Xiaomi MiBand Review

Illustrations of Wearables
Wearables?

Yeah, that's the current tech trend. Pioneered by proprietary systems (like Nike's Fuel Band, Pebble's Smartwatch, and Sony's own SmartWatch prior to SW3), wearables now have various looks and operating systems. Even major mobile OSes like Android and iOS have their own wearable platform (Android Wear and Apple Watch). Sure, they're quite expensive and their usefulness is still in question. However, what if you want to try out one? It's always exciting to try out something new, isn't it?

Enter the MiBand. This fitness tracker wearable manufactured by a new major phone manufacturer comes with a quite attractive design, compact size, and interchangeable bands should you ever get bored of it. What's more is that it comes with a low price, approximately U$17 compared to other similar fitness wearables.

So, how does the new wearable compare to your hard-earned cash? Let's find out.

The Package

The package is neat, small, and simple
When you want to review something, the first thing you look at is the package. It gives the impression to the reviewer of what to expect... and Xiaomi certainly does the right job. Why, because it captures your attention immediately with that color and that 'mi' logo on the front.

What's inside the box
Opening up the box, you'll see that the package is... essential. I've never reviewed a wearable device before so I don't know what 'generous package' for wearables means. Inside the box, you'll find a manual book, the MiBand itself, and a neat-looking device, which actually is its charger. Nope, you won't find any AC adapter, and Xiaomi does have a good reason for not including one. I'm going to explain that later but for now, the MiBand package is adequate.

The Device

The Xiaomi MiBand is quite a unique device. Its main part is actually the 'core' strapped into a wrist band which you can interchange with compatible ones. The core houses all the things the MiBand needs to function properly such as the Bluetooth modem, the accelerometer, and last but not least, the battery.

The Core. Out of its housing.
The core has 3 small LED lights on its surface which can be used to indicate charging level, incoming notifications, and your daily target achievement. The latter has to do with its fitness tracking ability. For example, if you set 8,000 steps daily in the MiBand app, the first LED would turn on when you've walked... say, approximately 2,600 steps and so on.

On one edge of the core, you'll find two protruding golden coils. Those coils are used to connect to the charger and charge the battery.

The core itself IP67-certified, which means it is dust-proof and waterproof for up to 1m (well, you wouldn't worry about the rubber strap, would you?) so you don't need to worry taking it for a swim or a run in the gym.

Now, for the housing. The MiBand comes with one color rubber strap of your choice (mine is black). It is said that Xiaomi would offer separate straps too (even ones made of leather) but I don't really see the use of it. Besides, it isn't available yet in Indonesia, so I don't have much to say. If you're used to wearing wrist watches, you'll feel no different with this one. However, if you haven't, it'd take a little bit of time to get used to it, especially when you feel like your hand is being cuffed. The rubber is comfortable, yes, but after continuous usage, it starts to feel disturbing and you might get the hunch to take it off for a little bit.

The App

The MiBand requires its own proprietary app to work properly. The app can be downloaded for free through Play Store (Android) and App Store (iOS). For Android, you need at least an HD screen. If you have a lower resolution screen, the app won't display properly and you might miss out some important elements. For example, I tried it out in a phone with qHD screen (the small q, not the capital Q) and I couldn't activate the Smart Lock feature (yes, it's a Lollipop device) because the button simply wasn't there. I checked my friend's phone with HD screen and yes, there's a start button on his phone while in mine, there isn't anything of the sort.

How many steps have you taken today?
How many hours of sleep did you
have last night?
By default, the app can track your sleep and step records for the day. The accelerometer is kind of on the hard side to trick (usually you can just shake the device to up the counter) but the sleep tracker raises a few questions. If the MiBand had a heart rate monitor, it would all make sense. However, it doesn't and I'm still curious on how it can track our sleep hours... and pretty accurately, too.

Another neat feature built into the app is the alarm and limited notification features. Thanks to its built-in vibration motors, the band (or the core, more precisely) can vibrate and 'startle' you in case it's time to wake up or when someone calls or texts. The vibration isn't as intense as a smartphone, but it's intense enough for you to feel. I wrote 'limited' because the notification is limited to calls and texts. However, thanks to MIUI's rich developer community, someone managed to build a tweaked version of the app so that it can deliver notifications for any app you want. What's even nicer is that you don't need to root your phone. Search for 'Tweaked MiBand app' on Google and you'll see what I mean. The tweaked app is available for both Android and iOS. For the latter, though, you need to be jailbroken and I'm not sure if it can deliver notifications for other apps like its Android counterpart since I don't want to jailbreak my iPad... yet.

The Battery

Now this is what I like from MiBand. That little piece of aluminum is powered by a tiny 41mAh and yet, it's so long-lasting even though it's turned on all day (there's no way to turn it off...). I could easily score 12 days and I still have 80% charge left. Yeah, if you have the tweaked app, you'll get less battery live due to more frequent vibration but it's still superb anyhow. With the tweaked app and frequent What's App notifications, I can score 27 days before I need to recharge.

Oh, and more thing: recharging is superfast, too. At approximately one hour, you'll get a full charge from 0%. Amazing, isn't it?

If only my smartphone has such superb battery life...
Perhaps for such a small battery (and low price), Xiaomi doesn't bother providing you an AC adapter. You'll have to make do with a uniquely-shaped USB adapter included in the box. Snap the core's side that has a couple of protruding coils into the holder and plug the adapter into a powered USB port and when you see the LEDs flashing, it's being charged.


These are the two coils that are responsible
for charging the core.

Yep, it's charged.

As much as it is very convenient to use, sometimes I have to take the core out then put it in again simply because it won't charge. It's kind of annoying, really...

Other Features

Besides the amazing battery life and essential features, the MiBand offers waterproof and dustproof protection thanks to its IP67 rating. IP67 means it's dustproof and waterproof for up to 1m so you can be confident that it won't break even if you take it to bath or gym. Watch out when wearing it for swimming though, unless you can tell how deep 1m is.

Conclusion

Smartwatches are booming right now. However, its stellar price and questionable function are things that keep people away from it. Xiaomi has offered us an alternative: a screen-less wearable with only the essential functions and an affordable price. In my opinion, Xiaomi is taking the step to the right direction.

Sure, there are things that need fixing such as notification delivery for all apps by default and better charging mechanism (sometimes clunky in my unit) as well as better sensor for tracking your sleep and steps. However, fixing those issues certainly will need better hardware and that will lead to higher price, which endangers one of this wearable's strengths.

I would say that despite all the weakness, this little thing deserves your money, IF AND ONLY IF you need to track your steps and sleep, as well as vibrating tool that reminds you that you have an incoming notification, but don't need of an extra small screen. Otherwise, you might not need to buy this at all, or you may look at more expensive alternatives such as Android Wear smartwatches. One advice, though, please do some extensive research before you decide to buy because good smartwatches aren't cheap.

Okay, so that's all, Folks. I hope my review can help you decide whether you need to buy this affordable smartband or not. As usual, I apologize if there are any offensive words in my review--I don't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. On the other side, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, you're welcome to sound them off in the comments section below. I'll try my best to answer.

Finally, thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to your next visit. Have a nice day, people! :D

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