back to article Xiaomi my heart is still beating: Reg hack takes Chinese giant's new fitness band for a spin

Xiaomi's Mi Smart Band 6 fitness wearable is a pleasant device but is too small and finicky to satisfy those who take athletic performance seriously. I strapped on the Xiaomi band after signing up for a cycling event that will require me to climb more hills than I've ever tackled in a single day, with the most sustained and …

  1. Joe W Silver badge

    Very use case oriented review

    I like it. 10/10 would read again ;)

    Not gushy, not completely against it, but weighing the additional data and analyses against the (in)convenience, the struggles in setting up, and also the "style" of the device. It makes me realise: no, I do not need one. At that price point I am severely tempted to, but then what's the additional benefit (and I don't even use Strava, but simple GPS track recording)? And more importantly: will I make use of the data, and how? Maybe (probably? likely? almost surely 1?) not as much as I might plan to. Same with buying a new bike, sure, it's nicer and quite a bit lighter - but I know that I can easily save twice the weight while saving money, simply by reducing my sweets intake (oooh, nice looking pastries, which are often not as satisfying as they look, so no actual loss!). So: yeah... nah, I'll pass. On the bike and the fitness band.

    Good luck with your planned ride! Ride safely!

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    The Big Chinese gauge

    Whenever an article like "Xinjiang: Large numbers of new detention camps uncovered in report" comes out or "Inside China's surveillance state", they can look up whether a heart rate of westerners go up and if not, just carry on.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Stop

    "[tech] needs to be slicker, bigger, and brighter to really get you faster and fitter"

    No, it does not.

    Getting fit is on you, not on whatever piece of tech you splurge on.

    1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: "[tech] needs to be slicker, bigger, and brighter to really get you faster and fitter"

      Indeed. However did I manage running marathons in the 60s?!

  4. MiguelC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I've used a MiBand 4 for more than a year and like it a lot, I use it 24/7 (except for 2h every 12 days or so to recharge) and, through the magic of goal setting, has kept me doing my long-ish daily walks, including while working at home (I'm sure that, without the extra encouragement of wanting to keep a good record, I'd have moved a lot less)

    When cycling I use the MiFit app audible comment function, that tells me every Km my overall distance, pace and heart rate, so there's almost no need to check the small screen.

    It's also quite durable - up to now, the only thing I've had to buy is a new strap (the original one broke some two months ago).

    The only thing I don't get is these update - the version I use seems to have the same features as the new 5 and 6 versions, only with better battery endurance :)

    1. simonlb

      I've been using a Mi Band 4 for just a year (only cost £25 from Amazon) and have found it great for my daily step count - It's about the only exercise I choose to do so it suits me perfectly. The Mi App on my phone has a lot of customisation so is good if you do a lot of different activities. Obviously the usage is going to be different per individual, but I normally only have to charge it every 4 weeks or so, which makes spending £100 upwards on a FitBit that needs charging every 3-4 days seem pretty excessive.

      And yes, the strap broke two weeks ago but replacements are only a fiver for four off eBay!

      1. To Mars in Man Bras!
        Thumb Up

        Cheap and Cheerful

        Another happy £25 MiBand 4 user. For the price, I think it's a great wee gadget --especially when you compare it to the ridiculous cost of Apple or Samsung smart watches. It does all the fitness stuff [counts steps, measures sleep & heart rate, pairs with Strava etc.] and I can also link it to various apps on my phone to see who's ringing when a call comes in, preview incoming texts and Telegram messages etc.

        My biggest complaints with it are that:

        * The on-screen text is microscopic in places, with no font size adjustment anywhere. So, while I get previews of the content of incoming messages, by the time I've myopically squinted at the 2 or 3 pt text and deciphered the first few words, the alert has disappeared again.

        * My other major bug-bear is that the watch interface uses the idiotic US MM-DD-YYYY date format with, again, no way to change this. Luckily the level of irritation this causes me is mitigated slightly by the fact the date is literally too small for me to read. It must be less than 1mm high.

        BTW: regarding the various apps available to pair with the device. There is the official Xiaomi MiFit one but many people [myself included] prefer an alternative app called Zepp. This is designed for another brand of fitness band. But the company has been bought by Xiaomi so the app is compatible with the MiBands too. Hopefully both apps will be rolled into one in future, to avoid this confusion. As the reviewer points out, the band can only be paired with one app at a time.

        Incidentally, I also found the initial Bluetooth pairing a pain to set up. But, once established, I've never had any problems with the pairing being lost, during the many months I've had the band. Maybe the Zepp app is better than the Xiaomi one, in this regard?

