairing the tracker, you bring it as close to the phone as possible. In the settings, it is necessary to specify your gender, height, weight and age, as well as choose a hand, on which you will wear the bracelet. On first connection, the application will update the tracker’s firmware.
You can also select the color of the indicators and enable WeChat synchronization. When you perform bracelet search, it vibrates, and LED blinks shortly. Exactly the same thing happens during an incoming call. You can set a delay ranging from 3 to 20 seconds. However, its operation requires a running application + the phone no further than a few meters away. There are no other notifications like email, SMS, Skype etc. Finally, the application settings include the most important parameter – the daily minimum of steps walked in the range of 2,000 to 30,000. The application recommends minimum daily walking time and the number of steps, collects the statistics and encourages the user with different messages.
However, a persistent connection of the tracker to the phone via Bluetooth is not required. If the application is not running, the device stores the information in memory, and you can synchronize the data next time. The memory is enough for at least a day. The tracker itself defines periods of activity. However, if you want, for example, to take a little jog, you can run the application and observe your progress in real time.
You can view hourly activity statistics for the current day. Note that all of the notifications and congratulations displayed as a list at the bottom of the main screen will be gone the next day
You can also view the total number of steps, the total energy spent, the distance traveled, as well as the average duration of activity, average number of steps and distance, time of walking and running, as well as calories burnt over the past days, weeks and months. How well does the application take into account the energy lost and how it converts grams into fat – no one knows.
The tracker determines the time of sleeping and waking itself, but it can be corrected. The device is able to identify the phase of light and deep sleep, as well as periods of activity (when you get up to drink some water, for example). The tracker ignores the presence of a second person in bed, unless children and small furry animals jump all over you in the morning. Sleep statistics, will show the average duration of each phase and how much time it takes you to finally wake up. The tracker does not identify naps. However, it has a smart alarm clock. Within half an hour before the time set out, the bracelet determines what phase of sleep you are in. If you are in the light one, Mi Band vibrates several times and wakes you up. If you do not wake up or you are in deep sleep, it vibrates exactly at the specified time.
The main drawback of Xiaomi Mi Band is poor application functionality, which is only available for Android. In takes into account only one type of activity, i.e. walking or running, and gives only basic statistics of your sessions. For comparison, see an overview of Jawbone UP24. Meanwhile, Mi Band is lighter, lives longer, and has a more universal mount. One can only hope that Xiaomi will actively develop its software. On the other hand, you will not find anything like this for thirteen dollars.