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Xiaomi Mi Band 5 review: A practical, effective smart band just got better

Mi Band 5 Mi Band 5
Mi Band 5 (Shweta Ganjoo)

If you are looking for an entry-level fitness tracker that will help you kickstart your fitness goals this year, the Mi Band 5 is the one for you.

Brand: Xiaomi

Product: Mi Band 5

Key specs: 1.1-inch coloured AMOLED display, magnetic charger, 24-hour heart and sleep monitoring, women’s health tracking feature

Price: 2,499

Rating: 4.5/5

Xiaomi’s fitness trackers, that is, the Mi Band series, are arguably one of the most popular fitness trackers in India. They look good, they get all the basics right and they are easy on the pocket. Xiaomi capitalises on this popularity by releasing meaningful updates to the series every year. And the latest gadget to enter this chain is the Mi Band 5.

The Mi Band 5 costs 2,499 in India and it is available in five colour variants, which includes Black, Teal, Purple, Navy Blue and Orange colour variants. Beyond the colours, the Mi Band 5 features the same design that is common to the entire Mi Band series so far. It features the same pill-shaped display that you have seen in the Mi Band 4 and the Mi Band 3 and the Mi Band 2 ... you get the idea.

While the overall look and feel of Xiaomi’s latest fitness tracker remains mostly unchanged, a number of things (if not a lot) have changed in the Mi Band 5. It has a better display, a better charger and a bunch of new features as well.

That said, the question remains: Is the Mi Band 5 any good? We’ll try to answer that question over the course of this review.

Design

The Mi Band 5 features a 1.1-inch display and it weighs just 11.9 grams. Contrary to that, the Mi Band 4, comes with a 0.95-inch display and it weighs 22.1 grams. Which makes the Mi Band 5 significantly lighter than its predecessor but with a bigger screen. Like I said, meaningful updates!

Both the Mi Band 5 and its predecessors come with a body and a strap that is made of Thermoplastic polyurethane, which is a type of a polymer. In practice, this material makes the Mi Band 5 extremely comfortable to wear. I have used the Black colour variant of the Mi Band 5 while working out in the park, while cooking and even while sleeping and I must say that they never felt even remotely uncomfortable for a second, especially at night. In fact, they almost feel like an extension of your body.

Apart from this, the Mi Band 5, like its predecessor, is water-resistant up to 5ATM. This means that you take it for a ride in the rain or for a swim without worrying about rendering the fitness tracker useless.

Mi Band 5
Mi Band 5 (Shweta Ganjoo)

Overall, the Mi Band 5 looks the same and feels a whole lot comfortable. It may not have that ‘wow’ factor that you may be looking for, but it definitely gets the job done.

Display

Coming to the display, the Mi Band 5 comes with a 1.1-inch AMOLED full-touch colour. It offers a resolution of 126x294 pixels and a peak brightness of 450 nits. Contrary to that, the Mi Band 4 comes with a 0.95-inch capacitive touch colour display with a resolution of 120x240 pixels and a peak brightness of 400 nits.

To put these details into perspective, the Mi Band 5 and a bigger and brighter display. I have used this fitness tracker indoors and occasionally outdoors. It is well lit all the time and I never faced any difficulty in viewing all the details at any point. The one downside is that the Mi Band 5 doesn’t come with ambient light sensors, which means that you will have to adjust the brightness of the display manually to ensure that it is up to the mark all the time.

Another feature, apart from the big and the bright display, that I like about the Mi Band 5 is the plethora of watch faces. The Mi Fit app comes with tons of watch faces that you can pick from to customise the Mi Band 5. You can also pick one of the images from your phone’s gallery and use it as a wallpaper in the fitness tracker. I used the image that I have set as the lock screen image in my phone as the wallpaper in the Mi Band 5 and the results were surprisingly good. It all seemed like one big happy family. All in all, the display of this fitness tracker gets a thumbs up.

Performance

Now the most important aspect of this review, the performance and the features.

The Mi Band series has historically fared well as far as the fitness tracking aspect is concerned. This time around, Xiaomi has improved the device beyond its conventional boundaries by adding tons of features that make it a whole lot better. For instance, the Mi Band 5 brings you the ability to check the notifications of various apps on your smartphone. You can also check weather forecasts, control music and view phone notifications using this fitness tracker. And if that’s not enough for you, you can also take photos (from your smartphone’s camera) using the Mi Band 5.

Now, the Mi Band 5 is no smartwatch. You can surely check all the notifications but you can’t control them or act on them. For example, you can see your email or your WhatsApp message but you can reply. You can’t even send one of those predefined replies like ‘Will Do’ or ‘Noted’ or ‘Sure’. 

On the fitness aspect, the Mi Band 5 comes with 11 sports modes such as indoor cycling, freestyle, indoor running, swimming and yoga. It also has 24-hour sleep and heart-rate tracking features, which you can set as per pre-defined time intervals. All of these features, including the step count, are mostly accurate and work without a hitch. I frequently used the outdoor running mode and compared the data to the Health app on my iPhone and the numbers matched consistently. And FYI, the Mi Band 5 uses GPS on your phone to measure those deets so you can trust it to be accurate enough.

Mi Band series always had good fitness tracking capabilities. The Mi Band 5 just takes that legacy ahead. One way it does break away, or should I say takes a lead over the older generations of the Mi Band is the availability of the women’s health tracking feature -- something that remains amiss in most low-budget fitness trackers.

Mi Band 5
Mi Band 5 (Shweta Ganjoo)

The Mi Band 5 syncs all its data with the Mi Fit app. This is where you see all the stats and all the trends. It is also the place where you can make all the big changes to this fitness tracker. The Mi Band 5 syncs with the app quickly and that probably is the only good thing about the app. 

Beyond that, the Mi Fit app is a maze that takes quite some time getting used to and even for that matter, getting around. The stats and trends are easy to find, everything else isn’t. Controls, as basic as alarms, are hard to find. Xiaomi really needs to update its app interface to make it user friendly.

Lastly, the charger. The Mi Band 5 comes with a 125 mAh and Xiaomi claims that it can last for almost two weeks on a single charge and those numbers are mostly accurate. In my experience, the Mi Band 5 managed to provide almost 10 days of run time on a single charge and I didn’t go soft on it. Apart from the usual, that is the step count, daily workout and sleep tracking, I also set it to measure my heartbeat every half-an-hour. All this was in addition to the endless sequence of calls and notifications that I got on the phone and alarms that I set to wake up in the morning. 

Aside from the longish battery life, the feature that I really enjoyed having while using the Mi Band 5 is its charger. Gone are the days when the Mi Band came with a clunky charger that needed special training to use. The Mi Band 5 comes with a magnetic charger with two pogo-pins that easily latches on to the back of the tracker easily. Thank god for that!

Conclusion

If you want to know whether or not you should buy the Mi Band 5, the answer is a “yes”. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this fitness tracker has got the looks, the features and a budget-friendly price.

Xiaomi has delivered some interesting updates in the Mi Band 5 and in the process it has ensured that it covers all the bases like the display, fitness features (remember the Yoga mode?), accuracy, notifications, stress detection, women’s health tracking functionality and long battery life. 

So, if you are looking for an entry-level fitness tracker that will help you kickstart your fitness goals this year, the Mi Band 5 is the one for you.

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