Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review

A cheaper fitness tracker that shows its price in certain functionalities

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Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

What We Like
  • Accurate tracking

  • Lightweight

  • Waterproof for tracking swim workouts

  • Superior battery life

What We Don't Like
  • App feels dated, limited in functionality

  • Can’t start tracking from wrist

  • Touchscreen is temperamental, difficult to see in sunlight

  • Feels bulkier than comparable devices

Bottom Line

The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is a solid budget option for people new to fitness tracking, especially if all you’re doing is counting steps. But if you’re interested in other functionalities—like heart rate tracking or workouts—you’re better off investing a little more money for a more advanced product.

3

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

We purchased the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 fitness tracker so our reviewer could thoroughly test it. Keep reading for our full product review.

As pedometers and activity trackers get more and more advanced, it can feel like you’re paying a lot of money (cough, looking at you, Apple Watch) for bells and whistles you don’t necessarily need. Is it possible to find one that tracks your steps and workouts—one that maybe even provides some more specific, heart rate-based insights—that’s still accurate and, better yet, affordable? Of course—and, for the most part, Xiaomi’s Mi Band 3 Fitness Tracker fits the bill. We put this device to the test over the course of two weeks. 

While it may not be a proper smartwatch, The Mi Band 3 can count steps on par with the rest of the high-end trackers out there, and it offers additional tracking functionalities from heart rate to sleep, all for under $30. But with that attractive lower price tag come some pretty significant flaws that disrupt the flow of the tracking experience and make using the device more of a headache than a helpful tool. Read on to find out if you’d be better off coughing up the cash for a more expensive tracker.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo 

Activity Tracking: Relies on the app for anything more than the basics

The Mi Band 3 tracks all the basics: steps, calories burned, sleep, and exercise. The device is also waterproof up to 50 meters, which means you can wear it during swimming workouts (it won’t actually track your strokes, just your activity level based on heart rate). 

You can’t actually start activity tracking from the tracker; rather, you have to open up the app to initiate a walking, running, or cycling workout.

One major issue: You can’t actually start activity tracking from the tracker; rather, you have to open up the app to initiate a walking, running, or cycling workout. Even if you do carry your phone on a run (like I do), that’s incredibly annoying—I’d rather be able to start tracking the second I’m ready to go from my wrist, rather than hitting start and then having to stash my phone in my belt. I played around with pausing workouts and starting from the app over the course of two weeks, and never reached a point where I felt like I wasn’t annoyed with the process, largely in part due to the finicky touchscreen (I’ll get to that in a minute). 

That same issue comes into play with heart rate tracking. You can activate the sensor on the touchscreen (by holding your finger down for 10 seconds or so, which is also annoying mid-workout) to see your current heart rate. After two weeks, I was never able to get my heart rate data to sync to the app, so I only got a real-time snapshot; I have no sense of how it changed throughout the days and weeks or how my heart rate was reacting to the stress of exercise.

During runs, the Mi Band 3 logged just about the same number of steps and distance covered as my Apple Watch.

That said, the tracking did seem to be accurate. During runs, the Mi Band 3 logged just about the same number of steps and distance covered as my Apple Watch (although the Mi Band 3 always had a little extra distance because it did not stop automatically when I had to stop at a street corner for traffic or walked over to a water fountain). My heart rate on the Mi Band 3 was also always within a few beats of the Apple Watch.  

Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo

Design: Familiar but clunky

The Mi Band 3’s design looks pretty familiar: It’s just a sensor that pops in and out of a thermoplastic elastomer band. I found myself fumbling with the strap—which comes in black, orange or blue—every time I tried to secure it, though; something about the slippery, silicone material and the clasp made it difficult to manage. While the material is great for sweaty workouts, the total effect came off as cheap rather than sleek. The sensor itself is a bulkier design than what you’d find in, say, a Fitbit (even if it does weigh just under an ounce), and it nearly covered my entire wrist, which made me more aware of the band itself when I’d rather forget I’m even wearing an activity tracker. 

I had to tap aggressively to get the device to even acknowledge me—not ideal in the middle of a workout.

