Review: Xiaomi Mi Band 2

Xiaomi has taken the world by storm, since the company started back in 2010. Starting out making smartphones, Xiaomi made a name for themselves by creating cheap smartphones, with high-end specs. In recent years, the Chinese manufacturer has branched out into making all kinds of other tech products, including humidifiers, smart TV's and yes, even fitness trackers. The Mi Band 2 is Xiaomi's third fitness band, after the original was announced in 2014. The Mi Band 2 is the first fitness tracker from Xiaomi with an OLED display, and is a big reason why the Mi Band 2 is a bit more expensive than the original Mi Band which the company sold for $13.

With the Mi Band 2, Xiaomi continues to bring high-end specs, and a great looking fitness tracker to market for a pretty low price. The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is priced at $40, which makes it one of the cheapest fitness trackers on the market. But the big question is, is the Mi Band 2 worth its price?

Design

The design of the Mi Band 2 probably won't win any awards. The word that always comes to mind, when thinking about the design of the Mi Band 2 is "functional". It has a silicon strap, with the tracker that pops into place. A bit like the Fitbit Flex. Since the fitness tracker isn't embedded in the strap, you are able to swap out the band for something else, which Xiaomi does have a nice steel strap for the Mi Band 2 does look really nice.

The actual tracker itself, is pretty plain looking as well. There's a .42-inch OLED display here, which is UV coated and resistant against scratches. So you won't need to worry about hitting the Mi Band 2 up against things while you're wearing it, and damaging the screen. Just below the screen, there's a button. It's not quite a capacitive button, but just touching the button will allow you to navigate through the different information that can be found on the tracker. The information that the band will show includes the time, steps, distance, calories, heart rate and remaining battery. Basically all of the information you could ever want, in regards to tracking your daily activity.

Like most other fitness trackers available on the market, the Mi Band 2 is also water resistant, rated at IP67. This is enough to be able to wear the tracker while washing the dishes and such, but it's not recommended to wear the Mi Band 2 in a pool or in the shower. While it should be fine, there's no need to take the risk.

Features

When it comes to features, there are plenty of them here on the Mi Band 2, which may be a bit surprising given how cheap the Mi Band 2 really is. Of course, the Mi Band 2 tracks your steps, as well as the calories you burn while walking or running. Unfortunately, it does not track your workouts like many of Fitbit's offerings do. It will track your steps taken while doing cardio (on the treadmill, elliptical, etc), but it won't track how long you were doing cardio or how intense it was being done.

The Mi Band 2 does have a heart rate monitor. Although it doesn't track your heart rate constantly, this is likely why the battery in the Mi Band 2 lasts a whole lot longer than most other fitness trackers that have a heart rate monitor. The Mi Band 2's battery lasts around 20 days, on average. The heart rate sensor only tracks your heart rate when you have it check it manually, either through the app or on the actual tracker itself. While it is nice to have the heart rate sensor here, it would be better if it were tracking constantly. Additionally, it's important for us to mention that the heart rate sensor is not as accurate as it should be. This isn't really Xiaomi's fault. As most fitness trackers that track your heart rate on your wrist won't be accurate. It needs to be wrapped around your chest to get a more accurate heart rate. But it will give you an idea of where your heart rate is.

One of the cool features that the Mi Band 2 has is, idle alerts. What this means is that, if you haven't moved in an hour (unless of course you are asleep, which it will track that as well), it will vibrate on your wrist. Basically telling you to get up and move a bit. Now this may seem a bit annoying - luckily you can choose to turn this on or off if you want - but it will help you be more active, get more steps in and most importantly, be less sedentary. Which is important for those that have desk jobs and are sitting down all day. As that increases your risk for all kinds health issues.

Xiaomi allows you to sync your data from the Mi Band 2 with other services, like WeChat, Sina Weibo and Google Fit. The first two - WeChat and Sina Weibo - are very popular services in China. So it makes sense that they are available here, seeing as Xiaomi's biggest market is China, not to mention their homeland. But it is also nice to see that Google Fit is also listed. We connected our Google account with the Mi Fit app to sync our data. It was very easy to do, and you don't even need to install the Google Fit app, which was a bit surprising, but offers a nice user experience. It will sync your steps and sleep to Google Fit. All of the other data it collects, will not be sent over to Google Fit however. For Weibo and WeChat, you do need to have the apps installed to sync your data over to those services.

