xiaomi mi band 6 vs mi band 5
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Left to right: Xiaomi Mi Band 6, Xiaomi Mi Band 5

The Xiaomi Mi Band series has long set the standard for cheap fitness trackers. The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 launched last year to replace the Mi Band 4, further pushing the envelope of what consumers can get at this price point. Now, the recently launched Mi Band 6 is offering consumers even more.

Although you’d expect the latest edition 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 verdicts: Xiaomi Mi Band 5 review | Xiaomi Mi Band 6 review

Xiaomi Mi Band 6 vs Mi Band 5

Ths 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

Xiaomi rarely switches up its Mi Band formula, and it’s a strategy that has worked well so far. However, Xiaomi hasn’t shied away from introducing key changes to the Mi Band 6 in a bid to keep up with its rivals.

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

If outdoor visibility is a key factor 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 dim the tracker’s display in darker areas manually. Nevertheless, the Mi Band 6’s larger display should mean it’ll be easier to spy stats on the move.

Related: The best fitness trackers from Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, and more

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. 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

But is it always the better option?

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 — hits the Mi Band 6’s battery life. While a two-week life is claimed, you’ll likely only get a week with all these settings switched on. 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, we find 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, and it 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 few $100 pricier, we’d expect the Mi Band 6 to recognize, at least when you’re awake. The sleep scoring system is confusing, too, and often provided conflicting results in our review. We’d avoid the Mi Band 6 is improving your sleep health is a key factor for you.

The price

The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 has been available in the US for quite some time now and through other retailers in 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 ~$30, the Mi Band 5 is a dirt-cheap and all-around solid fitness tracker.

Mi Band 5 color variants
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, is priced at around $55. Although it’s nearly double the price of the Mi Band 5, the addition of a larger display, more sports modes, and an SpO2 sensor on all models is an attractive offering. All these are sensible additions too, and polish the blemishes in the Mi Band 5’s armor. 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 flagship fitness tracker for 2021. True to form, the Mi Band 6 offers more features than you'd expect for a sub-€50 wearable.

Both Xiaomi products are priced competitively, though, 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

So, who wins between the Mi Band 6 and Mi Band 5? Choosing an outright winner between these two Xiaomi trackers tough task.

The Mi Band 6 doesn’t win simply because it’s newer and offers more, and the Mi Band 5 remains a valid option on price alone, even if it lacks features. That said, the Mi Band 5 packs solid basic fitness tracking, has a reliable heart rate sensor, and features excellent battery life. It’s the choice companion for those starting on their fitness journey or who need more advanced features.

The Mi Band 6 is an obvious vertical step for those wanting a little more data from their tracker if you are looking for more. The addition of the SpO2 sensor brings it in line with more premium rivals. The ~20 added sport tracking modes widens 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 clearly has some work to refine the Mi Band 6’s sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring reliability.

Overall, both trackers offer excellent value at their respective price points, but we really do feel the Mi Band 6 is the better buy — even with its handful of drawbacks.

A few years ago, we may have declared both Xiaomi Mi Bands the winner in the cheap fitness tracker fight, but it’s no longer a given. Xiaomi has plenty of competition from the likes of Amazfit and Huawei in the ~$50 fitness tracker war.

With all that said, which Xiaomi Mi Band do you think wins this duel?