Back in 2019 I wrote about the wonderful Xiaomi Mi Band 4 and it is no secret, despite owning and reviewing many smart watches and bands in detail, that the Xiaomi Mi 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watches remained my favourites for a long time – one or the other being in use every single day. As the charge on the otherwise excellent Samsung tends not to last that long (3 days maybe), the Mi 4 used to get most of my attention.
That is until my Xiaomi Mi Band 5 arrived around September 2020 from Banggood. May I just say at this point, I’ve been looking at other so-called reviews of smartwatches – I can’t be the only one who has noticed that both the Mi Band4 and 5 (I’ll stick my neck out and say 6) have an almost infinite number of watch faces available and yet looking at some very polished reviews elsewhere I’m seeing this totally ignored. The Huawei Band 4 and Samsung Galaxy Fit 2 “competitors” both of which are more expensive have no such flexibility. I note in many of these reviews there is no ability to leave comments.
Ok, some help for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the OLED-based Mi5 is the top end yet inexpensive smart band from Xiaomi – and the Mi 4 was until recently IMHO probably the best low-cost smart band on the market. Both have excellent charge life and a very wide range of faces available. If you refer back to my Mi Band 4 review link at the top you will see a SMALL selection out of the countless free watch faces I’ve used over time.
Xiaomi seem to have improved the Mi Home APP since the last time I took a look and they’ve definitely improved the band – while the overall band size is the same size as the Mi4 if a little thicker, the display area is definitely bigger and the charging arrangement has changed for the better – no longer do you have to yank the module out of the band for charging as the tiny magnetic charger just clips onto the back – much easier.
You CAN still remove the module if you want to change the default strap to any of a range of lovely, coloured (often inexpensive) straps – note that the Mi Band 5 is very slightly thicker than the Mi Band 4 so I would check advertised straps carefully before purchase. Mi Band 5 coloured straps ARE available and people have already dedicated entire videos to that subject alone. Check out the fastening mechanism above – you’ll see at the end that this strap is not ideal but it can easily be replaced.
At some point you may or may not wish to know about this: PAI is a (Personal Activity Intelligence) score “to help you contextualize how physical activities contribute to your fitness” on the Mi 5.
Instructions are multilingual and comprehensive. As a seasoned Mi Band 4 user, I didn’t need them. The box is lovely and the whole thing looks more expensive than the price suggests. If you don’t like “plastic” straps – others are available from Banggood and elsewhere – even Amazon has a few.
Setup was easy – the App told me I could only have ONE Mi 4 OR 5 attached at one time – and that was pretty much it. I watched as the firmware was automatically updated to the latest version and a minute later I was in business with my new Mi 5.
The Mi 4 claims battery charge of 20 days and I regularly get 3 weeks or more out of it (with brilliance turned up) whereas the Mi 5 claims 14 days – that IS an understatement – I get at LEAST 2 weeks out of mine.
As for handling bright daylight – judge for yourself… and yes, it has been in the hot tub with me, without problems – as has the Mi 4.
Below, a random sample of the countless available free watch faces including analog from the independent MiBand5 app on Google Play. For newcomers to the Mi – don’t confuse this with the Huawei or other bands with a choice of only 3 or 4 watch faces – the Mi4 and 5 have VAST selections of faces available and are water resistant (well and truly tested).
Due to Xiaomi being tight with storage you can only keep a few faces on the band at any time but downloading on your phone and syncing to the band takes seconds. Right… I’m going out tonight – time for a new watch face.
Update February 2021 – the band issue and solution
I wrote this blog on the Mi 5 back in September 2020 and the band has been in use ever since, on a daily basis. HOWEVER, ultimately I thought I’d LOST the band due to that really dumb strap design. The default strap is held together by pressure alone and can come loose over time. I’d noticed this but chose to ignore it. HOWEVER, it happened to be my birthday on March 4 and at the weekend we were out shopping at the Nevada Shopping Centre in Granada (Southern Spain) when I noted the Xiaomi Mi Store.
More accurately, I got REALLY EXCITED when I found the store and had to restrain myself from buying everything therein. As many of you know I’m a great Xiaomi fan, have had every band from Mi Band 3 onwards, the Pocophone F1 phone, I currently have the Pocophone X3 and have also briefly reviewed the Pocophone M3.
Anyway, inside the store (which has the look and feel, but not the prices, of an Apple store), along with countless other Xiaomi products was the Mi 5 band – so – my wife bought me a replacement. Just a few stores down the mall was a mobile phone spares dealer who seems to focus primarily on Xiaomi and Huawei straps, cases and related peripherals. I could not believe my luck.
For €10 they had a black metal strap with magnetic catch. There is no way that was going to “drop off” so I’m very pleased about this. Very comfortable and strong with it. I’m sure Banggood will have the straps but in this case I needed an instant solution.