Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Review: no revolution, but an excellent confirmation

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Brian Adam
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Xiaomi has launched its expected Mi Band 5 without real revolutions, but confirming the good things we have seen in the past.

Xiaomi Mi Band 5 review Review: no revolution, but an excellent confirmation

This year the rumors related to the Global version of Xiaomi Mi Band 5 described the arrival of an NFC payment system working in Europe and support for the Amazon Alexa voice assistant. Unfortunately, none of this has materialized and in the end the news brought by the smartband are more “contained” than expected. In short, the hype generated by the rumors was perhaps a bit excessive.
With the rumor issue out of the way once and for all, the time has come think with a cold mind about Xiaomi Mi Band 5, a device that we have had the opportunity to try properly in recent weeks and which is sold at a price of about 34 euros on Amazon Italy through resellers.

Design and unboxing

Let’s start with an important assumption: Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is a product that follows a trail of “continuity”, starting from the excellent success of Mi Band 4. This is understandable: it is difficult to upset the market again with important innovations the year after placing a shot like that. However, it is wrong to say that the Chinese company has sat on its laurels, given that already from the sales package there is an interesting novelty: a renewed charging system. In fact, the magnetic charging cable is much more comfortable than the previous solution and it is no longer necessary to remove the Mi Band from the strap, an aspect that was considered a flaw by many. In short, the watchword is comfort.

For the rest, the packaging goes straight to the point as always: in addition to the charging cable with magnetic attachment there are only the Mi Band 5 and the multilingual user manual (including Italian). The only thing that made us turn up our noses a bit is the length of the charging cable, equal to only 45 cm (approximately). Probably more could have been done from this point of view.

As for the design, at first glance it might seem that there are no particular differences compared to Mi Band 4. In reality, the display is larger: it is a 1.1-inch AMOLED panel (in the past it was 0.95 inches). The resolution is 126 x 294 pixels, while the maximum brightness is 450 nits. In short, a step forward has been made in terms of resolution and the brightness is also good for outdoor use.
Of course, in some situations where sunlight is particularly present it can still be a bit difficult to read the small elements, but this is nothing transcendental and in general we have not had any particular problems.

The weight of just 11.9 grams and the rubber strap give the smartband a good comfort in practically all contexts. Mi Band 5 is a lightweight device, made with the way users use it in mind. Of course, the design has not been revolutionized: at the front we find the classic soft-touch button and in general the look refers a lot to that of the Mi Band 4, but as previously illustrated Xiaomi has made several improvements to improve comfort.
It may seem like a minor aspect, but in reality this is noticed during the daily use of the smartband. In case you are wondering: there is water resistance up to 5 ATM (diving up to 40 meters) and the dimensions of the smartband are 46.95 x 18.15 x 12.45 mm. There are six colors available: Yellow, Teal, Navy Blue, Mint Green, Orange and Black. We tried the latter, which is a bit more “classic”.

Experience of use with Xiaomi Mi Band 5

Design certainly has its importance for a smartband, but clearly what is fundamental is its behavior during daily use. From this point of view, Mi Band 5 works very well and those who have already used Mi Band 4 will find themselves at home. Once the smartband has been paired with the smartphone via the Mi Fit application, you can immediately access the watch face, which can be customized by downloading themes from the store present right within the aforementioned app.
There are several solutions available and they cover all tastes. In addition, there are now also animated themes and you can select a photo as you like. Clearly each theme has its own peculiarities and can also vary the information that appears on the screen. We have always preferred to opt for a complete watch face, like “Pleasurism“, which shows weather, remaining charge, day, steps, kilometers and calories in plain view. However, just to give you a concrete example, those who love a” cleaner “style can opt for the range of” Photo Watch Face “themes, that highlight the time, day and steps and allow you to select the photo you want.

As for the animated wallpapers, the series of themes is very interesting “Y-Nuts“, which shows cute characters on the screen. There is also the possibility to select which widgets to set, choosing from the default ones, accessible via a horizontal swipe from the main screen.

