Earlier I compared the Mi Band 3 with the Honor Band 4, it was a no-brainer to go for the Honor Band 4. My complaints from the Mi Band 3 was the poor outdoor screen legibility, inaccurate activity tracking and swiping through the menu system was a nightmare. Now, the new Mi Band 4 pretty much solved all of those woes and is still priced at $25.
So, isn’t it a no-brainer that Mi Band 4 is the best budget fitness tracker? Well, yes and no! I have my opinions and here’s my full review of the Mi Band 4.
Mi Band 4 Review – The Good
Mi Band 4 is the 4th generation of the Mi Band fitness series and we are pretty much familiar with the entire Mi Band ecosystem and the Mi Fit App. So, I am going to keep the usual stuff aside and talk only about what’s good about the band and what’s not.
1. Back to the basic design
In my opinion, Mi Band 3 had a horrendous design. The protruding display of the capsule felt like a beer belly. Jokes apart, it led to the Mi Band 3 attracting more scratches and an uneven surface to be used as a touch screen. However, Mi Band 4 reverses it all back and goes to the flatter display with a flatter button at the bottom. It also has some sort of 2.5D tempered glass on it so that it can deal better with scratches.
It’s a welcome change and the touch feels more intuitive and fluid now. Rest all is the usual Mi Band design and I have always loved the fact that Mi Band doesn’t look like a fitness tracker to the normal eye. It’s clean minimal with no branding upfront.
2. Amazingly better display
This is the biggest upgrade for the Mi Band 4 over its predecessor. It comes with an AMOLED display with a resolution of 120 x 240 pixels. But more importantly, it is visible outdoors under extremely bright conditions. The colorful display is vivid and even brighter than the one on the Honor Band 4. I had no problem with the display during my outdoor morning run. Even the viewing angles are great and during my run, it wasn’t necessary to lift the band parallel to my eyesight to have a look at the pace. A slight sneak at the display and I am able to get the necessary information.
3. Decent battery life
Xiaomi claims the battery to last 20 days but it’s a far optimistic number. With 1 workout a day and continuous heart rate tracking, the Mi Band 4 easily lasts 10-12 days. That’s a good number considering the competition and the size of the fitness band. I would give all the brownie points to Xiaomi for this.
4. Improved sleep tracking
The sleep tracking on Mi Band 3 was quite average and terrible when compared with the Honor Band 5’s TruSleep algorithm. However, the Mi Band 4 is quite accurate and is able to distinguish between just lying around and sleeping. It uses the heart rate sensor to detect your deep sleep, light sleep, and wake patterns. The data is however not as extensive as the Honor Band 4 but fairly accurate. For example, this is my sleep analysis for yesterday. Both of them are fairly accurate in detecting the sleep time, deep sleep and light sleep. But, the amount of analysis the Huawei Health app offers is far more extensive.
5. Inbuilt Music Controls
Prior to the Mi Band 4, you would use third-party apps like Mi Band 2 function button to control music via the Mi Band. But, in the recent iteration, music and volume control is baked into the Mi Band 4. You swipe left from the main screen and you get the music menu. It works with both the native music player and third-party apps like Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, etc. However, the only complaint is that the music control menu switches off too early.
6. Huge support of third-party apps
The only aspect which makes Mi Band superior to every other budget fitness band is the third-party apps support. You want custom watch faces, there’s plenty of apps like AmazFaces and the Mi Band 4 WatchFaces. You can even make your own watch face and knock it on the Mi Band 4. From tons of apps out there, my most favorite is GadgetBridge. It is an open-source app that lets you use your Mi Band 4 without the Mi Fit app. It’s more of a privacy-friendly initiative for people who don’t like sharing their personal health data.
For more nifty Mi Band 4 tips & tricks, check out our dedicated article on best Mi Band 4 apps and tricks.
7. Revamped menu system
I had one major problem with the Mi Band 3 menu system. The inability to launch workout activities from within the band. But thankfully, that changes with the Mi Band 4. You can enable Running, Walking, Cycling, Swimming from within the band and even set targets and notifications.
There is no inbuilt GPS on the band but if you carry your phone along, it’s going to use the phone’s GPS to track your activity. It has connected GPS so if the app detects the band is connected during the activity it starts the phone’s GPS to record location data.
Mi Band 4 Review – The Bad
1. More accurate but less reliable
When we are talking about a fitness tracker, accuracy is the most important criteria for me. The Mi Band 3 just didn’t work for me. The step count was highly inaccurate and the distance measurement was always off the mark. The prime reason for this was the lack of good hardware. Mi Band 3 had a 3-axis accelerometer which couldn’t cope up with the angular rotation of your arm. Now, Mi Band 4 comes with a 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis accelerometer. These specs are on par with the Honor Band 5, so it was obvious to test them side by side.
I strapped the Mi Band 4 on my left hand and updated the same in the app while the Honor Band 4 was on my right hand. Below is the statistics both the fitness band calculated versus the actual distance.
|Devices||Actual Reading||Honor Band 5||Mi Band 4|
|Distance Covered||3.01 Kms||3.16 Kms||2.38 Kms|
The Mi Band’s accuracy is mostly on par with the Honor Band 5 but it lacks reliability. Like the data above, there are times when the Mi Band 4 goes completely haywire and shows extremely inaccurate data. This has happened to me like 2-3 times within a month and it was worth noting down.
2. Same old charging style
Mi Band 4 comes with a proprietary charger which yet again requires you to pop out the capsule of the strap. Now, the bummer is the charger is different from what you got with Mi Band 3. So, you cannot fall back to the previous-gen charger if you lose the new one. But, my concern is when all the bands in this price range let you charge them while being attached to the strap, why Xiaomi still sticks to the unconventional way.
Popping out the Mi Band 4 capsule from the strap is tough and it requires you to exert pressure on the display. So, while you are doing that, make sure you be gentle.
In case you are hardcore into fitness and need a tracker for your daily run or swimming, I would recommend going for the Honor Band 5 or even the Honor Band 4. But, if you like tinkering with your device and the third-party aspect of the Mi Band 4 excites you, well go get it.
For more queries or issues regarding the Mi Band 4 and Honor Band 5, let me know in the comments below.