With many parts of India in lockdown slowly opening up, I'm sure many people are looking to get back to their fitness routines, while others are all set to start new ones. This seems to be a good time for Xiaomi to launch the Mi Smart Band 6, the latest addition to its well-known fitness tracker lineup. The new Mi Smart Band 6 features SpO2 measurement and now has the ability to track more exercises than the Mi Smart Band 5 could. Should you take the Mi Smart Band 6 on your fitness journey, would you be better off with a different wearable? I used the Mi Smart Band 6 for a couple of weeks, and here is my review.
Mi Smart Band 6 price in India
The Mi Smart Band 6 is priced at Rs. 3,499 in India, but owners of any previous Mi Smart Band model can avail a Rs. 500 discount, dropping the price to Rs. 2,999. Xiaomi is selling the Mi Smart Band 6 only in black with a black strap, but you can buy different coloured straps to customise your fitness band.
The Mi Smart Band 6 is capable of logging more types of workouts than the Mi Smart Band 5
Mi Smart Band 6 design and specifications
Just like previous Mi Smart Bands, the Mi Smart Band 6 has two components, a capsule-shaped core and a TPU strap. The Mi Smart Band 6 at first looks identical to its predecessor, the Mi Smart Band 5 (Review), but the difference is apparent the minute the display lights up. While the Mi Smart Band 5 had a small rectangular display, the one on the Mi Smart Band 6 stretches to the edges of the capsule and has very thin bezels at the top and sides. The AMOLED display now measures 1.56 inches and has a resolution of 152x486 pixels. It also has tempered glass on top and an anti-fingerprint coating which helped keep the unit smudge-free, in my experience.
The capsule is removable but you don't really need to do this since you can charge it using the included magnetic charger. The underside of the capsule has pins for charging the 125mAh battery in the band. Xiaomi hasn't bumped up the battery capacity over the Mi Smart Band 5 leading to some apprehensions before testing thanks to the larger screen. Right above the charging pins are sensors for heart rate and SpO2 tracking. There are no physical buttons on the Mi Smart Band 6, and all navigation is touch-based. Xiaomi has made the Band 6 water resistant upto 5ATM, in fact it can also track swimming.
Stress tracking is a claimed feature of the Mi Smart Band 6
The Mi Smart Band 6 supports Bluetooth 5 and can be paired with a smartphone running Android 5.0 or above. You can also pair the Mi Smart Band 6 to an iPhone running iOS 10 or above. You can use the Mi Fit app or the Xiaomi Wear app. It is also compatible with the popular Strava app. I used the Xiaomi Wear app, which is the same one I have used with the Redmi Watch and the Mi Watch Revolve Active for their reviews.
Mi Smart Band 6 features and software
The Mi Smart Band 6 is feature-packed. Xiaomi claims that this wearable has 30 different fitness modes and can automatically detect six types of workouts. You can track steps, distance, and sleep on the Mi Smart Band 6 along with SpO2 and stress tracking, as well as menstrual cycle tracking. The Mi Smart Band 6 can also calculate what Xiaomi calls a PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) index based on different health parameters.
Pairing the app with the Mi Smart Band 6 is quite easy, and a lot of the band's settings can be changed through it. You can select which widgets appear on the Mi Smart Band 6 and in what order. There are a lot of widgets to choose from but only six can be added to the Band 6. Whichever ones you choose, you can take a look at all your activity parameters in the app. Similarly, you can select which apps are available on the Mi Smart Band 6 for use.
The underside of the band has the health sensors and charging contact points
Health monitoring features can also be configured using the connected app. You can select the frequency of heart rate tracking, toggle all-day stress tracking, and also enable the sleep assistant, which increases the frequency of heart rate tracking while you sleep. With the Mi Smart Band 6, Xiaomi has also introduced a breathing score metric which is currently in beta. The Mi Smart Band 6 uses its SpO2 sensor to track your blood oxygen levels while you are asleep. Most of these features are disabled by default, and you'll need to spend some time within the app to set the device up to your liking.
In the Xiaomi Wear app you can also select which apps on your phone can notify you using the Mi Smart Band 6. You can even set up the band to unlock your smartphone and vibrate for incoming calls/ messages.
Mi Smart Band 6 performance and battery life
I used the Mi Smart Band 6 for two weeks to test its accuracy and battery life. In terms of tracking accuracy, this is among the best wearables you can get in this price segment. I counted 1,000 steps manually as I walked, and the Mi Smart Band 6 registered 1,002 steps which is a negligible deviation. To check distance accuracy, I walked 1km on a treadmill using the Mi Smart Band 6's treadmill mode,, and it measured the same reading. This device also lets you save the distance reading from the treadmill workout.
I wore the Mi Smart Band 6 on my right wrist and an Apple Watch SE on my left to compare their heart rate tracking accuracy while working out. The Mi Smart Band 6 displayed heart rate readings in the same range as the Apple Watch SE (Review), with only occasional minor deviations, which is acceptable. Sleep tracking on the Mi Smart Band 6 was also accurate, with the device accurately logging the time I went to bed and when I woke up. The app gives a breakdown of deep, light, REM, and awake periods, along with a breathing score (based on SpO2 readings) if this feature is enabled. You also get tips to improve breathing. SpO2 tracking on the Mi Smart Band 6 was fairly accurate as well, returning readings in the same range as those of a standard pulse oximeter.
A magnetic charger makes it convenient to charge the Mi Smart Band 6
Xiaomi claims 14 days of battery life but you are most unlikely to hit that if you exercise five days a week and track all parameters regularly. Most of the features of the Mi Smart Band 6 are disabled by default, so it does not track heart rate continuously, show app notifications, or monitor stress unless you want it to. I set the Mi Smart Band 6 to track my heart rate every five minutes, enabled app notifications, sleep score, and idle alerts, and tracked my workouts five times a week. With these settings, the Mi band 6 lasted for eight days before needing to be recharged. If you enable PAI, expect battery life to drop even further, since it requires your heart rate to be logged every minute.
Charging the Mi Smart Band 6 was easy. I did not need to pull the capsule out of the band. The magnetic charger attached to the underside of the band quite securely. charging it from zero to 40 percent in 30 minutes and to 83 percent in an hour. Battery life is lower than that of the Mi Smart Band 5, so you will need to charge it more frequently.
After testing the Mi Smart Band 6 for two weeks, I can say that it is a good fitness band and its measurements can be relied on. It is fairly accurate when it comes to tracking steps, distance, as well as sleep. Fitness tracking has improved compared to the Mi Smart Band 5 (Review), and the Mi Smart Band 6 can track a wider range of workouts. The addition of SpO2 tracking has also come at a good time, letting you get quick readings at any point during the day.
Xiaomi hasn't changed the battery capacity of the Mi Smart Band 6 compared to its predecessor. That is one thing I would like to see improved with the next model. With the bigger display and added features, battery life has gone down. Still it can last for between 8-10 days with reasonable use, so it is still a good fitness wearable for the price.