In any case, by swiping from bottom to top, you access the “Status” tab, which presents a report of what happened in the last week, focusing mainly on the steps taken, but also showing calories and inactivity reminders. Just make another swipe and you notice something new: the PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) functionality. In other words, we could define it as a “motivational assistant”: by accessing the PAI screen, the user will find a “rating” from 0 to 100 relating to his physical performance over the past week.

The statistics used for this value are varied and range from heart rate to the age entered by the user. To “earn” PAI points and reach the fateful rating of 100 every week, useful for keeping fit, you need to do sports, from running to a bike ride.

Small note: to use the PAI system properly, it is necessary to keep the function that constantly monitors the heart rate active, an aspect that could affect in terms of autonomy. In any case, it is certainly an interesting novelty, which in some ways recalls the concept of gamification.

The sports modes of Mi Band 5Mi Band 5 adds various sports modes, making the package more complete. More precisely, to the usual outdoor running, treadmill, cycling, walking, swimming and free exercise, there are also stationary bikes, elliptical, rowing machine, yoga and jumping rope.

We then find the heart rate monitoring, the card dedicated to notifications, which remain non-interactable but can be read, the functionality to detect stress, a breathing exercise, the card dedicated to events (to be added via Mi Fit), the page related to the weather and the inevitable card dedicated to physical activities. Here is an interesting novelty, given that sports modes go from 6 to 11. Tracking has always been accurate, especially for outdoor sports, which also use the GPS of the connected smartphone.
The same goes for heart rate monitoring, the only aspect that leaves something to be desired is the stress tracking, which in some cases doesn’t work as it should. Note the fact that Xiaomi claims to have increased the accuracy of PPG biosensors by 50%.

By accessing the “More” tab, which lists all the other available features, you will also find other possibilities: it is worth mentioning the alarms, the possibility of take pictures remotely through the smartphone camera, the player to manage the playback of active music on the mobile device, the functionality to make the smartphone ring when it is lost and the timer. Finally, there is no shortage of a Do Not Disturb mode and automatic sleep tracking 24 hours a day.

As for the latter, the data is accessible via the Mi Fit app and there is also Rapid eye movement (REM) detection, as well as that of naps. There is also an option for tracking the menstrual cycle. In short, we are talking about a particularly complete software, which satisfies the needs of all users. Too bad there is no monitoring of blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), which has been present for some time on some competitive smartbands.

Coming to autonomy, Xiaomi Mi Band 5 presents one 125mAh battery. You always get results similar to the past, so often you can’t reach the 14 days described by the manufacturer, but maybe you stop around 10 full days of use with a single recharge. It all depends on the use you make of the smartband. Charging times are not particularly fast: it can take about two hours to go from 0 to 100%. The Bluetooth standard used is 5.0 and we have never had any problems with regards to pairing with smartphones. As for the supported operating systems, these are Android 5.0 or later and iOS 10.0 and later. An aspect to be noted at the software level is the absence of the Italian language. We ran our test with the various options in English. In any case, the Mi Fit app is in Italian and the settings are not very difficult to understand. Also, our language will likely be introduced in the future via a software update.

The Global version of Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is not the smartband described by the rumors and not even the one on sale in China, but it represents a confirmation with some additions compared to the excellent Mi Band 4. We find a larger screen, a finally renewed charging system and various software innovations, from the PAI system to greater customization in terms of watchface. For the rest, the autonomy remains good and the additional features are always welcome, such as physical activities that go from 6 to 11. In short, in the end the news is not lacking and are also interesting, but there are no real evolutions. Too bad, for example, for the absence of NFC, of ​​the Italian language, which should arrive via a software update, and of the SpO2 monitoring. For the rest, the price is not bad at all and it is certainly an excellent confirmation. If you don’t have any smartband, Mi Band 5 is definitely a great model to focus on. If, on the other hand, you already own a Mi Band 4, the transition to the new model will not bring many benefits. In any case, Xiaomi has done a good job this year too.