Tech reviews

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: 4 things left me impressed and 2 things that didn’t | Technology News

For the past five years, I have been using an Apple Watch, and by now, I am so addicted to it that it would be hard to think about using any other smartwatch. However, as a tech journalist, I would not pass up any opportunity to try out any new wearable on the market, regardless of the brand or price.

That’s the perk of my profession, as I can try any gadget I wish for. My recent hunt for a new product led me to the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro, which is best described as a hybrid between a smartwatch and a fitness band. This is not a fancy smart band but rather a budget offering that caters to the entry-level fitness tracker market.

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Needless to say, I was more excited about trying the Band 8 Pro and how it compares to other smartwatches and health trackers that I’ve tried. More importantly, a lot of people have been asking me if they should consider buying a fitness tracker over a smartwatch, so I needed to try it out first.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro price: 69 Euro (which comes down to Rs 5,333)

What I liked about the Band 8 Pro

Unisex design

Fitness trackers aren’t the same anymore. I mean, just look around, and you’ll notice that the humble fitness trackers now feel a lot like modern smartwatches both in design and functionality. This is more of an evolution of fitness trackers, as smartwatches have already hit mainstream status in many markets, especially in a country like India. This may be the reason why brands are reintroducing fitness bands not as “smart bands” but with a hybrid-style design akin to smartwatches.

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Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review The Band 8 Pro is super light and comfortable to wear throughout the day. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The Band 8 Pro bears resemblance to smartwatches I see a majority of people wearing in a crowded Delhi Metro. However, this one is more square-ish in design and suits my wrist a lot better. Whether you are a grown-up adult or a kid, you can easily pull off the size with ease. The exterior design is mostly plastic, but its sides have a gloss to them, giving the illusion of a steel finish. It never feels expensive, though, like the Apple Watch, but that’s okay. It weighs just 22.5 gram, so wearing it all day on your wrist doesn’t make you tired.

Meanwhile, the straps can be easily detached and clicked into place. There is no second strap option in the box, but given the size, it is neither too small nor too big — the one-fit-size approach works well. Speaking of the quality of the straps, they are made of silicone, but the quality is good. They are breathable and don’t make you feel irritated in scorching summers. They dry quickly when you get wet, and the band itself is water-resistant (5ATM certified) up to 50 metres, suitable for shallow water activities including swimming.

Always-on display

The 1.74-inch AMOLED always-on display is sharp and sufficiently bright under direct sunlight. The larger display is a welcome move, as it has more usage, especially when looking at menus and interacting with widgets, which glide along smoothly, as the screen now supports a full 60Hz refresh rate. I have been wearing the Band 8 Pro for the past two weeks, and I am just loving the always-on display mode. It looks weird to consider a smartwatch/fitness tracker without it. Having the always-on display has its advantages as it lets you quickly see the time or any pending notifications when you glance at your watch.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review (1) The Band 8 Pro has a colour AMOLED display, which is large enough to show you multiple stats at once. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

However, the always-on-display mode is switched off by default, so you need to go to settings and turn it on. But I have to tell you that the always-on display causes a dip in battery life, and turning it off could increase battery life. The Band 8 Pro’s screen auto-adjusts depending on the lighting condition, but Xiaomi also gives you the option to manually adjust the brightness of the display. I have no issues with the wrist raise detection (by default, it’s disabled); it’s precise and it looks like gesture detection has been improved.

Easy-to-navigate user interface

I have been less enthusiastic about the user interface of entry-level smartwatches and fitness bands. However, to my surprise, the Band 8 Pro’s user interface feels so much more polished and user-friendly. It’s easy to navigate and jump from key statistics, adjust settings, control music playback, and much more.

The addition of widgets makes the interface so much more intuitive and interesting on the wearable. Widgets are essentially tiny information cards that make it easier to get things done without having to dig through apps. Widgets are just a swipe away. You can edit and change your widgets. However, for that, you need to open the Mi Fitness app to do so rather than holding on to the widget screen, which is a more convenient way in my opinion. A software update can fix it.

Basic fitness tracking is solid

If you’re looking for a powerhouse fitness tracker, the Band 8 Pro isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something more casual, a fitness tracker rather than a precise activity tracker, you’re probably in luck. The Band 8 Pro tries to find a middle ground between basic sports features and a sports watch. During my testing, I found that the Band 8 Pro is better for tracking basic fitness statistics like step count and calorie burn estimates.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review (5) It also supports automatic recognition for activities like walking and running. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

When I compared it to my Apple Watch, steps were always 1000 less, but this isn’t too bad, I’d say. The more advanced metrics like heart rate tracking, Vo2 Max score, and blood oxygen tracking are hit-and-miss on the Band 8 Pro, and I was not surprised. I think Xiaomi’s intention with the Band 8 Pro was to give users every possible fitness tracking option (rather than accuracy). As many as 150 sports modes are available on the Band 8 Pro. Fitness and sleep tracking are tied into Xiaomi’s Mi Fitness app (available on Android and iOS).

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review (5) Using a personalised trainer was fun. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

To me though, where the Band 8 Pro shines is the accuracy of GPS tracking. With built-in GNSS support (the GPS ensures the device can register your position even without your phone being in range) its tracking accuracy surprised me. The distance estimations are pretty accurate, which shows that the Band 8 Pro’s lock-on times were instant. Serious runners will probably prefer Garmin’s smartwatches or the Apple Watch for tracking workouts, but judging from tracking basic workouts on the Band 8 Pro, it seems like a casual fitness tracker.

Using the GPS tracking was indeed a pleasant surprise. Using the GPS tracking was indeed a pleasant surprise. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Good battery life

After using the Band 8 Pro for a couple of days, I can comfortably say that I have gone 6 days without recharging but of course that will vary based on what settings you used. This was when I turned on the always-on display. However, the battery can last much longer when you disable the always-on display mode or SoP2 monitoring. Xiaomi touts that the battery life can last up to 14 days in ‘normal’ use. I think a larger battery capacity than its predecessor (up from 235mAh to 285mAh) helps to gain decent battery gains on the Band 8 Pro.

What I didn’t like about the Band 8 Pro

Lack of a physical button

The Band 8 Pro lacks a dedicated button, like the digital crown found on the Apple Watch. This means all interactions can be done using the touchscreen, like swipes or taps. The interface is swipe-heavy, and while it works, I’ve learned that relying solely on touchscreen may not always be ideal. I am fine using on-screen or gesture navigations to get around, but I do miss a physical button on the band. Sometimes you want a real button to navigate the interface.

Bare minimum smart features

The shortcomings of the Band 8 Pro were glaringly visible to me as days passed by. You do get calendar integration, music control, and weather mirroring, but the device lacks payment support and third-party integration. As I said at the beginning, the device has all of the basic features of most smartwatches and trackers except there’s no app support.

Affordable fitness tracker, but is it worth it?

Many of the flaws I have highlighted felt similar to those of entry-level smartwatches and fitness trackers. But the thing is, given how much the Band 8 Pro costs, the drawbacks are fairly acceptable. I think Xiaomi tried to make a compelling device that’s part smartwatch and part fitness tracker, providing insights into fitness and health, but only on a surface level. However, that aspect works well for casual users. At the moment, Xiaomi hasn’t launched the Band 8 Pro (debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in late February) in India but you can always import the device.

Here are the pros and cons of the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro:


Simple, lightweight design

Superb display, always-on mode

Improved UI

Good GPS accuracy

Compatible with iOS and Android


No side button

Mixed heart rate accuracy

No third-party app support


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