Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 review: Great value fitness tracker

Rating

Xiaomi is slowly but steadily becoming an alternative to Samsung and Apple in the premium smart devices market, while also providing solid options for low-priced smartphones and wearables. In this review, we are testing its new budget-oriented fitness tracker, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6. It’s very reasonably priced and has the specs to compete with more advanced trackers. But how does it perform in real life? Read on to find out:

Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6: Who is it good for?

This fitness tracker is a great choice for:

  • Amateur fitness enthusiasts who require basic physical activity monitoring
  • People in search of a good fitness tracker for the lowest price possible
  • Users who can’t or don’t want to charge their fitness tracker often

Pros and cons

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 has several strong points that recommend it:

See price on:

  • Amazing value, considering the features
  • Excellent AMOLED screen
  • Great battery life, even with all features activated
  • Large number of workout presets

There are also some areas where the tracker could be better:

  • The wristband is uncomfortable if worn tightly, and the strap is difficult to tighten
  • Sluggish raise-to-wake (it takes a second for the band to react when you raise your hand)
  • The screen is easy to scratch
  • Slow synchronization with Xiaomi Wear
Product rating 4/5

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 is an excellent choice for an entry-level fitness tracker. It has enough sensors and monitoring capabilities for fitness amateurs, a few smartwatch functions that are useful, and great battery life. The AMOLED screen quality is comparable to that of much higher-priced devices. While there are a few things that can be improved on its design, we consider the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 as being one of the best trackers at this price point.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 comes in a black box with a very nice texture and high-quality graphics. The box dimensions are 6.7 x 2.95 x 0.86 inches (or 170 x 75 x 22 mm). On the front, there is a picture of the band, together with its name and the version number.

The front of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 box

On the back of the box, there are a few important technical details, as well as a list of contents, in several languages. On the sides of the box, you can find lots of technical information with attractive icons.

The back of the box that the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 comes in

The package contents are standard: the fitness tracker, the wristband, the magnetic charging cable (which is identical to the one on the Mi Band 5), and a surprisingly hefty manual that weighs more than the actual tracker :). No wireless charging is available.

The package is basic

The unboxing experience is surprisingly good for the price range. The box looks great and the different parts are individually packaged.

Design and hardware specifications

The best way to describe the look of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 is “generic”. The tracker is small (1.86 x 0.73 x 0.5 inches or 47.4 × 18.6 × 12.7 mm) and pretty light, with a weight of 0.45 oz (or 12.8 grams). The screen is an 1.56 inch, 152 x 486 pixel AMOLED display with an advertised brightness of up to 450 nits. It’s protected by glossy tempered glass with an anti-fingerprint coating. The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 has no physical buttons. This helps a lot with waterproofing and dust protection but makes the device slightly harder to use.

The front of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

Speaking of water protection, the tracker is rated for 5ATM of water resistance, a value that exceeds the IPX8 certification standard. As far as sensors go, the list is modest but typical for this price point:

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • PPG heart rate sensor (PPG - light-based sensor, ECG - electrical impulse-based sensor) with SpO2 (blood oxygen) monitoring capability

Communication with the smartphone is done via Bluetooth 5.0. There is also an NFC model, but its availability is limited for now to China and a few European markets. We haven’t tested it, so we can’t say anything about compatibility with various payment methods. The tracker has no integrated GPS system, instead relying on the smartphone for positioning. This means you’ll have to sacrifice portability if you want precise distance measurements. The tracker doesn’t have a microphone or a speaker. It can only notify the user through vibration. The non-removable lithium-polymer battery has a capacity of 125 mAh and is good for 14 days of use according to the manufacturer - an excellent value.

The back of the device houses the heart rate sensor and the charging contacts

The one-piece wristband is easy to mount and remove from the tracker. It’s entirely made of TPU (a type of plastic with many properties, including elasticity and resistance to oil, grease, and abrasion) and has an adjustable length (6.1-8.6 inch or 155–219 mm). The clasp mechanism is also made of plastic, so there’s less risk of allergies. The included wristband is black, but there is a huge range of colors and materials available for aftermarket wristbands.

There is a huge variety of wristband colors to choose from

For more technical specifications, visit the official website: Mi Smart Band 6 - Xiaomi Global.

The design of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 is simple and practical. Its specifications are typical for the price range, and the declared battery life is very good. The material used for the included wristband is rugged, and the screen specs are promising.

Setting up and using the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

Off the bat, if there’s one thing that we loved about the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6, it’s the quality of the screen. The 326 DPI pixel density is great, the brightness is really good for outdoor activities, and the viewing angles are typical for AMOLED displays - excellent. We would have loved the option for automatic brightness adjustment, but that would have meant including a light sensor, making the device more expensive to manufacture. Still, the screen can be dimmed based on a schedule, and even leaving it on a relatively high brightness setting doesn’t dramatically affect the battery life.

The screen is bright and has excellent viewing angles

The coating is not as scratch-resistant as advertised, so a screen protector can be an option if you know you’ll be using it in rough conditions.

