Xiaomi Mi Band review: Ultracheap fitness band gets the job done

MSRP: $13.00

The Good The Xiaomi Mi Band is a water-resistant fitness tracker that measures your steps and sleep patterns. It's ridiculously cheap with excellent battery life to boot.

The Bad It's only compatible with Android 4.4 devices and the gesture motion to light up the Mi Band's indicator lights can be hard to master. There's no word on iOS compatibility.

The Bottom Line At $13, it's really easy to forgive the few flaws the Mi Band has, though getting one will be challenging unless you're in China.

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7.6 Overall
  • Style 7
  • Features 8
  • Ease of use 8

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Though still not a household name outside of Asia, China's Xiaomi is gaining in global market share for smartphones , and it's not stopping there. Like so many of its rivals, it's also breaking into wearables, with its debut device being the Mi Band fitness tracker.

Perfect for anyone who wants to try out a fitness tracker, the Mi Band's minor flaws are easily ignored, especially when you consider its exceptionally low price. On sale in China at 79RMB (which converts to around $13, £7.50, AU$13.50), it undercuts other basic models like the Misfit Flash and the Fitbit Zip that retail at around $50 (roughly £3o or AU$60) while still delivering the same features.

Good luck getting one, however. There are no plans yet to release the bracelet for other markets, so you'll have to either get it through an online reseller (and pay a little premium), or hope you manage to snag one while in China at the Xiaomi online store.

The Mi Band is actually a dongle on a bracelet. Aloysius Low/CNET


Xiaomi keeps the design simple for the Mi Band. There are no buttons you need to press and the Mi Band comes in two parts -- a rubber strap and the fitness module. Once on the wrist, the 13g Mi Band doesn't stay in your mind.

As it's water-resistant -- the Mi Band has a IP67 rating -- you can bring the Mi Band with you in the shower, though the rubber strap is uncomfortable when it's wet. The strap is adjustable, so you can either wear it loose or tight depending on your preference.

The Mi Band lacks a screen. Instead, it has three indicator lights that flash when you do a "look at your watch" gesture. However, the Mi Band is really picky about when it lights up; you'll have to actually have your arm fully extended at your side, then raise it up like you're looking at a watch before it works.

This shows I'm two-thirds of my way through my daily target of 8,000 steps. Aloysius Low/CNET

The three lights show your walking progress for the day, so if you set the target to, say, 8,000 steps, when you hit around 5,000 the second light will be fully lit. When you hit your target, the Mi Band will vibrate to alert you while the lights will blink for a few seconds.

You'll need to take out the dongle for charging, but you'll really only need to do this once every 30 days or so. The Mi Band comes with a custom USB cable that attaches to the dongle, and you can plug that into a PC or a USB charger.

Mi Band app

Unlike the more fully featured app that comes with the higher-end Jawbone Up24 , the Mi Band app is clean and simple and supports both English and Chinese. There's no option to measure your caloric intake -- instead, the app just shows the steps you've taken and your sleep patterns, such as when you fell into deep sleep.

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