Few of the wearables outside the Apple Watch have taken the market quite like the Xiaomi Mi Band series. Price, battery, form and function combine to ensure that Mi Band 7 remains Xiaomi’s best budget product for another year.
While at first it may feel like very little has changed. There are a few minor tweaks that evolve the Mi Band and make it the perfect daily fitness tracking companion for all Android phones – or even the iPhone.
Video – Xiaomi Mi Band 7 review
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The proof is in the name of the Xiaomi Mi Band 7, which is mostly a silicone band with a small screen that can be detached and attached to various straps, clasps, and even keychain from some retailers. When most of our everyday technology has ballooned over the past few years, this is kind of a revival in its simplicity.
Although the lack of design fuss is commendable, it is difficult to distinguish the Mi Band 7 from its predecessors. Kudos to Xiaomi for not making changes for it, as this means that many existing accessories – such as replacement straps – should work just fine.
Think of the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 as an old pair of slippers, it’s familiar in all the right ways and that’s a good thing since it doesn’t try to spoil the actions with fancy new hardware or new key functions. Unfortunately, there are no new colors for the watch face. You’ll need to swap out the silicone band to add a little extra flair here.
However, since the Mi Band 7 is a thin band with a screen of less than 2 inches, I think it performs better in the standard ghost black design. Factor in that the Mi Band line starts at around $40-50 which is a forgivable design choice. Without NFC connectivity for wireless payments on global variables, this helps keep prices low.
The fact that we’ve seen fitness bands evolve from an early Fitbit-era strap with no screen to full-color AMOLEDs shows just how much this style of wearable has evolved in such a short period of time. After introducing color on the line with the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, the screen area has steadily increased in millimeters every year since then. The 1.62-inch AMOLED screen has 326 pixels per inch, which is incredible given its size.
It’s a deceptively good show and much smoother than I expected. I’m upset about removing the capacitive home button, but the gesture navigation and animation are fluid given that this is just a few steps away from a scientific calculator in the power stakes. The ability to skip tracks and read notifications feels more “analog” than your smartphone screen – which looks great even though the information is overloaded.
Being able to use the Always On display feature for the first time was something I was really looking forward to and after a recent software update, it didn’t disappoint. There’s definitely battery life, but it’s worth it because at a glance you get the time information without having to activate or interact with the Mi Band 7. Each watch face has unique designs that take advantage of the feature as well, making it even more. Fun experience. I’ll stop calling it a killer feature but it’s definitely one of the best new additions and might be the reason many people upgrade from an older model.
Xiaomi has added a number of new watch faces to take advantage of the larger screen and the addition of Super Wallpapers from MIUI is interesting but not necessarily great. I found that something the animation would jump on when the screen was active. Although nice in principle, I simply stuck to the default watch face because it provided all the information I wanted at a glance. With the Zepp Life app, you can choose from a variety of designs ranging from mechanical art to abstract art.
I found the 500 nits maximum brightness to be just enough for clarity in sunny environments, but the glossy dome screen held back the Mi Band 7. However, it’s small enough that you can cover it in your hand and bring out the entirety of the screen without too many issues.
Weighing in at just 13.5 grams in a small size, you’ll hardly notice that you have anything attached to your wrist on a daily basis. I found the Mi Band 7 to be very comfortable thanks to the shape and size, but the bracelet holds in a way that also keeps it secure.
Since the screen is flat and tall, nothing protrudes to prevent movement of your wrist. Heck, you could probably tie this to your ankle for a run and it wouldn’t be a bad experience.
Everything is water-resistant to 5ATM, which means that wearing the Mi Band 7 in the shower – or even swimming in the pool – is not a concern. I recommend removing it and drying it because you may get irritated by the rubber band.
Fitness and health tracking
There is still no GPS on board, which means you will need to take your phone with you for the designated run or walk. I don’t have much of a problem with this personally, as those serious about fitness will probably prefer a dedicated tracker.
Xiaomi has imposed tracking of 120 exercises. Yes, 120. This is a fourfold increase over the 30 modes presented in its predecessor. That’s not all as there are recovery mode tracking data options along with training load data points.
I can’t speak too much about accuracy but you have a lot of options that dwarf a lot of full-fat smartwatches. Auto workout tracking can be a little slow, which is something you might want to keep in mind. Being able to keep track of things even from a primitive point of view will always be more useful than just guessing the scales yourself.
With the Zepp Life app (formerly MiFit), you can sync all your fitness and health data with Google Fit. This data is flagged within the Fit app, making it easy to see if you’re wearing the bracelet or any other wearable device connected to your Google Account.
The battery is charging
To help ensure you get the best battery life, I suggest turning your continuous heart rate monitoring to every 30 minutes at most. I left continuous blood oxygen tracking (SpO2) and after receiving the Mi Band 7 I charged it once fully to 100%. In the six days since I started wearing it, I haven’t had to hunt around for the somewhat annoying charger.
Xiaomi claims that you can get up to 15 days of life and with some modifications that may be possible, but you will miss out on some of the great features that this thin wearable has to offer. For sleep tracking, this is where this type of device will always outperform a big, bulky and power-hungry smartwatch.
Upon charging, I found that removing the bulging screen portion of the wrist strap was the only consistent way to ensure a power draw. This is a bit annoying but the charging method has not changed since Mi Band 5.
The lack of NFC support outside of China is one of the few persistent sore points for a tried-and-tested product that only gets marginally better with each passing year. If you want a basic daily fitness tracking companion with little or no mass, there is nothing better than this.
However, if you have an older Mi Band, such as Mi Band 5 or newer, there probably won’t be enough for you to consider opting for the new model. Personally, I think the Mi Band 7 is the perfect replacement for a full-fledged smartwatch like the Galaxy Watch 4. If you just want basic health and exercise tracking, a slim form factor and excellent battery life, this is – still – the undisputed king of the fitness bands.
Where can I get Xiaomi Mi Band 7?
Although it is difficult to purchase Xiaomi smartphones in North American markets via reputable retail channels, it is easy to get hold of accessories and wearable devices. You can get the Mi Band 7 directly from Xiaomi’s official Amazon store for $69 shipping.
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