For all of you out there who don’t need a smartwatch, either because you don’t need to have all of those features on your wrist or you just refuse to cash-out that much for something like that and would rather get a proper watch, today I have something that will maybe get your attention as it’s really affordable, but at the same thing really capable little thingy – new Xiaomi Mi Band 3.
This is their gateway model to an affordable fit band which has some smart-feature integrations with your smartphone. It’s not a smart watch by any means, but it gets a lot of things right. That said, If you’re familiar with their first generation of Mi Band models, you can probably notice a rather big change with the Mi Band 3 – and that’s the addition of the screen which came in with second-generation Mi Band and now in its third generation it’s also present, but it’s double the size, just a bit below 0,8”. Yes, it’s still a tiny one, but it makes a world of difference in everyday use. Another big added feature is that it’s now completely waterproof, up to 50 meters to be precise thanks to its IP67 certification, so yes, you can go swimming with it, shower, wash dishes or take an ice bucket challenge.
Mi Band 3 keeps the recognizable design note from its predecesors
As you’ve probably noticed from my b-rolls, the module itself can be easily interchanged with different straps, just like with the previous generation, which straps are I think also compatible with this one. You’ll get a black one within the product box, while here I also got a dark blue and a red/pinkish one, I think Linus would like it, Of course, these are not the only ones available, there’s plenty of other colors to choose from, basically every flavor is covered, so you can get your swag on. The band itself is decent quality, as well as the module itself, I had no complains whatsoever everything considered. It’s comfortable enough and easy to clip up, but do note that I found my self unhooking it few times by accident, at an edge of a table for example, so that’s a thing.
Hardware wise, what’s in it, the chipset is unknown, at least to me as I couldn’t dig up anything about it, but we do have an ADI ultra-low-power acceleration sensor, coupled with photoelectric heart sensor, parid with Xiaomi’s proprietary operating system. The only thing that’s missing, from those so-called standard features, is a GPS chip, which is a common thing on wearables, but that would be a long stretch, it’s unreal to expect something like that in a product like this one, before all on a count of its price and it’s overall size, and when I say that I mean on the battery. There’s also a version the Mi Band 3 with an NFC chip in it, but as far as I can see it will only work with MiPay and I don’t know how it will behave outside of Asian market as for now it doesn’t support apps like Google Pay or other globally popular payments apps.
Getting back to the screen, it’s touchscreen sensitive, so you can navigate your way around the menus. The way Xiaomi did the navigation and on-screen menu is pretty simple, but good enough when it comes to information you get from it. There’s a main touch sensitive button on the bottom, which is more like an indent below the screen, and it’s used for activating the screen or as “OK” button when you long press it. The other way you can wake up the screen is by enabling the “lift wrist” option, which works like a charm, though it has a bit of a delay. Other than it, the screen itself can be used for swiping left or right, up and down, where you got, besides the main home screen, few different menus with their own information’s or settings.
There’s a total of 6 main screens so to speak, minus the home screen, which shows the connection status, time, date and number of steps, but it can be customized, more on that later on. The second main screen is one where you can again check your number of steps, distance covered by doing them as well as calories burned, finished off with the battery level status, which is a bit of an odd choice. The third main screen the heart rate monitor which starts its measuring with a long press of the touch-sensitive button below the screen.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 has a decent app support
Speaking of it, I found my experience with it a bit polarizing in a way it’s like a fifty-fifty chance that the result will be somewhat correct or recorded at all, but that’s to be expected with photoelectric sensors. The fourth screen shows a three day weather forecast, fifth screen will show you push notifications coming from the smartphone, while the last screen is like “here’s that other stuff we put in” screen where you’ll find a stopwatch function, possibility to wirelessly enable silent mode of your smartphone or to find your find by calling it if you don’t know where it is. Here you will also find a setting for customizing the main home screen layout, which for now we only have three, I’m hoping they’ll work on that in the future.
Putting the hardware part of the new Mi Band 3 on the side, the other, software side of it, is represented through an app which closes that hardware-software circle and pushes its usability onto another level. For that we Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app in charge, which is also used with a wide range of other Xiaomi’s products. In the context of Band 3, the Mi Fit app covers a lot of ground in its interaction with it.
The app itself has a bunch of menus and settings that you have to discover for the first time and it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing in terms of navigation and layout. As for the features, besides the regular stuff like counting your steps and transforming it into a distance or burn calories, it can track your sleep and tell if you’re getting enough of it and what’s your deep and light sleep ratio. You can also input your weight or pair related data with other devices like Xiaomi Smart Scale and so on, while all of that information is neatly laid out in very detailed statistics and visualized in cool little facts.
The algorithm is pretty precise when it comes to counting the steps and distance solely based on the motion and acceleration sensor, but of course it can be tricked just by shaking your hand or it can lag behind if you’re for example carrying something in your hand which has the band on, as that hand doesn’t move much or at all in that case. You can bump up its precision with using a smartphone and its GPS when you’re going out for a run or any other activity which is on your disposal to choose from within the app.
It’s hard to resistit the Mi Band 3 price point
My biggest gripe about the app and the band itself is related to notifications which are being pushed to the Mi Band. It just doesn’t work. In my case It worked for one day, after the initial setup, then it stopped working the next one after which I’ve ended up in a troubleshooting wormhole trying to solve it, but it was just not worth. You need to reset the app by cleaning the cache or by uninstalling it, but even that doesn’t guarantee you that it won’t happen again.
Finally, probably the most important thing as with every other band-like / smartwatch gadget is, of course, its battery life. In the case of the new Xiaomi Mi Band 3 it’s basically the same as compared to its predecessor, which is a bit strange since they’ve bumped up the screen size, but they’ve also gone from 70 mAh to 110 mAh in battery size, so you can expect anywhere from 10 to 15 days of battery life, at least in my experience, which is more than good enough considering that you can pick up its full charge in basically 1 hour.
This little thing can for sure do a lot, especially since you can get for around 30$. Actually, you can get it for even less since Gearbest currently has it on discount! Also, as before, just to be clear, Gearbest provided my with one on my request since I found it very interesting, to review it completely free and on my terms, so this is not a sponsored video. I hope this Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review helped you out a bit in your final decision making, if you have any questions about the products itself, feel free to leave a comment video in my YouTube video listed above, or you can contact me via my social media channels!