Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi launched one of the most successful fitness trackers ever in 2014, at around $20 to track steps, sleep etc. who can argue. The follow up band, the Mi Band 2 (or 1S depending on which site you buy from) launched late last year with updated features including a heart rate monitor – I bought one and here’s the low down.
I’ve been using a MiBand 2 for a couple of weeks now and the changes are simple, subtle and effective. About 12 months ago I took advantage of an OzBargain deal and grabbed a Xiaomi Miband for under $20 and didn’t realise just how much of a difference it would make to my daily life. They aren’t intended to compete with the likes of a FitBit or other like devices; they’re super simple and super cheap, but they do have some great functions that some users are going to jump at so when I got the chance to pick up a second generation Mi Band for $12 there was no way I was going to pass that up.
Like its older brother, the Mi Band 2 covers the basics very well. Its lightweight enough to wear all day, every day without interfering with your daily routine. What it doesn’t do (like the more expensive fitness trackers) is GPS tracking and it doesn’t have a display of any sort so you can’t substitute it for a watch. What it does quite well is monitor your movement and with the addition of the heart rate monitor (which the first generation did not have) it monitors your sleep reasonably accurately.
There’s a couple of other little party tricks that people won’t expect from a really simple device like this. One of these I use is the alarm clock which I have set for every weekday is an alarm clock which, at your desired time silently vibrates on your wrist until you give the device a “good shake” to disable the alarm. If you happen to go back to sleep after this, your alarm will re-trigger about 5 minutes later if it detects that you’re not moving.
Previously I found the original Mi Band was very inaccurate with the estimate on your sleeping patterns. But with the addition of the heart rate monitor, combined with the movement sensor the “Sleep Assistant’ is much more accurate provided you turn on the periodic heart rate checks during the night. This combined with the morning notification of your nights sleep can give you an early indicator on how rested you are, allowing you to either pace yourself or attack the day at full speed.
In an on-call role its not unusual for me to receive calls at all hours of the day and night, at times to the displeasure of my wife. Luckily the Mi Band has the capability to alert you of incoming calls or other app notifications by vibrating on your wrist in various patterns. All of these functions are configurable via the MiFit App that you can pick up on the play store which you’ll need to setup an account for but once setup you can pretty much ignore it since it will happily upload data to Google Fit or other applications.
As you progress through the day, there are three led lights on the top of the device that progressively light up as you reach:
- 1/3 of your goal steps for the day
- 2/3 of your goal steps for the day
- Completion of your goal for the day
They also display in red and vibrate when your battery requires charging which incidentally, won’t happen often; I’ve not charged mine for 20 days right now and still have over 50% battery left.
Although its already been said, I feel as though it important to reiterate that the Mi Band isn’t intended to and simply can’t compete nose to nose with the likes of Fitbit or Garmin. Its not mean to though, the Mi Band devices are an offering that gives great bang for buck and to get people into the fitness tracking game before they decide to dive in to the tune of 10 x more cost with something like the previously mentioned devices. If all you’re looking to do is get an idea of your step count and general activity levels on any given day, a Mi Band could be right choice for you and and the price… Its well worth the risk.
What have your experiences been with fitness trackers?