Mi Band 5 review: A solid fitness band with all the best features but one

2020 was a dumpster fire of a year, but it made us realise the importance of a few things like masks, pants (while attending work Zoom calls), and fitness bands. While all of us may not have Instagram-worthy home gyms to motivate ourselves, we can make do with the nudge of a not-so-expensive fitness band. If you are still looking for one of those, Xiaomi’s new Mi Band 5 might just be the right fit for you. Just like the previous generations, Mi Band 5 also comes with a secret sauce of the latest features, average looks at a budget price.

 Mi Band 5 review: A solid fitness band with all the best features but one

Mi Band 5. Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

Same old design

For me, a device that is strapped to my wrist for the most part of the day needs to look good. Unfortunately, this fitness band as just average looking. It comes with the same capsule-shaped design as its predecessors, and looks boring. I have to admit that Redmi Smart Band’s sharp-edged rectangular design looks way more trendy and stylish than the Mi Band 5’s repetitive design.

Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

I wish Xiaomi had tweaked the design this time around. Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

In terms of comfort, the band is extremely lightweight (11.9 gm) and quite comfortable to wear. The straps are not detachable, but unlike the Redmi Smart Band, the band is easy to put on. I wish Xiaomi had tweaked the design this time around and popping in the strap pin was not frustrating. The fitness band has a 1.1-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 126 x 294 pixels. It also offers upto 450 nits brightness that is adjustable.

Features

sleep-data-mi band 5

The app advised me to go to bed by 10, as staying up late leads to a “weak immune system and speeds up aging”

Xiaomi has aced the features, just as before. The Mi Band 5 comes with a continuous heart rate monitor, stress level monitor, sleep tracker, guided breathing exercises and more. The curated data was reliable, especially the sleep tracker that categorised the data into deep sleep,REM, light sleep and awake categories, and advised me to go to bed by 10, as staying up late leads to “weak immune system and speeds up aging”. Thanks for the intel mom, I will go to bed now.

Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

The band comes with several workout modes including outdoor running, walking, indoor cycling and outdoor cycling, indoor running. Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

I was impressed that this time, the fitness band comes with a menstrual cycle tracker that not only shows the predicted menstrual period, but also provides details like fertile period and ovulation day. In my experience, I found this data quite helpful, and can’t help but wonder why would the company omit such an important feature from its other wearable product – its first smartwatch!

The band comes with several workout modes including outdoor running, walking, indoor cycling and outdoor cycling, indoor running, indoor swim, free exercise, indoor riding, elliptical machine, rope skipping, yoga and rowing machine. It can also auto-detect running and walking. The “Personal Activity Intelligence” (PAI) also measures the overall fitness of the user based on their daily activity, age and gender. An interesting feature motivating the user to keep moving and achieve a better PAI score.

When it comes to watch faces, the band offers a huge palette to choose from. Since the display is pretty responsive, you can check the time, date, steps tracker, battery status and heart rate with just a single tap. You also get raise-to-wake, if you find it inconvenient to tap on the screen every time you want to check something. But this will impact battery life.

Everything looks good with this band, but the missing piece of the puzzle is the blood oxygen monitor. We are still amid a COVID-19 pandemic, and this feature could have really come in handy. This feature is already present in the Honor Band 5, OnePlus Band (Review), Realme Watch and more. Take notes, Xiaomi, because while not a deal breaker, this feature is expected from fitness bands in the COVID era.

The Mi Band 5 uses the Mi Fit app to connect with smartphones. In my opinion, the app really needs some work, as it has a confusing user interface. It took me at least ten minutes to find out how to set an alarm. The option was buried deep inside the settings. It did not take long to sync data from the band like the Xiaomi Wear app that I used for the Mi Revolve Watch, but the latter was definitely more user-friendly. The Mi Fit app presents details about different features including the heart rate monitor and stress level monitor quite nicely.

The new, no-hassle magnetic charging

Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

The company claims that the battery can last up to 14 days in a single charge with “normal use”, and it lived up to its promise. Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

The best new feature of the band is that it now comes with support for magnetic charging. It is now completely hassle-free to charge, unlike previous generations. The charger just sticks to the back of the band and voilà.

It fills up the dead battery in about two hours. The company claims that the battery can last up to 14 days in a single charge with “normal use”, and it lived up to its promise. With my regular use and a couple of battery-eating features like raise-to-wake and sleep tracking, it lasted up to 11 days.

Plugging it for charging once a week or 10 days for a couple of hours will work just fine.

Verdict

Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

Mi Band 5 is for those folks who are planning to buy their first fitness band. Image: Tech2/Priya Singh

Although, the Mi Band 4 is smaller, heavier and has less features, it doesn’t make much sense to upgrade it to the Mi Band 5 unless you really want to use the latest one. Mi Band 5 is for those folks who are planning to buy their first fitness band. It has almost every current feature, looks decent and is affordable as well. If you are keen on getting a good basic fitness band, go for the Redmi Smart band that comes in at Rs 1,599.