Xiaomi launched the latest version of its famed fitness tracker at the end of June 2019 in China. It’s been about two months since the launch but Xiaomi has not launched Mi Band 4 in any other market. As previously reported, the company launched three different variants of the fitness band. The first one is a regular one and the second sports an NFC sensor. The third variant is a custom limited edition Avengers Edition Mi Band 4 with custom strap and theme.
The company has priced the regular version of Mi Band 4 for RMB 169 which amounts to about Rs 1,700. I ordered one through AliExpress all because I could not wait for the official launch. What is more, Xiaomi has not shared any timeline for the launch of the Mi Band 4 in India? After using the fitness band for about two months, here is my review for the Xiaomi Mi Band 4.
Design improvements in Xiaomi Mi Band 4
Xiaomi has made some noteworthy changes in the design of the Mi Band 4 from the Mi Band 3. First up is the display design as the new version is less curved on the top. In fact, the top of the display is flat and it only tapers around the corners to join the wrist band. Not much has changed beyond that which makes things easier of current Mi Band 3 users band strap makers. This is because Mi Band 4 module is compatible with older straps means for Mi Band 3.
However, the company has changed the location of charging pins on the new version. Now the contact pins for charging are at the bottom instead of the bottom side of the fitness band. This means that the company has also made a new charging adapter for the Mi Band 4. Now users have to slot in the module instead of clamping it on the one end. This has significantly reduced the chances where the clamping did not result in a perfect connection resulting in no charge.
Earlier, the clamp design had me double-check the pin contact as I applied more pressure on the band module. The slot-in process is much more reliable and easier for users. Similar to the previous version, this one also features water resistance for up to 5 ATM. This means that you have the same all-weather waterproof design that you got with the previous fitness band.
The most significant change in the fitness band has to be the 0.95-inch AMOLED display with the capacitive touch screen. It comes with a 128×240 pixels resolution, 24-bit color depth, up to 400 nits of peak brightness, and more. In contrast, Mi Band 3 came with a 0.78-inch OLED screen with 128×80 pixels resolution. Xiaomi also seems to have added a 2.5D tempered glass along with the anti-fingerprint coating. In addition to the capacitive button, the band does come with the one-touch button below the display to wake up or go one screen back button.
After using the fitness band for 2 months, I have to say that the shift to this new display is more significant than I can express. The introduction of color makes the display more appealing to use while ensuring that it is not distracting. In fact, this change is itself enough for me to recommend Mi Band 3 users to upgrade to the latest one when it launches in India. Digging in the details, the display area is bigger, brighter, sports more resolution, and features better visibility in daylight.
Xiaomi has also added “Band faces” or “Watch faces” to the Mi Band 4 with the introduction of color. This opens a whole new world for users to customize their band to whatever their heart desires. The Mi Fit app comes with a number of built-in band faces but users have figured out a way to load more band faces. Developers have also created an app where users can submit their band faces. Other Mi Band 4 users can browse, download, and then load these band faces on their wearables.
Some developers have also made online tools where one can make their own band face and then download the relevant files. There is no other fitness band that offers a colored display or even watch faces at this price point in the market. Most of them feature a mono-color display with a single color LED. It is worth noting that Mi Band 4 stars four-band faces internally at any given time. Here’s, three of the band faces are internal while the fourth one is custom on what Mi Fit app overwrites while syncing.
Software and other features
The device comes with support to measure different types of workouts, fitness parameters, and heart rate. Talking about the work out types, the band can measure outdoor running, treadmill, cycling, swimming, walking, and gym exercise. It also measures the steps a user has taken, the distance they have covered and the number of calories that they have burnt. Beyond this, it can also showcase weather forecast and notifications from select apps on your smartphone. Other features include a DND button, ability to set an alarm, stopwatch, timer, and ability to turn the smartphone profile to silent.
Users can also find their device if they have misplaced it in their home and it is still in the range from the band. Enabling this plays a loud alarm on the smartphone regardless of the sound profile. They can also control the music playback of their smartphone directly from the band. In fact, users can also control YouTube playback using the Mi Band 4 “Music” function. The band also allows users to toggle between the four stored watch faces without the need of a smartphone. The wearable also comes with a “Settings” section where users can control the brightness of the display, lock screen, reboot, or even factory reset the device.
