Xiaomi is a famous name in the tech world now. Back in 2010 the company started with MIUI firmware and it is one of the largest smart tech and wearable makers in the world. It’s no wonder that the Mi fitness brands are one of the best in the market.
What makes Xiaomi fitness trackers so popular is their price tag. The company is known to make the products for the masses and it continued with its trend when back in 2014 it introduced the first Mi Band at just $13. The Chinese electronics giant is back with the more expensive Xiaomi Mi Band 2. A better design and OLED display are some of the new inclusions in the new Xiaomi hardware.
We got our hands on this Xiaomi fitness tracker and are using it for almost a month now. It’s time we review it in detail for you.
The Good and The Bad of Xiaomi Mi Band 2
Super cheap yet stylish
Heart rate monitor
Scratch resistant, anti-fingerprint and UV coated OLED screen
Accurate step and sleep tracking
20-day battery life
Idle Alerts are very helpful
Compatible app that connects with Google Fit and WeChat
Highly inconsistent heart rate monitor
Display is hard to read in bright light
Mi Fit app can be a lot better
Not water resistant
Features of Xiaomi Mi Band 2
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is nothing like the original Mi Band, except the strap. The problem with the original strap was it was too plasticky, we know the original Mi Band was designed to be cheap, but the design of the strap made it look flimsy. With the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, Xiaomi has not repeated the same mistake and its strap is made more rubbery and soft, which comfortable on the wrist. The strap is still made of silicon and the module is in the form of a dongle. The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is so light weight that you won’t even notice that it is resting on your wrist.
There is a bump up in the price of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 as compared to the original one. It is because of the inclusion of the new OLED display that makes activity tracking a lot easier. It is a nice move by Xiaomi to include a display in this fitness tracker so that it can compete with the likes of Fitbit and Garmin devices. The display on this device works great indoors, but using the display outdoors is a bit of a struggle. Poor visibility during the light makes it tough to read the data when you are taking it for a run. But there are a few features of the OLED screen that make it fascinating even with its flaws. The screen is scratch resistant, UV coated and anti-fingerprint. It is a common problem with most of the touchscreen devices that the display gets greasy after a few touches. While our Xiaomi Mi Band 2 screen got greasy too but not that much due to anti-fingerprint.
The touchscreen of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is powered by a capacitive button underneath. You can swipe through current time, distance, steps, calories, heart rate and battery on the screen. There is raise-to-see feature that lets you see the time just by raising your arm. In our review, we found this feature to be lagging behind as compared to other fitness trackers. While it is not that serious of a flaw, but is a consideration to be made while choosing this device. This fitness tracker is also given an IP67 rating that means you can wash your hands without taking it off, but not swim while this device is on your wrist.
Xiaomi has made color options available for you to choose while selecting the strap. If this option is not available for your location, then you can buy third-party bands for your Xiaomi Mi Band 2.
Tracking and performance
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is provided with every feature you can expect from an entry level fitness tracker. You can monitor your sleep, distance traveled, steps taken and calories burned pretty much accurately making use of this fitness tracker.
We took our Xiaomi Mi Band 2 out for a spin long with Fitbit Alta HR and Garmin Vivosmart 3 to see how similar this device performs in comparison. In our first test we compared step tracking between the Mi Band 2 and the Alta HR. The latter one counted our steps at 6,077 while the Xiaomi device recorded 6,070 steps. In the second round we tracked steps with the Vivosmart 3 and it counted them at 8,050 while our Mi Band 2 was showing 8,047. Therefore, it is safe to say that if step tracking is your fitness goal and you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to all those high end fitness trackers in the market, then this Xiaomi is product is a savior for you.
There is an automatic activity tracker in the device that starts logging your data in the Mi Fit app when you start working out. While testing automatic function, we found that the feature can lag by a minute or two before it recognizes that you have started with the exercise. But for most people this function should be accurate enough.
After automatic activity tracking, sleep tracking is also a strong point of this fitness tracker. The sleep tracking in the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is very accurate. It will automatically log the time when you fell asleep and woke up as well it will also detail the time of your light and deep sleep. The device automatically starts tracking your sleep, so you won’t have to use the app or press any button for sleep tracking to start. Once you wake up you can find the sleep tracking log in the Mi Fit app. Additionally, you can use the silent alarm in the device to wake you up with a subtle buzz and not to blaring sound of alarm.
