Xiaomi Mi Band 7 review: the budget fitness band just got better
Xiaomi Mi Band 7
- Large 1.62" AMOLED display, with always-on option
- Improved sensors, 24/7 SpO2
- Heart rate monitor during exercise impressively accurate
- More sports tracking options
- Excellent battery life
- No physical button, can be difficult to navigate display
- No built-in GPS
- No NFC
In this review I turn my focus to Xiaomi Mi Band 7. This is the latest edition to a fitness tracker line which has been a popular choice over the past few years.
Essential reading: Xiaomi Mi Band 7 vs 6: should you upgrade?
The Chinese tech giant continues to improve its affordable fitness wearable with each passing year. The seventh edition brings to the table an even larger display with an always-on option. Other improvements include an SpO2 sensor which can track blood oxygen continuously, a quadrupling of sports modes, additional performance metrics and more.
In the couple of weeks that Mi Band 7 has been available for purchase in China, more than one million units were shifted. More recently the international edition has launched (check price on Amazon).
I spent the past couple of weeks with Xiaomi’s latest wearable. Here’s what I made of it.
Design & hardware
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 review: Design & hardware
- Beautiful 1.62 inch AMOLED display, 25% more viewing area
- Always on-option for some watch-faces
- No physical button – navigate via touch display
- Two weeks battery life, depending on settings
Look and feel
The Mi Band 7 is not all too different from its predecessors. It has the familiar no-nonsense appearance that has become the norm with so many of fitness bands.
The brains of the device are housed in a polycarbonate pill-shaped pod with tempered glass that pops out of its enclosure with a slight bit of effort. That makes swapping bands incredibly easy. By default your purchase gets you a silicone strap that works fairly well at detering grime and sweat.
All of this has a 5 ATM water-resistance rating. Which makes it good for swimming and most other water-based activities. Once again, no change there as compared to its immediate predecessor.
The one important change comes in the form of a larger 1.62 inch AMOLED display. For a number of years running, Xiaomi has managed to increase the size of the screen. 2022 is no different – with the screen gaining about 0.6 inches in size. This might not sound like a lot but it actually increases the viewable area by 25%. You also get more pixels – 192 x 490, along with 326 ppi, and up to 500 nits of peak brightness.
There is still a bezel around the display, but it is fairly small. Xiaomi should be applauded for not going bigger. A number of companies have opted to churn out fitness bands with an even larger display. In my mind any bigger than around 1.6 inches and you’re crossing into smartwatch territory.
I was impressed with the clarity of the display, the vibrancy of the colours, both indoors and out. Having said that, when exercising I found myself going into the settings to turn up the brightness to the max setting. It does not adjust automatically so you need to do it manually. Then I had to turn it back down as it would be too bright indoors.
Not a big problem, and with enough experimenting I am sure that I could find a mid-setting that would suffice on both counts. But it is something to be aware of. An ambient light sensor which automatically regulates the brightness would be the ideal solution. Something that will hopefully be upgraded with Mi Band 8.
There are lots of screen settings to play around with. This includes an always-on option which transitions from a fully featured watch-face to one that is barebones. I prefered to keep this off, though, as it is a battery life hit. Also worth noting, the always-on option is only available for a selection of watch-faces.
What I didn’t like is the fact that there is no physical button. That has been dropped since version 6. It could have, perhaps, been integrated towards the bottom of the display. Or like on some of the Fitbits, it could have been included on the side.
I say this because you have no other option but to navigate everything, start and stop workouts via the touchscreen. Which at times is a bit temperamental.
The struggle I found myself having from time to time was going back to the previous screen. You are meant to do this by swiping left – but it didn’t work every time. A “back” or “home” button would make this a much easier task.
Neverthless, Mi Band 7 is definitely an improvement over other devices in the range when it comes to looks. The increase in display size really makes the device more functional. You can actually see your stats on the go, and the watch-faces look beautiful.
Another good thing is that the size of the device has actually come down a bit to 46.5 x 20.7 x 12.25mm. The weight is practically unchanged, a mere 13.5 grams. Definitely not something that will weigh your wrist down.
Under the hood you can find the standard set of fitness sensors. Nothing extra or out of the ordinary, but the basics are there. This includes a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, the latest generation PPG heart rate sensor and SpO2. The last on this list has received an upgrade in the sense that it can take measurements not just on-demand, but also automatically if you enable the setting.
The one obvious sensor that is missing is an altimeter for counting floors climbed. Sure I realise that those stats can throw up a lot of junk numbers at times. But it would be nice to have.
