Reviewing an entry wearable like the Mi Band 2 is tough on someone like me. I’ve been an avid runner for longer than I can remember now and see step tracking as a nuisance that gets in the way of the stats I really want to see. I judge my day’s activity successes by miles instead of steps. However, the health industry, places a huge importance on the number of steps taken every day. That’s not a bad thing at all, though, considering the obesity problem we are facing as in the US. Any activity is better than no activity – and if tacking on more steps each day ultimately solves the problem, then I’m all for it.
However, being a runner for so long instead of just testing and reviewing the Mi Band 2 on its promoted merits, I took more time instead on comparing it against my current fitness tracking wearables. The Microsoft Band 2 is still my favorite, but I’m also currently in the midst of testing Garmin’s Vivoactive HR.
Here’s the important comparisons:
Steps: Compared to the Microsoft Band 2 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR, the Mi Band 2 is surprisingly close in steps. As a step counter, I’d pit this against a Fitbit any day (which I just got through testing a few weeks ago).
Miles: As you might imagine, since the step counts are pretty similar to the more expensive devices, the mileage is pretty close, too. The Mi Band 2 does seem to exaggerate mileage a little bit, but not much.
Heart Rate: As you’ve heard me say over and over, wrist-based HR is an inaccurate technology. But, compared to the Microsoft Band 2 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is, once again, right in line with baseline output. One extra cool function of the Mi Band 2, is that you can use the accompanying app to initiate a pulse reading. The app sends the request to the Mi Band 2 and within a few seconds, the current reading comes back. Pretty neat. For the Microsoft and Garmin versions, this is performed solely at the wrist.
Calories: No issue here. As long as the HR, steps, and mileage are working, the calorie calculations are spot on.
Sleep: This is the area for me that showed the biggest discrepancy. The Mi Band 2 does auto detection for sleep, but not very well. A few nights where the Microsoft Band 2 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR both delivered similar stats, the Mi Band 2 choked – by a lot. Like wrist-based HR, sleep detection is not yet an accurate technology, but when the Microsoft Band 2 and the Garmin Vivoactive HR both recorded 7 hours of sleep, the Mi Band 2 showed only 4 hours.
Design: Once you suffer through getting the Mi Band 2 installed on your wrist (the clasp is cumbersome) it almost disappears – it’s that comfortable. Comfort is absolutely one of the device’s main virtues. And, that’s good, considering most never want to take a wearable off once they put it on. With a battery that can last up to 20 days without a charge, you only need to fiddle with the awkward clasp once a month.
As an entry-level device, the Mi Band 2 actually excels more than I expected. Despite only offering a single input button, the LED-type screen is actually extremely useable – and surprisingly informative. The app that connects the Mi Band 2 to the smartphone leaves a bit to be desired and it’s not backed by a web-based service somewhere that stores your information indefinitely.
My Dad is one of those people that can’t ever sit idle. He turns 82 in December but recently acquired a new job. He now works for a local retirement village. He runs the floor polisher and is constantly wondering how many miles he’s traveling each day performing this task. When I demoed the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 to him and told him I’d give it to him when I was done testing it, his eyes lit up. Now he’ll be able brag about how many steps he’s getting in each day/week/month. And, to me, this is a perfect use-case for the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. At the price level, it’s a great gift for anyone in your life that is interested in starting down the path to fitness, or just wants to join in the daily back-and-forth bragging rights for the most steps.
Here’s a couple places you can snag this wearble…
At Gearbest ($42): Xiaomi Mi Band 2
On Amazon ($56): Xiaomi Mi Band 2