Technophile

Mi Band 3: The affordable fitness tracker returns in an updated avatar

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on: Oct 03, 2018
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With some more features, it’s a value-for-money product from Xiaomi

Xiaomi has now made a consistent habit of packing their products with features and other bells and whistles — be it mobiles, fitness bands, and even air purifiers. Their ‘flash sale’ marketing works in tandem with their capable products too, ensuring that the buzz is kept alive even well after they are launched.

I’m talking about the Mi Band 3 today, the third iteration of the successful fitness wearable from the Chinese company.

Disclosure: I have bought and used the Mi Band 2 after it first came out in September-October 2016 and was more than happy with what it offered at the price. But the product still needed some polishing. Xiaomi seems to have achieved some of that polishing with the latest model.

Looks are very similar to the Mi Band 2, except that the one button on it is now a lot more aesthetically appealing and does not stick out as it did on the previous version. It’s just a little concave curve on the glossy surface. Another change that the Mi Band 3 carries is an OLED monochrome touchscreen that is now larger, fine-tuned, and classy to look at, the display being better.

Touchscreen use is simple. Swipes up and down will take users to other displays, like steps, heartbeat, etc. Swiping to the side on the ‘more’ option will take users to handy additional features like stopwatch, find my device, etc. Pressing the button once will take you back to the main screen and holding on it will trigger functions such as measuring heart rate.

The rest of the design stays the same, with the comfortable silicone strap making it look like a simple, yet sleek bracelet on your wrist.

During my use of the product, it did everything as it is supposed to. Steps counted, calories burnt, distance covered, were all measured and were fairly consistent. I tested these metrics against a few more expensive wearables and apart from some parameters being slightly off by a few counts, they were well-represented. Sleep tracking was also done without a hitch, and the device showed me deep sleep and light sleep, along with inputs on how to get better sleep, and advise on falling asleep early (basic, but a nice touch). Its design and weight ensure that it is quite comfortable to fall asleep with. The Mi Band 3 is water-resistant up to 5 ATM. That’s 50 metres, so you can happily take it for a swim. I couldn’t do that as I don’t swim, but I showered with it, submerged it, and all that happened was that it looked picture-perfect with all those water drops glistening on its glossy surface.

Xiaomi has upped the Mi Band 3’s notification features and for all practical purposes, it is now like having a basic smartwatch on your wrist. It displays the number or contact for an incoming call as well, and you can use the band to reject a call. But one annoying aspect about notifications is that, for example, whenever I got a new WhatsApp message, the band buzzed multiple times owing to all the older unread WhatsApp messages. Hopefully, this could be fixed with an update. Also, heart rate can now be measured without having to use the Mi Fit app, unlike its predecessor. The app is still very handy for the detailed metrics.

Another added feature is exercise, which is basically for tracking your workouts, outdoor and indoor cycling, treadmill, etc. This is done by segregating a user’s workout into relaxed, light, intensive modes, along with optical heart rate tracking. This is handy for those who want basic workout information without shelling out too much money on the pricier offerings in the market.

Battery life is impressive. I have charged it once, and that continues to last me even as I write this review. Claimed battery life is 20 days, and I am about halfway there with 55 per cent still left. Oh, the Mi Band 3 also shows you weather information on the device itself, once synced to your phone.

One little niggle was that heart rate wasn’t always accurately measured and it showed different numbers when I tested it against top-end wearables that also measure heart rate. At times, heart rate wasn’t measured at all and it showed me an error message. I think the problem for the latter bit could lie with the fact that it needs to sit very tight on your wrist in order for it to measure accurately.

All in all, with this aggressive pricing, the Mi Band 3 is value for money. But there is competition from Lenovo and Honor products that are taking the game to Xiaomi in this segment.

Price: ₹1,999

Pros: Good battery life, nice looks, touchscreen, activity tracking

Cons: Heart rate measurement was off at times, no major change in design, notifications need fine-tuning

Published on October 03, 2018

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