Table of Contents
- Unboxing, Pairing, and Setup
- Activity Tracking
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Other Features
- Hardware Construction and Material
- Phone Apps
- Final Thoughts / TL;DR
I decided to test out the Mi Band on an iPhone 6 running iOS 9.3. Why? We thought it would be cool to try out a Mi device on a non-Xiaomi phone to test crossover compatibility.
Xiaomi phones are not available in the U.S. (where we are located), while Mi Bands are (most of the time through resellers only).
For the sake of being thorough, we also tested the Mi Band on a OnePlus One running stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow (CyanogenMod 13 Nightlies).
On Android the Mi Band performed just as well as the iPhone tests we did below. However, to ensure this review doesn’t turn into a novel, the below tests and experiments will only reflect our iOS tests.
Unboxing, Pairing, and Setup
The Mi Band 1S comes in appealing and efficient packaging. The box only contained 4 objects:
- Mi Band
- Mi Band tracking pill
- Charging cable
- Instruction booklet (in Chinese)
Before I began the test, I plugged in the Mi Band pill and let it reach full charge, which took around two hours.
I opened up the iOS app and was guided through a very easy pairing process. No need to mess with the iPhones bluetooth menu (just make sure it’s turned on).
There were immediately two updates that I had to install, all through the Mi Fit app.
The first was to update the Mi Band itself, the second was a firmware update.
The Mi Band 1S is, after all, a daily fitness and activity tracker, and in that capacity, it works well.
For the most part.
The step counter, the main tracking parameter in the Mi Band, does appear to overestimate the number of steps taken.
This could be different for everyone, but in our test we did see it overstating how much we were moving. This isn’t a unique problem to the Mi Band 1S, when it comes to fitness trackers, this is a fairly common issue.
You don’t have to carry your phone with you if you want it to track, either. It will keep tracking even when you’re away from your phone, and sync back with the app when it reconnects.
This is a great feature for those who don’t like to exercise with their phones.
Heart Rate Monitor
On the underside of the Mi Band 1S sits an optical heart rate sensor. Heart rate is notoriously hard to capture from a wrist device, even the Apple Watch has some problems with it.
Overall the heart rate monitor works well, but like all wearables that monitor BPM (beats per minutes), if the wrist position is off, the measurement will be off too.
For example, I took my heart rate twice, 20 minutes apart, sitting at my desk. The first reading gave me a reasonable 64 BPM, the second reading gave me a concerning 115 BPM reading.
No, I didn’t take any performance enhancing drugs between the two tests.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 1S is powered by a 45mAh battery that will last for an incredible 30-days on a full charge without the heart rate monitor on or, ten days with the heart rate monitor running full-time.
Mi Band 1S will tell you when a call comes with a vibration.
The Mi Band will track your sleep and let you know if you were having “light sleep” (lots of movement), or “deep sleep” (less movement). The Mi Band will also track your heart rate periodically when you sleep to improve accuracy.
The Mi Band 1S has a vibrating engine, so alarms don’t need to make a peep. The vibration is strong and persistent enough to get your attention.
Unlock your phone
If you’re using Android, you can use the Mi Band to unlock your phone for you. Well, it’ll unlock for whoever is wearing the Mi Band.
Hardware Construction and Material
- Case material: Magnesium-aluminum alloy
- Band material: TPSiV (Thermoplastic Elastomers – feels like hardened rubber)
- Dial thickness: 0.99 cm / 0.39 inches
- Dial diameter: 1.36 x 3.7 cm / 0.54 x 1.46 inches
- Band width: 1.3 cm / 0.5 inches
- Wearable length: 15.7 – 20.5 cm / 6.18 – 8.07 inches
- Product weight: 0.014 kg
- Package weight: 0.105 kg
- Product size (L x W x H): 22.500 x 1.360 x 0.990 cm / 8.858 x 0.535 x 0.390 inches
- Package size (L x W x H): 10.000 x 10.000 x 3.500 cm / 3.937 x 3.937 x 1.378 inches
The apps aren’t horrible, but they aren’t spectacular either. somewhere in the 3.5/5 stars range. Definitely some room from improvement, but perfectly useable as they are now.
The price of the Xiaomi Mi Band 1S is the truly astounding thing. You can get it from online retailers for between US$13-$20.
To put that into perspective, the equivalent FitBit model (the Flex) that matches the Mi Band in terms of functionality costs $99.
The Mi Band isn’t perfect, but is the FitBit Flex is 7x more expensive, and is it 7x better? I would struggle to think that it is.
Final Thoughts / TL;DR
The Mi Band 1S is a solid fitness and activity tracker that is durable, comfortable, functions as advertised, and available at a ridiculous price.
Overall, we recommend the Mi Band 1S.