Weeks back, we unboxed one of the best smartbands (and fitness tracker) out of China, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 … and it was a good sight: lovely package and appealing product appearance.
As I mentioned in the unboxing, I planned using the smartband for a week before giving my verdict on the device. But since the need to find out if any device is a good product and worth the money is paramount to us here at Techyne, I extended the usage period so a more detailed and unbiased conclusion could be reached.
So, after 19 days of usage, here’s Techyne’s review of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 smartband.
Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 as a whole is made of two components: a detachable tracker and the strap (that the tracker fits into). I mentioned how smooth the strap/wwristbandwas in the unboxing.
Made out of TPU material (mix of plastic and soft silicone), the wristband is smooth, breathable and very comfortable on the skin. The fastening system on the band is great and allows tight fitting of the Mi Band 2 on the hands. With 9 adjustment holes in the strap, the Mi Band 2 is made to fit every wrist.
Weighing only 17 grams, the Mi Band 2 is so lightweight that I sometimes forget I have it strapped on my wrist (which is a good thing by the way). Also, I should mention that the device is IP67 waterproof and dustproof certified. And this is no lie or gimmick as I:
- Had my bath with the Mi Band 2 as many times as I could
- Washed dishes in the kitchen with the Band on
- Did laundry too!…with the band on my wrist
And no glitches were noticed in the functionalities of the band. None at all. It worked pretty fine after each water test. I wasn’t able to take it swimming or use in the rain but I’m confident the Mi Band 2 will not be affected in such conditions.
On first sight, you would be forced to think the whole frontal of the Mi Band 2 is the display but actually, a 0.46-inch OLED cut-out that blends perfectly with the glossy front covering is the display. Despite the small size of the screen, it displays time, heart rate, date, distance, etc. very legibly. You can change the time format as well customize what you would love to be displayed on the screen in the “Band display settings” in the Mi Fit app when the band is connected to your device via Bluetooth (more on this later).
When the button is touched, contents on the OLED screen are displayed for five seconds only after which the screen goes off. Screen contents are very visible when used indoors in low lights but faintly visible outdoors under high lights (sunlight).
There Xiaomi Mi Band 2 isn’t just your average everyday smartband. It is loaded with fitness trackers and sensors that you some smartwatches lack. The:
Pedometer: is a fitness tracker that monitors the number of steps you take on a daily and displays the counts on the bands OLED screen. I noticed that the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 pedometer doesn’t count your steps in the actual sense, instead, it detects movements by the swinging action if your hands. One complete swing of the hands is one step.
Sleep monitor: this is one of her health and wellness monitor of the Mi Band 2…and it’s cool! The collects information about the way you sleep, when you fall asleep, the time you wake up, and uses the data collected to report if you are sleeping healthy or not.
And no, it doesn’t end there. The Mi Band 2 goes ahead to compare your sleep stats with those of other Mi Band 2 users within the same age range and region. In the settings menu, you can “turn on wake notifications” to set the band to remind you to check your sleep information as soon as you get off the bed.
Surprisingly, even when you don’t wear the Mi Band 2 to bed, it is still smart enough to measure how deep or light you sleep. I believe you would love to know how it does that. Well, I observed that the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 records the time you took your last step in the night/midnight as your time of sleep, and the very first step you take in the morning as the time of wake.
This tells that the information that Xiaomi obtains about sleep isn’t totally accurate, but usable —the data is close enough to be worked with.
Heart rate monitor: yet another health monitor, on a $28 smartband. Impressive..but don’t nod in agreement just yet.
The heart rate monitor is the most almost-redundant feature of the Mi Band 2. You would agree that since the smartband is worn on the wrist, it is only normal that all the features of the band should function on the wrist, without having to remove it for any reason, right? Well, to measure your heart rate with the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, you would have to unfasten the band from your wrist, and place it on the palm or tip of any finger – a discovery I made by accident after days and night of trying to decipher if I was sent a unit with a faulty heart rate sensor, or the sensor was only a gimmick.
Thinking I was wrong, I sought out for some solutions online. Alas! A couple of Google result pages and YouTube videos proved that the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 indeed does not pick up heart rates easily on the skin. In the rare instances when it did pick up heart rates on the skin, users had to press the band really hard on their skins – but like many users, I didn’t get any luck with that. The palm and fingertips seem to be the best point where the band picks up heart rate without hassles.
The unreliable detection of heart rate of the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 really defeats its purpose as a health and fitness monitor – having to remove the band every time you need the heart rate checked is something Xiaomi should work towards improving in future smartbands.
