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4-min read

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review: This Rivals Fitbit's Fitness Bands, And Costs Significantly Lesser

At this price, it really is hard to argue about any of the minor foibles that the Mi Band 3, just as any other gadget, may have.

Vishal Mathur | News18.com@vishalmathur85

Updated:January 13, 2019, 11:54 AM IST
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review: This Rivals Fitbit's Fitness Bands, And Costs Significantly Lesser
At this price, it really is hard to argue about any of the minor foibles that the Mi Band 3, just as any other gadget, may have.

There is just something about fitness bands. Everyone seems to want one. It all starts with the excitement for tracking how many steps you walk in a day. That builds up to how much you run on a daily basis perhaps, or how much time you spend in the gym exercising. Good then, if technology is helping you stay healthy. Xiaomi’s Mi Band line-up, over time, has contributed significantly towards the mission to stay fit. Earlier this year, the company confirmed that it sold 1 million Mi Band 2 units in 2 months, significantly faster than the 4 months it took for the Mi Band to sell. In late 2018, the company also shared the sales figures for the Mi Band 3, which was introduced in China and some other regions back in June—5 million units sold in three months. While competition has been tough in the space, and there are many affordable fitness bands you can choose from, not many have been able to get the sort of perfection that Xiaomi have on different fronts—price, performance looks and the overall experience of using the band. That has helped with the stickiness aspect, wherein you buy a band and don’t leave it unattended somewhere around the home after a few weeks.

Chances are, the Mi Band 3 which is now in India, will prove to be an even more enticing proposition. Priced at Rs1,999 the Mi Band 3 is a whole lot cheaper than Fitbit’s Alta HR (around Rs10,499) for instance.

It is not just old wine in a new bottle. The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 has an updated design. Yes, the tracking module can still be detached from the band itself, as has been the case all along, but the redesigned band now requires a bit more effort to do so—this is good and keeps the module more secure. You will have the choice of black, red and blue band straps—though the latter two are expected to be available soon. The quality of the bands themselves is great, and they won’t show any signs of wear and tear even after fairly rough usage. The Mi Band 3 is water-resistant up to a depth of 50 meters—you can shower with it, swim with it and even let it drench in heavy rain, and the Mi Band 3 will be as fresh as a daisy.

The Mi Band 3 also has a larger display, now measuring 0.78-inches as compared with 0.42-inch earlier. This is an OLED screen, and it really isn’t meant for much more than simply checking out the information quickly—time, heart rate, steps and more. Apart from the more real estate, this screen is brighter too, which really helps with readability under bright sunlight.

For a price tag that would perhaps indicate this is a basic fitness tracker, but the party piece of the Mi Band 3 is the built-in heart rate sensor. It is hard to find a fitness tracker that costs as little as this, and yet has a heart rate sensor which works as well—we noticed that it always logged the heart rate within 1-2bpm of the rate that the Apple Watch was detecting at the same time.

In terms of the activity tracking, the Mi Band 3 does well for the most part. It will track your steps, distance covered, dish all the data out on a platter in the Mi Fit app and also allows granular control over how often the band will register your heart rate—the longer the interval, the better the battery life. That said, accuracy is certainly better than before, but there are still the occasional anomalies where the step count tends to be a bit lower than what the Apple Watch logged, while being worn on the other arm. This could indicate a slightly different sensitivity to the predecessor, perhaps erring on the side of caution a bit more. Speaking of battery life, the Mi Band 3 will easily last you three weeks on a single charge, which pretty much makes it a charge-and-forget sort of a situation.

Sleep tracking is something that a lot of users prefer to keep tabs on, just to get sense of how well they are sleeping, the deep sleep intervals and how often you are waking up at night. Not everyone finds it comfortable wearing a band to the bed, but if you aren’t one who has an issue with that, this does the job.

Companion apps that you install on your Android phones or iPhones, often tend to be where a lot of fitness trackers tend to stumble. The Mi Fit app, on its part, tries to keep everything simple. There aren’t too many options to complicate things for you, but that also means it is perhaps not as detailed as the Fitbit app, for instance. What really is missing is the push that some users might need to get the most out of their fitness bands—that sense of challenge, competition and eschewing the benefits of being fit. From the app, you can configure the notifications from your phone which will stream to the write. But the interaction with these notifications is quite limited beyond the need to know basis, since you cannot interact with them on the Mi Band 3.

We have said this before, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, will say it again—it is hard to ignore the Mi Band 3 at this price. It is packed with features, has a good companion app and does the tracking bit well. The heart rate feature really adds value, something that will cost you a lot more if you look at a band from likes of Fitbit or Garmin, for instance, with due respect both of those brands.

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