The 2021 edition of the Xiaomi Mi band connected bracelet is adorned with a much larger screen compared to previous versions and now includes a sensor for measuring the level of oxygen in the blood. Despite a rising price, should we give in to the sirens of the new Mi Smart Band 6?
Test carried out by Alix Denoyers
Announced since the end of March, the new version of Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band is available in France recently. This is the benchmark bracelet that has conquered the general public with its excellent value for money. Its functions are more complete each year, while its performance in terms of activity monitoring and autonomy is on par with much more expensive models.
Faced with increasingly fierce competition, can the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 and its larger screen keep its title of champion of fitness at a low price? To answer this question, we tested this bracelet over a good week, day and night. Here are the detailed results of that assessment and our verdict.
Pricing and availability
With his 1.56 inch AMOLED display, Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 6 can boast the largest screen on the connected bracelets market. Its price remains reasonable, however, since the brand has been marketing it for a few days on its site and in stores, at the price of 59.99 euros. Still 10 euros more than last year … or 20 euros more than in 2019!
This price is competitive against the recent Oppo Band Style sold at the same price for a set of equipment, or against a Fitbit Inspire 2 launched at 99.95 euros. On the other hand, with its large screen Band 6, launched at 59.99 euros a few weeks ago, Huawei has clearly cut the grass under the foot of his compatriot. Especially since this bracelet is currently on sale and is 10 euros cheaper.
That Mi Band aficionados rest assured, there is no shortage of promotions at Xiaomi and we can already find its novelty at 43.99 euros at Amazon (in Prime) or at less than 40 euros on AliExpress. Xiaomi declines its new bracelet in several colors: black, orange, yellow, green, gray-blue or even beige. Only the very classic black model is available on the market. However, this is an interchangeable bracelet, the tracker can be extracted. To switch to color, you will need to purchase a colored bracelet sold as an option. Too bad Xiaomi didn’t think about adding one to the box.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 technical sheet
|Xiaomi mi band 6|
|Dimensions||– 18.6 x 47.4 x 12.7 mm
– 18.15 x 46.95 x 12.45
|Weight||13 g (24 g bracelet included)|
|Screen||1.56 inch, AMOLED|
|Definition||152 x 486pixels|
|Resolution||226 pixels per inch|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 BLE|
|Sensors||Heart rate monitor with SpO2, accelerometer, gyroscope|
|Autonomy||14 days announced|
|Loading||USB cable with magnetic charger|
|Compatibility||From Android 5.0 or iOS 10|
Compared to the Mi Smart Band 5, the new 2021 edition essentially differentiates itself with a larger screen and a higher resolution – the accessory thus goes from 1.1 inch to 1.56 inch and from 290 ppi to 326 ppi -, for approximately 42% larger display area. With the exception of an SpO2 sensor which was added to the Band 6 and its slightly larger dimensions, the design of the two bracelets remains similar, just like their equipment. Note that the Band 6 works with both the Mi Fit app and the Xiaomi Wear app, both iOS and Android compatible.
A bright, crisp and long screen
With a diagonal of 1.56 inches, the screen of the Mi Smart Band 6 is the largest screen ever seen on a simple connected bracelet. Placed next to its predecessor, this improvement is not necessarily obvious (see photo above), as the dimensions of the two trackers remain close (the Band 6 is only 0.5 mm higher and wider). This is quite logical since Xiaomi has mainly worked on reduce the Mi Band 5 screen bezels.
The manufacturer has also increased the resolution of its flagship bracelet. As a result a less pixelated image than before, sharper, more readable. And this especially since the adopted screen technology is AMOLED which offers this Band a beautiful brightness of around 450 nits and deep blacks.
And yet, despite these advances in display, we remain a little frustrated in front of the narrowness of this screen which forces Xiaomi to use really tiny characters, especially for the menu lines of the Band 6.
After having tested the Huawei Band 6, approached as the main rival of the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6, and its much larger screen, we are left hungry, with the obligation to wait for the automatic scrolling of each menu line to read it and thus correctly set up your activity tracker. Indeed, some settings, such as the brightness or the DND (do not disturb) function can only be made from the device. A real pain if you don’t have keen eyesight and you’re in a hurry.
He offers no matter what good light, sufficient for comfortable outdoor use. If the bracelet does not have a sensor to adjust it automatically, this brightness drops drastically at night. All you have to do is activate this option in Night Mode, from your smartphone.
On the navigation side, Xiaomi abandons the touch button at the bottom of the screen to switch to 100% gestural. With a simple swipe of the finger from left to right or from bottom to top (and vice versa), you can access the various functions and information available from the tracker. If the whole is sufficiently responsive for relatively fast and precise navigation, we regret that Xiaomi, like Huawei, did not optimize the ergonomics better. On the Mi Smart Band 6, regardless of the direction taken – up or down -, you access the same menus that rotate in an infinite loop. Ditto from left to right. We would have liked Xiaomi to make better use of this navigation by giving notifications, for example, with a swipe of a finger in a specific direction. Fortunately, from the smartphone, in the shortcut settings, add the functions of your choice in the horizontal navigation. By limiting the number of shortcuts to 2 or 3 functions maximum, we manage to pleasantly optimize its Mi Smart Band 6.
