The Mi Band series of fitness trackers from Xiaomi makes it the largest wearable company on the face of the worth. The immense value-for-money that they offer is unparalleled in the world of wearables.
Months after the initial release of the Mi Band 4 in China, it has finally made its way to India. From what it seems on paper, it’s already a huge improvement over the Mi Band 4. But how good is it you ask? Well, let’s find out in out full review of it.
The Mi Band 4 is characteristic of the design language of previous iterations in the line-up. There’s a pill-shaped tracker that sits in a band and can be swapped into 8 different official bands that have been announced with the tracker. But the tracking module of the Mi Band 4 loses some curves from the Mi Band 3’s and is now flatter. As a whole, the Mi Band 4 looks just alright and can accompany your wrist on most occasions.
The Mi Band 4 comes in at 22 grams and it’s comfortable enough to be worn for the length of a day and night. The band is made of thermoplastic polyurethane and is resistant to oil and grease. I faced no irritation whatsoever in my use of over a month.
Coming to the tracking module, there are some discernible changes that make it quite an upgrade from its predecessor. First and foremost, the band now hosts a beautiful 0.95-inch AMOLED touchscreen with a brightness of up to 400 nits. This new display is a reason alone for users to switch from the mundane display on the Mi Band 3. Taking advantage of this new colourful display, the Mi Band 4 can now host customized watch faces that is a first on a Mi Band (and probably the first in this price range).
While I wasn’t a fan of the cartoonish watch faces that are officially available on the app, there’s a fervent development of watch faces by third parties that expands the menu and caters to the taste of a wider audience. Syncing watch faces takes about 6-7 seconds and can be done from the companion Mi Fit app. The new display has also led to a change in the UI. Swiping up/down from the home-screen reveals colourful icons of different functions like Heart Rate, Workout, Status, Weather, and Notifications. This UI is customizable too and you can arrange functions in a way that suits your needs.
The display doesn’t occupy the entire surface of the band and there are thick bezels on the top and bottom that are visible when light falls on it. But since it’s an AMOLED display, deep blacks in the UI do a good job of making you forget the existence of the bezels. The bottom chin houses a tiny circle at the bottom of the display that acts as a back button.
In terms of tracking, the Mi Band 4 covers all the basics that you’d expect from a fitness tracker. It tracks steps, calories burnt, sleep, heart rate and workouts. But this time around, there’s a new 6-axis sensor that enables better workout tracking. Being 5ATM certified (water-resistant up to 50 metres), the Mi Band 4 is not also capable of tracking swims but can also recognize different strokes.
The Mi Band 4 still misses out on a GPS chip. But for its price, I’m not complaining. Although, this doesn’t mean it can’t track your runs at all. It does have the ability to latch on to your phone’s GPS to track runs that can later be accessed via the Mi Fit app. In terms of tracking accuracy, I did find the Mi Band 4 to be pretty respectable. In fact, someone also conducted a comparison between the Mi Band 4 and an industrial tracker to find that the Mi Band 4 was always within a nail’s distance.
Users can also choose to let the band warn when heart rates rise above a predefined level.
The heart rate sensor can now be set to monitor your heart rate in three different modes. The automatic heart rate detection mode will monitor your beat at an interval that you choose (1 min, 5 min, 10 min and 30 min). Using this mode will drain battery life faster. The second mode is sleep assistant that uses the heart rate sensor while you’re asleep to better analyse sleeping patterns (deep sleep and light sleep). Based on this, the Mi Fit app also suggests how you can improve your deep sleep and warns you if you miss out on adequate sleep frequently. The third mode combines the previous two modes and allows the user to track his/her heart rate throughout the day. This, quite obviously, will severely impact the battery life of the Mi Band 4.
All in all, the Mi Band 4 makes up for an excellent fitness band that doesn’t break the bank when you’re trying to lose the stank.
The best part about the Mi Band 4 is that it’s way more than just a fitness band. The fact that you can do so much more with it makes the deal even sweeter than it already is. Since there’s a lot to cover, I’ll break down everything else that you can do with this fitness band.
The new “feature bag” now also brings along music control. A single swipe from the left will reveal the music control panel. The display shows the name of the song that’s currently playing and also allows you to pause/resume and skip tracks. There’s a tiny volume bar at the top from which volume can be controlled too. My unit almost always took a second to load the music information. While this lag is slightly annoying, I’m just glad that this feature exists.
The Mi Band can mirror all your phone notifications. Although there’s still no way you can respond to these notifications, there are some other features that can help you make the most of your experience. For instance, you can choose to control notifications from which apps are worthy of a buzz on your wrist. This proved to be a great way to de-clutter notifications and filter only the ones that mattered the most.
Calls are also notified on the band with the option to reject or silence calls. Unfortunately, calls are only silenced on the band and the phone still continues to ring. A minor gripe, but I hope this gets addressed in a future update.
For times when you don’t want to get notified about anything, there’s a DND mode that can be activated right from the band.
If you haven’t moved in an hour, the band will vibrate and let you know it’s time to move. You can also choose to turn this off when you don’t want it to work. Also, this feature is automatically disabled at night when you’re asleep.
Alarm & Clock
You can also configure the Mi Band 4 to act as an alarm clock. And while there’s no speaker to make an impact on your hearing senses, the sturdy vibration motor does its part. Being a heavy sleeper, I barely found myself responding to these wrist taps. But this can be particularly useful if you’re taking power naps or if you’re a light sleeper. Stopwatch & Timers can also be accessed with a couple of simple taps.
Battery & Charging
Surprisingly, inspite of featuring a colour display, Xiaomi claimed that the Mi Band 4 will still offers the same 20-day battery life that the Mi Band 3 offered. While it’s not impossible to achieve that mark, I could personally get about 14 days of usage with the heart-rate sensor active during my sleep. And to be honest, this is commendable.
The only major complaint I have with the Mi Band 4 is the proprietary charging technology that requires users to pop out the tracking module and attach it to a charging cradle that charges the band via two pogo pins. But again, the great battery life ensures that you don’t have to do this as often.
For INR 2,299, the Mi Band 4 is simply excellent. It offers great fitness tracking, stellar battery endurance, a colourful AMOLED display with custom watch faces and music control amongst other things. Sure, it doesn’t have GPS, NFC payments or a more convenient charging solution, but at its price, these shortcomings are definitely forgivable. I’m simply surprised by how Xiaomi made such drastic improvements over the Mi Band 3 and still managed to price the Mi Band 4 so competitively.