Review: Mi Band Activity Tracker
The Mi Band. A $15 activity tracker. Too inexpensive NOT to try!
I haven’t jumped onto the wearable bandwagon for years. Watching a parade of devices being introduced that still haven’t met my basic requirements. I want a simple band that captures data without being intrusive into my life. One of my biggest complaints is durability. My father has used a fitbit that has been replaced several times and my wife had a Jawbone Up that also was replaced several times. Both of these devices mysteriously stopped working.
Activity tracker Requirements
- Step counting
- Automatic Sleep analysis
- Long battery life (40+ days)
- Wireless syncing (BLE)
- Waterproof / resistant
- Inexpensive (Less than $50)
- Mobile app
Mi Band Specs
Comparing the Mi Band to my requirements this is the first band I seriously considered.
I made my purchasing decision based on three reasons.
At $15 it was simply too inexpensive not to buy and try out. Mi is a brand from the Chinese company Xiaomi. While many of the products we own are made in China you never know what the quality of an unknown brand. I was pleasantly surprised with the product.
The device has no buttons, is IP67 water resistant, and shows status via 3 LEDs. The tracker itself is a small pod that is separate from the wrist band. It syncs via Bluetooth lower energy (BLE) to the Mi Fit app. It also has a manufacturer reported 30 day battery life.
And finally the Mi Band only has two functions. It tracks steps and it provides automatic sleep analysis. This is extent of the function I wanted to track.
Xiaomi also lists these features:
- Locate your band (it will light up and buzz within Bluetooth range)
- Smart Vibration Alarm
- Incoming Call alerting
- Tested to be tougher
- Heat tested to 70° C
- Cold tested to -20° C
- Drop tested 1.2 meters
- Corrosion tested
- Aluminum Alloy Sensor
- Hypoallergenic Band
I placed my Mi Band order on July 1st, 2015. At the time there was no US distribution and it the shipped cost $15. The same as the band. A couple of weeks later I received my band. It is important to note that because this band is simply it requires the use of the Mi Fit app. Without it the band is worthless. My initial experience with the app was that it had been created for a Chinese user base. Since then the app has improved and it works well.
As I mentioned earlier there were two reasons I was hesitant to get an activity tracker. I wanted it to be non-intrusive to my life. So it needs to have a longer battery life and it must be durable. I can say that the Mi Band with my usage was closer to 40 days of actual charge. I was happy to see results that were better than expected. In terms of durability I can say that other bands my family has used have broken due to showering. Because of the IP67 rating the Mi Band is rated to be dust tight and up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
Opening the box
Opening the inside of the box
Unfortunately at a $15 price point you also get what you pay for. About 60 days into use the actual wrist band broke. There is a third party market but I liked the Mi wrist band and contact support.
I was communicating with someone I believe was a non-english speaker and it took several e-mails to answer my initial question, “Can I purchase a replacement wristband“? I was told it wasn’t under warranty. I already knew that and included that in my initial contact. It is frustrating that we couldn’t get there with their initial response.
I did purchased a third party wristband. There differences are noticeable but insignificant. The original band feels more substantial where as the third party band was flimsy.
Band stopped working
I had my second child on September 29th, 2015 and I was glad that I had historical sleep analysis data. Then I noticed on the morning of October 1st that my band had charged but wouldn’t sync. Without any external indications as to what the problem might be I had to open a warranty replacement ticket. As of this writing I have returned the band for replacement.
In my opinion if you want a simply activity tracker at a low price this is a good entry level choice. For me it met all of my initial requirements. I am satisfied with the app but would like it to retain more historical data. It only keeps the daily totals after 24 hours.
I rate the Xiaomi Mi Band as a BUY. At the $15 price point you can’t go wrong. There are rumors that the Mi Band 2 will be announced anytime and the website is showing out of stock. So you may not have a choice but to wait.
** UPDATE: 2015-10-20 ** – My RMA request was processed and I received new band in the mail.