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Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: Still the best fitness band in the market?

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: The fitness tracker from Xiaomi gets an upgrade in 2021 with a higher price tag, bigger display, and Blood Oxygen monitoring. Here's how it performs.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
Updated: September 22, 2021 12:15:26 pm
Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications, Mi Band 6 featuresXiaomi Mi Band 6 review: This band gets a bigger display and here's how it performs. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

When it comes to tracking daily steps and basic fitness, the Mi Band remains one of the most reliable options in the market. The latest Mi Band 6 builds on this with some big changes. For one, it has a higher price tag at Rs 3,499 compared to the Rs 2,499 tag of the Mi Band 5. Second, it now comes with a bigger 1.56-inch display compared to the 1.1-inch display on the earlier band. Finally, it adds an important change in the form of support for blood oxygen monitoring, which has become a much sought-after feature in the time of Covid-19.

But do the changes justify the higher price? And what makes the Mi Band 6 a better pick compared to the countless fitness trackers and watches in the market? Let’s take a look in our review

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: What’s good?

When I first saw the Mi Band 6 and it was hard not to notice the larger screen. The AMOLED display with 326 pixels per inch (PPI) and a maximum brightness of 450 nits is legible even in harsh sunlight. In fact, I would say the display is a bit too bright, especially if you plan on wearing this for sleep tracking.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications, Mi Band 6 features A WhatsApp message display on the Mi Band 6. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

But the bigger display also means that the Mi Band 6 is now a little bit more suited to display notifications from messaging apps such as WhatsApp. It’s not perfect, and the text is still small, but this definitely adds more usefulness to the device. The Mi Band 6 is now compatible with the Xiaomi Wear app, which was powering fitness watches from the brand.

Users can go into the Xiaomi Wear app and turn on phone notifications, app notifications, etc for them to appear on the device. Mi Band 6 of course connects with Mi Fit app and now the Strava app as well. It is also capable of auto-detecting six fitness modes, including walking, running, cycling, indoor rowing, and elliptical.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications, Mi Band 6 features Data indoor cycling session is displayed on the Mi Band 6. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The band’s setup now includes a SPO2 monitor for tracking blood oxygen levels. Just make sure you wear the band tightly and stay still when measuring these. The two three times I used this feature, my blood oxygen levels were usually 98-99 per cent, so I’m guessing this works accurately.

As always with steps, the Mi Band 6 remains accurate, and if I may say so, a bit stingy. I did not notice any jump in steps (maybe 3-4) while sitting in a car. The band’s step count was bang on, especially on days where I knew I had not been very active. And the band figured out when I had started walking, as the auto-detect feature worked spot on. Though it usually detected around 5-10 minutes I had started walking.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications, Mi Band 6 features Data from a walk session is displayed on the Mi Band, including the route. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

By the way, if the auto-detect does come on, and you’re not really in the middle of a workout, say you had just stepped out for grocery shopping, you can choose an option for the band to ignore these and turn off auto-detect for an hour or so.

The Mi Band 6 can latch onto your phone’s GPS systems and detect the directions when you are walking or out on a run. Though, you will then need to take your phone along. If you don’t take the phone, then the GPS routes are not recorded.

The two-three walks I took with the Mi Band 6 were pretty accurate. Another feature I really appreciated was that the band would immediately pause if and when I took a break during exercise or walk. I was mighty impressed by the accuracy given this is still a budget fitness tracker.

I also took the Mi Band 6 for my outdoor cycle rides, and here’s where I faced some issues. But the band was accurate when it came to distance, elevation during the cycle ride. I also used the band to track indoor cycling sessions, and while it does not show any distance, the calories burnt were in line with what my cycle was showing.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications, Mi Band 6 features The Mi Band 6 remains accurate on step count as always. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The fitness band is swim-proof and water-resistant. I have not been able to take it for a swim, but I often wore it during baths, and it continues to work fine. The band’s sleep tracker remains accurate as always, one of the best in the business. For instance, when I slept at 1.30 am recently, and woke up early, the band has marked that day as ‘lack of sleep’ and I would wholly agree 100 percent.

The fitness band can also track menstrual cycles for women as well. One can add the dates of their last period and average cycle duration to the Xiaomi Wear app to see the prediction. The band will also reflect when your period is about to happen, ovulation days, etc. It also comes with stress monitoring, breathing exercises for those who wish to use such features.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications Xiaomi Wear app screenshot of the walking session, which has more details.

Xiaomi is promising around 14 days of battery life, but if you keep brightness on the higher side, are very active, and continuous heart-rate monitoring is on, you can expect to drain a bit faster. I managed to easily get more than a week. I would say keep the fitness band’s charger safe in some part of your device.

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: What’s not good?

The one big issue I faced was when cycling outside with the Mi Band. First, it would keep waiting for the GPS signal, and I figured there was no way to actually start the ride if the GPS signal wasn’t found. Since I didn’t have the phone with me, I just went ahead with the ride without recording the session. The second time I had the phone, but the same issue continued, even though it detected GPS. I did manage to start the ride. But the band did not record any distance, which was frustrating.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications The cycling session recorded on the Mi Band 6. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Finally, the third and fourth time, it manage to connect with GPS and record the distance on my rides. I could not find a way on the app to ensure that the ride would start without the GPS signal. I’m not sure why the band doesn’t start recording cycle rides without a phone’s GPS, because it manages to do this during walks or runs. During the latter, the Go or Start option would appear even if the phone wasn’t there. So yeah, if you are planning to use this for cycling, prepare to take your phone along.

I noticed some deep scratches on the display of the band in the short time I used it. I would say be careful when using this.

Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 review, Mi Band 6 specifications Screenshots from the Xiaomi Wear app of the cycling session.

Finally, the bigger display means it is not as snug as fit as I would have liked. So keep that in mind if you are upgrading and have smaller wrists. But this is kind of expected, given Xiaomi has increased the display size. At times, I would have to wear it really tight in order to ensure a better fit. Then the plastic straps left a mark on my wrist, which is never a good sign.

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: Verdict

Despite the hiccups I faced with cycling, the Mi Band 6 is still no doubt a reliable device when it comes to basic fitness tracking. The step tracking is one of the most accurate, it is great for those who go on walks/runs and need an affordable tracker. The colourful display is great, and the band’s size should fit most standard wrists. Xiaomi has increased the price given the Blood Oxygen monitoring feature and the bigger display. If you have an older Mi Band 3 or 4, you can consider upgrading to this.

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