The Mi Band is a very inexpensive fitness tracker. But an even cheaper variant might be on the cards. If Mi Band 3i sees the light of day it will have fewer functions, but better battery life.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Band 4 last month but it might not be done with new releases in the range. A device is in the works codenamed “RIO”. It is rumoured this will ultimately be renamed into Mi Band 3i.
The company did something similar at the release of Mi Band 3. It launched a special edition 2i model (also called Mi Band-HRX Edition) shortly afterwards.
The major difference between Mi band 2 and 2i is the heart rate sensor. Essentially, users pay about a third more to measure their ticker. You do get about 3 to 5 days more battery life on the lower specs version, as there is no heart rate sensor to consume power. Other than that the two are identical and both fitness bands use the same app.
The reference to “RIO” was spotted by AndroidTR in the code of the MiFit app. Which suggests the fitness bands exists. Or that Xiaomi is, at least, flirting with the idea.
It’s not entirely clear where the company would look to cut corners. It could be the heart rate sensor once again. The other option might be to use a lower spec screen.
The highlight of the new Mi Band 4 is the gorgeous full colour AMOLED display. It features 120 x 240 pixel resolution, 2.5D scratch-resistant tempered glass and screen brightness up to 450 nits. The screen is also larger than on the predecessor device, measuring 0.95-inches (versus the 0.78 inches).
Is it worth sacrificing the performance of a budget wearable for a further drop in price? Xiaomi seems to think so, at least for the Asian region. This is why the 2i version is not available in the US or Europe, and we suspect the same might be the case for Mi Band 3i. Which means we are unlikely to see it in the shops here, although you will be able to purchase it via online platforms such as Gearbest.
Our suggestion would be to go for Mi Band 4. It does not make sense to buy a trimmed-up version for a $10 saving in price. If the company decides to drop the heart rate sensor, this translates into poorer accuracy for other functions such as sleep tracking. The fitness band essentially becomes a pedometer.
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