The other obvious ommission is a built-in GPS chip. More and more fitness bands are packing this as it allows for untethered satellite connectivity. Meaning you can go for that run or cycle without carrying your phone and still get detailed stats and a geographical map of your activity. But we will get a Pro version of Xiaomi Band 7 that will pack a GPS chip and an even larger display. It is scheduled to launch in early July.
Rounding this section off with battery life. This has always been an important feature of Mi Bands. I’m glad to report the seventh generation does not dissapoint on this count. WIth normal use you should get about two weeks between charges.
In my case I got between 7 and 10. But this is because I enabled the continuous blood oxygen function, detailed sleep tracking and increased the sampling frequency of heart rate to the highest setting. If I had opted for the always-on screen option, this would have depleted the battery life even more. So choose which functionality you want to switch on with care.
The wearable packs a 180mAh battery, so much larger than the 125mAh built into Mi Band 6. It is needed considering its larger display.
Charging is done via a snap-on magnetic cable. Plug one end into a USB socket and align the pins on the other end with the Mi Band. There’s no need to remove the main unit from the strap to do this. Charging is done pretty quickly, my guess is that about 2 hours is all that is needed to go from zero to full.
Technical specs recap
46.5 x 20.7 x 12.25 mm
1.62 inch AMOLED (192 x 490 pixels)
6-axis sensor: low power-consumption 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope, PPG heart rate sensor, SpO2
180 mAh, 15 days typical usage, snap-on magnetic charging
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 review: Functionality
Fitness & health monitoring
- All the basics are there
- Detailed sleep tracking – which includes naps
- All-day blood oxygen monitoring
With each passing year Xiaomi incrementally improves its flagship fitness band. There are no drastic changes this year but you get some nice upgrades.
What has remained the same is the overall health and fitness functionality of the device. Those looking for a no-frills fitness band that simply does the job will not be disappointed. You get all the basics such as steps, distance, ability to set goals, detailed sleep tracking, inactivity reminders, all-day stress and more.
And all of this works fairly well. Which is to be expected as the company is continuously working on improving its sensors and algorithms.
Beyond the basics, users can find some women’s health tracking features. Also available is the Personal Activity Intelligence. It is a useful metric to have and most Xiaomi and Huami device pack this. PAI spits out a single figure that quantifies how active you were on a particular day by tracking how hard your heart worked. This can be more representative as compared to something like a step count. Do a swim session or long bike ride and you will not log many steps even though you may have worked hard.
Sleep tracking has also received a boost. Now it can tap into blood oxygen readings and dish out sleep breathing quality. One potential use of this is in spotting signs of Sleep Apnea. The band will keep an eye out on abnormalities, as long as the detailed sleep tracking option is enabled in the settings. You can also enable to band to alert you if your SpO2 falls below 90%. And one additional sleep tracking feature I appreciate – the ability to log naps.
It is worth going through the settings in the smartphone app when you first pair the device. This is because you can enable a bunch of stuff such as all-day stress tracking, various options for SpO2 and sleep.
Most of these stats are viewable on the device itself, but for long-term trends, insights and additiona detail you’ll need to pair the Mi Band to a smartphone app. The default option is Mi Fitness. It does the job but could do with a design overhaul. The other option you could potentially go for is the Zepp Life app (formerly MiFit). In this review I went with Mi Fitness as this is what is suggested in the instruction booklet.
The software is split into a number of different areas. You can navigate these by taping on the tabs along the bottom. There’s one for the dashboard with a summer of your daily stats. This screen is very customizable and you can add or delete tiles to it. Tapping on each tile takes you into a more detailed overview of those particular stats.
Other areas include “Workout”, “Device” and “Profile”. The first lets you manually start an exercise and will tap into GPS readings if needed. The second is where you can tweak notifications, apps and screens on the Mi Band. The final one is to do with your general profile.
- 120 sports modes
- Additional performance metrics are work in progress
- Once connected, GPS works well
- Heart rate readings during exercise are of decent quality
Sports tracking is an area where Xiaomi says it has made additional improvements. One of these are a whopping 120+ sports modes. That’s four times as many as on the Mi Band 6.
Granted many of these will only have basic stats, nevertheless it is good to have the choice. The options include Indoor fitness, Indoor ice skating, HIIT, Core training, Stretching, Stepper, Gymnastics, Pilates, Street dance, Dance, Zumba, Cricket, Bowling, Basketball, Volleyball, Table tennis, Badminton, Boxing and Kickboxing – to name a few. There’s also auto workout tracking for a handful of activities such as swimming, for example.
