With the Xiaomi's Mi Band 2, the Chinese company updates its original $13 fitness tracker with a slightly more expensive version, adding new features such as an 0.42-inch OLED display and a heart rate sensor. The 149 yuan price, which converts to around $22, £17 or AU$29, is a fraction of what you'd pay for similar products such as the Fitbit Alta...or, even, Fitbit's less-expensive Zip. It's not yet on sale on Xiaomi's US website.
That said, after a week and half wearing the Mi Band 2, I've found that while it's not as fully featured as the Fitbit Charge 2, it at least tracks heart rate, something less expensive trackers like Fitbit Flex, Alta and Zip don't. The Mi Band 2 only tracks steps and sleeping patterns automatically and heart rate only gets checked when you select it in the band's menu. You can't calculate heart rate all day or during exercises, which makes it effectively nearly useless unless you're looking to peek at your resting heart rate.
By comparison, the Alta, which costs five times as much, doesn't bother with heart rate but does pack a lot more, such as automatic exercise recognition, calendar alerts and options for clock faces. On that note, the Mi Band 2 does connect to your phone to deliver alerts such as those from WhatsApp.
Because it only tracks steps, the Mi Band 2 doesn't come with exercise tracking, which means it won't keep track of how long you've been jogging or cycling. That's less than ideal if you want your fitness band to help you with those activities, and there's no barometer to track step climbing either.
To view your sleeping patterns and steps taken, there's an app for both iPhone and Android called Mi Fit. The app's pretty simple to use and gives you information such as how long your deep sleep lasted, as well as walking streaks (number of days where you've hit the target amount of steps).
Now, the OLED display isn't the sharpest, or the brightest, but it's big enough to give you all the information you need. A touch-sensitive button located below the screen lets you toggle between the time, steps taken, distance, calories burnt, heart rate and battery life. There's also a reminder to get up and move every hour. Like the older Mi Band, the Mi Band 2 is water-resistant with an IP67 rating, which means it survives splashes and dunks...but I wouldn't swim with it.
If this all sounds great so far, bear in mind that the addition of the OLED display means the new tracker's battery life isn't as good as the first. Where the first Mi Band lasted a month on one charge, you'll need to recharge the 70 mAh battery of the Mi Band 2 every week or so. It's pretty comfortable to wear, and I only took off the Mi Band 2 when showering (I'd recommend you do the same).
Factor in that it costs just $22, and the Mi Band 2 might make sense if you just need something to track your steps and sleep patterns.Those who want a serious exercise companion should look elsewhere. Lastly, if you're not happy with the default black strap, Xiaomi will sell you one in orange, green or blue, for about $3, £2 or AU$4.
Keep your expectations in check, and you might be happy. But you get what you pay for.