Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Review
Pros: Easy to operate, solid display
Cons: Limited fitness tracking features, no diet tracking
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mi Band 4 doesn't do much besides count your steps, measure your heart rate, and track some basic workout stats. This pales in comparison to the top-tier models but is more than enough features for anyone who wants a simple and easy to use fitness tracker that won't break the bank.
The most significant of our testing metrics, Fitness Impact accounts for 30% of the final score for Mi Band 4 and the other wearables in this review. To determine its scores, we looked at the accuracy of the step and stair counters, as well as how the Mi Band 4 did at tracking different workout and other activities. Additionally, we also looked at the various community compare functions available with this tracker. Its results were fairly lackluster, earning it a mediocre score overall in this metric.
The Mi Band 4 has a surprisingly accurate step counter and was within 10 steps of the true step count in most of our 1-mile walks when compared with a manual step counter. On average, it only differed from the true step count by 0.2%. We had one anomaly where it was off by more than 500 steps but didn't happen again so it seems likely this was a mis-test. The distance estimate by the Mi Band 4 is also pretty accurate, only differing from the true distance by a tenth of a mile or less in most cases.
Next, we looked at the cycling workout tracker on the Mi Band 4. This tracker relies on your phone's GPS and can show you your heart rate, speed, duration, current time, and distance while riding. After you finish, you can also see a map of your route, estimated calories burned, top speed, climbing distance, HR zones, and elevation change.
The Mi Band 4 doesn't have much in the way of other trackable activities, limiting you to swimming, outdoor running, treadmill, walking, and exercise. Running shows similar stats to cycling, while exercise only shows duration and heart rate. The swimming workout will also show the number of strokes, distance per stroke, distance, calories, and time while in the pool as well.
Unfortunately, this tracker doesn't count the number of stairs climbed throughout the day and the functions to compare with your friends are pretty limited. It shows you your stats day-to-day and you can scan a QR code to compare steps, last weight (odd, we know), and sleep info but we didn't really see any competitive challenges or a way to link it with your existing social media profiles.
Next, we ranked and scored some of the various health tracking abilities the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 has, which is responsible for 25% of its final score. In particular, we looked at the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, if it has any dieting tracking aids or reminders to get up and move, if it has an alarm clock, and if it can track your sleep. The Mi Band 4 did alright, earning a score in the middle of the group for its so-so performance.
We didn't find the heart rate sensor on the Mi Band 4 to be very impressive, as it averaged about 15 bpm off of our chest strap heart rate monitor throughout our tests. It also had some significantly larger discrepancies — 30-50 bpm — when compared to the chest strap with an elevated heart rate.
There isn't really a way to use this tracker to monitor your calorie intake and it doesn't estimate your daily calories burned, only any additional ones burned by exercising. It also doesn't link to any third-party dietary tracking apps. However, it does notify you if you have been sedentary for too long and we particularly liked that you can adjust both the timing and the intensity of the alarm. It has a progress bar that fills in with steps throughout the day so you have an easy visual reference if you are on track to hit your step goals and automatic sleep tracking. This didn't seem incredibly accurate in our tests, as the Mi Band 4 completely missed the three or four times our tester woke up in the middle of the night.
Ease of Use
Next, we moved on to rating and comparing how much of a hassle it is to use the Mi Band 4, looking at its interface, companion app, battery life, and ease of actually putting it on, as well as its water resistance. While the Mi Band 4 is fairly bare-bones in nature, it is very simple and easy to use, earning it one of the better scores of the group in this series of tests, which account for 20% of its final score.
Xiaomi claims that this tracker can last for up to 20 days, assuming default settings (30-minute heart rate monitoring, and 100 notifications, 2 alarms, 5 minutes of vibrations, and 10 taps of the touch button each day). It stood up very well in our tests and didn't give us a reason to doubt that claim, though actual battery life will slightly vary user to user. It uses a proprietary USB charger to recharge when it does die.
The companion mobile app is simple and straightforward to use and data from the tracker usually syncs within 10 seconds or less. You can see some of your past data or select one of the four different activity profiles to track, as well as adjust your profile and basic settings.
The tracker itself doesn't have a huge set of menus so it's easy to navigate through the various options by swiping or tapping. The Mi Band 4 is rated as being waterproof up to 5 ATM or 50 meters and the stiffer band makes it easy to put on or take off.
In this metric — responsible for 15% of the final score — we compared the look and feel of each fitness tracker, as well as their profile to determine scores. As this is a fairly subjective metric, we enlisted the help of a panel of judges to try on each tracker and then averaged their scores. The Mi Band 4 is fairly plain when it comes to looks but is comfortable and has a slim profile, earning it an above-average score.
The Mi Band 4 is basically a black plastic oval but it makes up for its lack of style with its discretion. It's small and lightweight, making it easy to overlook and even easier to forget that you are wearing it. Its smooth finish and low profile also work in tandem to keep it from getting caught on backpack straps or sleeves when you are taking on or off a jacket.
For our final metric, which constitutes the remaining 10% of the total score for each tracker, we evaluated and scored the quality of the display, as well as the information conveyed. For being such a minimalistic tracker, we were impressed with the display, earning the Mi Band 4 a score well above average.
The home screen shows you the date, time, and day of the week. It's easy to read the screen in dim conditions but the backlight is a little on the weaker side, making it hard to read in bright sunlight. It wakes almost instantly when you raise your wrist and the screen is quite responsive, though it does misread the occasional swipe.
You can get call, text, and app notifications and you can also scroll through secondary menus to see your steps, distance, active calories, and idle alerts.
The Mi Band 4 by Xiaomi is a great value option if you are shopping on a tight budget, packing a ton of features in a package that costs far less than the top models.
If you want the bare-bones fitness tracker that doesn't cost a ton, it's hard to go wrong with the Mi Band 4.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman
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