After mounting the tracker on the wristband, we proceeded to put it on. The clasp is not great, you’ll struggle to adjust it to the desired length and secure the pin. However, once secured, it won’t come off. The wristband is relatively comfortable, but less so if you wear the band for a long time. If you want around-the-clock monitoring, you’ll need to always wear it tightly, and the holes for the clasp are a great way to make 3D markings on your skin:

It looks more painful than it actually is

Setting up the device is easy: charge the tracker, then follow the on-screen instructions to download the Xiaomi Wear app. You can also use the Mi Fit app, but choosing between the two proved difficult. While Mi Fit can share data with several fitness apps, we found that Xiaomi Wear does not integrate with Google Fit (only with Strava, so far), and the device compatibility list is different between the two apps. Also, the Xiaomi Wear app does not support Mi Scale; Mi Fit does. After installing the Xiaomi Wear app on your smartphone and enabling Bluetooth, you simply add the device in the app to connect to it.

Connecting the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 to the smartphone is easy

While the initial setup is quick, the connection is relatively slow and sometimes laggy. This is especially true if you disconnect the band from the smartphone and connect it again later. Syncing takes about ten seconds. You can control media playback on your smartphone using the Mi Smart Band 6, but it depends on the media playback app and device used. For example, on the Huawei P30, media playback controls were not available, while on other devices (including an iPhone SE) we could easily play/pause/change the songs, and control the playback volume. You can set the band to vibrate on incoming calls, but the lack of a microphone or of a large screen means that you will only be able to reject the call or answer with an SMS from a predefined list. On some occasions, the band would start vibrating and showing an incoming call after the call had ended.

Coming back to the Xiaomi Wear app, we think it’s a decent one for its purpose. It’s not as detailed or organized as fitness apps from other developers, but it gives the user a reasonable amount of information. We think that it’s more suitable for a smartwatch than a fitness tracker. From the app, you can change the band faces (and it has lots of options), setup the notifications (for each app individually), as well as rearrange the widgets in the band menu.

You can configure the watch face and the notifications shown by the tracker

All the functions of the band worked as advertised, with some hiccups. For instance, while workout autodetection worked well most of the time, GPS positioning would refuse to work unless we opened the Xiaomi Wear app first on the smartphone. That meant that we needed more time to fiddle with the devices before actually starting the jogging. The sleep monitoring was only decent, sometimes missing entire sleep sessions. It doesn’t even come close to the level of detail provided by something like the Fitbit Charge 4, for example. Then again, that tracker costs three times more than a Mi Smart Band 6.

The health monitoring is pretty good

Pulse monitoring was accurate, and while we didn’t have a pulse-oximeter to verify the SpO values, we have no reason to doubt the measured values (which ranged from 95 to 99%). There is also stress monitoring, but until some manufacturer develops a mind-reading tracker, we advise you to take the results with a grain of salt. Other functions of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 include an alarm clock, a stopwatch function, a Weather widget, and camera control.

You can activate raise-to-wake for the band screen, and it works most of the time. The only small issue with it is that it has a slight delay from the moment you raise your hand.

It takes about a second for the screen to light up after raising the hand

Finally, the battery lasted around 10 days with light physical activities, having all the features turned on (heart rate monitoring, workout detection). With a more conservative approach (like turning the screen brightness down or disabling some features), we expect the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 to last a full two weeks of use. It charges pretty fast, from 4% to 100% in about 2 hours.

Using the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 was a very good experience. If you’re aware of its limitations, this tracker offers a lot of value. The screen is great, as is the battery life. Fastening the wristband is mildly difficult, the Xiaomi Wear app can be improved, and some minor connectivity issues may appear.

The health and fitness features of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 offers thirty workout modes, including Treadmill, Outdoor running, Cycling, Walking, Pool swimming, Yoga, Indoor fitness, Basketball, Table tennis, and Kickboxing. You can change the order in which the workouts are displayed on your tracker, by using the app.

The Xiaomi Wear App allows a good degree of menu personalization for the tracker

Its health features are:

  • Heart rate monitoring: Whole-day heart rate manual heart rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate curve
  • Sleep monitoring: Deep sleep, light sleep, rapid eye movement (REM), naps
  • Women's health tracking: Provides recording and reminders for the menstrual cycle and ovulation phases
  • SpO measuring: On demand, the device measures the blood oxygen saturation
  • Stress monitoring: Based on your pulse and activity, the tracker provides a stress level score
  • Automatic workout detection: the device can detect and record workouts even without manual activation
  • Breathing exercises: you can set up your tracker for regular breathing exercises
  • PAI vitality index assessment: The PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) score is an interesting approach to fitness assessment. The score is created based on your heart rate and movement throughout the day and can be a good indicator of your physical shape. You can read more about Personal Activity Intelligence here: PAI Health.
  • Idle alerts: The band can be set up to vibrate if it detects no physical activity for long periods of time
  • Step counter: Counting the number of steps on a daily basis

The health data section has enough detail

The fitness data is saved in the cloud and is accessible from any other device once you log in with your user and password.

What do you think of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6?

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 impressed us with the value provided for the money. Its amazing screen and battery life make it a good companion for long workouts. Before you leave this page, we’d love to hear your opinion on the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6. Does it have the functions you require from a tracker? Do you consider buying it? Do you have other fitness trackers on your shortlist? Let us know in the comment section below.

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