Xiaomi's Mi Smart Band 5 is missing one of its best features for its global release

Xiaomi Mi Band 5
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 is the latest in the company's series of overwhelmingly popular fitness trackers that gives you a wrist based companion to monitor your health for a remarkably low price.

This latest generation fitness tracker from Xiaomi is a remarkable piece of tech for the price, but yet again I'm let down by the company's choice to not include some of its best features for its global release.

Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Band 5 earlier this year in China, where the fitness tracker sported some technology that's capable of competing with the very best from Samsung, Fitbit and more.

The same product has now been brought to the worldwide market - you can now buy the tracker in the UK, for example - but it's missing some core components that Xiaomi obviously thinks you don't need.

What are we missing?

The exact same body and design of the Chinese model are still included here. That includes a 1.1-inch AMOLED display, which is far bigger than the display on the Mi Band 4, and it features similar battery life and fitness tracking.

Yet, the more specialist highlights of the Mi Band 5's Chinese release have been dropped for its global variant.

Those include NFC (a technology used for mobile payments) and SpO2 blood oxygen tracking. Both of those are available on the Mi Band 5 in China, but that's not the case for its worldwide release.

While the most high-tech feature is the SpO2 sensor, I'm more gutted that we don't get NFC.

This was similar on both the Mi Band 3 and Mi Band 4, where the tracker featured an NFC sensor on its Chinese release. That tracker is from 2018, so it's a big shame the company hasn't managed to include the feature on either of the follow ups for their worldwide releases.

Why don't we get them?

It's largely because an NFC tracker on the Mi Band 5 would be pretty much useless for those outside of China. 

The tracker uses the tech to connect to a service called Xiaomi Pay, so you can make mobile payments from your wrist, but this isn't available outside China.

That's understandable, as it's a difficult thing to introduce a fresh new mobile payment system to the world. But this has happened for three generations of Xiaomi's tracker now, and there's no sign of the company offering an alternative.

Couldn't Xiaomi partner with a third-party company to offer mobile payments on its tracker? If it did so, this would make it one of the cheapest fitness trackers with contactless credentials.

But with Fitbit Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay all offering services on fitness trackers and wearables around the world, it's a big market that Xiaomi would be able to jump in to find if it managed to do so for the Mi Band series. I'm hoping it'll happen for the Mi Band 6.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.