The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is the latest budget friendly activity monitor from the infamous Mi Band series. It proves yet again that functionality doesn’t always come with an expensive price tag. With a price of $49.99, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 can still compete with much more expensive competitors in terms of performance. And it has even received some important upgrades. The Mi Band 3 has a bigger touchscreen, an improved heart rate monitoring algorithm, automatic exercise detection and last but not least, phone notifications.
The most impressive part about the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is obviously the price. There’s no way to overlook it. So we can assume that they have cut some corners to achieve this. Well if we take a look at the design aspect, then the first thing you’ll notice is how simple it looks. It doesn’t stand out in any way and it can be worn by both men and women. Which in my opinion is great as you can wear it to the gym and even to a business meeting.
Like most activity trackers, the Mi Band 3 also consists of two pieces: a plastic sensor and a silicone wrist strap. This sensor body has a 0.78 inch OLED touchscreen and a small button for enabling some functions. Most of the navigation is done by swiping along the screen. The display is pretty glossy, which does make the tracker look more expensive. The downside is that it loves fingerprints. Also it’s pretty hard to read the display in direct sunlight.
The silicone / rubber wrist strap has an incredibly simple attachment. It feels rather nice against the skin and the connector hasn’t opened up once while I have been wearing it. It’s pretty impressive in my opinion.
According to Xiaomi, the Mi Band 3 is waterproof up to 50 meters. So you can even wear it while swimming or taking a shower. I’m really glad that Xiaomi has found a way to keep it waterproof even in its price range. Most of cheaper end activity trackers are just splash proof. So this is definitely a huge thumbs up for Xiaomi!
Just like the previous versions, the Mi Band 3 constantly monitors the amount of steps you have taken, distance and burned calories. These are also displayed directly in the screen. So you don’t need to search for those on your phone. This is pretty standard and I like how they have kept it simple. Some companies like to fill small displays with different data and it usually gets too messy.
The new activity tracker has also received some upgrades. It now has an automatic exercise detection. It can even detect the type of exercise you are doing (walking/running/cycling) and the duration. This way it gathers all of your movements, even the ones that you haven’t manually started. You can also use it both indoors and outdoors. The activity tracker doesn’t have a GPS receiver. It instead uses your phones GPS when the two are paired. This way you can later view everything from the Mi Fit App.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 also works while you are sleeping. It can detect when you have gone to sleep and woken up. It even displays you different sleep phases. Unfortunately it doesn’t detect REM sleep. That’s why Xiaomi has set their focus on making the sleep analysis as in depth as possible. The Mi Fit app analyses your previous sleep patterns and compares them with the periods you are up. This lets you know how regular your sleeping pattern really is.
In addition to the standard activity monitor functions, the Mi Band 3 also monitors your heart rate. It has an optical sensor that measures your heart rate 24/7. All of this data can be viewed from the Mi Fit app. You basically get to see a graph that displays your heart rate throughout the day. You can also instantly view your current heart rate by holding down the one button on the tracker.
A bigger screen usually means more smart features. That’s definitely the case with the Mi Band 3. The bigger screen now fits more information. Which is why Xiaomi has also given it some basic smartwatch functions. Besides it’s not like they have any other choice. All of the other companies seem to be doing that as well. Especially since our lives are more connected to devices than ever. Heck some of the best smartwatches have even got activity tracker functions. So the line between them has definitely started to blur. But let’s continue with what the Mi Band 3 offers.
You can pair it up with your phone via Bluetooth. This sends all of the incoming notifications straight to the activity tracker and you can view them directly from the screen. Obviously it isn’t as good as a proper smartwatch as the screen is much smaller. But it’s still pretty good. You can also use it to accept phone calls or decline them. Unfortunately you can’t call anyone from it. The Mi Band 3 also has a Find Your Phone function, just in case you might have lost it behind a couch or somewhere. Oh and there’s also a weather report.
Another positive thing that lifts up the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is its battery life. It has a 110 mAh LiPo battery that, according to Xiaomi, can last for 20 days! It’s a pretty brave statement as most of its competitors don’t come even close to that. And well I have to say that they are right as well. After 3 weeks of using it, I haven’t had to charge the activity tracker once. And I still have 34% left. That said, I haven’t been constantly using all of the functions. I have mostly been using it as a step counter and used some of the smartwatch functions every now and then. Such as for picking up a phone call. So I used it pretty lightly overall.
Mi Fit App
The Mi Fit app has a really simple design. The front page displays your current steps in the past 24 hours, covered distance and burned calories. If you swipe down, then you’ll also see hours slept, your last exercise and graphs for heart rate and amount of steps during the week. You can also view more in depth information when you tap each selection.
The activity page is where you can manually start running, cycling or walking exercises. The outdoors map marks your route by using your phones GPS. There is also a profile page where you can change settings and create different notifications.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 isn’t the perfect activity monitor, but it’s as close to perfect as it can be considering how much it costs. There aren’t many activity monitors that have near as much functionality in its price range. The Mi Band 3 does absolutely everything that you’d expect from an activity tracker and more. Plus it has smartwatch features that enable even more functionality. Such as a smart way to enable a GPS map. And besides all that, you’ll need to charge it once every 3 weeks. That’s not bad at all. Which is why it’s the perfect budget activity tracker for everyone!
Sven Von Fawkes is a journalism student at USC. He is passionate about working out and dreams of running a marathon. He also enjoys testing exercise related devices on his blog Tenpire.com