The Mi Band 2 does also track your sleep. You'll be able to see how long you slept for, the time you fell asleep, the time you woke up, how long you were in that deep sleep, how long you were sleeping lightly and how long you were awake for. So you can see if you are restless or not, and really see if you did get a good night of sleep or not. You can also check out your stats for the week or month and see what your averages were for each metric. Which can also be helpful, somewhat.

Software

To use the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, you will need to download the Mi Fit app which is available in the Google Play Store. The app itself uses Xiaomi's own design language, which if you've used any of Xiaomi's recent smartphones, then you'll know what I mean by that. Within the app, there are three tabs, which include Status, Play and Profile. Status basically shows you your stats for the day. So at the top, there's a big circle which displays your steps, and how close you are to reaching your goal. It also shows how far you've walked today, and how many calories you've actively burned (since you do burn calories when you are doing nothing). Below that you'll see your sleep, weight, heart rate and streak. It's all pretty much self-explanatory really. You can tap on each one to see your stats.

Now the center tab may be a bit confusing, as it just says "Play". This is where you can adjust things like the apps that work with Mi Fit, as well as using the Mi band 2 as a smart device to unlock your phone automatically, and much more. This is where you can set up access to Google Fit, WeChat, and Weibo for syncing your fitness data. Additionally, you can set up silent alarms. So instead of your phone yelling at you to get up, the Mi Band 2 will instead vibrate on your wrist to wake you up in the morning. Some people find that this wakes them up in a good mood. The Mi Band 2 can also send you alerts for incoming calls, and SMS. There is also a "Do Not Disturb" feature here, allowing you to keep the Mi Band 2 silent while it's in this mode. Which can also be fairly helpful at night when you're trying to sleep.

Finally, that last section of the app is your profile. Again, this is mostly self-explanatory, as it shows your profile along with your average steps, total miles and your streak of hitting your step goal. It also shows your devices, and allows you to connect others (like the Mi Scale). You can set your goals within the app, which include your step goal and weight goal. Which Xiaomi recommends a step goal of at least 10,000 steps per day (that may seem like a lot, but it's actually really easy to reach). Adding friends on Mi Fit is a bit of a challenge, compared to Fitbit where you just add their email address or you can have the app use your contacts list. With Mi Fit, you need to add by their QR Code, and there's no other option to add friends, other than that way, right now. Hopefully that's something Xiaomi changes in the near future though.

The Mi Fit app may not have the best design, but I have to say, it is very functional and user friendly. It's easy to find different settings that you may want to use, as well as checking on your stats for the day. I especially like the fact that it gives you an average number of steps per day, along with your total distance. Of course, it would look better in material design, but it does fit Xiaomi's own design rather perfectly.

Battery Life

Xiaomi says that the 70mAh battery that is inside the Mi Band 2 can last around 20 days. Now, we haven't actually had the band for 20 days, so it's tough to say whether that claim is true, but it does appear to last quite a while. We've noticed it drop between 3-5% per day. Which would give us around 20 days of battery life out of the Mi Band 2. And that's really, really good for a fitness tracker. As I mentioned earlier in this review, a bit reason why it likely lasts so long is the fact that the heart rate sensor isn't constantly tracking your heart rate, like many other fitness bands do. On top of that it is lacking a few other features, which likely leads to even better battery life.

Charging the Mi Band 2 is actually pretty easy. Just pop the tracker out of the band and plug it into the included charger, which can be charged from the USB port on your laptop. With it having such a small battery, it definitely won't take long to charge back up to 100%.

Wrap Up

Xiaomi has more than delivered on the Mi Band 2. While it may not be the best looking fitness tracker out there, it is one of the smallest, and thus it's lightweight. Combine the functionality of the Mi band 2 with the battery life that it sports, and you have a true winner here from Xiaomi. Never mind the price tag that is attached to it. It's pretty incredible what this thing can do, and for just $40 (it's real price is $25, but since it's not available in the US, officially, it'll cost you around $40 to pick it up).

Should I Buy the Xiaomi Mi Band 2?

If you don't want or need all of the fancy features that you'll find from things like the Fitbit Alta or the Jawbone UP4 or even the Garmin vivosmart, then the Mi Band 2 is a perfect fitness tracker to pick up. My only real gripe about it, is the fact that you can't add friends easily (as competition helps me be more active), and there aren't many people using Xiaomi's Mi Bands just yet. That will likely change though, in the very near future, especially if they keep churning out great fitness trackers like the Mi Band 2.

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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