In the mobile world, we’re hearing more and more about Chinese companies such as Xiaomi or Huawei arriving in force on the market.

Take the former, for instance; in addition to manufacturing smartphones and tablets, Xiaomi has started making connected devices (wearables) such as the Mi Band, launched last summer on the connected wrist band market. The Tapptic team has tested it for you!

We ordered it online and then what?

Ordered online for around twenty euros, the bracelet arrived in Belgium about ten days later. On opening the package, to our surprise we discovered sleek and classy cardboard packaging that made us want to find out more about the product. Once we’d opened the box, we found a silicone wrist band, a tracker with 3 small LED lights, plus a charger and instructions which all seemed to be in Chinese! It’s no big deal because the leaflet is short, but it’s a shame nonetheless! Fortunately, technology often overcomes such things and we had the QR code to decrypt the call to action which was the link to download the app. First of all, we had to charge the tracker in order to illuminate its 3 LEDS (battery life 1 month). We then inserted the tracker into the silicone wristband and the adventure could begin.

The Mi Band app

Like any activity tracker, the Mi Band would be nothing without a mobile app.

After initially only being compatible with the Xiaomi Mi 4, the Chinese brand has recently expanded its app to cover Android and iOS. However, the available versions are only in English and are limited in terms of functionality. What’s more, the English version of the app still has a few phrases that are in Chinese…

On Lollipop, however, the application has a few new features, such as the unlocking of the screen when the Mi Band is close to the smartphone and a notification system (choice of colour of the 3 LEDS, depending on the notification sent). The notification system is configured in the profile area, so that when a message is received, for instance, the 3 LEDS light up a certain colour and the band vibrates.

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Physical activity and sleep

The combination app and wrist band has 2 key features; physical activity tracking and sleep analysis.

Let’s summarise each feature…

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Physical activity tracking

The wrist band’s main activity is monitoring daily physical activity. We’ll say it straight out – the tracking features are much more basic than on other trackers on the market (but we also have to bear in mind the price compared to them). The wrist band shows number of steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned. You can even set daily targets!

This is for live use, but the app also provides analytics and comparison between the day in progress and the statistics for previous days. This allows you to get an idea of how your activity’s developing. Unfortunately, the info collected is still basic and the comparison table only gives a summary. It left us hungry for more….

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Sleep analysis

Sleep analysis is the other main part of the Mi Band application and concept. The presentation of the information is fairly similar and it is easy to work out how to move from one mode to another (swiping from one screen to the next from the home screen). The wrist band provides information on periods of light sleep, deep sleep, falling asleep and waking, as well as detecting times of waking during the night and producing a graph of the previous night. The alarm clock option is also available in order to determine the best time to wake in the 30 minutes before your wake-up time. At this moment, the wrist band gently vibrates to wake the user. One might think that a few vibrations are better than a shrill alarm, but that depends on the person; it wouldn’t wake up heavy sleepers who have trouble noticing an alarm clock.

The app then displays a summary of the analysed nights and we can easily compare the sleep results night after night.

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The Mi Band or another band?

The Mi Band is a basic connected wrist band which provides simple information on physical activity, but it is nonetheless effective. Other trackers may have more features, such as the UP by Jawbone (which we’re currently testing), the Pulse OX or even the Flex from Fitbit, but the Mi Band is good for those wanting a first experience of a physical activity tracker without spending too much. So it represents good value for money for a trending connected device, although a few changes need to be made to optimise the app.

Positives and negatives:

3 +

  • Simple operation
  • Good value for money
  • Comfortable to wear

3 –

  • App too basic
  • Version not 100% in English
  • Basic information analysis