If you’re in the market for a cheap fitness tracker, they don’t come much cheaper than the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 – a wearable with a heart-rate monitor that will set you back just £25.
When we reviewed the original Xiaomi Mi Band back in 2015, we were pleasantly surprised as it impressed us with accuracy and comfort for a low price. Packing a heart-rate monitor into the third iteration, the Mi Band 3, is almost unheard of for a sub-£50 tracker. But did it impress when we put it to the challenge in our test lab?
Keep reading to find out what other features the latest Xiaomi activity tracker has, how it compares with previous Mi Bands, and who Xiaomi are. We also take a look at the features you can expect from fitness watches or activity trackers for less than £50, less than £100 and what you get if you spend more.
If you just want to see all the star ratings and our verdict, and to find out if this is the best cheap activity tracker we’ve tested, head to our full Xiaomi MiBand 3 review.
The £25 Xiaomi Mi Band 3: key features
Following on from two successful siblings, the Mi Band 3 is a simple, wrist-worn activity tracker. It looks remarkably similar to the Mi Band 2, but with a few updates to the design.
The OLED touchscreen has increased in size from 0.40 inch to 0.78 inch, and it has a 128 x 80 pixel resolution. This is low, but given the size of the screen and the information you’ll view on it, it should be sufficient. It weighs just 20g, meaning it’s lightweight, and Xiaomi claims it will last an impressive 20 days per charge.
For fitness tracking, there’s a built-in heart-rate monitor, and it tracks steps, distance travelled, calories burned and sleep. It has a water-resistance rating of IP67, which means it’s splash and dust-proof, but shouldn’t be worn swimming. You can set up step and weight goals via the app.
It sounds good on paper, but is it too good to be true? We challenged the fitness tracking accuracy and battery-life claims, as well as the durability of this cheap device, in our test lab and reveal the full results in our review.
The most accurate fitness trackers – find out how every model we’ve reviewed rates for steps, distance, calories and heart rate.
Is Xiaomi a good brand?
Although you may not have heard of Xiaomi, rest assured it’s a big enough brand, at least outside these shores. As of April 2018, Chinese electronics brand Xiaomi was the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). Xiaomi is based in Beijing, and while it primarily produces smartphones it also has a selection of other consumer devices, including laptops, tablets and wearables.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find Xiaomi fitness trackers on the UK high street, but you can buy them from online retailers such as Amazon.
Activity trackers for different budgets
Spending more doesn’t always guarantee a premium experience, and that’s certainly reflected in fitness tracker test scores. We’ve tested fitness trackers costing between £24 and £250, and in the graph below compare the scores and prices of the trackers on test. Several devices costing less than £100 score more than 60%, while a £250 fitness tracker failed to impress and scored just 51%.
Fitness trackers less than £50
If you just want to track steps and get reminders to move more, then you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great device that will do the job. Trackers for less than £50 tend to be simple, with small screens that show a snippet of your activity data and the odd smart notification. They won’t wow you with features, but we’ve found cheap trackers that are accurate and comfortable to wear.
The Mi Band 2 and 3 are unusual for sub-£50 trackers – they both have heart-rate monitors, which are usually only found on pricier devices. Find out if they were accurate enough to make it in to our pick of the top three cheap fitness trackers under £50.
Fitness trackers less than £100
Increasing your budget to £100 opens up more options when it comes to features, and it’s more common to find devices in this price bracket that have built-in heart-rate monitors for tracking your fitness levels and built-in GPS for monitoring your distance without having to carry your smartphone.
See our pick of the top five fitness trackers under £100 to see the trackers we recommend.
What do you get if you spend more?
Fitness watches and activity trackers that cost more than £150 are generally aimed at the serious sportspeople. They can often track multiple sports, and provide detailed analysis for particular types of exercise – for example, stride length while running or stroke rate during swimming. More expensive devices tend to have larger and higher-resolution screens, making it easier to view a variety of metrics directly on your wrist.
Further up the scale, you’ll find devices with more smart features, such as being able to respond to messages or emails, or make contactless payments. But as with the £250 activity tracker in the graph above, spending this much doesn’t guarantee the most accurate or comfortable device to wear.
Browse all our Best Buy fitness trackers to find a model that ticks all the boxes.