Looks can be deceiving, and at first glance, you might view the Mi Band 3 as a simple fitness tracker. But in reality, it’s much much more.
The Mi Band 3, for a smartwatch its size, is jam-packed with features. I’m used to my Samsung Gear S3 and had prepared myself to lose a lot of its functionality when changing over to the Mi Band 3, but I was pleasantly surprised. Xiaomi has managed to fit an impressive amount of information onto such a small screen. We received the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 from the company’s launch event, where we also received and reviewed the Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro 2.
The main draw of the Mi Band 3 is its applications. Taking after the popular Fitbit fitness tracker, the Mi Band 3 tracks how many steps you take, as well as telling you how far you’ve walked, and how many calories you’ve burned. It also has an exercise mode that you can enter and it will keep a specific log of movement during that period of time. The Mi Band 3 complies with 5ATM waterproofing specifications, which means you can wear it in the bath, shower, or even swimming. Sleep tracking is also featured, telling you how long you slept for, as well as whether it was a light or heavy sleep.
UI and Navigation
Using the device is very simple and intuitive. Up, down, left, and right swipes are used to navigate through its menus, and a big touch-sensitive button is used to return you to the main screen or activate certain features, such as a manual heart rate detection.
The fitness parts of the Mi Band 3 tie in very well with the companion app, titled Mi Fit, which boasts features allowing you to set yourself daily step targets, as well as compare your progress against friends. The Band is able to differentiate between walking and running, as well as cycling. If you’re doing some sort of exercise that doesn’t fall into any of those categories, you can “tag” it for when you’re reviewing your exercise on the app at a later point. Mi Fit – which seems to be the all-in-one companion app, as opposed to just a fitness app – offers a decent amount of customisation, allowing you to decide which apps can send notifications to the watch, and even allowing you to set up a screen lock. I found the app to be very easy to use and quite informative.
Build and Appearance
In terms of build quality, the Mi Band 3 has a strong showing once again. It consists of a pill-shaped piece, which is the actual watch itself, and a rubber wristband, with a slot for the watch to fit into. The overall feel of the watch is very slick and seamless. The wristband is easy to put on and will fit pretty much any wrist comfortably. The Mi Band 3 also has its own charger, which is included in the packaging. Charging involves removing the watch from the wristband and slotting it into the charger, which has a pretty standard USB on the other end. Weighing in at just 20g, the Mi Band 3 is extremely light, and most of the time I barely noticed that it was on my wrist.
Given the Mi Band 3’s small screen size, I was expecting notifications to be either highly compressed or simply non-existent. Granted, they do have to be turned on via the Mi Fit app, but they work surprisingly well. Facebook messages, for example, can be read in their entirety by simply swiping right on the screen to read the rest of the message. Some characters aren’t recognised, and can end up being displayed as a bunch of question marks on your screen, but I suspect this is something to do with the apps themselves, as opposed to being the Mi Band 3’s fault. Notifications can get a little bit stacked up at times, as Messenger notifications don’t seem to clear themselves, but the problem is easily solved by holding down the touch button.
The battery life on the Mi Band 3 is simply outstanding. With automatic heart rate detection off, the watch can last up to 20 days on one charge, but based on my experience so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if it could last longer. Turning on automatic heart rate detection, however, drastically reduces battery life to between 1 and 3 days. Fortunately, though, the Mi Band 3 fully charges in less than 2 hours, meaning you’re never without your smartwatch for long.
The Mi Band 3 costs €39 from Three Ireland, and at that price, you’d be mad not to consider it. The Fitbit range of fitness trackers cost upwards of €100 each, yet don’t really offer anything more than what’s available with the Mi Band 3. The one major difference is the lack of GPS on the Mi Band 3, but that can be easily overlooked when you consider that it’s more than €60 cheaper.
Once again, Xiaomi’s biggest strength lies in its incredibly low prices. The cost alone is what makes the Mi Band 3 such a great option. Despite the screen being much smaller in size, you lose very little functionality over a full-sized smartwatch such as the Gear S3. If you want to see what else Xiaomi is launching in Ireland, you can check out our article here.