However, the brand was expected to innovate more in terms of design and ergonomics with smarter navigation, but also a screen that was a little larger and a little shorter. As it stands, the Huawei’s 1.47-inch screen appears larger visually and above all provides much more comfort while its resolution is lower. Pity. But in the defense of Xiaomi, by its dimensions, Huawei’s tracker is more of a small watch than a bracelet. Everyone will choose according to their tastes and current promotions.
Regarding the Mi Band family, however, we will have to cross our fingers for Xiaomi to hear these remarks … then wait until version 7.
A quality design without much evolution
The Mi Band 6 resumes almost in all respects the design of its predecessor, with just as much demand in terms of quality … and the same downsides. With its tempered glass screen resistant to fingerprints and its flexible plastic strap (the black one sold as standard has an antibacterial treatment), the new Mi Band still exudes solidity.
We will appreciate or not the design of the whole, with a very thick intelligent module (a little more on this version 6). The fastening system is still just as impractical and less secure than a classic watch buckle clasp. It actually broke off once or twice during the night during our testing period. It is clearly difficult to reach the last notch when you have a small wrist and the large screen does not fully adhere to the skin … Consider reversing the position of the module in the bracelet to facilitate closing.
We appreciate, on the other hand, the lightness of the bracelet with a modulus of less than 13 grams for a set that does not exceed 24 grams. Under the tracker we find the main sensors, the heart rate monitor which emits a green light and the oximeter (for measuring the level of oxygen in the blood or sPo2) which lights up in red.
For charging, Xiaomi provides a USB cable with a magnetic port that easily clips onto the tracker as was already the case on the Mi Band 5. Like him, the new Mi Band is waterproof (5ATM compatible) and can count arm beats while swimming.
One tracker, two applications
Fans of Mi Fit or simply those who do not want to change their habits will appreciate finding this iOS and Android compatible application. The interface deserves a little refresh. However, it offers the merit of being relatively intuitive and bring together detailed graphs of its activities as well as the most essential settings for using a connected bracelet, the others being accessible directly from the bracelet.
Those who want a change – and especially a slightly more modern interface – can choose to download Xiaomi wear which offers more or less the same functions. This is the new app that has been developed for the brand’s watches like the recently tested Xiaomi Watch. It works perfectly with the Mi Band bracelet. Either way, you’ll have to make a choice, as the tracker can be connected to either, but not to both.
A few haphazard translations subsist on one like the other, not in the same places elsewhere. Nothing very serious. Will you do a little rowing exercise? In France we rather say rower, but everyone will understand.
While these two apps are primarily geared towards activity tracking, whether it be sports or sleep, a few additional functions enhance the use, such as the ability to receive notifications.
This applies to calls that can be identified and then rejected from the watch, SMS messages that can be viewed from the screen or messages from couriers and other social networks. Note that native emojis are displayed at the heart of text messages, which is not the case on all bracelets. Impossible of course to answer, this possibility being reserved for the most advanced watches.
With Mi Fit or Android Wear, it is also possible to personalize your bracelet thanks to a few dozen “Watch Faces” or dials made available. Not everything is in the best taste for a European audience, but there is still something to find an interface to their liking.
There are also essential functions such as stress assessment, breathing exercises, a method of monitoring menstrual cycles, an alarm, a stopwatch, a timer or modes to ring your smartphone or trigger the camera of this smartphone remotely.
Finally, in the Friends section of the home page, we can add people of his knowledge who also use a Mi Band. The opportunity to share your activity monitoring, but not to challenge yourself like at Fitbit.
Complete sports and sleep monitoring
Has an already very complete device, Xiaomi adds SpO2 measurement via new sensor to measure his blood oxygen level. Of course, it is by no means a medical device, but in addition to the heart rate monitor, we obtain a follow-up of its constants which improves whether it is during the phases of sleep, nap included, or during the activities sports.
The Mi Smart Band 6 now allows follow up to 30 sports compared to 11 previously. Of course, only the more classic sports, like running, will give rise to a slew of metrics and graphics. On Yoga or Pilates exercises, measurements are limited to heart rate and training time.
Without being of great help to the most seasoned athletes in search of specialized watches like those from Garmin, this Mi Band will be a perfect fitness companion for others. Without integrated GPS, it relies on that of the smartphone to follow you in your outdoor activities. With the possibility of control the music that follows you, during your runs or walks, from the bracelet.
Long battery life, without a record
Champion in terms of autonomy for several years, the Mi Smart Band 6 continues to offer excellent performance in this area, but without dazzling so much against a competitor like Huawei and its Band 6. With a larger screen and a battery which remains of 125 mAh, it is impossible for this Mi Band to hold the 14 days announced except to be satisfied with the strict minimum in terms of connected functions, which would be a real shame. By adjusting the bracelet so as to obtain very complete monitoring (with continuous heart rate monitoring, for example), high brightness and several sources of notifications, as well as by carrying out activity monitoring every 2 days, it’s hard to pass the 10-day mark. Which remains excellent, even in 2021, with increased competition.
Finally, with the recharging cable, allow 1h30 to 2h of charging to switch the battery from 0 to 100%, in the absence of a fast charge function.