Xiaomi Smart Band 8 test: A connected bracelet, far from perfect, but with unbeatable price-performance ratio – 01net

At under 50 euros, the Smart Band 8 is one of the cheapest activity bracelets on the market. Although it has undeniable flaws, it still offers useful functions on a daily basis.

It is one of Xiaomi’s iconic products. Because it has historically been very affordable, it has often represented an alternative for users who do not want to invest a large sum in a connected watch. It must be said that for people who want to benefit from activity monitoring at an affordable price, it is difficult to do better at currently 50 euros.

Image 3904The screen is readable under all circumstances. © JSZ – 01net.com

Especially since this device is anything but junk, even at this price. Well made and with a discreet design (it measures only 48 x 22.5 x 10.99 mm and weighs 27 g), it integrates an AMOLED screen of only 1.62 inches but allows with a resolution (192 x 490 pixels ) displaying a resolution equivalent to that of an Apple Watch (325 ppi). With its brightness of 600 nits and its special sensor, it is therefore very easy to read in all circumstances.

Without buttons, but finally a single application

A feature that is all the more important since it is the only way we can control the interface of this bracelet, which has neither buttons nor dials. If you swipe down, notifications will appear. at the top the list of applications; on the right is the control center and on the left are the widgets (customizable, but by default the sleep and heart rate displays). Despite the narrow screen, navigating this interface is quite easy. It’s just annoying to sometimes wait for the title of a menu or section to scroll to figure out its purpose. Here we reach the limits of this very small plate.

Image 3906As soon as the texts get longer, the small record is no longer practical. © JSZ – 01net.com

To make everything work, Xiaomi has cleaned up its applications by only allowing compatibility with Mi Fitness. Leave Zepp Life, which offered better activity session history, for example, as we saw in our test of the Smart Band 7. This choice at least has the advantage of simplicity rather than having to juggle between applications.

No third-party apps or storage access

In Mi Fitness, the home page is dedicated to the health data that the bracelet collects thanks to its motion sensor and the page dedicated to heart rate. We therefore logically find the history of the latter, but also that of sleep monitoring (if we wear the bracelet at night), the number of steps, standing positions or even the calories consumed.Health

Of course, in the “Device” tab we have access to all the settings of the bracelet, which are easier to access than through the small screen. In particular, it can be specified that it is used in “capsule” mode. In this case, you can attach it to one of your shoes using an accessory sold separately (9.90 euros) to better track the number of steps. Unfortunately, the benefit is limited because heart rate is not accessible during exercise.

Image 3899The information displayed during an ongoing session. © JSZ – 01net.com

Navigating through the different sections we realize that it is impossible to access the device’s memory. Unlike many connected watches, this Smart Band 8 doesn’t let you download music or third-party apps. Without a speaker and microphone, you cannot make calls or give instructions to a voice assistant. Suffice it to say, if you want to enjoy music or a podcast while you exercise, don’t go running without your smartphone.

Image 3900The sound is not played on the watch, but on your smartphone. © JSZ – 01net.com

Never without my smartphone

His smartphone will be all the more useful because the bracelet is completely without a GPS chip. Therefore, when exercising, it uses the geolocation functions of the phone on which Mi Fitness is installed. And to do this it is necessary to give it permanent access to this data, which has the consequence of compromising the autonomy of the phone. However, it is difficult not to do this as it contributes to the effectiveness of the measures. In fact, in several exercises we compared data from the Smart Band 8 and an Apple Watch Series 8, which is widely known for its precision.Difference Apple Xiaomi

Let’s take the example of running without a smartphone in your pocket. Apple’s watch measured a distance of 3.94 km and Xiaomi’s bracelet only 3.59 km; So he relied solely on his pedometer. A significant difference of 350 meters (or almost 10% of the distance traveled), which therefore distorts many other parameters, such as the pace of 8:30 minutes per kilometer on the Smart Band compared to 7:15 minutes on the Apple Watch! Conversely, the measurements become much more precise once you have the smartphone in your pocket, like on this bike tour of almost 30 kilometers, which here corresponds to the reality of the distance covered.Exercise

Aspiring athletes are frustrated by their inability to install third-party apps like the essential Strava, but they can grant access to the data collected in Mi Fitness. Just like the Health app on iOS. Those who previously used Zepp Life can import their data history into the only application now authorized.Connected apps

The king of autonomy

If the Smart Band doesn’t excel in all areas, there is one in which it is king: autonomy. While the predecessor lasted a week without charging, the 190 mAh battery of this new generation increases performance up to ten days. The exercise during our test consisted of wearing the bracelet continuously, with half a dozen exercises performed during this period. On average, only 10% of the battery was used in 24 hours.

Image 4017The proprietary magnetic connector for charging. © JSZ – 01net.com

Of course, this is with the screen’s default behavior, which is to say it only lights up when you raise your wrist. It’s also possible to enable an “always on” mode, which significantly reduces battery life but still allows for around five days of runtime between charges. The bracelet takes one hour to charge using the included proprietary magnetic tip cable.