Xiaomi Smart Band - a Very Good Purcharse

Fri
20
Dec 2019

Despite being a programmer, I'm quite conservative with technological novelties. For example, I never owned a tablet and never felt a need to have one. I was also aware there are smart watches on the market, but an idea of spending 300 EUR for another device that I would then need to charge every day seemed like too much for me. Neither I was interested in those smart bands that claim to monitor your pulse, sleep, and count your steps.

What made me revisit those types of devices was a real need I felt many times recently. Sometimes I was attending a conference, sitting on a talk with my smartphone switched to quiet mode. I was repeatedly pulling it out to check the time or to see if anyone tried to call me or sent me a message. Those are the situations where it's important not to miss the talk I want to see and to catch up with my friends, while having my phone ringing would be undesirable. Another time I was on a party in a club or concert where the music was so loud I couldn't hear or feel my phone ringing, while that's also the time when I repeatedly check the clock not to miss the show of my favourite DJ while trying to hang out with my friends. Then I thought: maybe a smart watch could provide those two simple things: show the current time and display notifications from text messages, Messenger etc., notifying about them using vibration?

After some research I found out that smart bands do exactly that if I disregard all sport-related features. I chose Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4, but devices from other manufacturers would probably provide the similar experience. It surprised me it costs only 140 PLN (33 EUR). After charging the battery, installing special "Mi Fit" app on my Android phone and pairing the two devices using Bluetooth, I could configure my smart band to change wallpaper etc. (BTW the default ones are terrible, but their format has been reverse engineered, so there are many user-created watchfaces available to download on the Internet.)

This device has only 512 KB of RAM and 120x240 pixel screen, but even with those parameters looking like some Atari computer from 30 years ago it provides many useful features. First and foremost, it shows current time and date - for 5 seconds after activated using touch screen. It also vibrates when there is an incoming call or a new message. You can configure which of the apps installed on the smartphone display their notifications also on the band, but these can be basically the same as the notifications on the phone, so any messaging app will work - whether Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal, Tinder, or standard text messages. Sender and text can be seen on the band, but responding requires pulling out the phone. Additional features I like are showing current weather and the weather forecast for the following days for current location, timer, and alarms, which can wake you up using vibration - useful not to wake up other people sleeping in the same room. The biggest surprise for me was battery life. 20 days declared by the manufacturers seemed unrealistic, but after I charged it for the first time on November 20th, it worked until... yesterday, which gives 29 days. One disadvantage I can see is that now I must have Bluetooth enabled on my phone all the time, which drains its battery faster, but I charge the phone every day anyway.

This article is not sponsored. I wrote it from my initiative, just to share my experiences with this type of device. If you consider it useful to have current time and incoming messages available on your wristband without a need to pull out your phone, a smart band like Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 is a good choice.

Update 2020-07-12: Regarding notifications, see also my post: How to Disable Notification Sound in Messenger for Android?

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