Xiaomi’s Smart Band 8: A Deeper Look at Its Features and Value for Money

The Xiaomi Mi Band series has carved a niche for itself, known for its affordability and robust feature set. Now, with the release of the Smart Band 8, we’re presented with an interesting blend of style and familiar features. In this review, we’ll explore what this new iteration brings to the table and where it stands in the ever-evolving fitness tracker market.

Design and Style

At first glance, the Smart Band 8 doesn’t seem drastically different from its predecessor. However, there are notable changes. The Band 8 sports a metal frame and a new strap style that directly attaches to the tracker, rendering older Band 7, 6 or 5 straps incompatible. While this might be a hiccup for upgraders, newcomers have access to a growing variety of third-party Band 8 straps.

Measuring a sleek 48 x 22.5 x 11 mm and weighing just 14 grams without the silicone strap, the Band 8 maintains its lightweight appeal. The new strap design features quick-release buttons that add convenience to the equation. Despite these positives, the absence of a home/back button is a minor drawback, especially when using the larger screen.

Furthermore, the Band 8 is waterproof up to 5ATM, making it suitable for swimming. Xiaomi includes a proprietary two-pin magnetic charger in the retail package, although it’s not backward-compatible with older Mi Bands.

Features for a Healthier You

In terms of health tracking, the Band 8 carries forward the core features of its predecessor. It offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring, continuous SpO2 tracking, sleep and stress monitoring. Notably, it lacks a GNSS sensor, relying on your smartphone’s GPS for detailed location data. An NFC receiver is also absent in the international model.

What sets the Band 8 apart is its impressive selection of 151 workout modes. These range from the standard running and weightlifting to more unique activities like kite flying and table football. All 151 activities are readily available on the band, and the Mi Fitness app stores up to a month’s worth of health and workout data, making it easy to track your progress.

The Band 8’s screen features a 1.62″ AMOLED panel with a resolution of 192 x 490 pixels. Notably, it boasts a 60Hz refresh rate, offering smoother visuals than its predecessors. The screen reaches a peak brightness of 600 nits and now includes auto brightness, a long-overdue feature. It also supports a double-tap to wake and an Always-On Display (AOD) mode.

Additional Delights

The Band 8 presents a variety of watch face options, although the iOS app lacks access to the watch face store. Some of the new watch faces even come with mini-games, adding a playful touch to your wrist.

Basic notifications, text message reception, call rejection, and pre-determined responses are part of the package. The vibration motor delivers a strong, customizable buzz. Additional features include an alarm, timer, weather widget, reminders, music controls, breathing exercises, and a camera shutter for your paired phone.

Surprisingly, Xiaomi opted for Bluetooth 5.1 instead of the newer 5.2, but this doesn’t significantly impact its functionality.

Software and Performance

The Band 8’s software remains familiar to long-time Mi Band users. Navigation is intuitive, with gestures to access watch faces, notifications, and app drawers. The new addition is the ability to add widgets with two shortcuts on a single card.

Heart rate and SpO2 tracking intervals are customizable, allowing you to balance accuracy with battery life. Sleep tracking provides a detailed breakdown, including deep, light, and REM sleep percentages, as well as heart rate and SpO2 data. Activity tracking is precise, offering more accurate step counting and workout intensity breakdowns.

Battery Life and More

Xiaomi claims the Band 8 can last up to 16 days with regular use and up to 6 days with Always-On Display enabled. Battery-saver mode extends endurance to over 19 days. A noteworthy addition is the battery estimations feature, which provides accurate predictions based on your usage and enabled features.

The magnetic two-pin charger is efficient, taking approximately 1 hour for a full charge.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 proves to be a compelling option in its price segment. It combines a large AMOLED display with a smooth 60Hz refresh rate, auto brightness, and an appealing design. With extensive sports tracking and health monitoring, it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a feature-packed wrist wearable.

Lightweight and versatile, the Band 8 offers an array of strap options, including pendant and running modes. The absence of built-in GPS and NFC in the international model may disappoint some, as might the lack of a back/home button for navigation. Nonetheless, the Band 8 delivers on its promise of being an exceptional fitness companion.

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