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.