In June 2019, Xiaomi launched Mi Band 4. Its main novelty is to have a larger and full-colour OLED screen.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
240 x 120 pixels
Cardiac rhythm sensor
Ambient light sensor
This test was performed with a model loaned by Xiaomi.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is not really original in its design, as it takes the design of its predecessor, the Mi Band 3, for granted. There is a small glossy case with oval shapes, like a big pill, integrated in a silicone bracelet. It measures 46.9 x 17.9 x 12 mm for 22 grams. It’s a little bigger than a Huawei Band 3 Pro for example, but less heavy.
The body of the bracelet is removable and fits into a rather minimalist silicone bracelet. It’s rather thin, so it fits all wrists, with 12 adjustment holes and a rather simplistic rather strong attachment system. The downside is that it is not necessarily easy to adjust at first glance and the bracelet will fall off quickly if it comes off inadvertently. Rest assured, however: this never happened to me during my test (almost 3 weeks).
Personally, I find the case a bit thick and its integration with the bracelet much less “fashion” than Huawei’s solution. We really have a plastic object for geeks around our arm and not a fashion accessory.
Compared to the Mi Band 3, there are two striking new features: the colour screen, and the fact that the action button is now simply indicated by a small, very discreet circle on the bottom of the pill instead of a recess that was supposed to accommodate the finger. This avoids the impression that the body of the bracelet is dented.
For the screen, we are on a diagonal of 0.95 inches for an OLED tile supporting more than 16,000 colours. This of course gives an immediate appearance much more pleasing to the eye than the shades of grey of the previous model. In the parameters, the brightness of the display can be adjusted to 5 different levels. As there is no automatic brightness, I quickly turned the screen to its maximum power so that I could easily read my screen even under the hot June sun. No problem there.
In summary, the improvements are minimal, but well found, though not enough to move Mi Band 4 into the premium-looking wristband category. However, it remains rather pleasant in everyday life and is even forgotten at night.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 works equally well with an iPhone or an Android smartphone. As this test was conducted with an Android smartphone, there may be some differences on iOS.
At the bracelet level, the interface is simple, but not necessarily intuitive. One moves vertically or horizontally by a finger swipe, but nothing indicates the possibilities on the screen, so one should try to check everywhere to see if there is any other hidden information. Some will find the pleasure of discovery (sometimes fortuitous) and treasure hunt, but it only takes a few days, or even a few hours, to know the right directions.
On the right of the home screen, you can see the media player (to manage your music for example), while if you go down in the menus you will find :
- Status: Contrary to what the house logo may suggest, this is a menu that shows the number of steps taken during the day, the distance travelled or the number of calories burned.
- Heart rate: to find out how fast your heartbeat is pulsing
- Training: to start recording an activity (outdoor running, treadmill running, cycling, walking, “exercise” and swimming), it may not be obvious that stopping these activities requires a long press on the button.
- Weather: Évelyne Dhéliat on your wrist
- Notifications: to view all notifications from your smartphone
- Plus: you will find the Do Not Disturb mode (with possible automatic activation during sleep), alarm, music management (again), stopwatch, timer, silent mode, choice of time display screen and settings (screen lock, if you are at the cinema for example, brightness setting…).
On the whole, it’s fairly simple to use and it’s relatively complete for the average person, as long as you’re not too fussy, the “exercise” section being a bit of a catch-all for those who play other sports.
A quick tour of the Mi Fit application also allows you to analyse your sleep (we’ll come back to this later), consult your training sessions, set a goal (number of steps) or follow your heart rate over the last few hours. It’s pretty limited, but it’s pretty clear. Note that there is also an advertisement in the application.
Finally, Xiaomi aims at gamification by allowing to connect to its friends in order to see their profile (activities and sleep). A little indiscreet, but it can be a good motivation to play sports.
The color screen brings a lot to the bracelet, but we still find the same flaws as the previous generations, namely the lack of compatibility with (too) special characters and emojis. Furthermore, the screen is quite small and it is sometimes difficult to decipher received messages that are both truncated and punctuated by squares replacing characters that are not interpreted. At the end of the day, you sometimes feel like Champollion in front of his Rosetta Stone and it’s easier to take your smartphone out of your pocket to read his notification.
Moreover, the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is only for consultation and you cannot answer (which is often the case on connected bracelets).
Like many bracelets in the genre, Xiaomi’s latest baby stays off most of the time and only lights up when you lift your wrist. In the idea, it’s rather clever, especially as it allows to enjoy a monstrous autonomy, but the low performances of the bracelet (or its factory setting) make it take almost 2 seconds to turn on. On a daily basis it’s not very annoying, but during a training session it’s a bit frustrating to have to wait for the screen to appear.
We put the Mi Band 4’s heart rate monitor in competition with a blood pressure monitor with an electrocardiogram function, and the little wristband performs surprisingly well, able to give an average result of just 2 beats per minute. That’s pretty impressive for a small device like this.
Sleep detection, on the other hand, is a different story. From the moment you stay in bed, the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 considers you to be asleep, even though you would be turning more often than the dynamo of a fully loaded locomotive. So, after waking up around 4am and not having fallen asleep again all night, desperately running after Morpheus for 4 hours straight, I learned when I opened my application that I had a good night’s sleep of 7h42, including 1h12 of deep sleep (with a part listed after 4am). Tell that to my Xiaomi rings!
As far as sports activities are concerned, it should be noted that the synchronization is well done with Google Fit. Unfortunately, this will not be the case for all sports applications. Being used to Runtastic (but this must be the case with other runningapplications), I have not been able to make any osmosis between my application and my bracelet. No display during my workout, no tracking in the application… No, definitely, it is imperative to go through the Mi Fit application.
The Mi Fit application is a bit disorganized and it is far from being easy to find the information we are interested in, but the data is quite complete.
135 mAh. It’s 25 mAh more than Mi Band 3 (nearly a quarter more), which allows it to handle the more power-hungry power consumption of its colour display. And he does it well. With all the options activated (pulse every 30 minutes, screen brightness at maximum, screen always active during training, etc.), the Xiaomi Mi Band 4’s battery will have held me for 16 full days before it failed me. In other words, it’s gargantuan and you can even get a little more out of it depending on your use.
The included charger allows you to recharge 65% of the battery in just 30 minutes, for a full recharge in about 1h30. Note that the supplied charger has a very small cable and that this requires unhooking the bracelet. It’s a good thing it’s not often…
The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is already officially available for 39.99 euros, but it can already be found for around 20 euros at some retailers.