Xiaomi Mi Band: Only $20, but it does the job and offers some frills too

Stop rubbing your eyes, the price tag is correct. At $20, the Xiaomi Mi Band makes you wonder if you are getting a feature-crippled fitness tracker. But it does the job, automatically tracking your daily physical activity, workouts and sleep. It does not have a heart-rate monitor, but criticising the omission would be churlish.

Mi Band consists of a tracking module and a wristband. The aluminium-alloy module is quite well built, but does not have a display or a button, just three LED lights to indicate progress on steps taken. The wristband is easy to put on and feels comfortable.

The most difficult part is the pairing process. If you have a lot of Bluetooth devices lying around, you will have trouble getting Mi Band to pair with your smartphone. I needed to go to a place free from Bluetooth devices in order for pairing to work.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $19.99

    WATER RESISTANCE: IP68

    WEIGHT: 14g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The sleep tracking is automatic - impressive, considering some of Mi Band's higher-priced peers do not offer the feature. Sleep tracking is spot on, about as good as the Withings Activite Pop.

But activity tracking seems to be on the low side. Compared with my calibrated Nike+ FuelBand, Mi Band tracked as much as 12 per cent fewer steps.

If you have an Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphone, the Mi Band can help you unlock your phone in a fuss-free way. Swipe the phone's display when Mi Band is close by, and the phone will unlock without your having to enter a password or unlock pattern. I tried and it works most of the time.

Mi Band also alerts you to incoming calls via vibration. But this did not work at times.

Battery life is a stunning 30 days. After two weeks' use, there is still 50 per cent of juice left.

Trevor Tan

  • Verdict: If you are hesitant about fitness trackers, get the Xiaomi Mi Band to try. It's just a $20 bet.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Xiaomi Mi Band: Only $20, but it does the job and offers some frills too'. Print Edition | Subscribe