Xiaomi’s budget-friendly Mi Band has been given an upgrade. The latest generation of the popular wearable, the Mi Band 5, packs in a better display, more precise health tracking and a brand new magnetic charging system. It’s priced at 229 Chinese Yuan, which is about $32. A non-NFC variant is also available for an even lower $27.
At first glance, the most obvious change is the band’s screen size. At 1.2 inches, the colored AMOLED display is 20 percent larger than its predecessor. Dozens of new animated watch faces will complement the new design (and eight colored straps), featuring a host of popular characters from series including Spongebob Squarepants and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Under the hood, there’s voice support, an improved processor for faster tracking, and the addition of a menstrual tracker for the first time, as well as a stress-monitoring function that tells wearers when they should try to rest or relax. The band now monitors REM sleep as well as deep and light sleep, and there’s a 50 percent accuracy improvement in heart rate monitoring. An inbuilt barometer and remote shutter function — letting you take photos on your phone from a distance — are also nice touches.
The other major change, however, is the new charging system. Previous iterations of the Mi Band faced some criticism for its frustrating charging process — you’d have to take the tracker out of the strap and make sure it sat quite precisely in its charging cradle. Now, though, a magnetic charging dock automatically hooks onto the bottom part of the band, making the whole process a lot easier. This isn’t backwards compatible, obviously, but we’ll almost certainly see it replicated in future iterations.
As usual, the Mi Band is only officially on sale in China, so if you want one you’ll have to buy it through the grey market or import it otherwise. Not ideal, of course, but for thirty bucks this is a lot of kit packed into a smart design and therefore arguably worth the effort, especially when other companies’ budget trackers — the Fitbit Inspire HR, for example — are at least double the price and offer fewer features..