Five years of continuous development is worth noting: Affordable Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Smart Bracelet impresses with many useful functions in review and precise measurement of steps taken. This is particularly surprising given the extremely low price of only $39.
The fitness tracker watch, which is only 18.5 x 46.5 mm in size, can easily fit in your pocket. The flexible strap made of thermoplastic elastomer with aluminum fastener fits the wrist well with a circumference of 155–219 mm. With the author it is only 150 mm, so it almost completely wraps around the wrist, but still fits.
The 1.1-inch AMOLED display is made of reinforced 2.5D glass and has a grease-repellent coating. It shows 16 colors at 126 x 29 px and is easy to read even in sunny climates.
The display is not permanently turned on, it is activated as soon as you raise your arm and then remain active for 6 to 10 seconds, depending on the setting. According to Xiaomi, the brightness climbs up to 450 cd/m² but does not regulate itself.
Because there is no panel for quick settings and changing the smart fitness band itself is cumbersome, we left the brightness in the test permanently at the highest level. There was no significant effect on the battery, and no glare appeared on the screen either. In the optional night mode, Xiaomi only reduces the brightness in the specified time window or after sunset.
The smart bracelet has a six-axis sensor for acceleration, as well as a PPG sensor for measuring heart rate. In contrast to what was previously anticipated, Mi Band 5 does not support the SpO2 feature. Rumors also included the integration of Amazon Alexa.
Mi Band 5 has a MEMS microphone, it is charged via a magnetic connector, which operates via a touch display and a sensor button below.
Setup and Operation
The setting options of the app have already revealed the enormous versatility of the small fitness tracker watch. In addition to the options for heart rate monitoring, notifications, or night mode, the fitness band can be equipped with a total of 19 functions. This includes reminders, weather information, and a world clock as well as a remote control for the music player or music streaming service that is currently active on the smartphone. Along with remote control for the smartphone camera.
You can get up to 10 informative tiles one after the other by swiping horizontally over the tracker. You can swipe vertically through the app menu with additional functions. The sensor button takes you back on the menu level. The displayed apps and tiles are selected using the smartphone app.
However, some weak points were also detected during the test: the timer does not run in the background and you have to wait until it goes down before you can see the clock again or for example, see weather information. Furthermore, even when the smart bracelet is connected to the smartphone, it does not automatically access its GPS or Internet connection. This requires a smartphone app. Therefore, before walking or cycling with route recording, you must always choose your smartphone and open the Mi Fit app. It also synchronizes weather information only through the app.
Call and Notifications
The Xiaomi Band 5 signals an incoming call, which can be rejected or muted, and shows a missed call notification. The activity tracker shows a text message as soon as it arrives and saves it, but you cannot reply. With more than one text message, Mi Band only mentions the number, and you have to use a smartphone.
Different vibration patterns can be assigned to them to better differentiate between inactivity warnings, appointments, calls, and other events.
Health and Fitness
The fitness tracker watch supports heart rate, a number of daily steps as well as deep and light sleep stages, and REM stages (Rapide Movement) and their tracking remain on while you sleep at night. It does not measure blood oxygen saturation.
The heart rate measurement interval is variable. If it reaches a specified threshold value, the tape triggers a warning. From training data and heart rate, Xiaomi also creates a stress log and a status report on physical fitness.
The accuracy of the step counting is impressive: during normal walking, the tracker counts the steps very accurately; the deviation in many tests was less than one percent. Only when the movement is impaired, for example, does the result go wrong when carrying a shopping bag in both hands; in this case, the deviation increased to 6 percent. Similarly, cycling on bumpy terrain results in poor results, while the tracker counts steps correctly in cycling on the road and bike testing on flat paths.
If you activate automatic activity detection, reports after walking about half a kilometer with a suggestion to record the workout. However, the Mi Band 5 only records the route if you connect it to your GPS via a smartphone app.
There are eleven sports to choose from for a targeted workout including swimming and yoga. The band counts the calories consumed and, depending on the game, different parameters such as the number of strokes per minute on a rowing machine. In the settings, there is an option to allow a connected device to retrieve heart rate data from the tracker. What is missing is the ability to set a target for time or calories burned before the workout.
The benchmark for fitness is called PAI at Xiaomi. All recognized movements, including steps and workouts, are included in this value, which analyzes the last seven days.
Manufacturers typically increase the battery capacity from model to model. Xiaomi has reduced the Mi Band 5 battery from 135 mAh to 125 mAh as compared to its predecessor Mi Band 4 (Unboxing and Battery Test) and reduced the runtime forecast for normal use from 20 to 14 days. Since the bracelet does not have its own GPS, training outdoors does not reduce running time, as is the case with trackers with GPS.
The empty Mi Band 5 took an hour and fifty minutes to full charge.
For just $45, sometimes even less on Amazon.com, the Mi Band 5 smart bracelet is often useful for weather information during the day, as for remote or as a timer. Xiaomi has put many useful functions in its smart fitness tracker watch which you obviously would not expect from a simple wearable.
Above all, however, the accuracy with which the tracker records the steps is pleasing.
It is impractical that you must first open your smartphone to activate the location before an outdoor workout. Weather information was also not available on the band if the app remained inactive for a long time. And later it was already seen that Xiaomi would make its band suitable for mobile payment and voice assistant, we definitely miss these features, as well as SpO2 measurement. Of course, you can’t complain about that given the low price.