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Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5: Which cheap fitness tracker should you buy?

Has Xiaomi pushed onward or backtracked with the Mi Band 6?
By
August 17, 2022
xiaomi mi band 6 vs mi band 5
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Left to right: Xiaomi Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 5

Xiaomi’s Mi Band series has long set the standard for cheap fitness trackers. The Mi Band 7 is the new gold standard for the series, but older Mi Band models are still worth considering. The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 and Mi Band 6 are excellent examples of this.

Although you’d expect the newer Mi Band 6 to be the clear-cut winner, it’s not that simple. This article will walk you through the key differences and similarities between the Mi Band 5 and Mi Band 6.

Our verdict: Xiaomi Mi Band 5 review | Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review


Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5

The specs

Xiaomi Mi Band 5Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Display
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
1.1-inch AMOLED color touchscreen
126 x 294 resolution
450 nits
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
1.56-inch AMOLED color touchscreen
152 x 486 resolution
450 nits
Water resistance rating
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
5ATM
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
5ATM
Dimensions and weight
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
46.95 × 18.15 × 12.45mm
Strap: 155–219mm adjustable length
11.9g
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
47.4 x 18.6 x 12.7mm
Strap: 155–219mm adjustable length
13g
Battery
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
125mAh
14-day promised battery life
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
125mAh
14-day promised battery life
Compatibility
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
Android 5.0 and above
iOS 10.0 and above
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Android 5.0 and above
iOS 10.0 and above
Connectivity
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
Bluetooth 5.0

Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Bluetooth 5.0

Sensors
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
Heart rate sensor
SpO2 sensor
Connected GPS
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Proximity sensor
Digital MEMS microphone
NFC (China only)
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Heart rate sensor
SpO2 sensor
Connected GPS
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Proximity sensor
Digital MEMS microphone
NFC (China only)
Colors and materials
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
Plastic case
TPU strap
Aluminum alloy wristband buckle

Black, Blue, Pink, Orange, Purple, Yellow, Green, Gray
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Plastic case
TPU strap
Aluminum alloy wristband buckle

Black, Orange, Yellow, Olive, Ivory, Blue

The features

  • The Xiaomi Mi Band 6 includes a more complete fitness tracking offering and a larger screen.
  • SpO2 tracking is standard on all Mi Band 6 models.
  • However, the Xiaomi’s Mi Band 5 packs better battery life and a lower price.

Xiaomi rarely switches up its Mi Band formula, a strategy that has worked well so far. However, the company did not shy away from introducing noticeable changes to the Mi Band 6 to keep up with its rivals.

Let’s start with the displays. The Mi Band 5 packs a larger 1.1-inch screen than the Mi Band 4. The Mi Band 6 continues this trend, growing to 1.56 inches. Notably, this increase doesn’t come with the penalty of a larger body. The Mi Band 6 is slightly larger than its predecessor and can happily live with Mi Band 5 straps, too.

If outdoor visibility is critical for you, both fitness trackers will yield similar performance. Maximum brightness readings for both screens top out at 450 nits — bright enough for reliable outdoor peeking. The Mi Band 6 still lacks an ambient light sensor, so you’ll need to manually dim the tracker’s display in darker areas. Nevertheless, the Mi Band 6’s larger display should be easier to spy stats on the move.

Related: The best fitness trackers you can buy

The differences between the Mi Band 5 and Mi Band 6 extend to the sensors, too. While only the Chinese Mi Band 5 variant packed an SpO2 sensor, it comes standard on all Mi Band 6 models. While it’s a standout feature thanks to its quick readings and reliability, it’s not designed for continuous tracking. Those potentially suffering from sleep apnea should look elsewhere, preferably at the pricier Withings ScanWatch. But if spot-checking your blood oxygen levels is an important metric for you, the Mi Band 6 is a better option than the Mi Band 5.

Activity tracking also gains some additional points on the Mi Band 6. While its predecessor tracked only 11 sport modes, the Mi Band 6 turns this up to 30. Six of these are automatically recognized by the Mi Band 6, too. If you’re concerned with multisport compatibility, the Mi Band 6 is the ticket.

xiaomi mi band 6 review heart rate sensor
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Despite its improvements, the Mi Band 6 has its fair share of drawbacks. Those additional sensors and features — including breath monitoring, all-day stress tracking, and frequent resting heart rate readings — hit the Mi Band 6’s battery life. While a two-week life is claimed, you’ll likely only get a week if you use these regularly. The Mi Band 5 will readily go two weeks without seeing its charger, a bonus for road warriors looking for a basic health tracking companion.

