Xiaomi Mi Band one month review: Sure it’s cheap, but does it work for fitness?

If you can afford to burn 1,000 rupees, then think of the Xiaomi Mi Band as a beta or test device

Written by Mihir Patkar | Updated: June 8, 2015 2:48 pm
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The Xiaomi Mi Band costs just Rs. 1,000. And because of that, it’s easy to say, “It’s just 1000 bucks, buy it.” But a thousand rupees is still substantial money and not to be thrown away lightly. So if you do go for the Mi Band, will you be burning that cash or investing in a fitter, healthier lifestyle?

I have used the Mi Band for over a month now. There are things to love, there are things to hate. But more than all that, it has become apparent that the Mi Band isn’t for everyone.

What’s Good About the Mi Band?

The Mi Band works with any Android phone, not just Xiaomi handsets. Set up takes a couple of tries, but once you get it going, you’ll never need to worry again. The software is intuitive, the device is hassle-free, and the battery lasts for a month, so you won’t have to worry about constantly charging it.

Xiaomi has done the small things right. The app, for instance, does a remarkable job of differentiating between a long walk and a walk on a treadmill. It’ll figure out when you are working out and mark those sessions separately. And the shake-for-alarm works as advertised, although you probably won’t use it often.

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What’s Bad About the Mi Band?

Everyone who uses the Mi Band has the same complaint: Why does this not have a clock on it? Not a smart watch, mind you, but just the ability to see the time on it. It would have been enough. But without a way to tell the time, you are stuck with this band and a wristwatch on your arm. It’s annoying and unnecessary.

More importantly, the Mi Band isn’t a classy accessory. You’re not going to go to a wedding or a formal party with this on your hand, next to your prized Tag Heuer. Even a leather strap doesn’t make up for that. More importantly, it means you won’t have the strip on your hand at all times.

The strap, in fact, could be better. Yes, it’s waterproof, but it often comes loose when you doing laps in the pool. In the summer heat, it chafes the skin. Some people don’t mind having it on the hand while sleeping, but even after a month, I just can’t get used to it, which makes the shake-to-alarm feature worthless for me.

The Big Question: Does the Mi Band Make You Fitter?
Short answer? No.

The Mi Band does a great job of tracking fitness. But it’s not a motivator, nor does it provide information needed by anyone who is health-conscious.

For example, the Mi Band tries to estimate how many calories you burnt in the day, based on how many steps you took. If you know enough about fitness, you know that’s not an accurate picture. So it’s useless data; not even a rough indicator of what you actually go through. As someone who has been tracking his calorie intake, weight, and workout routines, I can assure you that the Mi Band does not provide an accurate count. The Mi Band is actually quite useless as a fitness tracking tool for someone who is actually into fitness.

For someone who is not conscious about their health, the Mi Band is actually a feel-good placebo, but not a helpful tool. If you don’t know how many calories you consume in a meal or a day, nor do you have a workout routine, any form of exercise and calories burnt seems like a bigger deal than it is.

So you check the Mi Fit app at the end of the day and feel good that you burnt off 300 calories in the course of the day. You know what 300 calories is? A packet of regular fries at McDonald’s. A plate of poha? A single egg omelet usually packs 150 calories, so burning off 300 in day isn’t really helping much. But it seems like you’re achieving a lot, right?

In the end, it’s difficult to understand what a Mi Band would be actually useful for, in terms of your health. Perhaps once Xiaomi adds features like leaderboards and competitions with friends, that might be incentive for a user to do better than others in their social circle. But at the moment, the Mi Band is a cool toy without any actual benefits to it.

So Is It Worth 1,000 Bucks?

The low price tag of the Mi Band actually makes things difficult. Many buyers won’t think twice about picking it up, since it’s so cheap. And in that sense, it might be a good way of testing for yourself if you will actually use a fitness tracker.

If you can afford to burn 1,000 rupees, then think of the Mi Band as a beta or test device. Buy it, see if you actually wear it regularly, and what benefits you get out of it. Once you know that, you might want to upgrade a better fitness tracker like the FitBits and the JawBone Up series.

If you are already someone who is health conscious, don’t bother with the Mi Band. Either get yourself a better fitness tracker, or just treat yourself to a good meal for Rs. 1,000. You’ve already earned it.

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