Proving you don’t need to break the bank

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Large, vibrant display
  • Comfortable, customizable design
  • Accurate heart rate sensor
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Occasional GPS inconsistencies
  • Bland companion app design
  • No NFC (outside of China)

Following up on my recent review of the Xiaomi Watch S3, I am diving into the world of fitness trackers today with the Xiaomi Band 8 Pro. While the Watch S3 offers a robust feature set aimed at those after a fully fledged smartwatch experience, the Band 8 Pro is a different animal. It takes a more streamlined approach, prioritizing core fitness tracking functionality at a more accessible price point.

The Smart Band 8 Pro initially launched in China during August 2023, with a wider international release occurring only last month. While not an entire overhaul over its predecessor, it does come with some useful upgrades. Let’s explore this latest offering from Xiaomi and see whether its blend of features and affordability make it worthy of your wrist space.

View on Xiaomi; View on Amazon (Smart Band 8 Pro).

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Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: Design, hardware

Look & feel: Smartwatch aspirations

The Xiaomi Band 8 Pro immediately grabbed my attention with its large, beautiful 1.74-inch AMOLED display This marks a significant upgrade from the Band 7 Pro’s 1.64-inch display, offering more real estate for information and greater readability. It definitely blurs the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch aesthetics.

While some users might prefer a slightly smaller footprint, I found the ample display of the Band 8 Pro to be a boon for visibility. Particularly as this model runs at 60Hz, up from 30Hz in last year’s iteration. It’s a small but important difference.

Xiaomi understands the power of personalization, offering the Band 8 Pro in a few different colours. I tested out the black case option.

The included TPU strap is comfortable, but the real fun comes with the easy-to-swap band mechanism. Options like woven bands add greater comfort while changing up the entire look and feel of the device, keeping things fresh and enjoyable. Of the few strap options I tried, that one was my favourite. I suggest looking around for some other strap options, beyond the default one.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review

The device has no physical buttons which might be an adjustment if you are accustomed to that sort of thing. However, the touch responsiveness of the display is excellent. Swipes left, right, up, and down fluidly navigate through the various screens and menus. There’s a vast library of colorful watch faces to choose from. Always-on display functionality is a welcome addition, and I liked the ability to schedule it – the tracker elegantly toggles between full-featured and low-power displays when not in active use.

I found the Xiaomi Band 8 Pro to be exceptionally lightweight and thin, measuring in at a mere 46 x 33.35 x 9.99 mm. This makes it a great fit for users with both smaller and larger wrists – a trait it shares with the Band 7 Pro. Its unisex design and adaptable style further add to its versatility. Plus, with its 5ATM water resistance rating, the Band 8 Pro is a worry-free companion for swimming, showering, and the occasional rainy day.

Under the hood: Refinements and more accuracy

Of course, looks are not all that is important. The Xiaomi Band 8 Pro packs a solid array of health and fitness sensors for a budget activity band.

You’ll find the standard accelerometer and gyroscope for motion sensing, alongside an optical heart rate sensor and a SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen level monitoring. While the core sensor set is similar to the Band 7 Pro, Xiaomi seems to have focused on refining existing technology for better overall performance. For example, the accuracy of the heart rate sensor has been improved.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review

Both the Band 8 Pro and its predecessor offer built-in GPS. This allows for detailed location tracking of running, cycling, and hiking activities without relying on your connected smartphone’s GPS. It is also an important distinguishing characteristic over the non-pro iteration.

Connectivity-wise, the Band 8 Pro relies on Bluetooth 5.3. Unfortunately, there’s still no NFC onboard, at least not outside the company’s local market of China. Which is a bit of a disappointment considering many competitor trackers include it for contactless payments.

Battery life: Still one of the best

Long battery life has been a hallmark of the Xiaomi Smart Band series, and the Band 8 Pro continues in this tradition. Xiaomi advertises up to 14 days of use on a single charge, and I found these claims to be realistic in my testing. Of course, it all depends on your settings. There are lots of tweaks you can do in the health and tracking settings. Furthermore, enabling the always-on display will significantly reduce the expected time between charges.

For testing purposes I turned all the bells and whistles on. And even with this, the band was easily good for at least a week or more. Charging is quick and I would revert to topping up for a half hour or so every few days to get back up to full. So I was never below 50%.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review

Which means you should have no worries on the battery front. The device benefits from a slightly larger battery (289mAh) compared to the Band 7 Pro (235mAh). And the extended battery life makes the band a superb travel companion, especially if you don’t always have immediate access to power outlets.

For actual charging, you will need to use the cable in the box as it is a proprietary charging mechanism. A couple of pins at one end of the cable line up with points in the back of the device and are held in place by magnets. The other end of the cable plugs into any standard USB port.


Xiaomi Smart Band 8 review: Health & fitness tracking

It’s fair to say, the Xiaomi Band 8 Pro delivers a no-frills health and fitness tracking experience. The device covers all the foundational metrics you’d expect from a budget-conscious fitness band. It seamlessly monitors essentials like steps taken, calories burned, heart rate, stress, blood oxygen levels, and stress levels throughout the day.

