The Xiaomi Mi Band is undeniably the budget fitness tracker champ – and the new Mi Band 5 has arrived to continue its unrivalled popularity.
Mi Band devices have been topping the global sales charts for years, thanks to huge popularity in China and India and super low prices in the West.
When you compare prices and features, even bands like the Fitbit Inspire HR and Samsung Galaxy Fit struggle to rival the Mi Band range.
The Mi Band 5 is tipped to go on sale globally in July, but until we get the new tracker on our wrists, we’ve scoured the specs sheet to see how the new Mi Band compares to the Mi Band 4 to see whether you should wait to make an upgrade.
Wareable verdict:Xiaomi Mi Band 4 review
|Mi Band 4||Mi Band 5|
|Screen resolution||120 x 240, 400nit||126 x 294, 450nit|
|Water resistance||50 meters||50 meters|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, HR||Accelerometer, HR|
|Sleep||Yes||Yes + REM tracking|
|Battery life||20 days||20 days
NFC: 12 days
|PAI fitness score||No||Yes|
|Tracked sports||Treadmill running, outdoor running, cycling, walking, pool swimming and a general tracking exercise mode||Treadmill running, outdoor running, cycling, walking, pool swimming, open workout, yoga, indoor rowing, skipping, elliptical and rowing machine|
|GPS||No (can use smartphone)||No (can use smartphone)|
Xiaomi Mi Band 5 v Mi Band 4: Design
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
For those hoping for a dramatically different-looking Mi Band, that’s not really the case here with the Mi Band 5.
That’s hardly surprising given Xiaomi made big changes for the 4, largely through the addition of a colour touchscreen display. It’s not necessarily a bad thing Xiaomi has largely stuck to the same look as the 4 was arguably its most polished fitness tracker.
You’re still getting the same polycarbonate tracker and silicone band. While on the Mi Band 4 you’d need to pop out the tracker to charge it or even change the band, that’s not the case on the 5. A new magnetic charging setup means you’ll just need to clip the charging cable it into the back of the tracker.
A touchscreen remains your means of navigating features and viewing data, but the quality has jumped on the new Mi Band.
On the Mi Band 5, you’re getting a 1.1-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with an 126 x 294 resolution. That’s a jump up in size and resolution from the 0.95-inch, 120 x 240 resolution colour AMOLED display featured on the Mi Band 4.
Xiaomi has upped screen size with every new Mi Band and that trend hasn’t changed. There’s also improvements on the brightness front too. The Mi Band 5 now offers 450 nits of brightness compared to 400 nits on the Mi Band 4.
The Mi Band 4 screen was a great performer, particularly when you consider the price. So it looks like it’s only going to get better for the 5 in pretty much every way.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
In terms of band colours, the Mi Band 4 comes in black, orange, blue, wine red, and pink. For the new Band, you’re getting a pick of eight colour options including some of the pastel numbers pictured above. So if you care about options, you’re getting more with the new Band. Though it’s not clear if the bands will be interchangeable like they were on the Mi Band 4 (and 3) now that you no longer need to remove the tracker to charge it.
Water resistance rating is the same for both trackers, with the protection up to 50 metres depth letting you take it in the shower and go for a swim too. Pool swim tracking is supported here too, though we hope performance has improved from our pool time with the Mi Band 4.
The MI Band 5 will come in two models, a standard and NFC model just like the Mi Band 4 did. That NFC model also adds a microphone to enable voice commands and smart home control via Xiaomi’s Xiao AIl. Like the NFC edition of the Mi Band 4, this model looks set to be for China only. There have been some rumors that Xiaomi could be lining up Pro and Lite models, though that is still very much speculation.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5 v Mi Band 4: Fitness tracking features
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
So what can these trackers actually track? In terms of sensors you can rely on, both use accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to track movement and a proximity sensor for supporting the ability to raise to wake the display.
One additional sensor you’ll find on the Mi Band 5 is a barometer as a way of calculating changes in elevation. So, that’s a useful sensor to have if you find yourself climbing a lot of stairs.
