Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Review: Decent Upgrade But What’s More?

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Review Budget Fitness Tracker
Benco Ad

Xiaomi’s Mi Band lineup of fitness trackers is undoubtedly the most successful of its kind. Packing in plenty of features at an affordable price, it has been the go-to budget wearable for many people. However, its past couple of iterations have been uninspiring—which is to say just how little upgrades Xiaomi introduced with each new version. Thankfully, the new Mi Smart Band 6 (or Mi Band 6) brings literally the biggest touch up in the history of the lineup. And this is our review of the Xiaomi Mi Band 6.

Nokia Ad

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Specifications:

  • Body: 47.4 x 18.6 x 12.7 mm, 12.8gm (without strap)
  • Strap: Removable TPU straps
  • Display: 1.56″ AMOLED panel, 450 nits
  • Resolution: 152 x 486 pixels resolution, 326 PPI
  • Control: Touch, swipe
  • Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Compatible with: Android 5.0, iOS 10.0 and above
  • IP Rating: 5 ATM water-resistance
  • Functions: Alarm, Camera Shutter, DND, Heart Rate Monitor, Notifications, Sleep Tracking, Step Counter, Sports Mode (30), Blood Oxygen, Women’s Health
  • Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyro, PPG heart rate, SpO2
  • Companion App: Mi Fit (Android | iOS)
  • Battery: 125mAh, Up to 14 days endurance
  • Charger: Proprietary Magnetic charger (< 2 hours)
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Olive, Ivory
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 5,999

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Review:

Display

  • 1.56-inches AMOLED panel, 326 PPI
  • 130+ watch faces, 152 x 486 pixels

Here, the said big upgrade is the screen itself. Compared to the measly 1.1” display on its predecessor, the company has elongated it vertically to fit a taller 1.56” AMOLED screen on the new Mi Band 6. With this comes a sharper console for you to work with—and one that is more pleasing to look at as well.

Packing in 152 by 486 resolution and a pixel density, everything from texts to animations looks crisp here. Even the smallest fonts aren’t haunted by pixelation issues. Still and all, my biggest gripe with this display is Xiaomi’s choice of design principle to deliver a larger footprint. Sure the stretched screen doesn’t look half bad but I’m doubtful about what more it brings to the table—or better yet, what it should’ve brought to the table instead.

Mi Band 6 - Display

You see, besides a more attractive watch face and more breathing space for a few apps like Weather, this 1.56” screen doesn’t solve the prime issues that Mi Band 5’s smaller 1.1” display had. The narrow horizontal space means texts and other contents are still squeezed between this unnatural form factor. Compared to this, I’ll take the squarish resolution of the Honor Band 6 any day.

The larger font spread across a wider screen here means I don’t have to squint my eyes to make out the content on the screen, unlike on the Mi Band 6. This is especially true when you’re out on a stroll or exercise, and the natural distance between the band and your eyes when you raise your wrist isn’t close enough so that you can easily read what’s on the display.

Not how you do a large screen fitness tracker

But hey, if you do prefer the elongated layout, then my complaints won’t apply to you. Featuring 450 nits of brightness (like the Mi Band 5), this screen gets bright enough for a walk in the sun. There’s no auto-brightness option here though. You can choose from 5 illumination levels and most of the time, I set mine at 3 or 4—while bringing it down to 1 at night.

And I like how dim this screen gets as well. I can’t complain about the vibrancy of this AMOLED panel either. The colors look punchy with excellent contrast levels. Here, it can hold up to 7 widgets (including the homescreen) for easy access to your favorite apps. To configure this, you’ll need to refer to the companion app as Mi Band 6’s customization options are pretty limited on the fitness tracker itself.

Moving on, you can choose from over 130 watch faces to customize their look. But unfortunately, most of them are pretty cartoonish—with some bordering in the childish category as well. Yet, anime fanatics will certainly appreciate this selection. And I’ll be lying when I say the Evangelion-inspired ones don’t look cool. Plus, you can configure the exact info to display on some dial faces too.

Moreover, you can also personalize it with a custom photo on top of the 5 available templates. But if none of the options work for you, there’s always the alternative to look for third-party watch faces that are abundantly available for the Mi Band 6. However, if you’d like to frequently juggle between multiple dial faces, disappointment awaits as the band can only store up to 6 watch faces at once.

Emoji support

This includes the 3 that are pre-installed and can’t be deleted. To compare, the Honor Band 6 can hoard up to 32 watch faces on the band itself. Regardless, unlike the competition, Mi Band 6 supports a handful of emojis too—smileys, mostly. Nevertheless, I was bummed to find out that Nepali Unicode font appears as unreadable blocks instead.