        1. Ian 55

          Re: Cheap and Cheerful

          Mine uses UK dd/mm dates, even though it is a Chinese model made international via the excellent 'Notify for Mi Band' android app.

          Highly recommended - it adds loads of functionality.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The wrist strap ... once fell off in the night.

    What on earth might you have been doing?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: The wrist strap ... once fell off in the night.

      Exactly what I was going to ask... more to the point, what did the device think he'd been doing?

      1. simonlb
        Trollface

        Re: The wrist strap ... once fell off in the night.

        Dunno, but the step count was monumental!

        1. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: The wrist strap ... once fell off in the night.

          I assume you're all referring to what also immediately sprang to my mind.

          He plays late night Wii Tennis with the band on?

  6. tip pc Silver badge

    It’s not good then

    Supporters in the comments seem to use it for counting steps and seems adequate for that, anything it’s useless.

    If your cycling, get a mid range Garmin cycle computer with wheel & peddle sensors and a hear rate strap.

    The big screen mounted to the bike will be easy to read, customise and provide instant feedback using the built in dynamics apps like seeing if your ahead or behind previous attempts or how much longer a hill is etc.

    Using the right tool for the job is essential, buying a toy for something other than walking was a waste of money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It’s not good then

      "Using the right tool for the job is essential"

      For example, if your literacy leaves something to be desired, the use of a spelling and grammar checker can help you to improve the quality of your written communication.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: It’s not good then

        "For example, if your literacy leaves something to be desired, the use of a spelling and grammar checker can help you to improve the quality of your written communication."

        I'm fully sure you comprehended exactly what I wrote despite the typos.

        My phone has a tendency to change words for me, they look fine as I type the last letter then I press space and it decides to alter the word.

        so long as you get to be the AC grammar twit that's all good :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It’s not good then

      "get a mid range Garmin cycle computer with wheel & peddle sensors and a hear rate strap."

      And the price difference is?

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: It’s not good then

        yes there is a price delta but at least it works and does what is needed.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Alert

    Privacy not included

    Mi Band 5 | Privacy & security guide | Mozilla Foundation

    See also, their robot vacuum cleaner which also doesn't include it.

  8. Ian 55

    Another Mi Band 4 owner

    It's my third from them.

    Mi Band 2 (about £18 from China, Dec 2017) was bought because you can, with a third party app, use it with Sleep on Android.

    Mi Band 3 (£19.99 on offer from Amazon, Nov 2018) was clearly better - colour screen, more readable, waterproof rather than water resistant, more accurate step count, and now that app would send me text messages, vibrate on incoming calls / alarms, find my phone and more.

    Mi Band 4 (about £18 from China, Nov 2019) had a better screen again, easier to use.

    I get about a month between charging it, but I am only rarely measuring my heart rate.

    Mi Band 5 didn't seem to add anything worthwhile, ditto thus one. It will do blood oxygen level, but I have a £5 finger thing to do that.

    I get the 'only the best will do' attitude, but when I talked with some one who has a £100+ fitness tracker, they spent a chunk of time worrying if it would break / get snatched.

    Here, it was under £20 and if it breaks, I will simply go back to the 3 unless the 7 or 8 offers something I actually want.

    It gets worn all the time (and having a watch to tell the time is easier than dragging a phone out of my pocket) and I have never needed another wrist band for any of them...

  9. Teejay

    Garmin, OMG

    Bit off-topic, but although I had years of sub-par software experience, I dared to buy a Garmin Instinct Solar.

    Where to start? Battery life terrible, solar charging hardly useful, navigation riddled with bugs.

    The accompanying Android software is an omnishambles, Connect and Explore only work sometimes, GPX import and export horrendous (this is an outdoor watch, remember, Garmin?), much functionality only available via cloud, sleep-tracking inflexible and only online.

    Forum and tech support somewhere between 'we don't want to hear you, so we ignore you' and 'if we exchange that watch, we are not accepting that anything was wrong'.

    Considering the Garmin Instinct Solar, with its black and white display, and no touchscreen, costs around four times as much as the reviewed fitness band, I think: Not that bad.

  10. MrMerrymaker

    I love mine

    It's great. And you can sideload custom themes.

    Only downside is it scratches so easily!

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: I love mine

      Pleased with mine too but the custom themes are only useful if you're carrying a pocket magnifying glass.

  11. matjaggard

    Missed the most important feature

    The main reason I started wearing a watch again was an article I read, I think in The Register, saying that people with notifications on their watch spent less time looking at phone/watch screens. I've certainly found I less frequently take out my phone and get distracted from what I was intending to use it for. It did take a bit of setting up the notifications to make them reliable though. (I have a Mi Band 4)

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