Wear OS is showing signs of life again in 2020 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform possibly delivering the performance and efficiency that has been missing, but for many of us, a fitness tracker is still the better wearable option to pair with our Android phones. Fitness trackers can deliver the features most people are looking for from their wearable like basic notifications and of course fitness tracking at a more affordable price and with considerably better battery life.
Let’s take a look at some of the top options in the market today, regardless of your goals with a wearable there is likely one on this list that will get the job done.
This one is easily at the top of my list as you just can’t beat the value proposition, you will typically find the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 for right around $50 and it delivers a feature set that is typically found in fitness trackers at least twice its price.
The color rectangular AMOLED touchscreen display is now 1.1-inches, a 20% increase from its predecessor, making it more easily glanceable than ever. The display is crisp and bright (up to 450 nits) and delivers all the information you need.
For those that aren’t used to wearing something on their wrist the relatively small size makes the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 one of the more comfortable and unobtrusive options available. This also allows you to use it as a sleep tracker, something that isn’t a reasonable proposition with most smartwatches and with the Mi Band 5 the sleep sensors have been upgraded to offer a 40% improvement in tracking data.
Battery life is another massive strength for the Mi Band 5 with up to 14 days on a charge, you never need to worry about going away for a weekend or even a week and having to pack another charger for your wearable. And for those that used a previous Mi Band the new magnetic charger is awesome, just get it close to the Mi Band and it snaps on and starts charging, no more removing the tracker from its strap to charge it up.
The Mi Band 5 is able to track 11 different exercises including treadmill runs, walking, outdoor runs, cycling, swimming, freestyle (weight training), elliptical, rowing machine, jump rope, indoor cycling, and Yoga. Outdoor activities will benefit from the connected GPS support which augments the Mi Band 5’s own measurements with the GPS from your smartphone. Naturally, with swim-tracking, the Mi Band 5 is waterproof, up to 50 meters, and it will even identify a variety of different strokes.
New health monitoring functionality found in the Android app includes women’s health features for menstrual cycle tracking and a personal activity index (PAI) that is a score between 1-100 based on your activity for the day something that we first saw on the Amazfit T-Rex from Huami.
The Mi Band 5 also includes a heart rate monitor and new for this model is an Sp02 sensor, both impressive in this price range. You choose the frequency of the heart rate monitoring and opting for continuous monitoring will decrease the battery life, but you can still expect to get about 10 days even with all of the options active.
Mi Band 5 can show a variety of notifications like incoming calls and SMS and you can choose to turn on app notifications individually if you have another messaging service or another app that you wish to be notified about immediately. Some other onboard features include remote music and camera controls for your phone and a find my phone option.
While the basic black band that comes with it is both neutral and comfortable, there are already quite a few options from other companies for less than $15 and you can swap the core unit out in just seconds so switching it up for different occasions is quick and easy.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 isn’t going to be for everybody, it doesn’t support standalone music playback or standalone GPS, but for those that want to give wearables a try without spending a ton of money, this is an awesome option that ticks most of the boxes users really want from a wearable. And if $50 is too much then definitely take a look at the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, it’s around $25 now and while I think the upgrades are worth it for the Mi Band 5’s still reasonable price, you can still get about 80% of the features for half the price with the Mi Band 4.