Mi Smart Band 6 Review


Xiaomi today launched the Mi Smart Band 6, the company’s latest fitness and sleep tracking band, after it was introduced back in March. Compared to the last year’s Band 5, this comes with a larger 1.56″ display while maintaining the same size, has 30 workout modes, and finally adds SpO2 sensor. Is it worth the price? If you already have the Mi Smart Band 5, should you upgrade? Let us find out in the complete review.

Box contents

  • Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 device
  • Black silicone wristband
  • Magnetic charging connector
  • Quick start guide

Design and Build

The Band 6  has the same elliptical design as earlier modes, but this removes the touch button below the screen, and extends the screen while maintaining almost similar size as the predecessor. This measures 47.4 × 18.6 × 12.7mm and weighs 12.8 grams (without the strap) compared to dimensions of 47.2 x 18.5 x 12.4mm and weight of 11.9 grams in the Band 5, so it fits the Mi Band 5 strap without any issues. It has a polycarbonate body, similar to older models.

It has 5ATM water resistance, so you can even wear when swimming. There is 6-axis sensor: Low power-consumption 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope as well as PPG heart rate sensor and also comes with a SpO₂ sensor. It uses Bluetooth 5.0 LE, same as the predecessor to Android and iOS devices.

Coming to the strap, it is made of skin-friendly thermoplastic polyurethane and the strap is adjustable to extend from 155 to 216mm, depending on your wrist length. The strap has aluminum alloy buckle material. It is tight, but if you do any work that involves brushing your wrist against some object, it might come out.  The core unit also fits tightly, so it doesn’t fall out of the band easily. You only get Black colored band in the box, but you can purchase straps in Maroon, Ocean Blue, Orange and Light Green colours separately.

On the back, you can see the heart rate sensor that has glowing green LED lights when you are using it to measure heart rate. The SpO2 sensor glows in red colour when you measure blood oxygen saturation. You can also see the charging pins on the back. Overall, the band has a good build quality.

Display and features

Coming to the display, the Band 6 has a large 1.56-inch (152 × 486 pixels) 326PPI AMOLED 24bit color touch screen display with up to 450 nits brightness and 3D scratch-resistant glass and anti-fingerprint coating. Similar to previous Mi Bands, you can set it to turn on when you lift your hand, and the screen turns off in a few seconds to save power. It still attracts fingerprints and is not completely scratch resistant. The touch screen is smooth to use, and has 50% more screen space than its predecessor to display more content. Since there is no button, you need to perform all the actions with the touch screen.

Thanks to 450 nits brightness, there are no outdoor visibility issue. You can adjust the brightness from more→Settings→Brightness. You can adjust it from level 1 till level 5. Level 3 is enough for indoor, but you need to bump up the brightness to 4 or 5 to view the screen when you are in bright outdoors. You can’t expect and ambient light sensor for auto brightness adjustment in the price range, but I would have liked a shortcut to boost the brightness easily when you move outdoors, like the one present in smartwatches like the Redmi watch.

It also has music controls. You can just swipe from left or right on the touch screen to view the music control panel that lets you play, pause, skip tracks and also adjust volume when you play any music or any kind of content like videos or music when the band is connected to the phone. There is also camera control which is still in beta, so it says that it’s a Labs feature. You can turn the camera controls off from the app. You can read or clear the notification you receive from the smartphone, but you can’t reply to them directly from the band.

Swiping from the bottom shows status (that shows calories burnt, steps and Idle alerts for the data with detailed stats), PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence), Heart rate, SpO2, Notifications, Workout, Workout history, Stress, Breathing, Events, Alarm, Weather, Music, World Clock, Sleep, Settings, and more which has Flashlight, Pomodoro timer (for better productivity), Camera shutter, Stopwatch, Timer, Find device, Silent and Cycles (Mensural cycle tracking). In the settings, you find Band display (Watch faces), DND, Brightness, Lock screen, Screen wake-up, Auto screen lock time (default or 6s to 10s), Screen on upon notification (All-day, schedule or off), Press and hold the watch face for quick editing, Detect activity, Reboot, Factory Reset, Regulatory and About).

