While the Mi Band 3 by Xiaomi did finish closer to the bottom of the pack than the top, it still merited an award for offering by far the best bang for the buck you can get when it comes to these products. This product didn't have the most fully-featured set of fitness and health tracking abilities around, but it is incredibly comfortable, easy to use, and has a solid display. However, its main merit is that it costs a fraction of the price of the top models and while it can't quite compare to the top contenders, it's a pretty solid fitness tracker overall if you temper your expectations, earning it the Best Buy Award.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, comfortable
Cons: Limited set of fitness, health tracking features
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 finished just behind the Fitbit Zip, our Top Pick for Clip-On Trackers, and ahead of the Huawei Band 2 Pro. Both the Huawei and the Xiaomi are comparable when it comes to fitness and health tracking abilities, with the Zip being slightly better when it comes to fitness and slightly worse when it comes to health. These three trackers are all very ergonomic and quite easy to use, though the Huawei is a bit more of a hassle to operate than the other two. It is also the most expensive, retailing for about $70 — twice that of the Xiaomi and $10 more than the Fitbit Zip.
In our hunt to find the best wearable for you, we researched and compared dozens and dozens of different models, then bought all of the ones that showed the most promise. We took all these fitness trackers and compared their performance side-by-side, with the Mi Band 3's results shown below.
Our most important metric, the set of tests that comprise fitness impact account for 30% of the overall score for the Mi Band 3. The Mi Band 3 delivered a lackluster showing, earning it a 4 out of 10. This is based on the accuracy of the Band 3 at tracking your steps and stairs climbed, as well as how it tracked other activities and what options you have to challenge and compete against your family and friends.
The Xiaomi is quite accurate when it comes to keeping track of your steps and distance walked. We conducted three trials, manually counting the steps each time as we walked our 1-mile course. The distance tended to overcount, though not by more than 0.6 miles. In its best trial, the Xiaomi only counted 5 extra steps, showing 2140 steps instead of the true 2135, but overcounted by 42 in its worst trial.
This product's performance plummeted a bit when it came to cycling or another type of workout tracking, as you can't really do much besides timing how long the workout lasts for.
However, if you combine the Mi Band 3 with our smartphone with workouts, you can also get your speed, heart rate, time, duration, distance, your route, and some other metrics. This definitely should make you think twice about getting the Mi Band 3 if you were looking at getting a fitness tracker so you can leave your phone behind while you workout. The Xiaomi doesn't really have any other workout profiles to select and does not appear to track the number of flights of stairs you climb throughout the day.
The app also has limited community compare functions, only really allowing you to view your past progress and compare your step counts — and weirdly enough, your weight — with your friends, so you should also consider other products if you were hoping to use more of the community benefits of a fitness tracker.
Next, in our testing protocol, we evaluated the different health impacts each of these products have, which account for 25% of the total score for each fitness tracking wearable. We ranked and scored the accuracy of the heart rate monitor on each fitness tracker against a chest strap monitor that acted as a control, as well as rated how helpful each product could be at implementing a diet or a more active lifestyle. The Xiaomi delivered another less than stellar showing, earning a 5 out of 10 for its mediocre results.
We weren't fans of the heart rate tracking on the Xiaomi. It consistently undercounted our heart rate and won't automatically measure your heart rate without changing the settings. Additionally, the tracker itself won't display your heart rate when set to automatic measurement, with the data only being shown when you sync it with your phone. This will also drain the battery much faster. You also can't see your workout heart rate data unless you start your workout from the mobile app, rather than the Xiaomi itself.
There aren't really any dieting aids or a way to integrate the Mi Band 3 data with third-party dieting apps, but the Xiaomi will alert you that it is time to get up and move if you have been sedentary for too long.
The Xiaomi does have automatic sleep tracking abilities, but we found the data produced to be a little suspect, as it differed significantly from our sleep tester's recollections of the evening and the data produced by other trackers. It does have a vibration alarm you can set to wake you, but deep sleepers beware — the vibration is pretty light and doesn't last for all that long, so there is a strong possibility of the Band 3 failing to rouse you.
Ease of Use
Next up in our testing procedure, we looked at the ease of using and operating the Xiaomi, which accounts for 20% of the overall score for each fitness tracker. We compared the battery life of each wearable, how user-friendly it is to use both the fitness tracker and its companion app, how easy it is to put on or take off, and how well it pairs with a smartphone, as well as its level of water resistance. The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 did significantly better, earning an 8 out of 10 for its performance.
The Band 3 has a fairly good battery life, though it will be substantially reduced if you are using all the notifications, sports tracking, and all-day heart rate monitoring. While Xiaomi states that you should be able to get 20 days out of it, we found this to be highly unlikely based on our testing, with 7-8 days being much more likely. When you do need to recharge the Xiaomi, it requires a proprietary USB charging cable.
This tracker usually syncs all of your data to the phone within 20 seconds and we found the mobile app to be very straightforward and intuitive to use.
The fitness tracker itself is also quite easy to operate with the combination of a single button and touchscreen interface. It also is rated as water resistant to 5 ATM or 50 meters — more than enough for the shower or a pool.
The wristband could be a little easier to put on, as the latch is a little more difficult to use than a traditional watch clasp.
The Xiaomi also did quite well when it came to our next metric, earning a 7 out of 10. We had a panel of testers evaluate how comfortable it is to wear and the aesthetic appearance of this tracker, as well as how easily it would get caught when performing everyday tasks, like putting on a backpack or jacket. Altogether, this trio of evaluations is responsible for 15% of the final score for the Mi Band 3.
While this tracker isn't particularly striking, having a rather run-of-the-mill appearance, it is very comfortable to wear. It has a small form factor and is a good option if you want a more discreet wrist-mounted fitness tracker. It also has a very low profile with rounded edges, making getting it snagged on something a very rare occurrence.
For the final 10% of the Mi Band's overall score, we rated and judged the quality of its display. In particular, we focused on how easy it is to read in bright or dark conditions, how responsive the touchscreen is, and what information is shown on the home and secondary screens. The Xiaomi's performance dropped a bit, but we still found it to be above average, earning it a 6 out of 10.
The touchscreen on this tracker is quite responsive, only occasionally misinterpreting the direction of one of our swipes and bringing up the wrong menu. However, it is almost impossible to read this screen in bright sunlight and is a little on the dim side when looking at it at night.
This fitness tracker can receive most push notifications that your phone can, though it caps you at 5 notifications at a time before dismissing some — long messages can count for multiple — and has no response to let you reply to messages with auto-generated responses. The home screen shows you the date and time, with secondary screens showing some other basic fitness info, such as steps taken, distance traveled, and estimated calories burned.
Overall, this fitness tracker is the best value that you can get. Period.
While the Xiaomi can't quite compare to the top offerings from Fitbit, Garmin, or Samsung, it's a basic fitness tracker that won't break the bank and won't disappoint if you only want basic step and distance data.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer