The Mi Band is one of the most successful products for Xiaomi in India. Announced in Early 2016, according to an IDC survey over a short period of time it has become the number one wearable brand in India with over 27% market. Globally, Xiaomi takes the second position followed by Apple. Fitbit leads there. We now have Mi Band 2, as an upgrade to the original Fitness Band which will be available in India around the festival season later this year.
When you unbox it, the contents are similar to the earlier edition of the band. You are provided with a tracker module, a charging cradle, a manual and the band. The cradle is where you slide in the module and the other end connects to an USB port for charging. You do have an option to buy different color straps/bands.
Hardware, Look and Feel:
Mi has introduced a display to the tracker module. The screen on the tracker isn’t touch sensitive.However, it responds to the taps and touches on the capacitive button. The tracker displays time, number of steps, the distance covered, heart rate, calories burnt, call alerts, alarms etc.
The band connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) protocol. This is an IP67 water resistant band which can withstand a splash but its not water proof so you can’t wear your band during your swimming sessions.
The metallic clasp resembles the touch button of the module giving it a very premium look. The band feels very comfortable even after using for long hours.
The Mi band 2 also has an optical heart rate sensor which isn’t continuous like the Fitbit Charge HR. So every-time you scan your vitals from the band, the heart-rate is scanned and displayed.It can be checked from the Mi band App on your phone as well.
I used this band for over 10 days and I have to say that, I am pleasantly surprised with the results. I used it alongside my Fitbit Blaze on the same hand to compare the results. The difference was about 500 steps and I am unsure on which of them is inaccurate. However, its is a small number to complain as every band comes with some level of variance.
Software, User Experience:
The awesomeness of the Mi Band is not just in the hardware, but the software is phenomenal too. The Mi Fit App is available for both iOS and Android. Once you download, you have to create a Mi account to get started. Enter the numbers that matter, set your goals, pair your tracker and Voila! you are good to go.
The Mi Fit app has evolved over years and it now gives you the information in a neater dashboard along with other nifty options. For accuracy of the tracking data the app lets you choose between the hands you would wear the band on. The App now supports integration with Google Fit as well.
Call alerts work neatly , I really liked the feature where you can ignore alerts from unknown numbers.
I loved the Idle Alert feature. Wherein if you are idle for more than an hour, the Mi band gives you a nudge and vibrates so that you get moving, probably take a small walk or even stretch and stay active. This is useful especially when your work involves sitting for long hours. You also have the option to tune this according to your working hours.
Solid design and less intrusive construction makes this band very comfortable to wear all through the day even while asleep. Thereby, helping in analyzing your sleep routine along with other activities.
You can track your daily, weekly and monthly progress graphically, though it would be great if we have some algorithms built which would help us by making more sense of these numbers similar to what Jawbone does with its Smart Coach.
I would’ve wished if the software had an option of an alarm where the device wakes you up, when you are in light sleep, thereby helping you to wake up more refreshed.
I also hope that the app gets better on auto detecting activities. Like, when you take a quick run. There’s no GPS for accurate tracking or any kind of extra features for runners.
Pros and Cons, Value for Money:
It’s a is a no brainer that Mi band 2 is an affordable and fantastic fitness tracking band that gives you a premium feel, great hardware and software and to top all that, the Heart Rate sensor at roughly about 1500 INR is a steal. The official prices haven’t been announced yet. The competition is selling bands at 7-8 times higher than this price.
Personally I think, the biggest advantage is also a pain point for me. The battery is so good on the Mi bands that the first edition of Mi Band used to run happily for little over a month. I would sometimes forget where I had kept my charging dongle. It sounds funny, but this is true. getting a spare charger is a challenge and you can’t charge the module in any other manner.
For Mi band 2 the company claims a battery life of 20 days which should easily be at least 12-15 days on regular usage. Considering the display, its a great deal.
I have always been a fan of the Fitbit Charge HR; a band which doesn’t try to be a smartwatch. Does what its supposed to do and also feels comfortable on hands. The Mi Band 2 adds up to the list of recommendations. This is my favourite affordable band at this moment and I absolutely vouch for the same. If you’re looking to get fit by walking and bringing in a good discipline in your routine, I definitely recommend buying this. Even if not for yourself, this is an ideal gift for your loved ones!