Mi Band 6 - Strap

Getting to the UI, since there’s no dedicated physical or capacitive button, touch and swipe are all you have here. The subtle curves around the edges of the screen make swipe gestures simpler while raise/tap to wake functions work perfectly fine. Contrary to Honor’s latest fitness tracker, this one doesn’t have a dedicated tab for the control center, and the swipe up or down gestures trigger the same list of menus from opposing ends.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can set up to 6 widgets here that can be accessed by swiping to the left/right. Be sure to set notifications as one of them otherwise you’ll have a hard time keeping track of the incoming alerts. As expected from a budget fitness tracker, they are non-actionable.

Design

  • Elongated squarish body, lightweight
  • Removable TPU strap, 5 ATM certified

The stretched display means Xiaomi has made little to zero changes on the design front here. As a result, the Mi Band 6 is visually indistinguishable from its predecessor in terms of how it looks and how much it weighs. Also, if you already own Mi Band 5, then you’ll be able to swap its strap onto the new one.

The default Black-colored strap doesn’t particularly inspire an attractive look but you can choose from Blue, Orange, Yellow, Olive, and Ivory options as well. Additionally, third-party alternative straps for the Mi Band 6 are readily available in the market too. Anyway, the classic pin-hole design of Xiaomi’s budget wearables has never really been my cup of tea but that’s just me.

Mi Band 6 - Design

Comfortable fit

It fits perfectly fine on my wrist and the strap is soft enough to dismiss any issues concerning comfort either. Throughout my usage, the band hasn’t caused skin irritation/allergy problems to me either. Having said all that, the only reason I favor a traditional look/buckle design over this is how the pin here can accidentally come off when running it over something or someone. Happened to me a couple of times.

The indentation at the back is still prone to dust accumulation over time. So, you’ll have to wipe it off every now and then. Anyhow, I am a fan of how the Mi Band 6 lacks any Xiaomi branding, thereby offering a clean, uncluttered visual aesthetics.

It is also 5 ATM waterproof meaning this fitness tracker can survive under up to 50 meters of water for up to 10 minutes. So, having it on your wrist when it’s raining or when you’re swimming isn’t going to be an issue. All in all, the Mi Band 6 adheres to the classic design we’ve seen over the years in this lineup. It is lightweight and comfortable to wear—although I believe this pin-hole design is long due for an overhaul.

Companion App

  • Mi Fit (Android/iOS)

Moving on, the Mi Band 6 syncs with the Mi Fit app. For this, you’ll need to sign up for a Xiaomi account (if you don’t already have one) or sign in using a third-party account. The app’s UI/UX has pretty much remained the same from the days of Mi Band 4. The dashboard displays your latest health stats including steps taken, stress, SpO2 levels, and more.

All the data are presented in a fairly easy-to-read layout, which is complemented by helpful tips or FAQs under certain sections. But it’s 2021 and seeing how the app doesn’t have a dark mode is a little frustrating. This sounds like such a petty protest but if you think about it, lacking such a basic feature is quite disappointing in the first place.

Weirdly enough, only the workout overview UI implements the dark more for some reason. Here, you can view your workout trail, pace, heart rate, and other details in well-documented graphs. The Mi Fit app is also where you’ll be able to play with the band’s settings—from switching watch faces to customizing notifications, display settings, and more.

Interestingly, Mi Band 6 also doubles as your phone’s camera shutter button although it can’t give a preview of the frame. This feature isn’t enabled by default and you’ll have to manually activate it under the “Lab” menu.

Health, Fitness Tracking

  • 30 workout modes, SpO2 monitoring
  • Auto workout detection, PAI index

Time to talk about the health tracking features of this fitness tracker. Xiaomi has bumped the total number of sports modes from 11 in the Mi Band 5 to 30 on its successor. More importantly, the Mi Band 6 finally adds blood oxygen saturation monitoring to the company’s lineup of budget wearables.

Mi Band 6 - Sensor

Unfortunately, it doesn’t support all-day SpO2 tracking like on the slightly more expensive Huawei Band 6. I compared its SpO2 data against the Huawei and Honor Band 6 and found that all three deliver a similar result with a 1-2% deviation between them. Throughout the review, I noticed the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 to be a little faster at recording your blood oxygen level on most occasions as well.

Half-baked overnight blood oxygen monitoring

Even though the on-request nature of its SpO2 monitoring is quite impressive, Xiaomi has further tried to add to the appeal by adding the sleep breathing quality feature. Under this, the band monitors your blood oxygen saturation level overnight and then rates your breathing quality between 0 and 100. Mind you, this is different from sleep score.

Sad to say, this feature is still in the beta stage for now and doesn’t offer deeper insights into your SpO2 levels throughout the night. All you get is last night’s breathing quality score and that’s it. Xiaomi should improve it over time, but in the immortal words of MKBHD, “Never. Ever. Buy a tech product based on the promise of future software updates.”