Decent run tracker
As always, I was keen to try out running as I find this to be representative of the overall sports tracking ability of a fitness device. As I test I compared Xiaomi Mi Band 7 against the Garmin Forerunner 955. The latter is a device that costs about eight times as much. Perhaps not a fair comparison – but hey.
Starting off with GPS and I found it a struggle to start the workout from Mi Band itself. Even though the wearable was connected to the app on my smartphone, it refused to tap into the signal. The problem was resolved very simply. I started the workout from the app. This seems to be a glitch as it also happened on another run. Hopefully a future firmware update should fix it.
As far as accuracy, once connected the GPS from the smartphone worked fine, no drops in connection. The distance measured by the Xiaomi device during the 90 minute run through central London was 15.56km. Garmin was slightly above that at 16.01km. Which is actually not too bad considering I ran through a heavily built-up area in one of the largest cities in Europe.
A bit of simple math and you get a discrepancy of about 2.8 meters per 100 meters. Was the Garmin or Xiaomi more correct? Hard to say. And remember, the quality of the GPS tracking when it comes to the Xiaomi device depends more on the smartphone that you own than on the tracker itself.
As far as the other stats, Garmin averaged my heart rate at 144 beats per minute (bpm) during the 90 minute run, with a maximum value of 152 bpm. Xiaomi’s figures came in at 142 bmp for the average and 151 bmp for max. Which is impressively close! Particularly when you take into consideration that I manually paused tracking on the Garmin a couple of times to let traffic pass by.
I was really pleased with the heart rate measurements – they were spot on. Not really something you’d expect from a $60 fitness device.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the newly introduced performance metrics. To start off, they do not update in the smartphone app. You can view them on the tracker itself but even there things do not seem right.
For example, I did the 16 km run today and it is telling me insufficient workout intensity for the past 7 days, with a recovery time of zero! So obviously today’s run has not registered yet. Perhaps there is a time lag. I don’t know. In any case, one would expect for these types of metrics to appear immediately post exercise, not the next day.
The Vo2Max also seems off the mark – very low as compared to other devices. In fairness, that metric might need a few runs to dish out an accurate value. But I was more hopeful about the performance metrics. For now they seem like work in progress.
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 also comes with the basic smart features that any self-respecting fitness band should have. This includes the ability to answer calls from a connected phone, view messages, control the music playing on your smartphone, take pictures remotely and more. The company continuously makes tweaks to these so that they work better with each subsequent generation.
The one feature that is missing from this model is an NFC chip for making contactless payments. This is reserved for the Chinese edition so no joy for the international market.
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 review: The verdict
Xiaomi Mi Band 7 has all the things that have made the predecessor versions of the band so popular. A no-nonsense, lightweight design along with good build quality. This is coupled with a wealth of health and fitness tracking smarts including continuous SpO2 monitoring with alerts, excellent battery life and water-resistance. Plus, everything has been made all the better now due to the large 1.62 inch (optionally always-on), AMOLED display which really makes the band come to life.
Those looking for a no-frills activity tracker will not be disappointed. The wearable simply does the job and you have a choice of smartphone apps with which to use it.
As far as sports tracking, I found the Connected GPS works well if you start a workout from the smartphone app. The heart rate monitor during exercise is impressively accurate, on par with the Garmin on my other wrist. As far as the advertised performance metrics – this seems very much like work in progress at the time of writing this review. Hopefully a future firmware update will fix this.
Xiaomi Mi Band 7
Is the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 worth buying? If you don’t need built-in GPS and are looking for an affordable or entry-level fitness tracker, than the answer is yes. Absolutely yes.
If you own the immediate predecessor, this generation probably does not bring enough to the table to warrant upgrading your device. But if you don’t own a fitness band or have one of the earlier Mi Band generations, this iteration definitely presents itself as a solid buy.
Essential reading: Xiaomi Mi Band 7 vs 6: should you upgrade?
Mi Band 7 sells from $63 although you can pick up some early deals for $52 (check price on Amazon). This makes it slightly more expensive than its predecessor. There are 10 colour options to choose from including Black, Blue, Orange, Pink, White, Dark Green, Fluorescent Orange, Fluorescent Green, Camouflage Blue and Camouflage Green.
Does the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 have built-in GPS?
No it does not. But it does have the ability to connect to your smartphone and obtain its GPS signal.
Is the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 waterproof?
Yes it is. Just like its immediate predecessor – it has a 5 ATM water-resistance rating. Which makes it perfectly fine for swimming and other water-based activities.
Does the Xiaomi Mi Band 7 have NFC for contactless payments?
This is reserved only for the Chinese edition. The international version of the tracker does not have NFC for contactless payments.
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