The new Xiaomi Mi Band 7 has landed, once again promising a fitness tracker on a budget, except not quite so budget as before.
It follows the Mi Band 6, which is still available to buy and the chances are it will likely now drop in price.
If you're in the market for a budget tracker or own a Mi Band 6 and wondering if you need to make that upgrade, we've spent plenty of testing time with both to help shed some light on how they compare.
Here's our breakdown of the key differences between the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 and the Mi Band 6.
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 v Mi Band 6: Price and alternatives
These two trackers can be firmly described as cheap, but unlike previous iterations, there's a slight difference in the amount you can expect to pay for them.
So, outside of Fitbit, the options around the Mi Band are increasing and proving strong competition for Xiaomi as well.
Xiaomi MI Band 7 v Mi Band 6: At a glance
|Mi Band 7
|Mi Band 6
|192 x 490
|152 x 486
|Heart rate, SpO2 & Connected GPS
Design and screen
Mi Band 6
These Bands offer similar looks and their main differences in the display department, which separate them.
Both use the same module squeezed into a band that you can can swap for a host of other different colored options The Mi Band 6 comes in black, orange, yellow, olive green, ivory white, and blue. The Mi Band 7 comes in black, green, orange, and blue shades, so you've got options on both fronts.
The Mi Band 6 has a 47mm case while the Mi Band 7 has a smaller 46.5mm case, which few people will notice.
What you might notice is changes in the display department. The Mi Band 6 hosts a 1.56-inch AMOLED touchscreen with a 152 x 486 resolution. The 7 in comparison features a larger 1.62-inch AMOLED with an improved 192 x 490-pixel resolution and offers an always-on display mode you don't get on the 6.
Mi Band 7
There are changes on the brightness front with the 6's screen maxing out at 450 nits of brightness and the 7 going brighter at 500 nits.
What does that mean in terms of using the screens? We'd say not a huge amount. The screen on the 7 is bigger and does mean you have a bit more room to display data, but the quality and elements like viewing angles don't feel hugely different. It's nice that the 7 offers improved brightness, but the brightness wasn't an issue on the 6.
Water resistance ratings remain the same here, so that's a 5ATM rating ensuring you can shower and swim with both Bands up to 50 meters depth.
That improved screen resolution and size along with the option of an always-on mode is going to give the Mi Band 7 more appeal, but we'd say whichever Band you go for, you're going to get a tracker that lives largely the same day and night on your wrist.
Fitness and health tracking features
Mi Band 7
Fitness tracking is the key here and while neither Band will inform you about a serious heart problem, they do offer features to help keep an eye on your general wellness and health.
For the basics, these Bands will count steps, track distance covered, and calories burned over the day, and send you idle alerts when you're inactive for long periods. If you want an altimeter to track elevation like climbing stairs, neither has that desirable sensor.
In our tests, we found step tracking at times quite far off the devices we compared them to. They can feel accurate some days and wildly off on other days.
PAI scores remain a feature of Xiaomi's fitness tracking ecosystem, measuring time spent with the heart rate elevated and scoring efforts every week out of 100. It's not a particularly engaging feature though and its integration as a feature hasn't changed on the 7 compared to the 6.
Switching over to what Xiaomi would deem health features and you can continuously monitor heart rate, which we found was much more reliable and accurate compared to tracking heart rate during exercise.
The SpO2 sensor, which is available on both, gives you the ability to continuously monitor or take on-the-spot readings. There's now the ability on the Mi Band 7 to set up high and low SpO2 alerts similar to the high and low heart rate alerts Xiaomi also supports. It's also used to track breathing quality during sleep.
Across the board, you're getting stress tracking, women's health tracking, and guided breathing exercises. The key difference here for us is that you're getting a bit more reliability in terms of continuous heart rate monitoring on the 7, but it's a hard area to separate the two.
Sports tracking features
Xiaomi has sought to improve the Mi Band's ability to track your sporting pursuits despite still lacking a pretty notable sports tracking sensor.
There's no built-in GPS on either tracker, but you do have the option of using connected GPS, which means booting up Xiaomi's companion phone app to track outdoor exercise like runs and cycling time. Though, as we found, the tracking accuracy even with connected GPS could be hit and miss on both Bands compared to the GPS tracking on more reliable Garmin and Polar GPS watches.
It was a similar story on the heart rate monitoring front. These Bands aren't particularly well suited to tracking HR during exercise with readings for average and maximum heart rate readings generally quite far off a heart rate monitor chest strap.
Indoor sports tracking fares a little better on both fronts and one reason you'd want to grab the Mi Band 7 is that it has superior swim tracking.
For activities like indoor rowing and skipping the tracking experience remains the same across.
You're getting more of those sports modes on the 7 than the 6, but the core ones are covered on both with a lot of the more niche ones still offering basic duration and heart rate metrics.
The Mi Band 7 does additionally dig deeper into your data offering insights into VO2 Max, training load, training effect, and recommendations on recovery time.
We found some of those insights useful and others not so much based on the fact the sensors powering them (like heart rate) are not hugely reliable.
Both share data inside of Xiaomi's Mi Fitness app which does support the ability to share data to Google Fit and Strava when you do get that reliable hit of data.
If you want a Mi Band with training insights and richer pool swim tracking, those are the key things you'd grab the 7 over the 6.
Mi Band 6
Once you've accepted that your smartwatch experience is going to be compromised by the amount of screen you have to play with here on both Bands, then what you'll find is that things feel very similar here.
You're getting trackers that are compatible with both Android and iOS and offer features like notifications, the ability to control music playing on your phone, weather forecasts along with alarms and reminders.
You've got watch faces here too and there's plenty on both that make good use of that AMOLED screen. We wouldn't say the larger screen on the Mi Band 7 enhances the use of those features. Notifications aren't displayed all that differently and still feel a bit cramped on that slither of a screen.
Mi Band 7
Unsurprisingly, you're not getting a music player or an app store. There isn't any form of contactless payment support despite appearing on versions of the Mi Band available outside of the US and UK. You don't get a smart assistant either, despite being a feature that has appeared on budget bands like the Amazfit Band 5.
Ultimately, if you're looking at the Mi Band that will give you the best smartwatch experience, it's a draw.
If you're looking for the Mi Band with the best battery life then we'd say the same performance here. That's despite the Band 7 hosting a larger capacity 180mAh capacity battery compared to the 125mAh one packed into the Mi Band 6.
Xiaomi says you should expect up to two weeks with both, but that means sacrificing features such as continuous heart rate monitoring, stress tracking, and advanced sleep monitoring mode.
You'll also need to go easy on-screen brightness while the Mi Band 7 does have that always-on mode, which will quickly drain the battery as well.
In our testing, both typically lasted a week between charges and unless you're willing to sacrifice those features we mentioned, you're unlikely to get much longer.
Which should you buy?
We'll start by saying that in our reviews, we scored both the Mi Band 6 and the 7 a solid enough 3.5 out of 5.
Neither tracker is perfect, but if you're looking for a good, cheap fitness tracker, then these are good options.
If we had to pick between the two, we'd be saying if you can pick up the Mi Band 6 for even less than its already budget price tag, that's the one to go for.
The design isn't hugely different, you still have a great screen, and the fitness, sports, and smartwatch features are very similar to the Mi Band 7.
The main reasons to go for the Mi Band 7 would arguably be the improved screen (which is very nice), the option of an always-on display mode, and the added training insights.
The latter feels a bit out of place on a tracker like this though, so it's down to that screen. Is that enough of a pull? We're not so sure.
How we test