A recent report from research firm Gartner revealed that the global wearables market is expected to grow by 17 percent in 2017. And why not; an increasing number of people are now getting more health conscious. This has led to a rise in demand for fitness trackers, hybrids and smartwatches. With popular names such as Fitbit and Apple out there, it was Xiaomi that recently sold more wearables than its competitors. After launching the Mi Band 2 for Rs 1,999 last year, the Chinese company recently launched the Mi Band HRX Edition in India priced at Rs 1,299.
The Mi Band 2 was a big upgrade over the original Mi Band, bringing two major changes – a heart rate sensor and an LED display. The new Mi Band HRX Edition is a watered-down version of the Mi Band 2; it’s got everything except the heart rate sensor. I’ve been using the tracker for some time now, and here is my review of the Mi Band HRX Edition. ALSO READ: Wearables market to grow 17% in 2017; smartwatches, Bluetooth headsets rise: Gartner
Design and Features
Before I talk about the design, I’m sure you must be thinking about why it is it named HRX Edition. Well, HRX is the lifestyle brand of Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan, and Xiaomi has launched the fitness band in partnership with the brand. Just like the Mi Band and Mi Band 2, the HRX Edition consists of a capsule, which is also the core of the tracker.
The silicon band has a cut-out slot to accommodate the tracker. By default, you get the black color silicon strap, Xiaomi is also selling a blue color strap, which you can buy for Rs 229 from Mi.com/in. The strap quality is good, and during my usage, I did not come across any skin irritation problems. ALSO READ: Honor Band 3 Review: An affordable, feature-filled fitness tracker
The top of the capsule has an OLED display where you can see the time, step count, distance walked, calories burned, and battery level. The OLED display is bright enough to be visible indoors, and also under direct sunlight. I had the original Mi Band, and I always missed having the display, but with the HRX Edition, that’s not the case anymore.
Besides the display, you have a touch sensitive button with a concentric-circle pattern, tapping on which you can cycle through the reading – step count, battery level and more. The bottom corner of the capsule has two pins that connect to the USB charging cable.
Besides tracking your daily activities, the Mi Band HRX Edition also logs your sleep monitoring. It does this by tracking your movements during the sleep. It logs data, including your deep sleep, light sleep, time awake (if at all) and overall sleep – that is the time when you fall asleep till the time you wake up. ALSO READ: Xiaomi becomes world’s leading wearables vendor ahead of Fitbit and Apple
The fitness tracker connects with your smartphone via Bluetooth, and you’ll need the Mi Fit app to pair it. The app is available for Android 4.3 OS and above, and on iPhones running iOS 8.0 and above. Although the interface is a bit cluttered, you’ll get used to it in a few days. But that said, there are also a lot of insights that the app offers, in terms of graphs that give you a breakdown of daily, weekly and monthly activity.
You can also activate vibration alerts for your notifications. It notifies me when I get a text message, a call, an email and WhatsApp. While I can’t read the texts, it does alert me, which is pretty helpful when the phone is on silent mode.
The Mi Band HRX comes with IP67 certification for water and dust resistance. Now, while you can use it under the shower and in the rains, I wouldn’t recommend taking it inside the swimming pool. During my usage, I did wear it constantly – whether I was out in the rains, sleeping and even while in the shower. It works without any issues.
Talking about steps tracking, I won’t say that the pedometer is accurate, but the readings aren’t too off. I tested by wearing the Mi Band in one hand, a Pebble Time smartwatch in the other hand, and hte on-device tracker on my smartphone; the readings were nearly the same with a difference of about 180-220 steps.
Sleep tracking is pretty accurate too. I’m not someone that gets a lot of deep sleep. I was closely monitoring the data logged by the tracker, where out of my nine hours daily sleep (on average), three hours was deep sleep, whereas the remaining was light sleep. And my pattern has been the same, more or less.
Battery life has never been a concern with Xiaomi’s fitness bands, and the same continues with the Mi Band HRX Edition too. Since I first charged it to 100 percent, it has been about 16 days, and the tracker still has 42 percent battery left. This is despite the constant vibration alerts when I get text and WhatsApp messages, calls. Deactivating that can further stretch the battery life.
Should you buy one?
When you are in the market looking for good fitness trackers, there are the ones from Garmin and Fitbit among others, but they on the expensive side. In fact, for that cost, you could easily buy an affordable smartphone along with a good wireless Bluetooth headset. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has been very aggressive with the prices of its products.
For Rs 1,299, you get a good fitness and activity tracker that will let you monitor your sleep, the number of steps you take, and more. And with an OLED display, you don’t need to constantly open the app to check your daily progress. Of course, having a heart rate sensor would have been excellent, but considering the price tag, I have no complaints whatsoever.
For those who want the heart rate sensor without breaking a bank, I’d recommend the Mi Band 2, if you can get a hold of it. Considering that it is usually out of stock, the Honor Band 3 would be the next best alternative for an affordable tracker with a heart rate sensor.