Most of that bulk is due to the 0.78-inch LED touchscreen. A touchscreen is great for people who want their stats in real-time versus having to pull out their phones, but this one is more likely to annoy than help you. To wake up the device (or return to home), you just tap the indent at the bottom of the screen; to navigate through the different menu options, swipe up and down or right and left. I found the majority of time, I had to tap aggressively to get the device to even acknowledge me—not ideal in the middle of a workout or even if you’re just looking for the time. 

The touchscreen can also display the weather forecast and alerts for incoming messages, emails, and phone calls thanks to a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone (and you can customize which app alerts you want to receive in the Mi Fit partner app). But receiving notifications brought up another frustration I experienced while working out: The screen was too difficult to read easily while outside. 

The App: Super basic compared to competitors

While the tracking technology may be current, the Mi Fit app feels a little bit outdated. The main screen does provide all your stats upfront, but, for example, I had to tap through four full screens to finally get to the data breakdown on my 5K after running. And the final screen looked like I had switched over to my MapMyRun or Nike Run Club app; nothing felt unique to Mi Fit, and I wondered what info this app could give me that I couldn’t get from other apps, besides consolidating the info in one place. 

The sleep tracking was the best part of the app. Make sure you have the Sleep Assistant turned on in the Heart Rate Detection tab in the app so the device tracks throughout the night (but be warned: this will run your battery down faster). With that functionality enabled, the app breaks down your night by the amount of time you spent in deep sleep, light sleep, and when you were awake, along with some stats about how your night’s sleep stacked up to other people’s (I happen to sleep better than 93 percent of people, for example). From the main sleep page, you can also check out how your sleep habits change over a week or a month. It won’t, however, share more in-depth sleep insights on your REM as higher-end Fitbit devices or wristbands like Whoop do.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Verywell Fit / Ashley Mateo 

Battery life: Lasts up to 20 days on one charge

The long-lasting battery life was one area where the Mi Band 3 really excelled. I wore it straight for two weeks, and the battery was still at 67 percent when I took it off. It can last up to 20 days per charge, according to Xiaomi. (If you set the heart rate tracking to record every minute, though, it will reduce the battery life to under three days.) 

The long-lasting battery life was one area where the Mi Band 3 really excelled. I wore it straight for two weeks, and the battery was still at 67 percent when I took it off.

That’s a huge plus, because the sensor comes with a proprietary charger—and wouldn’t work with any of the zillions of other cords I have lying around. Frankly, it’s a good thing the battery lasts so long because the last thing I want to do is travel around with yet another charger cord. 

Price: A budget-friendly alternative

At around $30, the Mi Band 3 is a very affordable fitness tracker, especially when you consider that Fitbits generally fall in the $100 range. Of course, this lower price also means fewer features, but that might be okay with some users, as we’ll discuss next.

Competition: Spend more to get more

On paper, with its waterproof capabilities and heart rate sensor, the Mi Band 3 is comparable to Fitbit’s Flex 2 or even the Alta HR at a significantly more affordable price. But in real life, it doesn’t quite measure up—mostly because those devices are easier to use and the partner app is so superior. However, a price tag that reads 75 percent cheaper than the basic Flex 2 can be really appealing to those who want to track on a budget, and, for some people, may negate the flaws in the product.

Final Verdict

Consider other options.

While the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 does have some pluses—mainly, its superior battery life and the fact that it’s one of the cheapest devices to offer waterproof functionalities—the tough-to-use touchscreen and clunky app explain why it’s so much cheaper than competitors. Decide whether you can live with the frustrations that come with cost-cutting.

Specs

  • Product Name Mi Band 3 Fitness Tracker
  • Product Brand Xiaomi
  • UPC 611745790011
  • Price $26.98
  • Weight 1.12 oz.
  • Product Dimensions 9.8 x 0.6 x 0.4 in.
  • Color Graphite black, electric orange, deep sky blue
  • Material Thermoplastic elastomer, aluminum alloy
  • Total Length of Wrist Strap 247 mm
  • Adjustable Length of Wristband 155 - 216mm
  • Battery Type Li-Ion Polymer Battery
  • Battery Capacity 110mAh; up to 20 days
  • What’s Included Wristband body, wrist strap, specialized charging cable, manual
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