As mentioned, take some time to decide what features you want to turn on. You can specify heart rate sampling frequency, whether to switch on blood oxygen monitoring, and whether you want basic or advanced sleep monitoring. Another option is to enable or disable high/low heart rate notifications.

As far as accuracy, I found the data to be pretty good. Of course, no two devices will show exactly the same step counts or sleep length. But the metrics the Smart Band 8 dished out were in line with a Garmin Forerunner 955 and Google Pixel Watch 2 I was testing at the same time. No big discrepancies, at least nothing that jumped out.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review health data

One area where the device particularly shines is sleep tracking, providing detailed statistics that rival those found on the pricier Xiaomi S3 smartwatch. You’ll get insights into sleep stages (light, deep, REM), sleep duration, and receive a comprehensive sleep quality score.

All your data syncs with the Mi Fitness app, a functional and straightforward platform. The app’s primary focus is presenting your information in an easily digestible way. And while that’s a positive, I must say, I find that software a bit bland. It could benefit from a visual refresh.

The Xiaomi Band 8 Pro also incorporates something called a Vitality score system. Similar to the implementation on the Xiaomi S3, this score aims to gamify your health and fitness by assigning points for activities like workouts, achieving step goals, and improving sleep patterns. It’s a motivating way to track your overall well-being progress and encourage healthier habits.

While you’ll get the core health tracking features you’d expect, the Band 8 Pro does lack more advanced metrics like heart rate variability (HRV) monitoring, which is often reserved for higher-end devices. However, for those seeking a basic yet comprehensive look at their daily activity and overall health, the Band 8 Pro delivers the essential goods.


Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: Sports tracking

The Xiaomi Band 8 Pro expands its functionality by offering dedicated sports tracking modes for a wide variety of activities. It boasts support for over 100 sports modes, covering popular options like running, cycling, swimming and many more niche activities. This versatility makes it a suitable companion for the more active amongst you. Additionally, it features automatic exercise recognition for certain activities, saving you the hassle of manually starting workout tracking.

Thanks to its upgraded heart rate sensor and a snug, lightweight design, I found the heart rate tracking to be impressively accurate during testing. For tracking runs, it closely matched or was within a few beats per minute of the readings from my dedicated Garmin Forerunner 955 sports watch.

I was also a fan of the large, vibrant display during my runs. The ample screen real estate makes it easy to glance at key metrics like pace, distance, and heart rate, even on the move. However, under exceptionally bright sunlight, the display’s viewability can be somewhat compromised, which is a common limitation of AMOLED screens.

I also struggled at times with the built-in GPS. Its performance was excellent in open areas, quickly locking onto a signal and providing accurate route tracking. However, I experienced occasional hiccups in dense urban environments of central London, where it sometimes struggled to obtain a connection. A few times the wait lasted 3-4 minutes. Also, I did at times notice some discrepancies in location tracking. This isn’t dual-frequency GNSS as you will find on Watch S3, so perhaps this is part of the issue.

Beyond the basics, the Xiaomi Band 8 Pro attempts to appeal to more serious runners by including advanced performance metrics. there are VO2 Max estimations which seemed less accurate than dedicated sports watches. Additionally, metrics like Training Effect, Training Load, and Recovery guidance are included, demonstrating Xiaomi’s ambition to provide deeper insights, even if they need further refinement as some of that data is non-sensical.


Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: Smartwatch features

When initially announcing the Band 8 Pro, Xiaomi emphasized its overhauled operating system. This redesign brings a collection of handy widgets for easy access to different things.

You’ll find the ability to receive notifications from your smartphone, allowing you to see incoming calls, texts, and app alerts directly on your wrist. Additionally, it offers features like weather updates, music controls (to control playback on your connected phone), alarms, a timer, and a handy ‘find my phone’ function.

While the Band 8 Pro delivers some smartwatch-like functionality, there are notable limitations. One such limitation is the lack of offline storage for music. This means you cannot load up your favorite workout playlist directly onto the Band 8 Pro – you’ll still need to carry your smartphone if you want to listen to music during your activities. It would have been a significant advantage if Xiaomi included this feature. Additionally, the Band 8 Pro lacks a speaker and microphone, so you can’t take calls directly from your wrist.

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review

Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro review: The bottom line

The Xiaomi Band 8 Pro is currently available in select countries. In Europe, it retails for around 65 euros, making it one of the most affordable fitness trackers with built-in GPS. This, combined with its large display, comfortable design, solid health and fitness tracking, and useful smartwatch features, delivers outstanding value for the price.

While it does excel in core functionalities, its limitations should also be considered. The lack of NFC for contactless payments, the absence of offline music storage, and occasionally inconsistent GPS in urban areas are potential drawbacks for some users. Additionally, the companion Mi Fitness app, while functional, could benefit from a design refresh to create a more engaging user experience.

Overall, if you’re looking for a no-frills tracker that covers all the essential fitness monitoring needs at an incredibly attractive price, the Xiaomi Band 8 Pro is a compelling contender. Its mix of features, design, and price could make it a popular choice for those seeking a capable fitness tracker without the premium price tag.

View on Xiaomi; View on Amazon (Smart Band 8 Pro). Also, make sure to check out my Watch S3 hands-on review.


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