Software | Web | Project Management

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Review

The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is a budget fitness tracker, which can be had for as little as about £24. It's headline feature is an optical heart sensor, which combine with an OLED display, the standard pedometer and an accelerometer. It comes in a pretty slim form factor and neat silicone band and claimed 20 days battery life.

I'm writing about it because it's a fundamentally flawed device, and very few if any reviews have recognised this. The heart rate sensor doesn't work adequately to be of any value, and Xiaomi software is generally very poor, further undermining any practical utility the band has beyond a simple watch and possibly a pedometer.

 The optical heart sensor looks like a very good deal considering the price. However, immediately I noticed the heart rate it returns is inconsistent - it often under-reads, which renders it immediately useless as you cannot trust any value it reports. 

 This is a product now expected to be superceeded - at the end of it's life cycle, but the software is still severely lacking. I expect the hardware features to be tied together by software. Motion should be detected and steps / heart rate recorded as an activity automatically. This does occur with the sleep function, bizzarely, but not for actual sporting activities. Xiaomi expects you to do this with their fitness app (which is mandatory as you need it to connect to the band), starting a new activity by hand and stopping when finished. You have a choice of two - running and running on a treadmill! I believe even this was a later addition. 

Related to this, there is a highly confusing and also useless 'behaviour tagging' feature provided with no explanation. You may start and stop recording a wide range of other activities, but for no purpose! The widely predicted reasoning behind this is to provide data collection for Xiaomi, possibly for some future feature. This very much summises their philisophy - everything is promised on a wing and a prayer - you have no idea how incomplete the feature set you are buying into will remain. Hint - it will be incomplete. 

Xiaomi's attitude to quality and testing is consistently poor across all their software output - spanning their own customised Android OS, Web based services, and individual Android apps. 

There is a pervading attitude now of ship now, fix later. The obvious competition - Fitbit - still woefully undersupport Android across their tracking devices. The few supported phones are mostly discontinued models, with the exception of Samsung, and they will not provide a roadmap for future support (we asked). I can only assume they believe their market are exclusively iPhone owners. Why so difficult though - it's just an app interacting with a bluetooth device, so where is the pain supporting each individual phone coming from?

Add a comment