Mi Smart Band 5 is the latest offering from Xiaomi in the fitness band category. This wearable succeeds the Mi Smart Band 4, and has a slightly larger display as well as new features such as a dedicated women's health tracker, stress monitoring, breathing exercises, remote shutter, and Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) Index to help users assess their overall fitness. Also for the first time, Xiaomi has introduced a magnetic charger on its fitness band, eliminating the need to remove the capsule from the strap for charging.
After wearing the Mi Smart Band 5 for several weeks, here's my comprehensive review of whether this new wearable is a good purchase or not.
The new Mi Smart Band 5's overall aesthetic has not evolved much compared to its predecessors. It still has a capsule with a colour display and a thermoplastic elastomer wristband with a loop buckle. It is said to have approximately 20 percent more display area than the Mi Smart Band 4, but that's hardly noticeable. There's a touch-sensitive button below the 1.1-inch (126x294 pixels) AMOLED touchscreen, which has a 16-bit colour range. This is a downgrade from the 24-bit colour range of the Mi Smart Band 4's display. However, the peak brightness has increased from 400nits to 450nits.
The weight of the Mi Smart Band 5 is only 11.9g and it's comfortable on the wrist. There also seems to be a coating for preventing fingerprint smudges. There are two contact pins at the back for the magnetic charger. The Mi Smart Band 5 feels premium in terms of build quality, and there was no loosening of strap or buckle in my time with this device during the review.
Xiaomi offers over 100 watch face options on the Mi Smart Band 5, sorted into categories such as workout, art, science and technology, business, fashion, and more. There are some great options to choose from, including animated ones, and this helps the otherwise bland display look quirky. These watch faces can be accessed in the Mi Fit app by going to Profile > Mi Smart Band 5 > Store.
Users can swipe up or down on the touchscreen to see their steps taken and calories burnt, their PAI index, heart rate stats, notifications, stress level, breathing level, and menstrual cycle monitor. Swiping left shows notifications, while swiping right offers shortcut widgets that can be customised using the Mi Fit app. The weather and music widgets are shown by default, but you can add others such as an alarm, stopwatch, and even workouts.
Apart from letting you read email and text notifications, the Mi Smart Band 5 also lets you reject and answer calls. Its interface is simple and easy to understand. Text is readable and the brightness is adjustable.
The Mi Smart Band 5 has a host of software features including the ability to use it as a remote shutter for your paired smartphone's camera. A world clock feature has also been introduced so you can see the time in different cities, and a new dedicated breathing guide can train you to calm yourself and focus better. There's a stress monitor that is able to calculate your stress level based on heart rate variability data. It informs you whether you are relaxed or strained. Xiaomi has also introduced a menstrual cycle tracker that offers reminders on period dates, ovulation days, and even your fertile period.
There is a new PAI index (Personal Activity Intelligence) that shows you how active you need to be to stay healthy. This is calculated by using gender, age, heart rate, and other data points. This new system is built to help users stay motivated, and you have to keep your score at 100 or close to that to be considered “fit” by the device. It gives you daily scores on the basis of your workouts, and also offers suggestions based on the data collected.
I had no difficulty while pairing the Mi Smart Band 5 with the Mi Fit app on a Samsung Galaxy Note 20. The app's home page offers comprehensive details such as the number of steps walked, PAI score achieved, stress level, and current menstrual cycle phase. There is a profile tab that lets you select watch faces, customise workout goals, and choose which apps to get notifications from. You can even set alarms, event reminders, and idle alerts through the app. There is a Find Band feature that can help you locate your device if misplaced. The Mi Fit app lets you customise heart rate monitoring as well. You can choose the measurement frequency, alert value, and even whether the band should monitor activity while working out. You can also enable random stress monitoring to measure stress levels when you are resting.
