“The Mi Band 4 is a no brainer if you’re out in the market for an affordable fitness tracker”
Xiaomi is the global number two as far as the marketshare for wearables is concerned, following Apple which leads the segment. Xiaomi’s feat is noteworthy because it has achieved that solely riding on the back of its affordable Mi Band range. As far as India is concerned, Xiaomi began the journey with the launch of the original Mi Band (review) back in early 2015, leading to the mushrooming of a whole lot of me-too devices in the process and kickstarting a fitness trend that continues to this day. Each successive generation of the Mi Band has brought new features and capabilities, and now I have the Mi Band 4 on my wrist, the newest in the series. The Mi Band 4 sold a million units within just eight days of its availability in China, and has just reached Indian shores officially. And judging by my experience, I think Xiaomi has yet another blockbuster on its hands, given that many of you would want to have this device on your wrists. Let me elaborate.
You’d be disappointed if you expect anything new in terms of design. The Mi Band 4 shares its design philosophy with its older generation siblings, and features a simple black rubber strap with a removable core in the middle. The core can be pulled out for charging, and has a heart rate monitor along with the charging pins at the rear.
The biggest upgrade on the Mi Band 4 is the front, where you’ll find the 0.95-inch colour AMOLED display. The larger size of the screen (as compared to the Mi Band 3), full colour support and use of AMOLED tech makes it a visual treat, and the screen is legible even in bright sunlight. The rubber strap of the band is quite comfortable to wear, and the device doesn’t weigh down your wrist either, which bodes well for something you’re supposed to wear 24×7.
Features include the usual step count, heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. The device can also track workouts like walking, running (both outdoors as well as treadmill), cycling , and since it’s waterproof up to a depth of 50m, swimming too. The interface of the tracker is largely swipe driven, aided by a touch-sensitive back / awake button placed below the screen. When the screen is on, you can swipe up or down to access the various functions, which include status (showing steps, distance, calories burnt), heart rate, workout, weather, notifications, and more. Under ‘More’, you’ll find a few other handy functions like a stopwatch, timer etc.
The Mi Band 4 can mirror notifications from a paired phone over Bluetooth, and can also relay call alerts, though you can’t interact with the notifications directly via the tracker. Routes for outdoor activities like running, walking and cycling can also be tracked via the app if you have a phone connected via Bluetooth. In addition, you can also control music playing on a connected phone directly from the tracker too.
The Mi Band 4 syncs with the Mi Fit app, available both for Android and iOS. The app shows details on your physical activity, workouts, heart rate, sleep etc, and also helps you control settings for the tracker. You can set goals, specify whether you require alerts for calls, events, apps etc, set alarms, set a location for the weather, choose items to be displayed on the tracker, schedule a night mode which dims screen brightness for specified timings etc.
You can even download watch faces. The tracker comes with three watch faces built in, which can be accessed directly on the device itself. However, you can download an additional watch face via the Mi Fit app, getting to choose between one of the many third-party ones available. You can even set one of your own pictures as a watch background. The Mi Fit app is quite loaded overall, and syncing is fast and painless. It also has some social features and allows you to add friends, but it doesn’t allow you to compete with others or set collaborative goals, unlike Fitbit. That said, the app does provide surprisingly detailed stats on your physical activity, and you won’t find it lacking in that respect. The tracker is reasonably accurate too, monitoring the crucial parameters like steps, heart rate and sleep quite faithfully. Health buffs would also be gad to know that there’s a feature that can alert you in case your heart rate goes above a specified value and the device doesn’t detect any obvious activity in the last 10 minutes… indicating you might have a heart condition you should get checked by a doctor.
And lastly, addressing the all-important aspect on battery life, your mileage could vary depending upon usage (especially workouts), and the settings you choose for heart rate detection frequency. In my case, with automatic heart rate and sleep assistant switched on, and a heart rate detection frequency of 5 minutes, the battery dropped 50 percent in 6 days. Therefore, I should be able to get almost two weeks worth of usage on a singe charge, and I think that’s pretty amazing.
The fitness tracker segment in India is booming, and you’ll find quite a few options in the affordable category, both from lesser known as well as reputed brands. However, I think that you can’t really go wrong with the Mi band 4. For its asking price of Rs 2,299, the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 covers everything one would want in an affordable fitness tracker – all the crucial fitness features, customisability, a capable display, useful app and great battery life. It’s really a no brainer.
Editor’s rating: 4.5 / 5
- Gorgeous AMOLED display
- Tons of fitness features
- Feature-rich app
- Long battery life
- Proprietary charging dongle
- Charging dongle can be misplaced easily
- App lacks collaborative features