Like most other quality fitness trackers, you get Idle Alert feature in the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 as well. This feature alerts you if you are inactive for more than an hour with a gentle vibration. From the app you can set the time and the days of the week, the Mi Band 2’s Idle Alert feature to work.
There is notification support in this fitness tracker but it is limited to only calls and text messages. Now most of the high-end fitness trackers support notifications, but Xiaomi is offering this feature in its low segment device which is appreciable. However, you should not always rely on the Mi Band 2 for notifications as it sometimes misses in alerting you about a call or text. Either it is a software bug or a crappy Bluetooth connection issue, either way you need to be careful.
Speaking of battery power, Xiaomi claims that the Mi Band 2 can last for 20 days on a single charge and we can’t agree more. We used our Xiaomi Mi Band 2 for over 23 days before we needed to get it charged. You can rely on the battery life to last long. To charge the device, just pop out the Mi Band 2 dongle from the strap and plug it into the proprietary charger, then connect it up to your computer.
Heart rate monitoring
Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 loses badly on this front. Although, there is an optical heart rate sensor in the device but its quality is substandard. The readings are far off many times and on some occasions this Xiaomi hardware fails to log bpm altogether. While comparing the reading of the Mi Band 2 heart rate monitor with the most reliable Wahoo TICKR X heart rate monitor, we found that most times the reading data match but sometime there is a big difference in the readings.
The heart rate monitoring of this device is not continuous. Also, you cannot get a reading when you are working out or running you need to be really still for the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 to monitor your heart rate. If heart rate monitoring is your primary requirement, then you can give this fitness tracker a miss. You know not every athlete wants to stand still in the middle of a run to keep a tap on his heart. Even we found that the device struggles to take the reading of our heart rate when we are sitting on a chair, it requires you to get as still as a statue to monitor the heart rate. We never came across a fitness tracker that performs this poorly at monitoring the heart rate. It was better Xiaomi has not taken the trouble of including an optical heart rate monitor in the device.
The Xiaomi Mi Fit app is a mixture of some liked and a few annoying features. Its better we start with the good things about the app first.
The home screen of the app is beautifully designed with home screen displaying the various metrics, including daily activity, heart rate, weight loss and goals. Tap any of these options to enter into more detailed view. This is where you will the information about your daily activity progress. You can also access daily, weekly and monthly graphs depicting your progress over the time. I found these metrics simple to understand and useable in deciding where I need to improve. However, there is no log for improvement in your heart rate over time and this is really disappointing.
One of the unique and advantageous features of the Mi Fit app is it can connect to third party apps-WeChat, Sina Weibo and Google Fit. Therefore, you can access your data from your favorite app if you want.
Now the negatives of the Mi Fit app. While the UI is impressive, but the layout of the app is simply horrible. The main interface is divided into Status, Play and Profile sections. The first section is your home screen and there is nothing much different about it. In the Play section, you can set the notifications, Idle Alerts and alarms. It is from here, where you can connect to third party apps. The Profile section is where you manage your activities and weight goals and can connect with your friends. Due to weird planning of layout, users are often lost while using the app. We found ourselves struggling to locate the activity data for long.
Connecting with friends using the Mi Fit app is not the same affair as with Fitbit and most other devices. You have to scan a QR code to connect with your friends and share your progress with them. We were surprised how unintelligent this feature is. We were not able to find even a single person who used the QR code to connect with us.
Reasons to choose Xiaomi Mi Band 2
The sub-$50 price tag compels the very first to consider the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. The price is excellent for a fitness tracker that can monitor heart rate, track daily activities automatically and monitor your sleep. A 20 day battery life is another reason to choose this fitness tracker over any sub-standard cheap device.
Most of the features included in the device are good enough to keep a tab on your daily activity. Unless you are not a serious athlete or someone interested in precision heart rate monitoring, the Mi Band 2 has a lot reasons to be on your wrist.
Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is a massive improvement over the original Mi Band. This super cheap fitness tracker is provided with all the features you look for in an entry level device. That being said keep in mind the faulty features and fall backs of the app before considering investing in this Xiaomi hardware. In simple words, with the Mi Band 2 you are getting exactly what you pay for.