Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review

In our review, the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 scored points with a good display, many tracking functions and a very long battery life.
Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review

Xiaomi’s Mi Band series, known as the Smart Band outside of China, has found quite a few friends thanks to its extremely aggressive pricing and solid feature set. The 8th generation puts the focus on style with significantly more bracelets in all possible styles and several improvements under the hood. How does the €40/$64 smartband compare to its predecessors and where does it stand in the fitness tracker market? Our Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review is here to find out.

Technical data Xiaomi Smart Band 8:

  • 1.62 inch AMOLED touchscreen, 192 x 490 pixel resolution, 60 Hz refresh rate, 600 nits peak brightness, 2.5D glass
  • Removable silicone straps, 22mm wide, 130-220mm adjustable length
  • Functions: Real-time heart rate monitoring, 24/7 blood oxygen level monitoring, sleep tracking, stress monitoring, sports tracking, VO2 Max, pedometer, meditation, waterproof to 50 meters
  • Notifications, idle alarm, drink reminder, phone finder, weather forecast, music and camera controls
  • Sports Modes: Outdoor Run, Indoor Run, Outdoor Walk, Indoor Walk, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Cycle, Strength Training, Football, Yoga and Cricket (140+ more in the Mi Fitness app)
  • Sensors: PPG optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, rotor vibration motor
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 LE, compatible with Android 6+ and iOS 12+
  • Battery: 190mAh
  • Colors: Black, Gold
  • Dimensions: 48 x 22.5 x 11mm
  • Weight: 24 grams with strap (14 grams without)

Design

The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 looks virtually unchanged from its predecessor, the Smart Band 7. However, there are two key differences. The Band 8 features a metal frame and a new strap style that attaches directly to the tracker. This means that older watch straps from Band 7 onwards are not compatible with it. However, this is only a big problem for newcomers. There are already dozens of Band 8 bracelets from third-party providers on e-commerce platforms for newcomers.

The Band 8 measures 48 x 22.5 x 11 mm and weighs just 14 grams without the silicone strap – slightly more than the 13 grams of the Band 7 and the 12 grams of the Band 5. The new strap design features two quick-release buttons on the bottom. There is a black silicone strap, a green calfskin strap with a belt buckle design, as well as a pendant and a running clip to attach the Band 8 to shoes.

The Smart Band 8 feels pleasantly light on the wrist and is comfortable to wear all day long. Our only criticism of the design is the lack of a home/back button like on the Band 5 and previous generations of Mi Bands. The larger display is nice to look at, but navigating the interface using only touch controls isn’t ideal, especially when working out.

The Band 8 is waterproof up to 50 meters, so you can also go swimming with it. In addition to the fitness tracker, the retail packaging includes a new proprietary two-pin magnetic charger that ends in a USB-A connector. The charger is not compatible with older Mi Bands.

Health features

When it comes to health tracking, the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 offers exactly the same core features as its predecessor. This includes 24/7 heart rate monitoring as well as continuous SpO2 monitoring and sleep and stress monitoring. Since there’s still no GNSS sensor, you’ll have to rely on your paired smartphone’s GPS for detailed running data. Unfortunately, you also have to do without NFC.

The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 tracks a total of 151 types of workouts, from regular running and weight lifting to niche activities like kite flying, foosball and board games. The good news is that all 151 activities are available right out of the box. The Mi Fitness app stores health and exercise data for up to a month so you can keep track of your progress. You can also sync your training data with Strava and Apple Health on iOS.

The Smart Band 8 has several running-specific features. These include running courses on your wrist with options to set goals for distance, heart rate and time. There’s also a smart companion mode that shows position versus target pace in real time. The vitality score is Xiaomi’s updated PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) score. It is based on movement and training patterns, taking into account age, heart rate and training data over a seven-day period to determine the score.

Heart rate measurement on Band 8 occurs every 1, 10 or 30 minutes, with the shorter values obviously using more battery. You can also set up alarms for high and low heart rates. The blood oxygen level (SpO2) can also be tracked throughout the day and at night. When it comes to accuracy, both the heart rate and SpO2 sensors offer similar levels to smartwatches and other health trackers.

