The Mi band 3 fitness tracker market is certainly one-of-the-most exciting product category in India and across the globe. A number of brands are selling products in multiple price segments with more or less similar features. This makes it extremely tough to settle down on one particular product that offers the best bang for your bucks. If you are a pro fitness enthusiast and want only the best-in-class fitness accessory, go for the likes of Fitbit and Garmin; however, if you are tight on budget and still need something extremely useful and value for money, Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is your best bet.
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Xiaomi Mi Band 3 design
Xiaomi’s design for its Mi Bands has roughly been the same all along. You have a capsule that has all the guts of the Mi Band 3 and a strap made out of thermoplastic elastomer which latches securely onto your hand. The capsule has grown in size and the Mi Band 3 has the biggest one yet in the series. It is curved at the sides and is slightly extruded from the strap when snapped in place. The OLED display is also bigger than the one on the Mi Band 2, and it is also brighter making it more legible outdoors.
There are grooves on the side of the capsule which allow the strap to hold it in place. This also helps prevent the capsule from popping out when you are running, something the original Mi Band was notorious for. Xiaomi ships a USB charging cable in the box which can be plugged into any adapter or a laptop to charge the capsule. The Mi Band 3 has a tiny dimple below its touchscreen which is a capacitive button. This button has two functions — a single tap to go back, and a long-tap to accept. Turn the capsule around and you can see the slightly raised heart rate sensor.
The quality of the strap is quite good. The clasp latches firmly and never came undone during the duration of this review. We did notice that the strap has more adjustment holes compared to the Mi Band 2, which should help users find a comfortable fit, even those with thinner hands.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 performance and battery life
The Mi Band 3 pairs with a smartphone using the Mi Fit app and Bluetooth 4.2 LE, which keeps the power consumption down. The app is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, and it is very easy to pair the band with a phone. When using the Mi Band 3, one can swipe upwards to go through various bits of information. When there is more than one readout available, you will see a scroll indicator hinting that you can swipe right to left to see more.
The Mi Band 3 displays a lot more information than the model it replaces. Apart from the time and date, you can check the number of steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, battery level, a three-day weather forecast, heart-rate, and a stopwatch. You can also switch the ringer profile of the phone (Android only), use the band to find your phone, and start recording exercise sessions directly from the band.
The Mi Fit app remains unchanged, but the Mi Band 3 does get a few new settings under the Device tab. One of them is a night mode that dims the display automatically at sunset or a scheduled time. Select Heart-rate Detection lets you turn automatic detection off, pair it with sleep tracking for better accuracy, or just keep it on. When switched on it gives you the option to track your heart rate at set intervals, with the lowest being one minute.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Features
As far as features are concerned the Mi Band 3 takes everything that was good about the Mi Band 2 and adds a bunch of more stuff to it. To make matters easier to understand, I’ll split the features on the Mi Band 3 into fitness features, and other features.
In terms of fitness features, the Mi Band 3 comes with everything you’d expect from a fitness tracker in this price. The band can count the number of steps you’ve taken, the distance you’ve walked, and the amount of calories you’ve burnt. Calories are an important metric for people who are trying to burn some fat, or just trying to lose the holiday weight, and the Mi Band 3 will definitely help you keep a track of that.
There’s sleep tracking as well, which (as is usual) breaks down your sleeping patterns into deep sleep, light sleep, and awake, giving a pretty detailed look into your sleeping patterns (mine are pretty screwed up, as I realised after using the Mi Band 3).
There’s also heart rate tracking, and the Mi Band 3 improves upon the Mi Band 2 here as well. While the Mi Band 2 could measure your heart-rate, it would only do so if explicitly asked to, and not on its own. That may be fine, but having an option to automatically take heart rate readings can be a godsend to anyone suffering from cardiac issues. The Mi Band 3 allows users to set an interval for the tracker to automatically take heart rate readings.
There’s an option to set it to 1 minute, 10 minutes, and 30 minutes. The feature does take a major hit on the battery life (and Xiaomi warns you when you first set it up), but it’s there if you want it. If you don’t want it, it can always be disabled from the app.
Some other features on Mi Band 3
Other than the fitness-oriented features, the Mi Band 3 brings some pretty great additional features as well.
There’s a stopwatch built-in on the Mi Band 3, which you can activate from the ‘More’ menu inside the Mi Band 3. This can come in very handy, not only for timing your workouts or runs. But also in everyday situations where you may find yourself in need of a stopwatch (believe me, those situations arise).
Other than that, the Mi Band 3 can also let you locate your smartphone with just a couple of taps, something that was missing on the Mi Band 2. Personally, I love this feature, because I tend to leave my phone lying around my house only to panic a couple of hours later when I can’t find it anywhere.
Also, if you’re wondering, when you try to locate your phone from the Mi Band, it’ll ring even if it’s set to Silent (I even tested it with Do Not Disturb and it worked).
Also, notifications. The Mi Band 3 handles notifications a lot better than the Mi Band 2 ever did. If you’re getting a call, the Mi Band 3 not only displays that a call is incoming, it’ll also let you press and hold on the button to reject the call. However, while it says ‘reject’, this basically silences the call. I don’t know why it wouldn’t just say ‘silence,’ but that’s how it is.
In case of messages, the Mi Band 3 now lets you view the content of the notifications as well. The band supports a maximum of 5 notifications, and can show a maximum of 3 pages per notification. You can also press and hold the button to clear the notifications from the Mi Band 3.
I would’ve liked the ability to reply to notifications directly from the band, but I guess that would’ve made the Mi Band 3 a fully-fledged smartwatch (or at least a very close approximation of one).
There are watch faces (band faces?) here too (just like in the Mi Band 2), but the Mi Band 3 has three faces instead of two like in the Mi Band 2, and you can now change the faces directly from the band itself. That’s not really a big-deal, but it’s there for anyone who likes to change band faces often.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is the latest in a series that has already made a name for itself in the fitness tracker space in India. It is accurate for step tracking, and the touchscreen helps in navigating through the options that this device has to offer. The battery life is lower than that of the Mi Band 2, but is still better than what most other fitness bands in the market deliver. Xiaomi’s aggressive pricing of Rs. 1,999 makes it a good value-for-money offering as well.
- Accurate steps and sleep tracking
- Good battery life
- Bright display
- Proprietary charger
- Inconsistent distance tracking
- Design: 3.5
- Tracking: 4
- Software and ecosystem: 4
- Battery life: 4
- Overall: 4
Let me know in the comments below if you are using Mi band 3 or want to purchase a new one.