Amazfit Band 5 review: a more high-spec Mi Band alternative
Having passed through the FCC in July, Amazfit Band 5 is now available to order on Amazon. The wearable is very similar to the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, but with a few extras such as Alexa and blood oxygen saturation measurements.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
There was talk Xiaomi’s device might come in a pro variant with these very same features. However that iteration never surfaced. It seems the functionality was reserved for the Amazfit band. The companies have a working relationship as Huami, which owns Amazfit, manufactures the Mi Band. This partnership was recently extended to least at least until 2023.
Most people reading this article will be very aware of the long line of Amazfit smartwatches. But it’s been a while since we’ve seen a fitness band from the same brand.
I was keen to try it out. What follows are my impressions after living with it on my wrist for the past ten days.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Design
The Amazfit Band 5 has a light and functional design. It feels really comfortable, almost unnoticeable due to only weighing 12 grams.
Its looks are pretty much exactly the same as Mi Band 5. You really have to struggle to spot the differences. But there are a few.
The most obvious one is the touch button below the display. The Amazfit wearable has a circular one, the Xiaomi an oval one. Another difference is that the whole thing is a tiny bit larger than Mi Band. Its actual dimensions are 47.2 x 18.5 x 12.4 mm.
Finally, the Amazfit Band 5 also has a larger band adjustment strap. I prefer watch-like buckles but must admit the mechanism on Huami’s wearable kept the band securely on my wrist. It’s one of those where you are meant to push the pin through a hole.
Just like Mi Band, Amazfit Band 5 has a 1.1 inch full colour AMOLED, with 2.5D curved glass protection. That’s actually a nice size for a fitness band. The colours are really vibrant and the text is quite sharp thanks to the 126 x 294 pixel resolution and brightness up to 450 nits.
Indoors its a breeze. You can read absolutely everything, no problem. Outdoors and in direct sunlight it becomes much more difficult. This is not helped by the fact that some of the text is really small.
The screen can be woken up by a flick of the wrist and it’s very responsive to do so. There’s no always-on option. The other way to bring it to life is a quick tap on the capacitive button. This also acts like a home button so wherever you are, a simple tap will bring you back to the initial page.
Navigation through individual pages is done by swiping on the touch display. This is where it gets a little finicky. Swiping up, down, left, right will take you through the various pages. However, the wearable is very strict on what it considers a swipe.
For example, if you don’t make a motion from the very top edge to the very bottom edge of the screen it will not register as a swipe. This will revert you to the home screen so you’ll need to do the process all over again. Frustrating if you’ve flicked through a few pages trying to find what you are after. Having said that, it does get easier with practice and I did become more careful with swipes so that they would register properly.
Below the 5 ATM surface which insures excellent water resistance, the fitness band packs Huami’s BIO Tracker 2 PPG Bio Tracking Optical Sensor (enabled for pulseOx), 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope. The extra bit over Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is the blood oxygen sensor. Amazfit Band 5 can also keep tabs on stress levels by analysing heart rate variability.
Battery life is pretty good. With normal use it will keep going for nearly two weeks. If you’re stuck somewhere without a charger you can always opt for the power saving mode. This is good for 25 days. The last option is the standby mode which runs for up to 3 months.
Refuelling of the 125 mAh lithium ion battery is done via a proprietary charger which has magnetic pins at the end. You are meant to align the pins on the device to the pins on the charger. I wrote this review after wearing it non-stop for 10 days and the battery is still going strong despite extensive use.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Features
As far as functionality, Amazfit Band 5 does everything that Mi Band 5 does and more. As mentioned, Huami manufactures both so the quality of readings should not differ.
The band will have you covered with info on steps, distance, heart rate and sleep. The one omission is a barometer for counting floors climbed.
All the stats are presented nicely in the Zepp app. This is the software that is used for all Amazfit wearables, including Zepp smartwatches. To remind, Huami has recently acquired Zepp and started producing wearables under its brand.
The dashboard presents a summary of your readings. Click on any metric to view daily/weekly/monthly/annual trends and insights.
The sleep tracking functionality is particularly detailed. You get info on deep sleep, light sleep and awake time. To get info on REM you’ll need to enable the option in the settings (this reduces battery life). You are also assigned a Sleep Score for the night.