Even though most features were already available in the Band 5, I like the option to view sleep data directly from the smart band and option to set an alarm manually, directly from the Band instead of just selecting preset alarms in the Band 5.

Software

The band lets you use Mi Fit app for Android and iPhone, and for the first time you can also use the Xiaomi Wear app on Android and Xiaomi Wear Lite for iOS. I personally use the Mi Fit app since it has more features compared to the Xiaomi Wear app, but the Xiaomi Wear app recently got Strava support, so if you need to sync your workouts with Strava,  you can use it.

Status section shows PAI, Stress Level, Heart rate and more, but you can customize these. The ‘My Wokouts’ section shows steps, today’s activity and total energy.

Next up are the Walking and Running tabs. The running option also includes treadmill running, which has a lot of customizations. There is also a cycling tab.

Profile section shows the devices that are connected with the battery status. In the more section there are options to set steps goals, option to add friends, store and behaviour tagging.  Add accounts settings lets you add Google Fit. When you go to profile and choose the Mi Smart band 5, you can see a lot of options, including an option to change watch band faces from the store. There are a lot of watch faces to choose from, and you can also set a custom watch face that lets change the background by taking a photo or choose a photo from the gallery to show up in the background. You can save up to 6 watch faces in the band. There is also an app called Mi Band 6 Watch Face that lets you choose custom watch bands and export it to the watch. It takes time, but it’s worth it if you want a nice band face.

Other features on Mi Fitf app

  • Incoming Call Alerts: Band vibrates immediately, or set it to vibrate between 3 seconds and 30 seconds after you receive a call. Auto SMS reply to calls
  • Event reminder: Set a reminder with date and time
  • Alarm: Set an alarm
  • App Alerts and incoming SMS alerts: Set notification alerts for any app and for SMS. Shows the complete message on the screen.
  • Idle alert: Alerts every one hour. Lets you set custom start and end time and do not disturb time
  • Goal Notification: Band vibrates when you reach steps goal
  • Vibration pattern: You can set custom vibration pattern for each notification such as calls, events, alarms, app notification and more
  • Lift wrist Info: Set the band to turn on display when you lift the wrist. All the time or set custom schedule
  • Automatic heart rate detection: Detects heart rate automatically at certain intervals (Every 1, 5, 10 or 30 min)
  • Heart Rate alerts: Vibrates when the alert value is reached and there is no obvious activity in the last 10 minutes
  • Active heart rate monitoring: When an activity is detected, it automatically increases the heart rate detection frequency to record the heart rate change
  • Assisted Sleep monitoring: Automatically increases the heart rate measurement frequency to record more sleep information when the user fall asleep while wearing the device
  • Sleep breathing quality monitoring (beta): The device automatically monitors the sleep breathing quality when the system detects that you are wearing the device during sleep
  • All-Day stress monitoring: Stress is automatically measured every 5 minutes, and stress changes throughout the day are recorded.
  • Night mode: After sunset or at your preferred time, Mi Band’s will be lowered automatically

Fitness and sleep tracking

The Mi Band 6 has 30 workout modes that includes outdoor running, walking, cycling, indoor running, swimming, exercise, indoor cycling, elliptical machine, skipping rope, yoga, rowing machine, Indoor fitness, Indoor ice skating, HIIT, Core training, Stretching, Stepper, Gymnastics, Pilates, Street dance, Dance, Zumba, Cricket, Bowling, Basketball, Volleyball, Table tennis, Badminton, Boxing and Kickboxing. The Mi Band 5 only has 11 workout modes. It can also automatically track 6 workouts – walking, treadmill, outdoor running, outdoor cycling, rowing machine, and elliptical machine

For outdoor workouts like running, you get route map, distance, calories burnt, steps, average speed, cadence, stride, altitude average heart rate and heart rate zones right from the band. Steps tracking is almost accurate compared to Mi Watch Revolve Active. Even without built-in GPS, tracking using phone’s GPS is good. It hardly takes a couple of seconds to get the GPS from the phone for outdoor workouts, and you can directly launch the workout from the band. Tracking my runs is accurate compared to Strava app on the phone, and Mi Watch Revolve Active with GPS. Since this doesn’t have a button, you need to press and hold the screen to pause or stop the workout.