Xiaomi Mi Fit app
Moving forward to the Mi Fit app, it is the central hub for everything related to Mi Band 4. It handles everything from syncing, updating the firmware of the band, to reviewing the measured metrics. The app also allows users to measure activities such as walking, running, and cycling with a more detailed view. Mi Fit comes with three different sections or tabs including “Workout”, “Friends”, and “Profile”. One should note that all this data syncing requires the user to sign up or log in to their Xiaomi account. The “Workout” tab handles all the data related top walking, calories, sleep, heart rate, and even weight.
User can dig deeper to see the history based on weekly, or monthly breakdown. The “Friends” tab allows one to add their friends with Xiaomi Mi Band and then compete against each other. Moving to the last tab “Profile”, users can keep a finer control on their wearable device. Other features include setting goals, custom “behavior tagging” that allows users to manually tag some activity, account linking and more. Tapping on the wearable in this section provides an extensive set of options including band display, screen unlock, call notification, alarm, app alerts, SMS notification, and more.
Other features include finding band, discoverability, band location, “Lift wrist”, Hear rate detection, Night Mode, Display settings, Weather Settings, software update, and the option to unpair. Even though we have an option to customize the display settings but I wish that the feature was more exhaustive allowing us to remove nested menu options from the near able interface. This would allow for true customizability when it came to the actual interface of the device. Most of the things have not really changed much ever since the major Mi Fit app redesign a couple of months back.
Tracking and performance of Xiaomi Mi Band 4
In terms of specifications, Mi Band 4 features 512KB RAM and 16GB storage for operation. Xiaomi has also added a number of sensors inside the band including accelerometer, gyroscope, PPG heart-rate, and capacitive proximity sensor. Beyond this, the company also added Bluetooth v5.0 BLE for better and more stable connectivity. With all the improved hardware, users get a smooth experience on the Mi Band with no lag or jitters.
However, moving beyond this, the Xiaomi Mi Band does a fair job in tracking all the different parameters as mentioned above. Similar to the Mi Band 3, Band 4 does an excellent job at sleep tracking. However, I wish that they improve it further to take into account short afternoon naps or sleep pattern than is off the hook and during the day. Sleeping according to a US time zone while in India throws the sleep tracking for a toss.
Activity tracking and exercise tracking is good but not really pin-point accurate if you are looking for accuracy. The fitness tracker can also mistake driving for running or walking if you are the one driving the car. This general guesstimating approximation brings us back to the entire debate about the accuracy and the need of a fitness band.
We have already discussed this matter during the Mi Band 3 review and nothing has changed in this one year. If you need accurate tracking for serious health tracking then you should go with specialized equipment or even the Apple Watch. If you just want guesswork and don’t have enough money, Mi Band 4 is the best that you can buy.
The fitness band runs on a 135mAh non-removable Lithium Polymer battery. After using the wearable for about two months, I can easily say that this is the best wearable fitness band in terms of battery. Even with the improved color display, it manages to offer about 22-25 day battery backup. It is worth noting that this is without automatic heart rate detection which is likely to pull the battery back further down.
I have also enabled “Night Mode” that dims the display brightness to a minimum during the night to save more battery. In addition to this, I have also enabled “Lift wrist to view info” feature so that it does not work at night to save battery. But, regardless of all these measures, I am sure that you will get an impressive battery backup.
Conclusion: Should you buy Xiaomi Mi Band 4?
Xiaomi has done an impressive job at improving what Mi Band 3 offered to craft the Mi Band 4. The upgraded display is a highly underrated improvement and is all worth the upgrade. The added customizability with band faces will open a whole new world for fans and users replicating what Huamei has done. The pricing is likely to remain somewhat similar to Mi Band 3 with similar tracking and performance. As mentioned in the performance section, if you want a casual tracking device and don’t want to spend a fortune, Mi Band 4 is the best out there. If you want something serious then I would recommend you to go for Apple Watch Series 4 or the much anticipated upcoming Apple Watch Series 5.