It was a moment that seemed to come out of an Apple announcement: just as Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun was wrapping up his extensive presentation of the company’s latest flagship Mi 4 smartphone, a new slide appeared in the backdrop, bearing the words, “One more thing…”. Soon after, the world was introduced to the Mi Band, a fitness, activity and sleep tracker that costs a fraction of the competition.
In terms of design, the Mi Band is as minimalist as it gets. The IP67-rated tablet portion, which is just about the size of a toe or just over an inch long, houses “the industry’s most power-efficient Bluetooth chip and accelerometer”, which tracks not only your daily activities, but also your sleep patterns. With this data, the Mi Band is also works as a smart alarm, vibrating at your optimum waking-up time.
The Mi Band goes about its tracking in an unassuming manner, with a rubber strap that is unadorned with any pattern or design. Xiaomi has shown a poster of how a more elaborate strap would look like, and that would definitely appeal to the more fashion-conscious users. Because, really, not much else can be said about a silver tablet that can be removed and fitted into other multi-coloured straps.
Of course, the Mi Band also has an accompanying app that will presumably allow you to configure the various tracking options available on the Mi Band, as well as setting the vibration alarm. The app wasn’t available for demo, however.
Currently, the Mi Band supports pairing only to Xiaomi smartphones.
On a separate note, one feature that many will definitely appreciate with the Mi Band lets you easily unlock your paired smartphone when the Mi Band is in close proximity. We managed to catch a demo of the feature in action, and it works flawlessly. This feature is actually similar to the Personal Unlocking feature on Android L, so it’s exciting to see Xiaomi incorporating this very early on.
To view a quick demo of this feature in action, check out this GIF image (warning: 10MB file!)
At a price that’s almost a tenth of what more established fitness trackers are asking for, the Mi Band could be a serious disruptor in the smartband segment.