Xiaomi has been leading the wearable segment in India with its Mi Band series and it’s not surprising given the fact that the brand’s fitness trackers are ultra-cheap and offer a variety of features. While they have been incrementally updating each release, the Mi Band 4, or the Mi Smart Band 4 as Xiaomi is calling it, marks a shift to the emphasis on doing more “smart” things rather than concentrating on just the fitness aspect. The Mi Smart Band 4 aims to bridge the gap between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch and for the most part, it does a great job. Let’s talk about it in detail.
Design that’s tried and tested
Why fix something that’s not broken, right? That’s the philosophy Xiaomi has been following with respect to the design of their Mi Bands. A small removable capsule at the core of a silicon strap. The Mi Smart Band 4, however, is slightly thicker than its predecessors due to a larger display and battery, but it’s not evident when strapped on. The band is comfortable to wear even while sleeping. Xiaomi used to sell replaceable straps in various colors, but they stopped doing that ever since the Mi Band 2. We wish it makes a comeback.
The tracker itself has a flatter look now unlike the 3D curved sides of the Mi Band 3. Some might prefer the older design, some might like the new one better, it’s all a matter of personal preference. The depressed button is also now gone and is replaced by a circular mark indicating where to tap. The Mi Smart Band 4 has a minimal look and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s subtle, yet functional.
Watch your step!
The core functionality of the Mi Smart Band 4 is to keep a tab of daily activities and workouts. And just like its predecessors, it does a mighty good job at it. We found the step count to be accurate even when compared to watches costing as much as 10 times that of the Mi Smart Band 4. No just walks, but you can also track runs, outdoor workouts, treadmill sessions, cycling, and swimming. With the newly included gyroscope along with the accelerometer, tracking algorithms are more accurate while performing workouts.
As usual, you also get the distance walked, calories burnt, idle alerts and workout statistics that are synced to the Mi Fit app. Sleep tracking has been one of the marquee features of the Mi Band series and its accurate as ever. The heart rate monitor also produces consistent readings and there’s an option to continuously record your heart rate. As expected, the Mi Smart Band 4 nails the fitness department, especially considering the price.
While there is no drastic redesign of the tracker itself, there are substantial changes that make it lean towards the “smarter” side. For starters, there’s now a colored AMOLED display which makes it more interactive and attractive. The brightness in direct sunlight could’ve been better as the legibility is pretty bad outdoors. The watch faces are customizable to a huge extent, again, thanks to that display. You can either select from the ones available online or set your own favorite wallpapers. An added benefit of the touch-sensitive display is that you can now control your music right from the Mi Smart Band 4 which we found was very convenient. And lastly, you can now mute incoming calls right from the Mi Smart Band 4 itself, again, a handy feature.
What’s not new?
You can check the weather status on the Mi Smart Band 4 which was present on the Mi Band 3 as well. Notifications can also be viewed and dismissed from the band itself, just like the Mi Band 3. We had seen on the Mi Band 3 that if there were emojis in a message, they wouldn’t properly be displayed on the display and while we expected that to be fixed since there’s a much better display panel, sadly, the issue still remains. There’s a DND mode, you can set alarms, us the stopwatch and timer functionality, silence your phone and also ring your phone if you can’t find it. All of these were present on the Mi Band 3 as well and are accounted for here too.
Battery life has been one of the strengths of the Mi Band series and the Mi Band 4 despite having a color display and extra functionality this time still remains to be a battery champ. Having charged it completely a week ago, the battery still stands at 70% at the time of writing, that too with a ton of notifications, meaning you can easily get through more than 20 days on a single charge. Looks like that extra thickness is paying dividends after all.
The charging mechanism is slightly different this time. The tracker rests flat inside the cradle which then attaches to USB using a cable. The cable is rather flimsy and looks like it might snap off if pulled with force, so be careful with it. Charging time is about two hours for a full charge from an almost-dead state.
Best budget fitness tracker, again?
There are and there always have been multiple competitors to the Mi Band series, be it from Lenovo, Honor, Fastrack and even Samsung now, but Xiaomi has nailed two major aspects right from the beginning – core functionality and price. The interface has always been ever so familiar to operate, the app is clutter-free, the battery life is insane and the fact that Xiaomi is India’s no.1 smartphone brand also helps them reach a larger audience in terms of brand recognition. Someone having a Xiaomi smartphone will naturally lean towards accessories made by the same brand. The Mi Smart Band 4 builds on the solid foundation of the last three generations of trackers from Xiaomi and is taking baby steps towards being a full-fledged smartwatch. It will take a few more iterations, but it will eventually get there. The Mi Smart Band 4 is essentially a Mi Band 3 that went to college, got a degree and now boasts of superior skills. For a price of Rs. 2,299, it’s a no-brainer.