Under the “My devices” section in the MI Fit app dashboard, click on the “Mi Band 2” and you would be presented options to set an alarm with the Mi Band 2. You can choose the alarm lifespan from the displayed options and click on the time to edit the alarm/wake up time. At the set time, the Mi Band 2 starts vibrating for about a minutes and snoozes at intervals. To stop vibrations, tap the band while it’s vibrating. This feature is a good one for deep sleepers who don’t get triggered to get up from bed by audio alarms – body vibrations may wake you from bed faster than audio alarms. Something worth experimenting.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 can also notify you when you get new notifications from selected/chosen applications. Perhaps you are in that conference where phones are required to be on silent or do-not-disturb mode but you have an important text you have to send an immediate reply to and sporadically staring at your phone screen would surely distract you, this is where the Mi Band 2 “App Alerts” feature comes in handy. Turn on app alerts and click on “Manage apps” at the bottom of the screen to select the app notifications you would love to see on your smartband. It could be WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo mail etc.
The band can display alerts for incoming SMS and phone calls too.
When that is done, the Mi Band 2 vibrates each time there is a new notification from the selected apps.
P.S: The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 has to be connected to the app via Bluetooth for alerts to function properly.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 has a way to help monitor your fitness and wellness level through a number of ways – the Idle alert monitor being a very important one. It is generally adopted that excessive idleness could pose negative risks towards overall health and fitness of human, hence the rationale behind the Mi Band 2 notifying you to get up and take a stroll (or anything engaging – just get up!) within a specified period of time.
When the band is connected to the paired Mi Fit app, it can keep your smartphone unlocked and long as it is in close proximity. This is a rather innovative feature but it isn’t one I’d recommend using as prying eyes could take advantage of this to gain unauthorized access to your phone’s contents. Although this may save the time taken to unlock your phone but unlocking a smartphone via fingerprint takes only milliseconds…and it’s way secure than leaving it unlocked.
Find my band: can’t seem to find your smartband? This option allows you to easily located it by simply clicking on the “Find my band” in the app. When clicked, the Band vibrates very loudly for about 3 seconds and you can trace the sound.
Lift wrist to view info: this saves you time clicking the smartband’s button before the display is turned on. Like normal wristwatches, you can raise your wrist and the OLED display of the Mi band 2 will come on immediately.
Rotate wrist to switch info: easily switch between what you have displayed on the screen of the band by simply rotating you wrist.
Goals and goal notification
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 allows users set precise fitness goals (e.g the number of steps you wish to take per day, or calories you wish to burn daily via exercise). You can also tell the band to alert notify you when you smashed these goals.
Connectivity and Storage
The “Mi Fit” app is the official application for the Mi Band 2 and is available on the Google Play store for Android devices and Apple Play store for iOS devices. Connection to the app is via Bluetooth and you have to register an account to use the app, or log in if you already have a Mi account. Registration is pretty fast and simple.
Xiaomi never mentioned anything about the Mi Band 2 having storage capabilities, but it actually does. While the band is collecting information about steps, heart rate, sleep, workout etc, it stores them and immediately syncs them to the app when connected via Bluetooth. Be it data of 8 days back, or the present day’s data, everything is stored in the band and synced to the app when connected via Bluetooth.
The synced data are then uploaded to Xiaomi’s database, making information about your fitness for each day available forever.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 has a built-in 70mAh Lithium Polymer battery that Xiaomi says can last up to 20 days on standby. Well, I put it to you that either Xiaomi didn’t test the battery properly to know the strength and how long the battery lasts, or I was given a unit with supercharged battery.
When this unit arrived, the battery was flat. I had to charge it by inserting the charging adapter in my laptops USB 3.0 port, and the device charged up in less than an hour. Before that, I tried charging the Mi Band 2 with a power bank, but it wouldn’t charge –i.e the Mi Band 2 cannot be changed using a power bank.
The charge time is pretty decent, but what’s more interesting is the number of days a full charge can last. As evidenced in the screenshot below, I have used the MiBand 2 vigorously over the past 19 days and guess what: only 50% of battery life was used. By the way, you should know that I had the band on my wrist (steadily testing and playing around the band) for at least 15 hours each every single day of the 19-day usage period.
With my current usage rate, the 50% that’s left of the battery would definitely take me more than 30 days before needing to charge. Also, with this rate, I estimate the band’s battery standby time to be somewhere between 90 and 120 days –rough estimate.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is a pretty brilliant and smart band, really. Embedded with everyday fitness, health and wellness sensors, the Mi Band 2 is a much better alternative to the ordinary wristwatch and a much cheaper alternative to actual fitness trackers and smartwatches.
If you think details of how much steps you take every day, how much calories you burnt during workout, how many miles you walk per day, mileage covered during your Sunday or Saturday morning jogs, heart rates etc. are valuable information to you (or may turn out to be someday), the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is a worthy investment –though you might have to forgive the not-so-efficient heart monitor.
For $28, I’d say: buy this if only you valuable information about yourself and your health (which you should). If you are particularly interested in putting stuff on your wrist to see what the time says, you might as well be better off with a simple and plain wristwatch.