One of the first two Mi bands might have been the first imported China gadget for many of you. As is well known, success always attracts imitators, which is why the fitness tracker market has been flooded with clones and alternative products in recent years. But Xiaomi’s trackers are still unbeaten, despite all the competition.
The interest was all the greater when the third edition of the Mi Band was finally announced. Whether the change from the predecessor Mi Band 2 is worthwhile and how the band performs in comparison to the Amazfit Bip, you’ll find out in the following review.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 scope of delivery
The Mi Band 3 is delivered in a small box with a transparent plastic lid. Inside is a black wristband, a USB charging cable, a manual in Chinese and of course the actual tracker. Those who still remember our test report of the predecessor will notice that absolutely nothing has changed in the scope of delivery. Of course, a different coloured wristband, a protective film or a charger would have been nice, but you shouldn’t complain too much at a price of about 25$.
Officially the band is also available in the colours blue and red for 19.9 Yuan, approx. 2.60$. But in the near future some more copies, although not original by Xiaomi, will follow – or are already here! So for the Mi Band 2 you could choose between every conceivable pattern and also other materials, such as leather and metal.
Xiaomi didn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of the hardware, but there are still some nice improvements. As soon as you unpack it, you notice that the tracker, which contains all the technology, has grown a little bit. It is now 3.2cm long, 1.8cm wide and 1.2cm thick.
On the Mi Band 2 it was still flush with the TPU band, now it protrudes a bit. Due to the “polish” that the tracker has been given, however, it seamlessly merges into the adjustable strap at the sides (adjustable between 15.5 and 21.6 cm in length). Xiaomi also uses a bluish shimmering monochrome OLED display. However, this has grown quite a lot over the last two years – from 0.45 to 0.78 inches. This is probably the reason why notifications with text are now displayed even without unofficial third-party software.
In addition to the button at the bottom of the tracker, the entire screen now is also touch-sensitive. Swiping in all four directions now navigates through the menus. Unfortunately, one shortcoming of its predecessor has not been remedied – its poor readability in bright daylight. Our guess is that with a higher display brightness the battery life would not have been long enough. Xiaomi has already installed a 50% larger battery (110mAh) in order to achieve a full 20 days of battery life. In our test, it kept the manufacturer’s promise – a full battery charge should last almost three weeks with moderate use. In the test we used it to its full extent every day: so with an initial 30% the battery was empty after 5 days. The Mi Band 3 can also be used without problems when swimming, as it is waterproof to a depth of 50 meters – but the corresponding mode is unfortunately missing in the Mi Fit app. Xiaomi has put together another nice package. However, with regard to the display especially, we would have been happier about a somewhat larger upgrade.
Software & App
The user interface of the Mi Band 3 clearly resembles that of its predecessor – as you would expect from the rather similar display. In terms of functionality, however, Xiaomi has clearly oriented itself towards Amazfit Bip.
Unfortunately, all software on the tape is currently only available in Chinese. There are unofficial mods that can be used to set the device to English, but they must be used at your own risk. Since an international update also came out relatively quickly after the release of the Bip tracker, we are confident that an update for Mi Band 3 will be here soon. As long as there is no official English version, it is (limitedly) possible to use the gadget after all: The small pictures are self-explanatory.
Currently there is already a firmware from XDA, which is in English. It’s not very hard to install, but whenever Xiaomi provides a new OTA update via the Mi Fit app, you have the official ROM in Chinese again. You can take this effort, or you simply wait a few weeks – it won’t take long.
Not only is the display of full text notifications now supported by default, the weather feature has also migrated over from the Bip tracker. Unfortunately, the display format is a bit problematic for English text – most words are divided into several lines. This makes it really annoying to read longer messages than “OK” or “See you soon” on the display.
Since the MI Band is actually sold as a fitness tracker, the “health functions” naturally also take up a large part of the interface. If you swipe up from the dial, you can see directly your current number of steps.
Swiping to the left brings you to the distance run, the calories burned and… the current battery level. Xiaomi has built in a category “Other”, in which e.g. the stopwatch and also the settings are arranged. Then why was the battery status indicator put into the run category? We can’t explain it. The heart rate measurement has an extra entry in the main menu. Like some other actions, it is activated by pressing and holding the button. More details on the accuracy and functionality of the health features can be found below.
In the main menu the forecast for the current day is displayed directly, by horizontal swiping you also see whether you have to bring an umbrella during the next few days or whether the sun is shining. Unfortunately, our test device often had problems loading the data automatically from the Mi Fit app and therefore sometimes displayed an error message instead of the weather forecast.
The menu item “Other” contains everything that didn’t really fit somewhere else. Here you can find the stopwatch, a search function for the smartphone and the watchface-skins. There are currently three different ones available, but they are all quite similar. It is to be hoped that, similar to the Bip tracker, clock faces created by users will soon be available.
On your smartphone, the well-known Mi Fit app (to the Google Play Store) serves as a link to the tracker. Here you can see the measured health data and change all possible settings of the band. Since the app itself has changed relatively little recently and we have already covered the functions in detail in previous articles, we will make it brief here. If you want to know more about the strengths and weaknesses of Mi Fit, you can have a look at our archive, like the Mi Band 2 review.
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*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 20.08.2018