Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse (heart rate monitor) [updated]
Update 2016-04-01: Xiaomi Malaysia just confirmed the Mi Band Pulse and pricing: RM79.
Update 2016-04-02: Added comment about IP67 (dust and water resistance), the heart rate technology on MiBand, tips on getting accurate reading & retail by Amway for InBody Band.
Update 2016-04-05: Added additional section on sleep tracker.
The Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse (or sometimes called Mi Band 1S) is one of the two items I purchased recently.
As more of us become more health conscious, it seems like a fitness tracker might be something useful to have
But seriously speaking… Gadgets that can monitor our health (or well-being) is going to be something that will be “mainstream”. I believe that over the next 1-2 years, there will be so much of improvement in this area that most of us will end up owning some sort of gadget that can help us monitor our well-being.
Good thing about this Mi Band Pulse is… It is affordable when compared to other fitness trackers. But how does it fare?
It is very simple to “setup”. You just need to insert the monitor into the hypoallergenic silicone band. That is it.
First thing that is very obvious… There’s no screen on the Mi Band Pulse.
Just like the earlier model (the Mi Band — Without the heart rate monitor), there isn’t a screen on the Mi Band Pulse. That is probably one reason why a single charge can last about 15-20 days (though it’s officially claimed that it’ll last 30 days like the original). But no having a screen also means that you will need a smartphone to actually be able to “use” the Mi Band Pulse — You will need to install the Mi Fit apps, which is available on both iOS and Android.
Pairing the Mi Band Pulse to the phone is actually quite simple. After you have charged the band and installed the apps, just launch the apps and it will guide you through pairing process. You will need to have the band close to you so it can detect and pair with the band. After that, you just “use” it. Wear the band like a bracelet and do what you normally do. The band will track the number of steps you have taken each day.
Moving on the the slightly more advanced feature — heart rate monitor.
You will be presented with a screen and the option to measure your heart rate.
One important thing to note about apps:
Apps are always changing. So what is shared in the screenshots here may change over time. I’ll try my best to update this post with the latest info.
Is the Mi Band Pulse any good?
I am fortunate to be able to test this band (literally) side-by-side with another fitness tracker – the Inbody Band.
One thing to always remember about these fitness trackers — They can never be accurate. These trackers detect “motion” and sometimes flicking the wrist can generate extra “counts”. But as you can see from the screenshots above, the count difference between the two fitness band isn’t that big, IMHO.
As for the heart rate monitor, I believe both bands uses different methods to measure the hear rate. Readings from both bands were, however, close to each other. Xiaomi uses photoplethysmography.
But there was one time when the Mi Band Pulse registered a really “off” reading — see one of the earlier screenshots — There is one heart rate reading of 170BPM. I took another reading 2-3 minutes later and it was back to the “average” reading. I’m very sure my heart was not beating at 170BPM. (see comments at end of post)
Still, I think for the price (as it is not officially available in Malaysia yet, I paid slightly more for it — RM85), the Mi Band Pulse is quite good. Especially considering that the InBody Band is about USD150! Here’s a review of the InBody Band by Ars Technica.
Note: InBody Band is only available via Amway in some ASEAN countries.
Besides the regular fitness tracker functions, the Mi Band Pulse has got a few other tricks up its sleeve.
The Mi Band Pulse can be used to unlock one’s smartphone (depends on the smartphone, but it should work on all Xiaomi phones). Once the phone and the band has been paired and setup, when you get close to the phone, the phone will be unlocked. However, I was not able to test this as I do not have a “compatible” phone.
You can also setup various type of alerts and alarms. Once setup, the band will vibrate when there is an alert/ alarm. You can disable this, if you do not like to be disturbed. The vibration is actually quite impressive for a small band like the Mi Band Pulse.
Another interesting feature of the Mi Band is the Sleep Tracker function. The band is supposed to be able to track your sleep and tell you things like how long you were asleep, how long was light sleep vs deep sleep, etc..
I have to say that this Sleep Tracker function is one of the more intriguing functions on the Mi Band Pulse. It has actually gotten me quite interested in the subject of sleep. The band is somehow able to tell when I am in deep sleep vs light sleep.
I was initially quite skeptical about this function since I doubt it’s accuracy. But I believe my doubts were unfounded. On several occasions when I got up in the middle of the night to adjust the air-conditioning temperature, the band is able to detect that I am awake.
L: See the time on lockscreen; R: Sleep tracker capturing my sleep and wake time (click to view bigger image)
I have to admit — That is impressive!
There’s a lot of statistics you can get from the apps. It can be fun to analyse all these sleep pattern, heart rate, steps taken, etc… But if you just the basic stuff like steps and heart rate, well, it is there and it works. And again… Very affordable. The Mi Fit apps can also integrate with Apple Health and Google Fit.
The Mi Band Pulse is also certified IP67 – meaning it is dust proof and water resistant up to a certain limit — no more than 1m and no more than 30 minutes
Room for improvement…
If there is something that Xiaomi can improve on, it is the accessibility to the Heart Rate monitor function. It just takes too many clicks on the apps to launch the monitor. It would be good if there is a widget or gesture to make it easier to launch the heart rate monitor. Yes, the Mi Band does support gesture — But so far, only 1 that I am aware of. And that box… It’s just so tight and difficult to open.
Overall, I think the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse is a good buy for anyone who wants to start monitoring their fitness level.
If you have any Q about the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse (or even the Inbody Band), just drop a comment below and I’ll try to answer your Qs.
Note: As and when there is an update to this post, I’ll also put a remark at the top for easy reference.
Getting accurate heart rate readings from the Mi Band Pulse.
After reading up on the technology used by Xiaomi, I now know why there was an abnormal reading (see above). For heart rate sensors using photoplethysmography, it is very, very important that there is no movement when the sensor is doing a reading. What I would suggest is to push the band up your wrist/ arm so the band becomes “firmly locked”. This will help reduce any movement and improve the accuracy.