There’s a heart rate monitor also on board both Mi Bands to offer real-time readings during exercise and on the spot readings. There are some additional uses for the sensor on the Mi Band 5 that Xiaomi claims is now 50% more accurate than the one on the Mi Band 4.
It can now detect abnormalities in heart rate and will also unlock new PAI scores. These are the scores we saw crop up on the Amazfit GTS, a watch that’s built by the very same Huami that makes the Mi Band.
This score summarises your weekly activity focusing based heart rate. We found it useful addition to the GTS and it feels like a more useful insight into your weekly fitness versus step counts.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
You can still count steps and there’s automatic sleep monitoring covered too. On the Mi Band 5, Xiaomi will now indicate REM sleep, which is the part of sleep related to increasing brain activity and promoting learning among other benefits.
Beyond basic fitness tracking, the Mi Band has evolved to become more useful for more than just steps and sleep. On the Mi Band 4, you get six dedicated workout modes, which cover treadmill running, outdoor running, cycling, walking, pool swimming and a general tracking exercise mode.
In comparison, the Mi Band 5 has ramped up things up to 11 workout modes that now includes yoga, indoor rowing, skipping, elliptical and rowing machine. There’s no GPS on either Band, but you can piggyback off phone GPS to improve distance accuracy.
Taking a leaf out of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin’s book, Xiaomi is now adding guided breathing exercises and the ability for women to track menstrual cycles from the Mi Band 5 too. Something you won’t find on the Mi Band 4.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5 v Mi Band 4: Smartwatch features
With the addition of a colour touchscreen display on the Mi Band 4, it made more sense for Xiaomi to roll out the kind of features you’d expect to find on smartwatches.
On the Mi Band 4, you’ve got the ability to view notifications (for Android and iOS), see weather forecasts, and control music playing from your phone. It also brought 77 themes you can select from the band itself or from the companion app.
You’ll get all of that on the Mi Band 5 too and now it’s beefing up themes up with over 100 to choose from. That collection now include animated themes featuring the likes of SpongeBob, Evangelion, Hatsune Miku, and Detective Conan. It’s also letting you use the tracker as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera so you can take pictures from afar.
If you manage to get hold of the NFC model of the Mi Band 5, you’ll be able to use it for door access, paying for transport and it also supports Alipay and UnionPay payment systems. The Mi Band 4 NFC edition in comparison offers everything apart from the new UnionPay support. As already mentioned, these are all relevant and useful if you live in China.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5 v Mi Band 4: Battery life and price
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
Xiaomi has managed to improve battery life on every new generation of the Mi Band. On the 4, it packed in a 110mAh capacity battery that it said should deliver 20 days of tracking time. In our testing time, it definitely held up to that.
With the Mi Band 5, you’re getting a larger 125mAh capacity battery that Xiaomi claims should give you the same 20 days. If you opt for the NFC version, that drops to 14 days. It’s hardly surprising it’s less on the NFC version, especially if you make use of the NFC regularly. Ultimately it’s still a good showing on both fronts.
So let’s talk about price. The Mi Band 4 came in at £35. That was just slightly up from the £30 the Mi Band 3 came priced in at launch. We don’t have official UK or US pricing, but when you do the currency conversion, ¥189 for the standard Mi Band 5 is around £21 and ¥229 for the Mi Band 5 NFC edition is around £26.
So, Xiaomi has still managed to keep things affordable and it’s still cheaper than Fitbit’s most affordable tracker, the Inspire, and sits around the same price as the Samsung Galaxy Fit e.
On paper, it looks like Xiaomi is giving you a fair few reasons to make that upgrade. On the hardware front, the screen is better, the charging setup has thankfully been improved and the heart rate monitor tech has been improved too.
With the software, it’s nice to see women’s health tracking is now included and the PAI Health scores brings more value to your activity tracking. Those animated watch faces look good fun as well.
That’s not to say its arrival makes the Mi Band 4 immediately redundant. It’s still a solid tracker in our eyes and made a lot of big improvements on the Mi Band 3 to rightfully earn a 4 out of 5 score. That’s the highest we’ve ever scored a Mi Band.
As pricing is very similar, it seems like no brainer to go new Mi Band and get those new features on your wrist instead.