Without much of a hardy introduction to the new generation of fitness trackers, initially, I didn’t know what to make of the new Mi Band Pulse.
Not exactly new to the world of fitness trackers, I have dabbled in fitness tracking before, mostly with the tried-and-true chest strap-accompanied Polar fitness watches. The F11 was for many years the standard bearer for last generation tech in the fitness space, providing all the main metrics that fitness enthusiasts were generally seeking, including program tracking, coaching and heart rate sensing, in addition to being waterproof and coming replete with a hefty price tag.
Like a few other notable international brands, the entry level fitness category is more or less defined by sleep tracking, step counting and primitive calorie counting. The Mi Band Pulse offers all of that and now includes a heart rate sensor, while still maintaining the very shallow price of USD 15. The new Mi Band comes in exactly the same form and shape as the earlier model, providing, this time, a sturdier strap and a slightly bulkier body. As with its predecessor, what really sets it apart from the competition, as so many other Xiaomi products are wont to do, is its sturdy construction and low price tag.
If a true fitness-oriented product is what you’re after, then perhaps the Mi Band will not be suited to you. The Mi Band is more like a lifestyle accompaniment, with modest coaching and benchmarking. It’s very unassuming and is designed to prod you ever so slightly in the right direction through its encouraging and easily understandable metrics. It does not have GPS, there is no program builder, there are no coaching aspects and it does not do continuous heart rate monitoring.
The device comes pre-charged, you need only scan a QR code in the manual to get the Mi home app, and then link the device to the app.
When installed, you need to first input some standard metrics: your age, sex, height and current weight, and then suggest how many steps you’d like to complete every day. After this, you’re pretty much good to go.
The device basically works with little interference – you place the strap on your arm and it computes away silently, tracking your steps and your sleep patterns.
As of yesterday, the app successfully registered an episode of me walking and my dance moves, bring my total steps to 10,000 steps. Additionally, it fairly accurately noted both when I fell asleep and when I woke up, with a little comment about the amount of deep sleep I likely had.
The app appears to work by periodically pairing with your phone via Bluetooth. It does not seem to maintain a continuous connection, and this is mostly the secret to the hearty battery life.
The new update improves on the older model ever so slightly by offering the inclusion of a heart rate monitor, although it’s not exactly for the most obvious reason.
With a heart rate sensor, you’d think the manufacturer would be moving in a more sporty direction, but instead what the monitor is used for is essentially to provide more accurate logging of sleep, rather than as a constant tap on your performance in sport. Though you can periodically check your heart rate through the app manually, this is a cumbersome maneuver, as it means first stopping what you’re doing, pulling out your smartphone, bringing up the Mi Fit app, and waiting to get a lock. In addition, heart rate metrics don’t appear to show up very prominently in the Mi Fit app.
Stay tuned for a more comprehensive exploration of the Mi Band Pulse in comparison to the high-end Apple Watch!