Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: Still the best fitness band in the market?

When it comes to tracking daily steps and basic fitness, the Mi Band remains one of the most reliable options in the market. The latest Mi Band 6 builds on this with some big changes. For one, it has a higher price tag at Rs 3,499 compared to the Rs 2,499 tag of the Mi Band 5. Second, it now comes with a bigger 1.56-inch display compared to the 1.1-inch display on the earlier band. Finally, it adds an important change in the form of support for blood oxygen monitoring, which has become a much sought-after feature in the time of Covid-19.

But do the changes justify the higher price? And what makes the Mi Band 6 a better pick compared to the countless fitness trackers and watches in the market? Let’s take a look in our review

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review: What’s good?

When I first saw the Mi Band 6 and it was hard not to notice the larger screen. The AMOLED display with 326 pixels per inch (PPI) and a maximum brightness of 450 nits is legible even in harsh sunlight. In fact, I would say the display is a bit too bright, especially if you plan on wearing this for sleep tracking.

But the bigger display also means that the Mi Band 6 is now a little bit more suited to display notifications from messaging apps such as WhatsApp. It’s not perfect, and the text is still small, but this definitely adds more usefulness to the device. The Mi Band 6 is now compatible with the Xiaomi Wear app, which was powering fitness watches from the brand.

Users can go into the Xiaomi Wear app and turn on phone notifications, app notifications, etc for them to appear on the device. Mi Band 6 of course connects with Mi Fit app and now the Strava app as well. It is also capable of auto-detecting six fitness modes, including walking, running, cycling, indoor rowing, and elliptical.

The band’s setup now includes a SPO2 monitor for tracking blood oxygen levels. Just make sure you wear the band tightly and stay still when measuring these. The two three times I used this feature, my blood oxygen levels were usually 98-99 per cent, so I’m guessing this works accurately.

As always with steps, the Mi Band 6 remains accurate, and if I may say so, a bit stingy. I did not notice any jump in steps (maybe 3-4) while sitting in a car. The band’s step count was bang on, especially on days where I knew I had not been very active. And the band figured out when I had started walking, as the auto-detect feature worked spot on. Though it usually detected around 5-10 minutes I had started walking.

By the way, if the auto-detect does come on, and you’re not really in the middle of a workout, say you had just stepped out for grocery shopping, you can choose an option for the band to ignore these and turn off auto-detect for an hour or so.

The Mi Band 6 can latch onto your phone’s GPS systems and detect the directions when you are walking or out on a run. Though, you will then need to take your phone along. If you don’t take the phone, then the GPS routes are not recorded.

The two-three walks I took with the Mi Band 6 were pretty accurate. Another feature I really appreciated was that the band would immediately pause if and when I took a break during exercise or walk. I was mighty impressed by the accuracy given this is still a budget fitness tracker.

I also took the Mi Band 6 for my outdoor cycle rides, and here’s where I faced some issues. But the band was accurate when it came to distance, elevation during the cycle ride. I also used the band to track indoor cycling sessions, and while it does not show any distance, the calories burnt were in line with what my cycle was showing.

The fitness band is swim-proof and water-resistant. I have not been able to take it for a swim, but I often wore it during baths, and it continues to work fine. The band’s sleep tracker remains accurate as always, one of the best in the business. For instance, when I slept at 1.30 am recently, and woke up early, the band has marked that day as ‘lack of sleep’ and I would wholly agree 100 percent.

The fitness band can also track menstrual cycles for women as well. One can add the dates of their last period and average cycle duration to the Xiaomi Wear app to see the prediction. The band will also reflect when your period is about to happen, ovulation days, etc. It also comes with stress monitoring, breathing exercises for those who wish to use such features.

Apple Watch Series 7: Why I’ll wait for my upgrade

One of my resolutions in 2021 was to lose all my post-pregnancy weight. While I’m halfway there thanks to some strict diet changes and more activity, I have an ulterior motive for this goal. The plan was to get a new Apple Watch this year if I succeeded, and I figured it would end up being the Series 7.

My Apple Watch Series 3 faithful as it is, now has a very cracked display. And while Apple continues to support it, installing a new OS on the Series 3 has become a very annoying exercise since it usually never has enough space for updates. This means I have to follow a cycle of wiping the watch clean, then reinstalling the software. A tedious exercise that I was looking forward to ending this year.