Anyway, let’s now get into the sports tracking side of things. As I mentioned earlier, the Mi Band 6 can now track up to 30 workout modes including automatic detection of 6 of them. The auto workout detection is turned off by default as well. And you can specify which exercises you want the Mi Band 6 to recognize by itself.

Auto workout detection

For me, I turned on auto-detection for walking and outdoor running modes while the remaining options include treadmill, cycling, elliptical, and rowing machine. I must say that Mi Band 6 managed to detect my walking exercises fairly well. There’s also the “auto-pause” feature that halts your workout once it notices that you’ve taken a break.

Because it’s a budget fitness tracker, there’s no built-in GPS here so you’re gonna have to take your phone along the ride in case you want to trail your route. Here, I compared it against the Huawei Band 6 to find out the difference between the two wearables’ fitness tracking ability.

And what I found is that the Mi Band 6 tends to over-record almost every facet of the exercise by a small margin. As you can see from these screenshots, both bands accounted for my heart levels pretty much the same. However, the Huawei Band 6 managed to accurately detect the pace of my walk.

I was simply walking to the pharmacy at a constant speed which is reflected well by this fitness band. On the contrary, the Mi Band 6 shows big spikes throughout the session. This is visualized by the cadence graph as well which is a measure of steps/minute.

11 professional workout modes

Moving on, the Mi Band 6 lets you set different alerts during your workouts like heart rate levels, distance, and speed. It also supports pool swimming tracking where you can specify the pool length as well. Here, besides the 11 professional exercise modes, it can also record other workouts like pilates, HIIT, basketball, Zumba, etc.

But like on the Huawei Band 6’s miscellaneous exercise, the 19 workout modes record your heart rate levels and nothing more. Besides this, the Mi Band 6 can monitor your sleep, heart rate, stress levels, and more. I found that it was pretty spot on when it comes to recording my time to sleep and the time I got up.

You also get a deeper insight in terms of deep, light, and REM sleep as well. Based on all these factors, it also generates a score between 0 and 100 to give you a brief overview of your sleep quality. In terms of heart rate monitoring, this fitness tracker supports all-day heart and stress monitoring. Xiaomi lets you customize the frequency of all-day monitoring between different intervals and all through my usage, I set it to “every 1 minute” for the best insight.

Heart rate alert works fine

On the other hand, stress monitoring defaults to every 5 minutes with no option to customize it. Mi Band 6 can also send alerts if it detects your heart rate level go over the pre-defined value. The vibration motor is strong enough so that you don’t miss the alert too. Moreover, it brings PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) index as well which generates a score, based on your heart-rate intensive workouts throughout the day.

It embeds breathing exercises and menstruation cycle tracking features as well. Other assorted features of the Mi Band 6 include incoming call alerts, music playback control, weather forecasts, and even bypassing your phone’s unlock mechanism. However, the latter is restricted to devices running on Xiaomi’s MIUI only.

Battery Life

  • 125mAh, Up to 14 days battery life

With that out of the way, allow me to talk about its battery life. By adding more health tracking features on the identical form-factor as its predecessor, Xiaomi couldn’t upgrade the battery size on its newest fitness tracker. As a result, this 125mAh cell still promises up to 14 days of battery life on regular use.

Mi Band 6 - Charging

With all-day stress monitoring, sleep breathing quality, and continuous heart rate monitoring (every 1 minute) turned on, the Mi Band 6 lasted me for 7 days exactly. This usage also consisted of an all-day connection to my phone with a couple of dozens of incoming notifications. And like I mentioned in the beginning, I’d set its brightness to level 3.

All things considered, it delivers a pretty impressive battery endurance. But to squeeze out even more, you can bring down the frequency of heart-rate monitoring to 30 minutes. And maybe even disable sleep breathing quality altogether; since it isn’t all that helpful in its current state. In terms of juicing it up, the Mi Band 6 goes from 0 to 100% in about 1 hour and 43 minutes.

Conclusion

All in all, as I’ve discussed throughout the review, despite the big upgrades, I’m not quite impressed with the Xiaomi Mi Band 6. Its taller display sounds impressive but pales in comparison to similarly priced alternatives like the Honor Band 6.

The half-baked overnight SpO2 monitoring isn’t exciting either although its on-demand blood oxygen saturation tracking pretty impressive. Still, if the elongated screen isn’t bothersome and you want to upgrade from Mi Band 5, this is more than a handsome fitness tracker on a budget.

  • Watch our video review of the Xiaomi Mi Band 6.

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 Review:

Pros:

  • Lightweight, comfortable build
  • Color-rich and bright display
  • Auto workout detection works well
  • Decent sleep monitoring ability
  • Admirable battery endurance

Cons:

  • Elongated display looks weird
  • Sleep breathing quality is incomplete
  • No continuous SpO2 monitoring
  • Inconsistent workout recording
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
Display
Control
Battery
Health, Fitness Tracking
Sleep Monitoring
Companion App
Value for Money