Huami is also testing a breathing quality option. This is currently in Beta but it can be enabled via the settings. It spits out a value in the morning that ranges from o to 100 points. The higher your score the better your sleep breathing quality. Huami says the score can be improved by sleeping on your side, making sure not to drink alcohol before sleep, by losing weight and exercising more.
I was also impressed by the abilitity of Amazfit Band 5 to detect sporadic naps. Some of the premium brands still struggle with this.
The more interesting functionality on Amazfit Band 5 comes in the form of blood oxygen saturation measurements and stress tracking. These are some of the above-mentioned additions over Mi Band which make it a better choice in terms of value for money.
You could call 2020 the year of SpO2 in wearable tech. We’ve seen many fitness bands and smartwatches adopting the technology. Blood oxygen measurements are done on demand, so there’s no automatic tracking during sleep like we’ve seen on some wearables.
To initiate a reading simply flick through the screens on the band until you get to the one marked SpO2. Tap on the measure button with the band tightly secured to your wrist and hold still. After 20-30 seconds you’ll get a reading.
I did a few measurements and they all came in between 95% and 100%. This is considered a healthy range. I also did a comparison of measurements with a few other devices, and the readings were always within a 2% margin. Which is not bad.
Another interesting addition is stress monitoring. Unlike SpO2 measurements, this can be done on demand or automatically in the background. The thing uses heart rate variability to figure out how chilled you are.
The automatic stress tracking option takes a measurement every 5 minutes 24 hours a day. The end result of this is a nice stress analysis chart in the app. You are also assigned a daily stress score.
To keep calm, there’s a guided breathing exercise that can be accessed from the fitness band. It consists of an inhale/exhale animation which you are meant to emulate, and an accompanying vibration.
Those with heart issues should make sure to enable the heart rate alert option. You manually set the value and if there is no obvious activity and your heart rate is above it, you’ll get a notification.
Like most other Amazfit wearables, Mi Band 5 also comes with PAI vitality index assessment, sedentary reminder, female health tracking and more.
The band works really well as a 24/7 activity and sleep tracker. But it also has 11 sports modes including outdoor running, treadmill, outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, walking, elliptical, rowing machine, jump rope, yoga, pool swiming and free style. All of these can be started manually from the device.
Additionally, there an automatic activity detection option that can be enabled in the settings. This tries to figure out if you are doing exercise and automatically increases heart rate sampling if it sees that you are active.
There’s no built-in GPS so you will need to really on your smartphone’s satellite signal. It will suffice for the occasional run, but it’s no sports watch. Make sure you don’t forget to switch on Connected GPS if you’re running. Without it I found the band is pretty bad at figuring out your distance.
The same applies for heart tracking during exercise. It is not nearly the same quality as you would get from a good sports watch. But then again, these devices are at minimum 3-4 times more expensive.
The other importance upgrade you’ll get with this Amazfit product is Amazon Alexa compatibility. You can ask Alexa questions, get translations, set alarms, check the weather, control smart home devices and more.
To enable you’ll need to add your Alexa account via the Zepp app. Put in the necessary password and once you sync your Amazfit Band 5 will be able to access the service.
This is done by single swiping to the right from the home screen of the device. You’ll see a message “I’m listening”. Then it’s a matter of asking questions. You can’t control music but you can do many other things. There’s a microphone but no speaker, so all the communication from Alexa is done via the display.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Other than that you get the usual smart functionality. The band shows previews of your smartphone notifications, but you can’t reply to a text message from the device or make calls. The band can also be used for remote picture taking, music control, find phone, reminders, weather forecast, time, countdown and more.
Amazfit Band 5 review: The verdict
Huami has tried to cover all the bases with Amazfit Band 5 and it did a pretty good job. The fitness band will have you covered around the clock. It comes with a comfortable, functional design and can keep going nearly two weeks on a single charge.
The color display works well, although it is difficult to read in the sunlight. The touch functionality takes some getting used to.
I would consider activity tracking its strong point. Sports tracking less so, but if you are very serious about that side of things you’d be better off with a sports watch anyway.
I was particularly impressed with the sleep tracking functionality. It’s very detailed, it’s good at catching sporadic naps and it has a breathing quality option.
The new SpO2 and stress monitoring functions also work well. Alexa compatibility is not something I would see myself using often, but it is there for those that need it.
Amazfit Band 5
All things considered the fitness band presents good value for money. It makes sense to go for this instead of the Xiaomi Mi Band 5. The price difference is negligible but the Amazfit product offers more.
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