Except the Apple Watch Series 7 has left me a bit confused. And I have decided to wait for an upgrade. Here’s my reasoning. While the bigger display is something that might appeal to most users, for someone like me, this has definitely added to my confusion when considering the new watch. Yes, I’ve made peace with a big screen on the iPhone, but a bigger watch ends up looking terrible on my (still) bony and petite hands. If I were to pick and upgrade, I’ll probably go for the 41mm version, given it will be a better fit for my hands.

But the main reason I would hold out on the upgrade is that the Watch Series 7 doesn’t look like much of a jump, especially compared to the Series 6. Despite the redesign and fancier display, it is underwhelming. For starters, reports are indicating that the Apple Watch Series 7 is running the same processor as the previous version, which is the older S6. Apple didn’t talk too much about the performance jump in the new Watch either, the processor wasn’t mentioned, unlike last year.

Bitcoin inches closer to becoming legal tender globally

SAN SALVADOR: El Salvador on Tuesday becomes the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as legal tender, despite widespread domestic skepticism and international warnings of risks for consumers.

President Nayib Bukele’s government claims the move will give many Salvadorans access to bank services for the first time and save some $400 million in fees on remittances sent home from abroad every year.

“Tomorrow, for the first time in history, all the eyes of the world will be on El Salvador. #Bitcoin did this,” Bukele said on Twitter Monday.

He started the ball rolling Monday evening by announcing El Salvador had bought its first 400 bitcoins, in two tranches of 200, and promised more were coming.

The 400 bitcoins were trading at around $21 million, according to the cryptocurrency exchange app Gemini.

Recent opinion polls showed a majority of El Salvador’s 6.5 million people reject the idea and will continue using the US dollar, the country’s legal currency for the last 20 years.

“This bitcoin is a currency that does not exist, a currency that will not benefit the poor but the rich,” said skeptic Jose Santos Melara, who took part in a protest by several hundred people in the capital San Salvador last week.

“How will a poor person invest (in bitcoin) if they barely have enough to eat?”

In June, El Salvador’s parliament approved a law to allow the crypto money to be accepted as tender for all goods and services in the small Central American nation, along with the US dollar.

The bill, an initiative of Bukele, was approved within 24 hours of being presented to Congress — where the president’s allies have held a majority since March.

Experts and regulators have highlighted concerns about the cryptocurrency’s notorious volatility and the lack of any protections for its users.

– Skepticism –

The government is installing more than 200 bitcoin teller machines, some guarded by soldiers to prevent possible arson by opponents.

And Bukele has promised $30 for each citizen who adopts the currency.

“These are decisions the administration and lawmakers have taken without consulting” the population, said Laura Andrade, director of the Public Opinion Institute of the Central American University, which found in a poll that 70 percent of Salvadorans opposed the move.

“We see that people do not perceive a positive impact to significantly transform their living conditions,” she told AFP.

Nearly two-thirds of Salvadorans questioned for the poll said they had no interest in downloading the “Chivo” electronic wallet that will allow users to buy and spend bitcoin.

Oscar Cabrera, an economist at the University of El Salvador, said the currency’s high volatility will have a “negative impact” on consumers, affecting the price of goods and services.

The currency fell beneath $30,000 in June, less than half its all-time high of more than $64,000 just two months earlier.

For its part, the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADE) said it was “unconstitutional” to make it compulsory for merchants to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

– ‘Malign actors’ –

Bukele, who is popular but under fire in several quarters for moves to tighten his grip on power, has accused opponents of seeking to “sow fear” among Salvadorans, few of whom have access to formal banking services.

Remittances account for more than a fifth of GDP in the dollarized economy, mainly sent in dollars via agencies such as Western Union by an estimated 1.5 million expats.

According to World Bank data, El Salvador received more than $5.9 billion in 2020 from nationals living abroad, mainly in the United States.

And the country is relying on this money to boost a struggling economy that contracted 7.9 percent in 2020 due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.

Economists and international bodies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank have expressed concerns about El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption.

The United States has urged El Salvador to ensure a “regulated,” “transparent” and “responsible” use of bitcoin, and to protect itself from “malign actors” such as hackers seeking ransom money.

Bitcoin is criticized by regulators for its potential for illegal use — notably in laundering money from criminal activities and financing terrorism.

But not everyone is against it, and according to Bukele in late June, some 50,000 Salvadorans were using bitcoin.

Many of them are in the coastal town of El Zonte, where hundreds of businesses and individuals use the currency for everything from paying utilities bills to buying a can of soda.

Started as a project by an anonymous bitcoin donor, the town until recently boasted El Salvador’s only bitcoin teller machine.