Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 7 review

Xiaomi's tracker is good value but isn't as budget as it used to be
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Xiaomi Mi Band 7
By Xiaomi
The Xiaomi Mi Band 7 offers a good fitness tracking experience overall, but doesn't feel like it's a huge leap from the Mi Band 6. It aspires to perform more like a sports device, yet it lacks GPS and a level of heart rate monitoring during exercise to deliver on that front. Then there's the price change, which does still make it an affordable buy, but if the Mi Band 7 Pro ends up being available for a similar price, it might well spell the end of the once budget tracker champ.

Hit
  • Lovely, bright color screen
  • Reliable resting heart rate data
  • Training data offers guidance
Miss
  • Doesn't feel hugely different from Mi Band 6
  • Battery life in heavy use
  • Price is creeping up

The Xiaomi Smart Band 7 is back – the seventh generation of the Chinese smash hit fitness tracker brings new features but a bigger price tag.

Thanks to its low price and huge home market, the Mi Band has always been one of the biggest selling trackers on the wearables stage.

But it used to be a lot cheaper. While it still costs less than the cheapest Fitbit, the original Xiaomi Mi Band cost less than $20/£20 – a fraction of the $69/£54 of the current model.

So is the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 still the best cheap fitness tracker you can buy? We've been putting to the test to find out. Here's our comprehensive verdict.

Xiaomi Smart Band 7: Price and comparison

With the Mi Band 7, you're getting a tracker with a bright, color AMOLED screen, fitness tracking staples like step, sleep and heart rate and SpO2 tracking. Xiaomi is now aiming to bolster the Band's abilities to tell you when to grab a rest day and tell you your current fitness levels.

The Mi Band 7 comes in priced at £54.99 with no official US pricing, although it's on Amazon for $69.99. The company has also released a Mi Band 7 Pro – but that's still only available in China.

The Mi Band 6 launched at £39.99 in the UK so while it remains a budget option, it now sits around trackers like the Huawei Band 6 ($44/£35) and the Amazfit Band 5 ($49/£45).

Another obvious comparison is the Fitbit Inspire 2 ($99/£69) – which can't boast the SpO2 sensor of the Mi Band 7, but does come with a significantly better app.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: Design and screen

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Xiaomi isn't reinventing the wheel with the Mi Band 7, and that's obvious when you sit it next to the Mi Band 6 and even the Mi Band 5.

You're still getting that module and AMOLED screen that you can pop out if you prefer to charge it up without the strap on or you want to change the strap. We had an additional blue strap to go with the standard black one included, which made the largely unchanged design feel a bit more fun and not so bland to wear.

You're now getting a smaller 46.5mm case compared to the 47mm one on the 7, which actually means it's dropped down closer to the size of the Mi Band 5. It's slightly thinner than the 6, but with the same materials in use, it doesn't feel hugely different using or wearing the 7 compared to the last two versions.

The screen on the Mi Band 6 was very good and now Xiaomi is going bigger, brighter and offering something that's bumped up the resolution too. It's jumped from a 1.56-inch AMOLED display to a 1.62-inch one with an improved 192 x 490 pixel resolution that maxes out at 500 nits of brightness.

There's no doubting it's a lovely, colourful display that's responsive (with some minor lag) and does support the ability to be used in an always-on mode. Is it a significantly better screen in the way that alters your experience of using it? We'd say no. Xiaomi says visibility has improved, but we can't say we massively noticed a change on that front.

Screens is something Xiaomi does well on its trackers and if you like the idea of a fitness tracker with a bright, high quality color screen, the Mi Band 7 does deliver that.

Xiaomi isn't budging from the 5ATM water resistant rating we got on the 5, which does still make it suitable for swimming and showering.

It still use a proprietary magnetic pogo-style charging cable that does still feels a bit too flimsy for our liking and feels easy to knock out of place.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: Sports tracking

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The Mi Band 7 is a fitness tracker first and foremost, but it's seeking to offer more than something that deals in steps, sleep and heart rate. It now wants to offer 'professional workout analysis' to put it in Xiaomi's words.

What does that mean exactly? Well, it's now promising the kind of information that sports watches from Garmin, Polar and Coros provide to help you better understand and manage your training if you're using this budget tracker as a training tool.

These insights include VO2 Max estimates, training load and training effect data and it also offers recommendations on recovery post-workout.

Along with those insights, it's offering tracking for over 110 sports modes, automatic exercise tracking for outdoor runs, walks and treadmill runs, rowing and elliptical time when you're back indoors.

The reliability of those new insights relies heavily on the data that's powering them. In this case, how well the Band 7 can track your exercise and heart rate. From that point of view, we'd say the Band 7 does an okay job.

There's no onboard GPS, so you'll need to launch the companion app to make use of the connected GPS support to more accurately track outdoor workouts. We took it out for some running time and found establishing connection with the app can be hit and miss.

When it did work, distance tracking came up a little short in general compared to a Garmin running watch with metrics like average pace generally clocked a little slower.

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GPS tracking compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (right)

Heart rate for those runs generally told a similar story, with average heart rate largely matching up with a MyZone heart rate monitor chest strap we pitted it against and maximum heart rate typically 10bpm higher than the chest strap.

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Exercise HR tracking compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and MyZone MZ-3 chest strap (right)

Heading back indoors and on the rower, stroke counts were roughly the same as Garmin's row tracking, but both the average and maximum heart rate readings were significantly higher than a chest strap monitor.