See also: The best fitness apps for Android

Heart rate tracking is also one of the Mi Band 6’s weaknesses. While it’s just fine for lower-intensity workouts and daily monitoring, it struggles with accuracy as heart rate intensity increases. This likely won’t be a big drawback for many users, but it’s worth noting if you’re planning to engage in more serious cardio workouts. We didn’t notice any issues with the Mi Band 5’s heart rate monitor when approaching 150bpm, which largely mirrored the results of more expensive equipment from Garmin and Wahoo.

The Mi Band 6’s sleep tracking accuracy could use some work, too. Results are inconsistent compared to the likes of the Fitbit Sense. Although the Sense is a good deal more expensive, we’d at least expect the Mi Band 6 to recognize when you’re awake. The sleep scoring system is confusing, too, and often provided conflicting results during our review. We’d avoid the Mi Band 6 if improving your sleep health is a crucial factor for you.

The price

  • The Mi Band 6 doesn’t cost too much more than its predecessor.
  • You can, however, find the Mi Band 5 at an even lower price in most regions.
  • Overall, both Xiaomi trackers are incredibly affordable compared to their direct competition.

Despite its age, the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is still available in the US and Europe. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese version packs NFC and SpO2 support. The global variant is more widely available, but you can grab the Chinese variant through select stores. Even without its SpO2 smarts, at its current price tag of ~$37, the Mi Band 5 is a dirt-cheap and all-around solid fitness tracker for the money.

Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Press Image
Xiaomi Mi Band 5
A bit older, but also a bit cheaper
Xiaomi makes great cheap fitness trackers, and the Mi Band 5 is no exception. For well under $50, you get a bigger display, more trackable sport modes, 24-hour heart rate monitoring, improved sleep tracking, and PAI integration.

The Mi Band 6, on the other hand, was initially priced at around $50 but has dropped to just around $44 since the launch of the Mi Band 7. Considering it’s just about two cappuccinos more expensive than the Mi Band 5, and comes with a larger display, more sports modes, and an SpO2 sensor on all models, it’s the obvious choice. All these are sensible additions too, and add stock to the Mi Band experience. The Chinese variant of the Mi Band 6 is also available with built-in NFC and Xiaomi’s Xiao AI voice assistant.

xiaomi mi band 6 press render orange blue strap bands
Xiaomi Mi Band 6
Now with SpO2 tracking and more sport profiles
The Xiaomi Mi Band 6 (aka Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 in some regions) is Xiaomi's 2021 flagship fitness tracker. True to form, the Mi Band 6 offers more features than you'd expect for a sub-$50 wearable.

Both Xiaomi products are competitively priced, especially compared to the alternative fitness trackers available.


Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5: Which should you buy?

xiaomi mi band 5 review weather
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
  • If you want a tracker with an SpO2 sensor and a larger screen, the Mi Band 6 is the better choice.
  • The Mi Band 5 remains relevant for those wanting a decent fitness tracker with solid battery life.
  • However, the best value-for-money tracker is the Mi Band 6, considering its current low price.

So, who wins between the Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5? Choosing an outright winner between these two Xiaomi trackers is a tough task, but on price and features alone, the Mi Band 6 currently makes the most sense.

The Mi Band 6 doesn’t win simply because it’s nearly as cheap as its predecessor. It’s the sensible vertical step for those wanting a little more data from their tracker if you are looking for more. The addition of the SpO2 sensor aligns it with more premium rivals. The ~20 added sport tracking modes widen its usefulness for those not merely wanting to cycle, jog, or swim. Users will have to contend with shorter battery life, but a week is nothing to sniff at. Additionally, Xiaomi has some work to refine the Mi Band 6’s reliability of sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring.

However, if you can find the Mi Band 5 below its current list price, it remains a valid option even if it lacks features. It still brings solid basic fitness tracking, a reliable heart rate sensor, and excellent battery life. It’s the choice companion for those starting their fitness journey.

Overall, both trackers offer excellent value, but we feel the Mi Band 6 is the better buy — even with its few drawbacks. As for how it compares to the Xiaomi Mi Band 7, you can read about it in our detailed Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 7 comparison.

Which Xiaomi fitness tracker do you prefer?

2246 votes

Top Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5 questions and answers

Xiaomi announced the Mi Band 7 in July 2022.

Yes, at least over the Mi Band 5 and provided it’s at an attractive price. You get a larger display, SpO2 monitoring as standard, and more sport tracking modes at your disposal.

No. None of Xiaomi’s Mi Band models, including the 7, 6, 5, and 4, feature built-in GPS. If you want built-in GPS, you’ll have to consider the pricier Mi Band 7 Pro.

Although it’s an excellent and affordable fitness tracker, the Mi Band 5 may no longer be worth considering given the falling price of the Mi Band 6.