“The addition of a display and a heart rate monitor increases the usefulness of the Mi Band significantly”
Xiaomi’s first-gen Mi Band (review) is a super-cheap fitness band that raced its way into the hearts (and on the wrists) of millions of folks around the globe. It leads the way in India as well, with reports saying it holds over 27 percent market share in the wearables segment. The reasons for its popularity are simple – not only is it one of the most affordable fitness bands around, it’s also really simple to use, and offers an astonishing battery life. However, the first-gen model lacked a couple of features we sorely missed, and the 2nd-gen Mi Band, aptly labelled the Mi Band 2, addresses exactly those concerns.
By adding a display and a heart rate sensor to the device, Xiaomi has significantly enhanced the usefulness of the Mi Band 2, making it a very practical choice. The heart rate sensor should definitely be appreciated by fitness buffs, but the presence of the display means you can now ditch your regular watch and just use the Mi Band 2. It now shows the time (duh), plus steps taken and your current heart rate.
The packaging is very similar to the original Mi Band, and the new model also comes in a nondescript brown cardboard box. Inside, you’ll find the core, a black rubber strap, a charging dongle and an instructions leaflet.
As usual, the core can be inserted into the dongle, which in turn, plugs into an available USB port on your laptop or a wall charger for juicing up. To strap it on to your wrist, you can insert the core into the cavity on the band, and use the metal button to lock the latter around your hand.
The design of the strap is very similar to the one that came with the first-gen Mi Band. However, the new band seems thicker and sturdier, and feels a tad more premium. The core is larger as well, and sports a black, flat fascia that holds the 0.42-inch OLED display and a round metallic key that recognises capacitive touch. The display is layered with scratch-resistant glass and an anti-fingerprint coating. The rear of the core bears an optical heart rate monitor. A couple of charging pins can be seen on one side.
The Mi Band 2 is capable of logging steps, measuring heart rate, monitoring sleep patterns, and also vibrates for incoming calls, SMSes, and other app notifications like those for WhatsApp and email. However, it can’t display message content like smartwatches do – it just vibrates and displays an icon.
As usual, the companion app that handles pairing, data synchronisation and settings for the Mi Band 2 is Mi Fit, available for both Android as well as iOS. The app has been given a significant makeover, and allows you to control settings for the Mi Band 2, view detailed stats for your physical activity, set goals and alarms, check battery status, etc. You can even add friends to see their activity stats and share your own with them. Idle alerts can be set up via the Mi Fit app, and notification alerts can be enabled as well.
The app works slightly differently on Android and iOS, as on the former, you’ll need to enable notification access. On Android, you can add any installed app to the notification list, but on iOS, the choice is just limited to handful of popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat. The screenshots you see above are from the Android version of Mi Fit.
Once you have the Mi Band 2 paired and strapped to your wrist, lifting up your arm makes the display light up and show the time. You can also tap the key on the fascia for this. More taps cycle through number of steps taken and heart rate, and if you stop at the heart rate screen, then device will take a few seconds to measure how fast your ticker is beating, and display the reading on the screen. The Mi Fit app has a few more options if you’d like to customise the display, and you can set it to show distance, calories burned and remaining battery as well. There’s no option to see date, day of the week or month however.
The original Mi Band offered excellent battery life, but thanks to the addition of the display and the heart rate monitor, the Mi Band 2 can’t boast the same, relatively speaking. However, its 70mAh battery is rated for 20 days, which isn’t bad at all. Xiaomi is likely to launch the Mi Band 2 in India sometime in August or September this year, and we expect the pricing to be similar to what it is in China – around Rs 1,500 or just a wee bit higher. At under Rs 2,000, the Mi Band 2 seems like a very worthy buy – watch out for a full review, coming up soon.