The smartwatch and fitness band have gone from niche devices suitable for stats-obsessed sporty types to everyday essentials. Xiaomi offers a series of affordably priced candidates in both segments that should be on your body-tracking radar based on price alone. The Chinese company also proves that you don’t need to drop vast sums of money to own some excellent wearable hardware.
As ever, there’s a distinction between fitness bands and smartwatches. The key is in the name. One’s a band. One’s a watch. Smartwatches tend to include features like enhanced notifications, more advanced displays, and a greater number of sensors. Plus, they look and feel similar to a traditional wristwatch. Fitness bands are more stripped back with a lower on-wrist profile and more unobtrusive design. Both have their benefits and their fans. How do you know which is for you?
Beginning at the front
The Redmi Smart Band 2 (BHR6921AP – R699) doesn’t look like it’s priced at well under a grand. It features a 1.47in rectangular TFT display that almost positions it between the fitness band and smartwatch categories. The generous screen design makes it an ideal companion for first-time fitness freaks, while the price suggests it could be a handy backup for the more advanced health fanatic.
It doesn’t muck about, tracking all of the usual movement metrics and supporting more than 30 different exercise types. Sleep, SpO2 (blood oxygen), and heart rate tracking are also within its sphere of influence. The large display can be customised with one of more than one hundred downloadable looks, via the app, and Xiaomi’s Redmi Smart Band 2 is also rated to survive up to five atmospheres (ATM). It’ll handle its end in the pool as well as the street, gym, or track.
Finally, users get up to fourteen days of usage on a single charge. Actually using it for working out will cut down that amount a little but it’ll still net you around a week of solid usage. It wasn’t long ago that these features were at the heart of devices costing several thousand rands. If you missed the boat before, here’s an excellent spot to get on.
The Xiaomi Smart Band 7 (BHR6008GL – R1,199) is a true fitness band. The narrow rectangular face consists of a 1.62in AMOLED display that will be visible even in the brightest sunlight. The skimpy profile means it’s out of the way while you’re chalking up those PBs and the strap design keeps it on your wrist through all but the most violent workouts. It’s a marvel that Xiaomi’s wearable clocks in at just R1,199.
It supports more than 110 different sports profiles, including one for esports, and also features more than 100 software faces to choose from. How it looks (slick) is less important than how it performs (extensively), however.
14 days of peak battery drive movement, sleep, blood oxygen, and even VO2 max data, in case you were looking at a wearable three times this price that also does exactly these items. It’ll do all of this in the water thanks to its 5 ATM rating. If you know what you’re after in terms of tracking and don’t want to overpay for it, here’s where you get off. Otherwise…
It’s time to upgrade to a smartwatch. Specifically, Xiaomi’s Redmi Watch 3 (BHR6851GL – R2,099). This is a true smartwatch design with a rectangular 1.75in AMOLED display set into a raised metallic watch body atop one of a series of strap options. Tracking is, as you’d expect from a pricier device, more extensive. In addition to the features listed in the Smart Band 2, down to the SpO2, Xiaomi’s wearable also features an integrated GPS chip. Accurate movement tracking is just an option away, with several satellite options supported.
This does cut the battery back to 12 days on a charge, but that’s an acceptable loss. More than 200 faces and over 120 sports profiles mean there’s little that it can’t keep up with (and it’ll look good doing it) but there’s also one more big feature.
Okay, two, but they’re related. Xiaomi’s Redmi Watch 3 includes Alexa support, a feature you’d expect in a device twice this price. The internal speaker will also let you answer and conduct a Bluetooth phone call from your wrist, meaning there’s no need to unlimber your phone from your sports pockets if an important call comes in. Just raise your wrist and chat.
Watch the band get back together
At these prices and with these features, it’s honestly a harder choice than you’d expect deciding what to stick on your wrist before your workout. The Redmi Watch 3 is the best-looking device while the Xiaomi Smart Band 7 is the most athletically capable. Xiaomi’s Redmi Band 2 is the most affordable without missing out on many features. This is nearly an impossible choice, so why make it? You can buy one of each for about the same price as competing trackers with similar features.
Xiaomi’s wearables catalogue is available from Takealot, Incredible Connection, HiFi Corporation, and Makro. Get yours today and watch your fitness efforts leap ahead as accurate tracking and feedback push you down the right road to transform your body the way you want it.