Xiaomi gives your fitness a New Year lift at a nice price

Noel Campion enjoys the health kick from wearing Xiaomi’s smartwatch and very affordable new fitness band.

Xiaomi Amazefit Pace, great value at €139, and it packs a lot of features you might not expect for the price.
Xiaomi Amazefit Pace, great value at €139, and it packs a lot of features you might not expect for the price.

Fitness is always a big thing in January and this year I saw a lot more people wearing fitness bands and smartwatches after Christmas. For most people, this is a good thing because a lot of the good habits that these devices help you with will stay with you longer than the novelty of going to the gym for a month.

I’ve been testing the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 and Xiaomi Amazfit Pace both of which represent excellent bang for your buck.

The Mi Band 3 is a simple fitness tracker with a monochrome OLED display, an integrated heart rate monitor that will track steps, calories burned, sleep and exercise.

For €39 you don’t get the fancy stuff like GPS, or an altimeter, but if you can’t find your phone in the house and it’s on silent, then this will help you find it in seconds.

The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is simple and fairly basic, but it is light and you’ll soon forget you’re wearing it because it’s so light. The screen is easy to read and although it doesn’t get very bright, I didn’t have any

issues reading it outside in bright light.

The Mi Band 3 works in conjunction with the Mi Fit app to track your activities and everything gets synced to the app via Bluetooth on your smartphone (iOS or Android).

It’s fairly easy to use but you do need to understand how it works first. To wake it, you have to tap it on the concave area just below the display.

The touch area gestures consist of taps, tap and hold, and swipes.

To wake up the screen, simply tap the small indented area below the display. On wake up, you’ll see the time, date, steps and your goal indicator.

If you swipe up or down you’ll see daily step count, heart rate, weather and notifications. Swiping left or right will give you more information and a long press for various features, or to start and stop exercise tracking.

One great feature of the Mi Band 3 is the battery life, which Xiaomi states is good for 20 days. It takes up to two hours to fully charge, and actual battery performance will depend on the individual using it and how active they are as well as the use of the heart-rate monitoring.

The Mi Band 3 is also waterproof to 50 metres, so no issues leaving it on while in the shower or even going for a swim, but there’s no swimming activity preset.

Other basic features include a stopwatch and alarm, plus you also get rudimentary reminders customised via the Mi Fit app. Basic exercise tracking is available, but no auto-detection or GPS via your smartphone. That being said, it will track your heart rate during the exercise mode and you can then check the Mi Fit app for the analysis.

Sleep tracking is helpful and can automatically recognise when you fall asleep and wake up. The app records your sleep and will then tell you the time spent in deep sleep, light sleep and when you were awake as well as useful information about sleep.The Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is a basic fitness tracker with some smartwatch features, but for a reasonable price, you’re getting a lot.

The Amazefit Pace is a smartwatch for those who watch a more stylish fitness tracker and a smartwatch without breaking the bank. At €139, the Pace is great value for money and although it’s not as good as the best out there, it manages to pack in a lot of the same features.

The Amazfit Pace is a really nice looking watch with bands that can be changed easily. It’s more like a traditional watch with a circular shape and an always-on display. I found it really nice and comfortable to wear all day and night for sleep tracking.The watch is mostly black, and the band is black with red accents. Being a standard 22mm strap, you can replace it with another band.

There’s only one physical button on the Amazfit, and it’s used for power and waking it up from sleep. You can also turn on an option that allows you to wake the device up by double-tapping the touch screen.

This will make it so you almost never need to use the tiny button.Unlike smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear that use OLED displays, the Pace has a transflective screen. It isn’t as bright or easy to see indoors, but excels in bright outdoor conditions and is less of a drain on battery performance.

The Pace has a good range of feature including the usual stuff you’d expect like a heart-rate monitor, step tracker, sleep monitoring, and GPS tracking. You also get things like the ability to change tracks, pause, or adjust the volume from the watch without having to reach into your pocket for your iPhone or Android phone. Sleep tracking seemed pretty accurate most of the time including when I woke up during my sleep, but it didn’t always catch this.

The Pace has 21 watch faces to choose from which is great, but you can’t download more.

Notifications like message will show up on the Pace, but unfortunately, you can’t respond back in any way.

Using the watch is fairly easy, but I found it clunky and non-responsive at times. However, it works great for activities and includes continuous heart rate monitoring.

Xiaomi gives your fitness a New Year lift at a nice price

You can also get distance, calories burned, time, etc.

All of this data gets synced with the Amazfit app so that you can track and analyse the information later. One nice feature is the workout plans that will endeavour to keep you on track and exercising.

Battery life is great considering a lot of the top and much more expensive phones only get two days.

The Amazefit Pace should get you through nearly a week unless you enable continuous heart rate monitoring.

The Xiaomi Amazefit Pace is an inexpensive smartwatch with excellent features for the price tag.

It isn’t the best smartwatch or the best fitness tracker, but for those on a budget who want both, you’ll find it hard to beat.

Both devices are available now from three.ie.

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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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