Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review

It's cheap, but is it good enough?

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Our Verdict

Xiaomi's Mi Band line has always been about offering fitness-tracking tech for a very low price and the Mi Band 3 is no exception. You won't get the best here, but considering the price you'll probably be happy with what it offers if you're just looking for the basics.

For

  • Very cheap
  • Slimline design
  • Heart rate monitor

Against

  • No GPS
  • Poor screen visibility in daylight
  • Temperamental heart rate tracker

If you're looking to buy a new fitness tracker you'll find plenty of options at a variety of different prices, but you'd struggle to find a device that's cheaper than the Xiaomi Mi Band 3.

The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 never managed to top our best cheap fitness tracker list, despite its low price, as it lacks some core features that other budget trackers offer. like an accurate heart rate tracker or a high-quality app experience.

The good news is that the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is still a cheap device, but it comes with a lot of new features, including waterproofing, a larger screen and an improved design.

So will you be missing out on anything by going for the Band 3 rather than something a bit more expensive? Read on for our full verdict…

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 price and release date

  • Worldwide release details is currently unclear, but out in China now
  • You can buy it in the UK through an importer, but not in the US or Australia
  • Prices start at £23, around $30 / AU$36
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Announced in May 2018, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 isn't easily available globally as many will have hoped. The Chinese pricing is set at 179 yuan for the basic model, which is around £20 / $30 / AU$36.

It's not officially available in the UK or US yet, but you can buy the tracker from Gearbest – which kindly supplied the unit for this review – for £22.76 or $29.99 at the time of writing. Use the code HKBAND to cut that price down to $22.79, just under $18.

Whether Xiaomi will see fit to officially release the tracker around the world is currently unclear.

There's also a more expensive version available in China for 199 yuan (around $33 / £23 / AU$40) but the only extra feature is NFC, and that model isn't currently available from Gearbest in the US and UK.

Design and display

  • Light fitness tracker that's comfortable to wear when sweating
  • Not the best-looking device, but not ugly either
  • Larger screen than the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, but still limited in functionality

The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 isn't going to floor you with its design, but it does look better than previous fitness trackers from the company.

It's notably light on your wrist at 20g, which means we didn't really notice we were wearing it. The dimensions of the tracker are 17.9 x 46.9 x 12mm, so this won't feel like wearing a smartwatch – it's a lot smaller.

The screen is bigger here than on the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 – it's a 0.78-inch OLED panel that sits lengthways along your wrist. It's a touchscreen, so you can swipe your finger across it to scroll through the menus, although we found that feature quite temperamental.

It often took a few taps or drags on the screen to get into the menus we needed, so this isn't the easiest device to interact with. That issue got better with time as we got used to the device, but we still found ourselves having to swipe or tap repeatedly as the screen wasn't responsive enough.

There's a touch key at the bottom of the screen which you can hold down to activate features, or press to go back. This worked quickly whenever we gave it a quick tap when navigating the menus.

The screen itself is black and white, with a faint blue tinge to the white, so you won't be getting a vibrant readout of your stats, but the resolution is good at 128 x 80 pixels. If you want a device that's bolder and can give all of your stats on a large display, you'll want something bigger and more expensive like the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro.

Our main problem with the display on the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is that it's difficult to read in direct sunlight. 

We took the tracker out running on a sunny day, and we found it a struggle to read any of our stats without finding a shady spot. That means you may find it difficult to see your information if you need it quickly when you're on the move.

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You can take the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 swimming or into the shower, as it's also waterproof to 50 meters – that's a useful feature, and one you won't find in some trackers that cost a good deal more.

You've also got the choice of three different bands for the Mi Band 3: there's a black design – the one pictured in this review – as well as orange and blue.

The strap itself is made of silicone, and we found it comfortable to wear throughout the day – even when sweating – but it doesn't look particularly stylish. Xiaomi doesn't offer any other materials for straps yet, but based on what we saw after the Mi Band 2 was released we'd expect to see a variety of third-party retailers selling alternative straps soon.