Xiaomi Mi Band 2-A smart band-activity tracker that fits into your budget
For the past 2 years,Xiaomi was on a roll.Newer intuitive devices,smartphones & consumer electronics that offers the best value for money in spite of becoming cheap.
Here we are reviewing Xiaomi’s latest smart band-Mi band 2.But before that let’s take a glimpse at its predecessors.
The Mi Band 1 was introduced in July 2014 with much hype.The first version of Mi Band had only 3 colored LEDs and a step detection sensor to track the amount of calories burnt during workout.Besides these features-it could unlock your smartphone when it is in close range,smart alarm that wakes you up with a gentle vibration & also LED notification for calls & SMS.
Its successor,Mi Band 1S was mostly similar to Mi Band 1-except for an addition of HeartBeat sensor on the rear,wrist facing side of the band.It offered on-demand heart rate monitoring & heart rate based sleep quality measurement technology.The battery life of the band was alomst same as that of first version-30days approx.
Mi Band 2:
On July 2016,Hugo Barra unveiled Mi Band 2-it has an OLED display with white pixels to show basic functions like calories burnt,steps covered,remaining battery,live display of heart beat monitoring & date/time display.It also supports SMS,call & notifications from popular chat & messaging apps like Facebook,Instagram,Whatsapp,Twitter & Telegram.
The band can also display Called ID & allows you to receive a call by tapping its touch sensitive button(this can be configured in the app).
It also features a sedentary reminder which alerts us to stand up & take a short walk in case we sit in the same place for a long time.A very helpful feature though.Like the Mi band 1S,the Band 2 also offers intelligent sleep quality detection using continuous heart beat monitoring while we are asleep.
Review unit we got came a bit too late as the band has already made its way to a few consumers. We got the band on April 27th & the packaging was nice & a good-looking compact box. Bundled with the activity tracker was a strap where the device was to be inserted,and a charging module.
The tracker has to be slid down the charging module to ensure connection with the two small pins on its back.It took almost 2 hours for its first charge as we received the device with 0% charge out of the box. We had expected it to come with some sort of power out of the box since newer users eagerly waiting to test the features will be left disappointed.
The Mi Band 2 was finally charged & worn around the left wrist. When it was powered on for the first time,it displayed some sort of junk values like 0:00 etc. The first time configuration requires Mi Fit app which should be downloaded from Google Play Store. Then pair the device via Bluetooth connection(there’s nothing to do on the band-its bluetooth receiver is always switched on).We were asked to touch the sensitive button on the screen to authorise & pair with the smartphone.
Once pairing is complete,the app automatically synchronizes the time & date from the smartphone to the band.In the meanwhile,the firmware of Mi Band 2 was also updated OTA via Bluetooth. It reportedly uses BLE 4.0 technology to transmit & receive data.
Custom App notifications:
The Mi Fit app allows the user to set a variety of custom functions including app notifications-& the app which currently supports this feature are Gmail,Facebook,Whatsapp,Twitter,FB Messenger,Instagram,Telegram,Skype & WeChat. Whenever a notification among these apps is displayed on your phone,the band vibrates & shows the icon of the app on the OLED screen. We’d like to see this function to support more messaging apps in the coming updates as this is a really cool feature to have.
An interesting feature which first debuted in Mi Band series-the vibration alarm sends gentle vibrations to wake you up on the desired time when you fall asleep.The time of the alarm could be set from the Mi Fit app & the app syncs the time to the Mi Band 2 receiver.
When the band vibrates & you feel that you need a little more sleep,tap the button once. The alarm will be snoozed for 5-10 minutes depending on your sleep quality(or you can set this from the app). To stop the alarm,tap & hold the button for 3 seconds. The alarms stops & your HR is calculated instantly & displayed on the screen.
Once you wake up & syncs the data to the Mi Fit app,it displays your sleep statistics-and the interesting part about it is-it displays the time of deep sleep(when you see dreams) & light sleep & the complete duration. And if it wasn’t enough it shows how much time you were still half-asleep after you woke up-lazy guys,it’s for you!!
Heart Rate Sensor:
HR sensor is an integral part of the Mi Band 2.So important that it’s absence will render it practically useless.The HR sensor data is used to determine sleep quality,general wellness & calories burnt & exhaustion limit for workout.
The Mi Band features an optical HR sensor.There were initial reports that the sensor doesn’t seem to detect pulse for people with dark skin,but throughout our tests,we couldn’t reproduce this error. Seems like they have fixed it with the OTA update.
The Heart Rate could be measured either directly from the band-by navigating through the options & selecting HR option unlike Mi Band 1S. You can also measure by using the Mi Fit app in the traditional method.
One of the main reasons why people are developing diseases,aches etc. are due to laziness or sitting in the same posture for a long time. People who work to complete within deadlines are most commonly affected. The sedentary alarm vibrates when it detects that you were sitting in the same place for more than 60 minutes & advises to stand up & do a bit of stretching exercises.
If you want to experiment more by further customising the features of Mi Band 2,there are some apps available in Google Play store but the best among them is Mi Band Master which allows to set custom functions for button presses & much more.
It allows to set custom icons for each app to display notifications on screen. Users can also set the notification reminder to repeat again if user did not lift the hand to glance or dismiss the notification.
The HR sensor can be set to periodically monitor the Heart beat in defined intervals-this may lead to faster drain of battery though.
The band can be set to display date & time when the user lifts glances the wrist,& switching between options could be done which the flick of your wrist.
The touch sensitive button can be configured to do predefined actions when the band is connected to smartphone-receiving/ending a call,switching between music etc.
You can configure the band to display custom nicknames for contacts when they send messages or call you. Another setting can display the first few lines of content of an SMS message received in your smartphone.
The last question you will ask will be”Is it the smart band I want?” Well the Mi Band 2 is pretty good at offering features which are valued for the money which we spent for it-and maybe a little more. The customisation options available within Mi Fit app & features which could be remotely controlled from your smartphone makes it an excellent choice.
Another advantage of Mi band 2 over its rivals is the customisations provided by third party apps will not void its warranty & it can work just fine using Mi band Master which we’ve tested & found very useful.
There are a few features like Twist wrist to switch options & Glance to Display which is little bit of buggy at times. But most other features work flawlessly & deserves our praise.
Go ahead & buy Mi Band 2 if you want a no-nonsense smart activity tracker that goes very well with your budget.