The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is the best budget fitness tracker you’ll find online. With the ability to track exercise, heart rate and sleep, the Mi Band 3 has nearly all the features of the Fitbit Charge 3, but for under a quarter of the price.
At £26.99, the Mi Band 3 is a great choice for those who want fitness tracking at an affordable price, but still get all the features they need, including a OLED screen and app notifications.
For a little context, I’ve been wearing my Fitbit Charge 2 for around a year and a half now – at around £100 retail, the Fitbit Charge 2 wasn’t cheap. On receiving the Mi Band 3, I was blown away by how many features it had over my Charge 2, and over the current version, the Charge 3.
Setup of the band was very simple – simply unpackage it, and then pair it to the Mi Fit app. Once done, you can configure the band very easily via the app, and then get to using it.
The Mi Band 3 has all the features you would expect from a high-end fitness tracker, but for a quarter of the price.
Firstly, the Mi Band 3 offers heart rate tracking. This can be changed from within the app – you can increase and decrease frequency, allowing you to customise the accuracy VS battery life tradeoff. If you don’t want heart rate tracking, you can disable it too. I will cover battery life later in the review.
It also offers sleep tracking – with this you can view the amount of deep and light sleep, as well as see when you fell asleep, and compare your sleeping times with other users anonymously. I am really impressed with the sleep tracking the Mi Band 3 has – it offers detailed statistics about your sleep, and you can also view an overview and see how you sleep with the rest of the world.
These are the two features that often are lacking on budget fitness trackers, however it doesn’t stop here for the Mi Band 3. Of course, it has all the basic features such as steps taken, distance moved, and calories burned. However, it offers some more interesting, and useful, features.
One of these is app notifications. Via the Mi Fit app, you can enable notifications for all apps, or you can enable notifications for select apps. This is really well done – the Mi Band will vibrate when you get a new notification, and you can view all the details right from the watch. This includes the app that sent it, and all the content of the notification. If it’s a large one, you can swipe to view the rest of it. The Mi Band 3 also has a screen dedicated to notifications, where you can swipe through them and clear them if you’ve read them all.
The second one is weather. With the Mi Band 3, you can view the current forecast, today’s forecast, and tomorrows. The screen will show you an icon with the current conditions, as well as the high and low temperatures, and text telling you the conditions. I found this really useful for quick checks on weather before going out.
Activity tracking is also offered by the Mi Band 3 – you can track running, walking, indoor activities, cycling, and also create your own activities. The Mi Band 3 is also waterproof, so it can be worn in a pool or shower.
Do not disturb and screen dim features are great for those who want to track their sleep. Fitbit does not offer this – if you lift your wrist in the night, you are blinded by light from the screen. Xiaomi has a brilliant solution for this, allowing you to designate a ‘sleep time’, allowing you to disable raise to wake during the time, and have the screen dimmed when you manually activate it. You also won’t receive notifications during this time. Whilst a small feature, it’s a brilliant one that competitors lack.
Another cool feature it has is the ability to ring your phone from the watch. If you’ve misplaced your phone, and the Mi Band 3 is connected, you can simply ring your phone from the watch – even if your phone is on silent, it will ring at full volume so you can easily find it. A very useful feature when you’ve placed your phone under a pile of paperwork for example.
Along with the full features that the watch offers, and the incredibly low price, there is a second big draw to the watch. The battery life in it is incredibly long – with a 110mAh battery inside, the Mi Band 3 can last 20 days before needing a recharge, and takes little over an hour to get to 100% from a flat battery. Note, however, that 20 days is expected if you turn off many features, such as heart rate and sleep tracking.
With heart rate monitoring switched to every minute, and sleep tracking enabled, as well as notifications allowed (decreases battery life due to vibrating when you get one), the watch lasted 8 days – still a very impressive feat.
Navigation of the watch is simple – simple swipes up, down, left and right allows you to navigate the various menus the watch has, and a large button at the bottom of the interface can be used to return you to the home screen or to select an option, such as a manual heart rate check.
The band is comfortable – there are various options of fit and color, and the watch itself is slim and doesn’t stick out. One thing I don’t like about the band is that you need to take the watch out of the band to charge it, which can make the band weaker over time. However, replacements are cheap and easy to get, but it is worth noting.
For such a low price, it’s hard to justify buying a Fitbit Charge 3 over it. There are only a few places that Fitbit has the advantage – the social side of the app, and 24/7 heart rate tracking (against the 1 minute intervals of the Mi Band 3).
I really like the Mi Band 3, and it’s going to replace the Fitbit Charge 2 that I wear daily. It’s an incredibly high quality fitness tracker, for a jaw dropping low price, and therefore, I can’t recommend it more.