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Indoor rowing compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (centre and right)

For treadmill runs, it was a bit of a mess on that front from an accuracy point of view. Tracking on our first run was so inaccurate that when we tried to calibrate it after the run, it was so inaccurate that the Band didn't let us match it with the actual distance tracked. In runs after that, it tended to be 1km out from a reliable Garmin watch.

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Treadmill tracking compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (right)

So what that tells us is that the tracking isn't always quite up to scratch, which casts some doubt on the usefulness of those added training metrics. Though there were some similarities in the type of data we saw delivered by a Garmin watch in comparison.

On one run, the post-run data in the app presented a similar score for aerobic training effect, but scored us higher for the anaerobic training effect of the workout. This information is largely driven by heart rate data.

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Training insights compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (right)

On the band itself you can check in on the workout status where you can see training load, VO2 Max and recovery duration recommendations. Training load data was largely in line in telling us when it was good or we were overdoing it.

VO2 Max estimates though were considerably different with the Garmin tracking us at 60 and the Mi Band putting us at a 44.

It generally suggested longer recovery time post workouts compared to Garmin paired to a chest strap monitor for the same workouts, which seems to back up some of the high heart rate reporting, which would indicate more intense, tougher workouts.

Ultimately, these extra training insights are only as good as the data you feed them. Based on our experience, this is a fitness tracker that tries to play sports watch and doesn't quite pull it off.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: Fitness and health tracking

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If you're more interested in what the Mi Band 7 can offer in terms of doing things like counting steps, monitoring heart rate on a daily basis or keeping tabs on stress, then it can do that here.

Steps is now found in the Personal Activity Intelligence menu on the band where you'll also see calorie burned data. We found step counts quite far off the tracking on the Garmin Forerunner 955 and the Oura Ring 3 as the screenshots below illustrate.

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Step tracking compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left), Oura Ring 3 (centre) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (right)

When it's time to sleep, there's a dedicated sleep widget on the band and richer data waiting for you in the phone app.

We took it to bed with the very reliable Oura Ring 3 and Garmin's improving sleep tracking support and found sleep duration data tended to be longer, while sleep stages were generally different too. In this particular night of sleep, it suggested 8 hours of light sleep compared to the 5 hours suggested by Garmin and Oura.

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Sleep tracking compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left), Oura Ring 3 (centre) and Garmin Forerunner 955 (right)

Delving into heart rate and SpO2 monitoring and both can be done continuously or you can take on the spot readings. We found the Mi Band 7 performed well on both fronts here. On the spot readings matched up with Garmin's reliable real-time readings and in Xiaomi's daily summaries, resting heart rate data matched up with Garmin and the Oura Ring 3's data.

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Resting heart rate compared: Xiaomi MI Band 7 (left) and Oura Ring 3 (right)

Heart rate additionally fuels other features like stress and PAI scores, with the latter designed to make sure you're getting that heart rate up on a regular basis throughout your week.

We found that stress tracking in general didn't seem to track us regularly throughout the day while PAI scores feel so far removed from the overall tracking experience that Xiaomi needs to decide a way to bring it more into the picture.

Xiaomi does also offer support for women's health tracking, which consists of being able to track menstrual cycles while there's also some very simply guided breathing features where the band vibrates when you need to inhale and exhale.

As a fitness and health tracker, the Mi Band 7 fares okay on both fronts, but doesn't really excel in either department in a really impressionable way.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: Smartwatch features

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Like the Mi Band 6, there doesn't seem to be radical changes as far as what the Band 7 can do as a smartwatch. It still works with Android phones and iPhones, and our time was spent having it paired to a Samsung Android phone, using the largely straightforward Mi Fitness companion app.

In spite of its slender design, you can view notifications (including incoming calls), change band displays, set alarms, view upcoming events in your calendar, check weather forecasts and you can adjust the widgets you see when swiping left or right from the main clock face screen.

While there's a bigger screen in play, the experience of using those features don't feel hugely different. Notifications still feel a bit cramped to view and you can't respond to them. Music controls are well optimised and easy to use while elements like weather forecasts and viewing events are easy to see in general.

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There's a nice collection of Band faces that make good use of that bright, colorful screen if that's your bag and ones you can grab from the companion app won't cost you any additional money either.

You're not getting payment support, a fully fledged app store or a smart assistant support included despite some of those features starting to appear on similarly priced trackers.

It's a smartwatch experience that feels largely unchanged and one that feels good enough given the price and the compromises you still need to make having that slimline display.

Xiaomi Mi Band 7: Battery life

While the capacity of the battery packed into the Mi Band 7 hasn't grown, the battery numbers you can expect are the same. There's now a 180mAh capacity battery instead of a 125mAh one, but Xiaomi is still promising up to 14 days of battery life in typical usage and 9 days in heavy usage.

In reality, it still feels like it's stuck at a week if you're putting features like tracking, monitoring heart rate, stress and blood oxygen and having a regular amount of notifications firing over to the band, you'll struggle to get to those 9 days touted for heavy usage.

When we switched on all the most power-intensive features including that more regular heart rate monitoring, we found battery lasted around 4 days, with battery dropping by 20-25% a day.

When it is time to charge, Xiaomi persists with a pretty dainty proprietary charging cradle that clips onto the back and takes just under a 2 hours to charge from 0-100%.



Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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