Me: “There is just no way I would buy a dedicated fitness tracker now that the Apple watch exists. I mean, I don’t own an Apple watch and probably won’t for a while, but I probably will eventually.”
Xiaomi: “Ours costs 15 bucks”
Alright, so now the wife and I both have Mi Bands and we are having entirely too much fun with them. You should probably just go ahead and get one for yourself, your close family, friends, pets, and any nearby babies that look relatively active.
So, Mi Bands have features. Here are those features:
- Step and distance tracking 
- Automatic sleep tracking 
- 30 day battery life
- Vibrating alert when your phone rings
- Compatibility with your phone 
- Military grade accelerometer 
Seriously, you can put it on at the beginning of the month then shower, sleep, and live in this thing and not have to charge it until the end of the month. I certainly haven’t charged mine for weeks and the battery is still well above 50%.
There is just so much that the wife and I like about these little bands. As with any fitness tracker, I’ve been more active just to satisfy my daily step goals. I’ve been guilty of walking with no purpose other than to get steps.
Sleep tracking has been way more informative than expected. After just the first few days I heard this magic sentence “Ok, I finally believe it: drinking alcohol before bed reduces the amount of deep sleep I get at night.” The impact of things like drinking, working out, or late nights on your deep sleep is just obvious with Mi band’s tracking.
The app looks pretty nice and does a good job bringing out insights such as how little I've walked this morning, how much that half bottle of wine last night hurt my deep sleep, and maybe the fact that I shouldn't be smiling so much about my step count for the past week.
Personally, I thought the vibrating notification on phone calls would be useless. “When would I use that, who calls people?” Once again, I’m wrong about about everything and my life is riddled with mistakes and poor decisions. The vibrating call notification is excellent. I don’t miss calls anymore and the band vibrating feels less disturbing than a ringtone or even my phone’s vibration. I don’t know man, it’s just good.
The wife also thinks the Mi band looks more sleek than fitbit and similar competitors. I couldn’t resist getting a colored band to replace the black one it came with. The bands are like 5 bucks, why not?
All that said, you do give up a few things versus the 10x more expensive Fitbit Charge HR. The Mi band doesn’t track heart rate. The Mi band’s included gesture to activate the LEDs is pretty hard to activate. It is supposed to show you your progress toward your step goal but instead it mostly makes you feel like a failure . The Mi band also doesn’t seem to be as accurate for tracking my wife’s step count and I have no idea why. I’m also pretty sure that a fancy Fitbit would be able to understand other exercise activity like biking better. The Mi band basically just treats 30 minutes biking as equivalent to some random small amount of walking.
Maybe that sounds like enough negatives to mater but I just can’t bring myself to care. This thing is just way too fun for its price for me to care. There are more details like health kit integration (included) or detailed observations based on your activity (not included) so feel free to dig into the details of Xiaomi’s site if that is your thing. For example, I found the iPhone app works beautifully for nearly every interaction. Setup felt great, the design is pleasant, the icon isn’t blue, etc. But it has terrible reviews on the app store because the world is full of hateful creatures .
So. There you have it. Buy the shit out of these things. As with the Xiaomi Powerbank shipping is still a challenge. Xiaomi only launched their US webstore a few days ago so they haven’t yet figured out a cheap way to ship. If you want to buy a band this very second then expect to pay about as much for shipping as you pay for the band itself. I know. That is completely ridiculous and you are now deeply offended to your core. I’m sorry. I made this less painful by buying multiple things together, but Xiaomi claims that they will fix this soon. It could be worse .
Testing against google maps distance estimates for a few laps around Washington Square Park showed accuracy around +/- .05 miles which is way better than you need ↩
This might be the most “auto” anything I’ve ever used. Just fall asleep at night with the band on and your sleep is tracked ↩
I don’t actually know what kind of phone you have but it is probably compatible as long as you don’t have like a blackberry. Actually what I should say is: if your phone is not compatible with the Mi band then you should really take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about your recent life decisions ↩
Which… what the hell does that mean? ↩
You are supposed to just lift your arm and look at it but I’m guilty of awkwardly trying unsuccessfully in public over and over. It only gets worse that when I finally get the gesture to work I can’t resist this ridiculously over satisfied grin. My whole life. ↩
To be fair, there are some really weird occasional bugs. My favorite is that there is no way to set your height to 6’0“. Only options are 5’11” or 6’1". I got around this by setting my height in cm. Weird though. ↩
Just wait till I write about the true and real hotness of the Xiaomi scale which is amazing, excellent, and also only available through grey market importers ↩