Xiaomi has introduced a new version of its popular Mi Band fitness tracker that looks a lot like its predecessor at first glance, but which adds a bunch of features and a slightly larger display.
The new Mi Band 5 goes on sale in China next week for about $27 and up (there’s an NFC-enabled model that’s priced at $32).
7/15/2020 Update: Xiaomi has announced an international version called the Mi Smart Band 5 is heading to Europe for €40. It lacks support for NFC, but has most of the other features described below. The Mi Smart Band 5 should go up for pre-order on July 20, 2020.
Earlier this year I replaced my Fitbit activity tracker with a Mi Band 4, and I’ve been very happy with the decision — I spent $35 on a gadget with a color AMOLED display, nearly a month of battery life, and support for step counting, heart rate tracking, smartphone notifications, and more. Since I primarily use it as a glorified pedometer, it also gets nearly a month of battery life on a charge.
Here are some of the things Xiaomi has changed for the new model:
- The new Mi Band 5 has a 1.1 inch, 126 x 294 pixel AMOLED display, up from the 0.95 inch, 120 x 240 pixel screen of its predecessor. It also now supports 450 nits of brightness, up from 400 nits for the Mi Band 4.
- There’s a new magnetic charger — just snap a magnetic charging cable to the back of the Mi Band 5 when it’s time to charge. Previous models required you to place the fitness tracker in a charging cradle.
- You can use the Mi Band 5 as a remote control for your smartphone camera to snap photos from a distance.
- There’s a microphone for use with Xiaomi’s XiaoAi AI assistant (which probably won’t be much use outside of China).
- The Mi Band 5 supports 11 sports modes, up from 6 activities for the Mi Band 4. New are the indoor cycling, jump rope, yoga, elliptical trainer, and rowing machine modes.
Xiaomi also says it’s improved the heart rate monitoring algorithm to support 24-hour monitoring, a 50-percent improvement in detecting irregular movements, and a 40-percent improvement in sleep monitoring… although it’s kind of hard to put those claims to the test.
New software features also include support for menstrual tracking, breathing training, and stress monitoring.
If you pay a few bucks extra for a model with NFC, you can also use the Mi Band 5 to unlock supports doors, board public transportation, and use Alipay and UnionPay mobile payments. Again, most of those features are likely to be China-specific, so the non-NFC model is probably the way to go for international users who don’t care about using their wearable fitness tracker for contactless payments. If that’s in your must-have column, then you might be better off with a pricier gadget from Fitbit, Garmin, or other companies that offer wearable with mobile payment support.
One Mi Fit 5 feature that seems to be a slight downgrade is the battery. The Mi Band 4 has a 135 mAh battery, while the Mi Band 4 has a 125 mAh battery. But Xiaomi still says you should get 14 of battery life with continuous heart rate monitoring enabled, and around 20 days without it.
For what it’s worth, that’s pretty close to Xiaomi’s battery life estimate for the Mi Band 4… but Xiaomi is one of the only companies I’ve ever encountered to give conservative battery life estimates. It’s been nearly three weeks since I charged my Mi Band 4, and the battery level is currently at 47-percent.
This article was originally published June 11, 2020 and last updated July 15, 2020.