Many people expect fitness trackers, or wearables in general, to be cheap, which is why the Xiaomi’s Mi Band’s have been the defacto choice for many in the past. (MI Band 3 Review हिंदी में पढ़िए)
2018 has been somewhat different, though. Over the course of this year, we saw several other players like Lenovo, Smartron, Xiaomi’s own Huami Amazefit, iVoomi, etc. venture into the category, trying to deliver an equivalent ‘affordable’ fitness trackers for India. Which is to say that the new Mi Band 3 at least has some competition to go against.
But the real question is, how much of an improvement Mi Band 3 is over the Mi Band 2 (or Mi Band HRX edition). Are affordable Mi Bands now good enough to inspire or nudge you towards a fitter lifestyle? Let’s sum what works and what doesn’t in our Mi Band 3 Review.
What’s good about Mi Band 3
To start with, Xiaomi’s Mi Band 3 looks better than the Mi Band 2. That’s primarily because of the curved glass on top that now extends beyond the seams of where the capsule meets the rubberized band. The OLED display that sits within extends edge to edge, or perhaps appears to. A small dimple in the glass is a button that’s used for navigation, to clear out notifications, and a lot more.
We were initially apprehensive that the cover glass would be prone to get scratched with daily use, but so far that hasn’t been the case. The band seems to be holding well against daily wear and tear, so far.
The strap is plain and simple, yet more elegant than what we have seen on other affordable bands through the year. It should fit most wrists just fine and you can always buy replacements without spending too much.
Since the Mi Band 3 is water resistant, you need not panic if you forget to remove it before a shower or before you dive in the pool (Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean that you can track swimming using Mi Band 3).
The Feature set is comprehensive for a low-cost fitness tracker. The Mi Band 3 can measure your heart rate and track your sleep, rather accurately.
It can also sync your phone’s notifications and relay 5 of these to its small 0.78-inch OLED screen. Things are pretty cramped but to be able to check an incoming notification without fishing for the phone in the pocket every single time has turned out to be one of the most useful traits of the Mi Band 3 in our experience.
That and ‘find my phone‘. Every time you are unsure where you last kept your phone, you can make it right at full volume with a simple tap on the Mi Band.
The Mi-Fit app isn’t as refined as apps like Fitbit, but it’s still more than up to the task. The Mi Band 3 works with both Android and iOS phones.
What’s bad about Mi Band 3
Now let’s talk about a few negatives of the Mi Band 3
While we certainly don’t mind low pixel count in this budget, the touch sensitivity of the screen is inconsistent to the extent that it can be jarring at times. The display is also worthless outdoors. Even in mild sunlight, the display is hardly visible.
The 110mAh battery on the Mi Band 3 isn’t lasing anywhere close to the proclaimed 2 weeks. With notifications synced, we are getting at most 3 to 4 days of mileage – which is still quite good, but lesser than what we experienced on the Mi Band 2.
Moreover, you will have to carry a proprietary cable to charge the Mi Band 3 and it takes almost 3 hours to go from zero to full charge.
Another peeve point is tracking accuracy. Our biggest gripe with affordable fitness trackers is that none of these are strictly accurate when it comes to tracking activity.
The Mi Band 3 certainly doesn’t improve in this crucial aspect over the Mi Band 2. For instance, the step count can even jump by more than a few thousand after a 2-hour bus ride. Also, activity tracking is limited to step counts while you are running and walking. We tried cycling but didn’t test it extensively. During two brief trials, the results weren’t very accurate.
Another issue is that you can only start activities from the Mi-Fit app on your phone. This implies that you will have to carry your phone with you when you go on a run, which isn’t always convenient.
A ‘My Excercise’ option on the band comes in handy to an extent when you need to time short burst of activities like skipping, weight lifting, etc.
Also Read: Huami Amazfit Cor Review
Mi Band 3 Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
Now that we have talked about what works and what doesn’t for the Mi Band 3, let’s answer the burning question.
Yes, the Mi Band 3 is still better than myriad affordable options that we witnessed this year. The design works, build is durable, battery life is decent (if not as good as advertised), there is a heart rate sensor (which is good to have, right?), you can check notifications directly on your wrist, and it’s water resistant.
While it adds a few meaningful features without any increase in price, I still am not particularly drawn to it, primarily because of its activity tracking limitations. There isn’t much point to those step counts if you know the stats were augmented on a bus or bike ride. Also, a fitness tracker should be able to start tracking your runs without using the phone.
To be fair, that’s exactly how I have felt about low-cost fitness trackers for some time now. But considering the cost factor at play, we can surely cut the Mi Band 3 some slack.
So, if you haven’t tried a fitness band before, we would recommend that you go for the Mi Band 3 to start with. Only when you try a fitness band first hand will you know what works and what doesn’t for your specific needs, and whether or not you will be wearing it after a month when the novelty wears off.
There isn’t a better option than Mi Band 3 that comes to mind even if you consider bands that cost twice as much. If you are still using it after a few months, you may as well consider investing in more expensive options for your next upgrade.
- Looks more elegant than other affordable options
- Fits nicely
- Water resistant
- Rich feature set
- Touch sensitivity
- Poor outdoor visibility
- Tracking accuracy