Sleep tracking showed the correct sleep and wake times in our Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review. The native sleep app provides a detailed breakdown of deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep. You also get average values for your heart rate and blood oxygen data directly in the sleep app on the band. Anyone who has SpO2 tracking enabled will also receive a breath reading based on their blood oxygen level. There are also useful tips in the companion app on how to improve your breathing while sleeping.

The activity tracking worked pretty well in the review, including accurate step counting. Automatic exercise detection is available for some activities such as walking, running, and cycling. As for general workout data, you get a heart rate graph, calories burned, workout intensity breakdown, and recommended recovery times.

When running or walking, the phone’s GPS receiver can record the route along with other important data such as distance traveled, pace and cadence – the number of steps per minute. The optional running clip collects some additional data. To do this, activate Pebble mode in the Mi Fitness app and attach the Band 8 to your running shoes. Pebble mode then evaluates running form and provides more specific and precise measurements of cadence, stride length, ground contact time and impact force.

Display

The display size and resolution are the same as the Band 7 – a 1.62-inch AMOLED panel with 192 x 490 pixels. What was immediately noticeable in the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review is the updated refresh rate of 60 Hz. This is significantly smoother than the older Mi Bands and their 30 Hz. The maximum brightness has also increased, from 500 to 600 nits, and finally there is an automatic brightness adjustment. The display now also supports double-tap to wake and Always-On Display (AOD) functionality.

There are lots of great additional watch face options in the Mi Fitness app. But for some reason the iOS app doesn’t have access to the watch face store. Some of the new watch faces also feature mini-games, which is another nice addition.

The Smart Band 8 also offers basic notifications with the ability to receive but not respond to text messages. You can also reject calls and send predetermined replies via SMS. The vibration motor is already clearly noticeable in its default state and can be programmed to produce an even stronger buzz via the settings menu. In addition, there is an alarm, a timer, a weather widget, reminders, music controls, breathing exercises and a camera shutter for a paired smartphone.

Curiously, Xiaomi decided to return to Bluetooth 5.1 even though the Smart Band 7 was already running on the newer version 5.2. It still supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and the only major downside is the lack of Low Energy Power Control (LEPC), which is only present on Bluetooth 5.2.

Software

The software side of the Band 8 will be familiar to long-time Mi Band users. You can wake up the fitness tracker by rotating your wrist or by double-tapping the display. From there you can swype down for notifications or swype up for apps. The most frequently used apps are on the left and right. What’s new is that you can now add widgets with two shortcuts on a single card.

You can also create your own widgets from the Widgets tab of the Mi Fitness app. And you can also pair any of the built-in apps and add up to two activity shortcuts directly to the home screen using the workout widget. Anyone who has used an older Mi Band with the Zepp Life app in the past can synchronize all data with the new Mi Fitness app.

Battery

Xiaomi claims that the Band 8’s 190mAh battery lasts up to 16 days without and up to 6 days with Always On Display (AOD) enabled. In our Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review, we managed 7 days and 6 hours with all health monitoring features enabled, but no notifications and no AOD. Battery saver mode can extend the lifespan to over 19 days. But you have to make do with a simple monochrome dial and the number of steps.

Another under-the-radar addition to the Band 8 is the new battery estimation feature. This calculates battery life fairly accurately based on usage and enabled features. The magnetic two-pin charger is the same as the Band 7 and Band 7 Pro. Older models like the Band 6 and 5 use a different one, so you can’t reuse either of these chargers. A full charge takes approximately 1 hour.

Verdict

8.4Expert Score
Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review

In our review, the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 scored points with a good display, many tracking functions and a very long battery life.

Design
8.5
Display
8
Software
8
Battery
9
Pro
  • good display
  • very long battery life
  • various sports and tracking functions
  • attractively priced
Kontra
  • no GPS
  • no NFC

The Xiaomi Smart Band 8 is probably the best smart wearable in its price segment. The AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and automatic brightness was just as popular in the review as the high-quality build and design. Combined with comprehensive sports tracking and health monitoring, you can’t go wrong with the Band 8.

It’s incredibly light, can be worn 24/7 and is still a great, unobtrusive alarm clock. With the additional watch strap options, you can wear the Xiaomi fitness tracker not only on your wrist, but also as a pendant or on your sneakers as a running companion. The only criticisms are the lack of integrated GPS and NFC, as well as a back/home button for navigating the interface. Still, the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 is an excellent choice for this price, with long battery life and all the important health and activity tracking features.

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