You can share the workout data as an image. Xiaomi Wear app has Strava support, which can be enabled from Settings and Selecting Connected apps. For iOS, it supports Apple Health sync. The Mi Fit app only has Google Fit integration, but I found a workaround for this by signing in to the Zepp app using my Mi Account and adding Strava account there, so without doing anything, my workouts are shared with Strava when I finish them on the Mi Fit app.

Sleep tracking is accurate at times, but I didn’t work for a day when I work out early in the morning and slept after half an hour. It only recorded my sleep till the time I woke up for the first time, and didn’t record anything after that. The Mi Watch Revolve Active and HUAWEI Band 6 didn’t have any issues in tracking the entire sleep. It shows light, deep and REM sleep as well as awake time as usual. It can also track daytime naps, similar to the Mi Band 5. The new Sleep breathing quality feature is a new feature that uses SpO2 to calculate the breathing quality when you are asleep and gives points based on this.

Heart rate and SpO2 monitoring

The band uses LED lights and photo-diodes to illuminate the blood vessel for a while and monitors the heart rate via the change of green light absorbed. You can’t say this is 100% accurate, but heart rate recordings — both resting and active, are almost accurate compared to Blood oximeter device. It shows a graph for heart rate throughout the day in the band itself. There is also Vo2 Max data. The smartwatch also comes with SpO2 or blood oxygen monitoring, which the company says should not be used for medical purposes. When compared to oximeter that showed 99%, this is almost accurate. Wish the company had offered 24×7 SpO2 monitoring, which I like in the HUAWEI Band 6. The app also has stress level monitoring throughout the day.

Battery life

It has a 125mAh battery, same as the Mi Band 5, and the company promises 14 days of battery life, same as the predecessor. I have been using it for three days now, and I have 49% charge. This includes initial setup, daily workouts for half an hour, 24×7 heart rate monitoring at 1min rate, stress monitoring, REM sleep and sleep breathing quality analysis, call and message notifications. With outdoor activity of 30 minutes, it only drained about 2% battery. Based on my heavy use, it will last for about a week. Battery life might vary depending on frequent use of the display with increased brightness, use of heart rate monitor during workouts and all the notifications turned on.

The band uses magnetic charging, same as the predecessor, which is a welcome move compared to the dock in the Mi Band 4 which had a lot of issues. Instead of boring charging animation, the Mi Band 5 now shows the charging percentage. You can also use the same Mi Band 5 charging connector for the Mi Band 6. The company recommends 5V-250mA input, so you can even plug it in a USB port of a PC or a laptop or use power bank in low-power mode. It takes about 2 hours to charge the band fully from 0%. Since the battery last for almost 2 weeks, long charging time doesn’t matter.

Conclusion

The Mi Smart Band 6 is a good fitness tracker that packs in a lot of features, but the Rs. 3499 price tag for India is a bit high compared to the China launch price of 229 yuan (US$ 35.32 / Rs. 2,621 approx.). It is even cheaper in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Existing Mi Band users (1 to 5) can get it for Rs. 2999 on mi.com, and they will get a notification on the Mi Fit app to avail this.

Still, for new Mi Band users, I would recommend the Mi Band 5 unless you need a larger AMOLED screen and SpO2 monitoring or wait for discounts during sale. The Mi Smart Band 6 will go on sale through Amazon.in, mi.com and Mi Home stores starting 30th August 2021.

Alternatives

For a slightly higher price tag, there is Redmi Watch with GPS, auto brightness adjustment and even has a Barometric Press sensor (altimeter), but you will lose the AMOLED screen. You can also check out the HONOR Band 6 that has a slightly wider AMOLED screen and similar features. There are other smartwatches and smart bands in the price range, but the reliability is a question.

Pros

  • Large, Bright edge-to-edge OLED color display
  • 30 workout modes with 6 automatic fitness tracking modes
  • Water resistant (5ATM)
  • SpO2 Monitoring and accurate 24×7 heart rate tracking
  • Supports both Mi Fit and Xiaomi Wear apps
  • Good battery life, Magnetic charging

Cons

    • Pricing for India is on the higher side
    • Sleep tracking is not perfect
    • Display is not fully scratch resistant
    • Still no easy shortcut for quick brightness adjustment

Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram