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Xiaomi Mi Band review

You're reading this review because you want a fitness tracker but you either can't or won't spend much money on one.

The Xiaomi Mi Band is now on sale for $15 on Xiaomi's online store for the US, UK and Europe after Xiaomi sold millions in China and at least six million worldwide. So the price is right. But how's the tracking?

This is how you design a budget wearable. Keep it simple, stupid. The Mi Band consists of the oval-shaped tracking module which has a matte chrome finish and neat, chamfered edges and a (default) black or colourful, rubber band. That's it - no fiddly clasps, no buckles, just a neat, cheap tracker that everyone can wear. In the app, there is an option to choose left hand, right hand or neck placement so perhaps Xiaomi is working on Misfit-style necklace accessories too.

With an IP67 rating, the Mi Band is waterproof down to 1m for up to 30 minutes - even the Jawbone UP3 couldn't manage that. It's ridiculously light, too, and doesn't restrict wrist movement in any way like some smartwatches and bigger activity trackers do. So much so that you barely notice it on your wrist - especially important as it tracks sleep as well as steps. One downside is that both parts are easily scuffed - we're not sure how long the Mi Band will last when worn everyday for months on end.

The Mi Band's main competition at this price are £5 pedometers and well, just using Google Fit or Fitbit on your phone without a wearable device at all. But it functions well as an anchor too - the act of putting it on the morning can make you more likely to have your goals in mind.

There's no display but there are three LEDs on top - the colour of which can be customised in the Mi Fit app - to show you your progress. For instance, the bottom LED will blink if you're less than 30% of the way towards your goal. In theory, the LEDs behaved when charging but didn't perform as they should when we flicked our wrist. It's forgiveable at this price - it's $15! - but the LED function would have been a big Fuelband-like tick in terms of motivating the user if they actually worked properly.

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