When it comes to keeping up with daily steps and basic fitness, the Mi Band remains one of the most reliable options out there. The latest Mi Band 6 builds on this with some big changes. On the one hand, it is priced higher at Rs 3,499 compared to the Rs 2,499 tag of the Mi Band 5. Second, it now comes with a 1.56-inch larger screen compared to the 1.1-inch screen from the previous band. Finally, it adds a significant change in the form of support for blood oxygen monitoring, which became a much sought-after feature during the Covid-19 era.
But do the changes justify the higher price? And what makes the Mi Band 6 a better choice over the countless fitness trackers and watches on the market? Let’s take a look in our review
Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: what is good?
When I first saw the Mi Band 6, it was hard not to notice the larger screen. The AMOLED display with 326 pixels per inch (PPI) and a maximum brightness of 450 nits is readable even in direct sunlight. In fact, I would say the screen is a bit too bright, especially if you plan to wear it for sleep tracking.
But the larger display also means that the Mi Band 6 is now a bit more suitable for showing notifications from messaging apps like WhatsApp. It’s not perfect and the text is still small, but it definitely adds more utility to the device. The Mi Band 6 is now compatible with the Xiaomi Wear app, which powered the brand’s fitness watches.
Users can access the Xiaomi Wear app and enable phone notifications, app notifications, etc. for them to appear on the device. Mi Band 6 connects of course to the Mi Fit app and now to the Strava app. It is also capable of automatically detecting six fitness modes, including walking, running, cycling, indoor rowing and elliptical.
The group setup now includes an SPO2 monitor to track oxygen levels in the blood. Just make sure you wear the bracelet firmly and stay still when measuring them. The two to three times I used this feature my blood oxygen levels were generally 98-99%, so I guess it works accurately.
As always with the steps, the Mi Band 6 remains precise, and if I may say so, a bit stingy. I didn’t notice any step jumps (maybe 3-4) while sitting in a car. The group’s step count was good, especially on days when I knew I hadn’t been very active. And the group understood when I started walking, because the auto-detect function was working perfectly. Although it usually detects about 5-10 minutes, I had started to walk.
By the way, if auto-detect kicks in and you’re not really in the middle of a workout, let’s say you’ve just gone out for your groceries, you can choose an option to have the group ignore them and turn them off. automatic detection for about an hour.
The Mi Band 6 can lock onto your phone’s GPS systems and detect directions when you walk or run. However, you will then need to take your phone with you. If you do not pick up the phone, GPS routes are not recorded.
The two or three walks I did with the Mi Band 6 were pretty accurate. Another feature that I really liked was that the group would stop immediately if and when I took a break from exercising or walking. I was very impressed with the accuracy given that this is still a budget fitness tracker.
I also took the Mi Band 6 for my outdoor bike rides, and this is where I ran into some issues. But the group was specific about distance, elevation during the bike ride. I also used the bracelet to track indoor cycling sessions, and although it doesn’t show any distance, the calories burned were what my cycle was showing.
The fitness bracelet is swimming and water resistant. I was not able to take it to swim, but I often wore it during baths and it continues to work well. The group’s sleep tracking remains accurate as always, one of the best in the business. For example, when I recently slept at 1:30 a.m. and woke up early, the group marked that day as “sleep deprivation” and I totally agree 100%.
The fitness bracelet can also track the menstrual cycles of women. You can add the dates of their last period and the average cycle time to the Xiaomi Wear app to see the prediction. The group will also reflect when your period is about to occur, the days of ovulation, etc. It also includes stress monitoring, breathing exercises for those who want to use such features.
Xiaomi promises around 14 days of battery life, but if you keep the brightness on the upper side, are very active, and have continuous heart rate monitoring on, you can expect to drain a bit faster. I managed to get it easily over a week. I would suggest keeping the fitness band charger safe in a part of your device.
Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: what’s wrong?
The only big problem I encountered was when I was cycling outdoors with the Mi Band. First, it would continue to wait for the GPS signal, and I figured there was no way to actually start the trip if the GPS signal was not found. Since I did not have the phone with me, I simply continued the journey without recording the session. The second time around I got the phone but the same problem persisted even though it detected the GPS. I managed to start the ride. But the band didn’t record any distance, which was frustrating.
Finally, the third and fourth time, he manages to connect to the GPS and record the distance on my outings. I couldn’t find a way on the app to make sure the trip would start without the GPS signal. I’m not sure why the group doesn’t start recording bike rides without a phone GPS because they manage to do it during the walks or runs. During the latter, the Go or Start option would appear even if the phone was not there. So yes, if you plan to use it for biking, be prepared to take your phone with you.
I noticed a few deep scratches on the band’s screen in the short time that I’ve used it. I would say you have to be careful using it.
Finally, the bigger screen means it’s not as tight as I would have liked. So keep this in mind if you are upgrading and have smaller wrists. But that’s a bit expected, given that Xiaomi has increased the screen size. Sometimes I had to wear it very tight in order to ensure a better fit. Then the plastic bracelets left a mark on my wrist, which is never a good sign.
Xiaomi Mi Band 6 test: verdict
Despite the issues I have faced with cycling, the Mi Band 6 is undoubtedly still a reliable device for basic fitness tracking. The step tracking is one of the most accurate, it is ideal for those who go for walks / runs and need an affordable tracker. The colorful display is excellent and the size of the bracelet should fit most standard wrists. Xiaomi has increased the price considering the blood oxygen monitoring function and the larger display. If you have an older Mi Band 3 or 4, you may want to consider upgrading to this one.