Xiaomi Mi Band 2 fitness tracker: Best for beginners

Published January 29th, 2017 - 12:29 GMT
The Mi Band 2 has a small OLED display under scratch-resistant glass, along with a small button that lets you cycle through various readouts such as steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned. (iTechwearer.com)
The Mi Band 2 has a small OLED display under scratch-resistant glass, along with a small button that lets you cycle through various readouts such as steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned. (iTechwearer.com)

Fitness bands are a dime a dozen on the market, ranging in both price and features on offer. I’m still firmly in the camp that believes that fitness trackers are a mere distraction of a device, and for the few times I’ve had a fitness tracker, I haven’t been able to hold on to it for more than a few weeks. Eager to change my mind, Xiaomi sent me their Mi Band 2 to check out last week. It’s a pocket-friendly wearable that offers some basic functionality and fitness tracking, so if you don’t want to splurge on one of the more popular brands out there, this is something you can take for a spin.

Build Quality & Design

Like most other popular fitness trackers, the Mi Band 2 comes in two parts – the first is the tracker itself, a small pellet-sized thing that does all the hard work, and the second is the strap itself that it slides into. The strap is dust and water resistant, and is quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Xiaomi doesn’t advise going swimming while wearing the Mi Band 2, but I was able to shower with it on and nothing happened to it.

The original Mi Band was decent, but lacked any sort of display. The Mi Band 2 finally adds a small OLED display under scratch-resistant glass, along with a small button that lets you cycle through various readouts such as steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, etc.

The Mi Band 2 charges using a specially designed cable that the device docks into, once you’ve removed it from the strap. You can get a full charge in a little under two hours by plugging it into a USB port, and once charged the battery will last you approximately twenty days. That’s right, no more daily or weekly charging  here – it’s super convenient and a lot better than having to remind yourself to charge yet another device. Just make sure you keep that charging cable safe – lose it and you’re not going to be able to use the Mi Band 2 again.

Setup

To set up the Mi Band 2 you first need to download the accompanying app and pair the device to your phone via Bluetooth. Unfortunately in order to actually use the app, you have to sign up for an account. That’s all well and good, but once I tried to sign in to my account, the app just stuck on ‘Signing In’ on my Android phone. I attempted to log in countless more times as well as reinstalling the app, but to no avail. I then decided to try again a few days later and miraculously it worked, and I was able to sync the Mi Band 2 to my phone.

Once synced, you can then choose what you’d like the Mi Band 2 to display simply by toggling the features on or off on the app. I opted to just choose time, steps taken, heart rate, and remaining battery, but you can also include distance travelled and calories burned.

If you give the Mi Band 2 permission to, it can notify you of incoming calls and message alerts, and can also be used to notify you when you’ve been sitting idle for too long and need to get up and be a bit more active. You can also set alarms to wake up to, but on the two attempts I tried using this, I overslept because I hardly felt the vibrations. The Mi Band 2 also has an interesting feature that lets you unlock your Android phone when your Mi Band 2 is closeby. This will work with most Android phones once set up, but I’m not sure just how many users will actually benefit from this feature.

Monitoring

At its core, the Mi Band 2 will monitor at best, three things – your steps taken, heart rate, and sleep activity. The calories burned is more of an estimate than an actual projection, so I chose to mostly ignore that metric. The Mi Band 2 is certainly quite generous when it’s counting steps – even on days where I knew I wasn’t being too active, the Mi Band 2 had no problems clocking up my daily goal of 8,000 steps. Sleep activity is measured automatically, which is a huge relief – when I wore a FitBit I was constantly forgetting to switch on the sleep mode, but with the Mi Band 2 I just curl up in bed and the device detects when I’ve fallen asleep. Here again, it was a bit generous when estimating when I was in ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ sleep cycles.

Measuring your heart rate can be done either from the band itself (if enabled), or via the app – generally this was a fairly accurate reading when compared to other heart rate monitors, so the Mi Band 2 gets points for that.

Conclusion

The Mi Band 2 is a super affordable fitness tracker, priced at a mere AED 120. It offers more functions than a basic pedometer would, but the trade-off is that it’s not as accurate as it should be. While you can share the band data with other apps, it’s not enough to really persuade you to keep using the Mi Band 2 for very long. Yes, the battery life is miles ahead of competitors, but  its step counter and sleep tracking tends to be too skewed to be taken as proper progress.

The Good

  • Amazing battery life
  • Comfortable Design

The Bad

  • Inaccurate tracking
 

7.5

8.0 DESIGN
7.5 FEATURES
6.5 PERFORMANCE
 

By Nick Rego

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