If you are looking for a fitness tracker, you are more than likely hoping to adjust your health behavior – whether it is to walk more, to keep track of how often you train, or to make sure you are training hard when you do. The wearables market is infused with options, but you won't find one that is much cheaper than Xiaomi & # 39; s newest Mi Band 4. It is packed with features for half the price of Fitbit and Garmin counterparts.
The Mi Band 4 has a lot to offer. For $ 40 you get a waterproof tracker with waterproofing, a heart rate monitor, workout tracking, text and call alerts, a GPS locator, sleep tracking and an impressive battery life of up to three full weeks, depending on usage. In comparison with the monochrome Mi Band 3, version 4 has an OLED touchscreen of 0.95 inch with a peak brightness of 400 nit. The screen is colorful and vibrant and responds quickly to swipe up and down to scroll through menu options for music control, alarms, training modes for training, or settings. The option to activate the screen was not always successful, but I like that you can only enable this feature between certain hours of the day so that it doesn't suddenly turn on while you throw and turn into bed.
One of the best features of the Mi Band 4 is by far the life of the battery. I wore the tape for two weeks and only had to charge it on the 13th day. (At that time it was 15 percent and it could probably have lasted another night.) Of those 13 days, I used it to keep up with 10 days of 35-minute training. Compared to my heart rate monitor with chest strap that I wore while training on a Peloton bike, the output numbers did not vary too much. The heart rate figures were almost identical and the calorie burn calculations were lower with an invisible amount.
In order for the Mi Band 4 to follow your training, you have to tap it manually to get started; the band does not automatically detect sudden spikes in the heart rate as a possible start of an exercise. You also have to manually stop it when you're done, which can be annoying to remember if you like me and you jump in the shower right after you finish training.
Although the Mi Band 4 offers sleep registration, I found that the estimates did not always seem accurate. I wake up most days and start the morning reading in bed, and the Mi Band does not recognize me as & # 39; awake & # 39; until I got up and went to the bathroom. (The Fitbit Inspire HR, the last fitness tracker I tested, had no problem identifying this lounging in bed behavior.) There was another day when I got home and immediately fainted on the couch at 9:45 PM (no judgment please) ) and woke up briefly around 1 am. The Mi Band 4 did not detect this movement and concluded that I slept no less than 10 hours and 51 minutes that night.
I could tell you that the Mi Band 4 is a great fitness tracker. It's cheap, easy to wear, fairly discreet and lightweight and does everything most fitness trackers of $ 100 can do for less than half the cost. The problem I had with the Mi Band 4, and which I would like to discuss in the second half of this review, is how some messages on the device and via the Mi Fit app seem a bit lost in translation. It became so frustrating that I found it too annoying to recommend, especially if you are a beginner and are looking for an inexpensive way to change your lifestyle.
Let's face it: changing habits is difficult. Cognitive scientists will tell you that positive language is the key to restructure your brain to encourage better behavior, and this is where the Mi Band 4 completely failed.
Take, for example, the analysis of my first night's rest with the Mi Band 4. Although I got eight hours of sleep, I woke up to find some strangely formulated, fearful tips, such as how sleeping speeds up aging after 23 hours and breaks my immune system (which is especially nice to read, since I already have half the immune system of a normal person). It also vaguely suggested that I could improve my deep sleep times by not "burdening" myself, "making work appointments," and keeping a "good mood." Um, what? That is just as helpful & # 39; helpful & # 39; if your partner says the meal you cooked can be improved by making & # 39; tasting it & # 39 ;.
The Mi Band also sends notifications to remind you to keep moving, like most wearables, but the version of this message had a rather unpleasant tone. After sitting at my desk for an hour, the Band buzzed and said to me: "You have been sitting too long." Again, I am not a psychologist, but shouldn't sustainable behavior change be encouraged with a positive outlook? To each their own, perhaps. Maybe you are the kind of person who would rather put this kind of rigor in motion, but I felt that this gadget hurt me more than motivated me.
Fervent athletes will also tell you that muscles weigh more than fat, but the Mi Fit app seemed to focus primarily on thinness, as indicated by an icon of a female figure who is slimming down in an overview of my weekly steps. (This icon was used regardless of whether you identified male or female in your profile.) Diet and weight loss have historically been feminized because EaterJaya Saxena wrote, when it comes to product messages that can often be fatphobic. All the language of the Mi Band 4 just felt vain.
I usually attribute this cultural mismatch to the fact that the Mi Band 4 and Mi Fit are made to serve the home market of the company in Asia, which has different ideologies in the field of health and happiness. But if Xiaomi wants his bands to be more effective in areas outside of Asia, he might consider adapting his software to other markets.
The easiest way to get around this mess is to simply link your Mi Band to Google Fit, but this requires a Mi Fit app that adds digital bulk to your phone. It is ironic, given the support of Mi Fit for a lean and conservatory lifestyle. Even if you skip the fitness tracking functions in the Mi Fit app, talking about messages is still worth it, as part of a healthier lifestyle is mental. If Xiaomi wants its products to be used consistently, the language should encourage this instead of scaring users away.
That said, the Mi Band 4 is a solid device. You really get a lot for a fraction of the cost of other fitness trackers, and most of my complaints with the device can be resolved with a touch of a software update. If you are looking for a cheap, basic wearable, you could do much worse than the Mi 40 band $ 40. After all, it's a fitness tracker that does exactly that: track. Do not look at the app for help in improving your actual health habits.
Photography by Natt Garun / The Verge
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