The Mi Smart Band 5 offers 11 professional sports modes compared to the six on its predecessor. These are: outdoor running, treadmill, cycling, indoor cycling, walking, elliptical machine, rowing machine, yoga, jump rope, pool swimming, and freestyle. The fitness band monitors your heart rate during activities and figures out when the workout has stopped, to pause tracking automatically.
A 5ATM waterproofing rating means that the band can be used in a swimming pool. I wore it while swimming and even in the shower, and the Mi Smart Band 5 survived both \tests with no hiccups thereafter. It is worth noting that Xiaomi warns against using this device in a sauna or while scuba diving. It also packs 512KB of RAM and 16MB of storage, and supports Bluetooth 5. Sensors on board include a three-axis acceleration sensor, three-axis gyroscope, and a PPG heart rate monitor. The Mi Smart Band 5 is compatible with phones running Android 5.0 or iOS 10.0 and above.
I used the Mi Smart Band 5 for several weeks and had no big problems. The touch interface is satisfactory, and the workout modes offer detailed data based on the exercise you choose. For instance, swimming mode offers stroke rate and records types of stroke as well. The jump rope mode counts skips, and the rowing machine mode counts stokes. The varied watch faces with the option to customise the default ones make for a great addition. The heart rate tracker and the newly introduced stress tracker managed to produce verifiable results.
I also found no glaring problems with sleep tracking, and the readings seemed to align with the quality of my sleep each day. Xiaomi has added REM detection to the Mi Smart Band 5, resulting in more detailed information about your sleep quality. The new breathing mode is useful when you need to calm your nerves. Users can choose to do guided breathing exercises for up to five minutes. We were also very pleased with the accuracy of the period cycle data and fertility reminders. This could prove to be useful for couples looking to conceive.
The PAI index may be a good addition for competitive exercise lovers, but it didn't really motivate me as much as I hoped it would. The score builds up over each week, and users need to be close to 100 to maintain a healthy rating. I didn't find myself keeping track of the PAI index or caring whether I was close to 100 or not. Also, it does eat up quite a lot of the battery capacity – you're even warned about that when you first enable this feature.
The Mi Smart Band 5's battery lasted for about nine days with half an hour of activity every day, automatic heart rate monitoring and notifications turned on, and PAI enabled as well. I also kept the brightness at the maximum level at all times. By default, most of these features are off, and if they are left that way, then the Mi Smart Band 5 should easily last for more than 10 days per charge. The magnetic charger means there's no need to remove the capsule from the wristband for charging. It took about 2 hours, 13 minutes to fully charge the wearable.
To test the accuracy of step and distance tracking, I counted 1,000 steps manually while wearing the Mi Smart Band 5. The fitness band counted 998 steps. I also covered a distance of 1km, verified in advance using a car's odometer, and the Mi Smart Band 5 calculated this to be 983m. Both these results aren't too far off the mark, and the Mi Smart Band 5 proved to be a reliable indicator for steps and distance tracking.
Notifications and call alerts were fairly reliable, but on some occasions I did notice that alerts didn't come through even when the Mi Smart Band 5 was paired with the Mi Fit app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 20. It would also be nice if the wearable could allow responding to texts with smart replies or even emojis.
The Mi Smart Band 5 aces all the basics expected from a fitness band. It is accurate enough in tracking, and can easily last for more than a week per charge. It offers useful new features such as stress and menstrual cycle tracking. The PAI score didn't do much to motivate me, but that's going to be subjective for every user, based on their priorities. Priced at Rs. 2,499, the Mi Smart Band 5 is more affordable than the newly launched Samsung Galaxy Fit 2, which is priced at Rs. 3,999. The Samsung wearable offers 70 watch faces to choose from, whereas the Mi Smart Band 5 offers 100. The former also doesn't track stress and menstrual cycles, and only offers five workout modes.
The Mi Smart Band 5 is clearly a standout at its price point, and should prove to be a reliable purchase for most people. If you're looking for a fitness band that offers accurate tracking, reliable workout data, and decent battery life, you can definitely opt for the Mi Smart Band 5.