Xiaomi unveils Mi Band 2 fitness tracker -- here's what you need to know

Xiaomi Mi Band 2

Xiaomi may be best known for its smartphones, but the company is also a major player in the wearables market. In the first quarter of the year it actually took second place, following the renowned Fitbit, thanks to shipments of 2.6 million units.

Xiaomi owes its success in the wearables market to the affordable Mi Band fitness tracker. Its latest upgrade arrived in late-2015, but even with the addition of a heart rate monitor the company managed to keep the cost under the very reasonable $30 mark. But now that the Mi Band 2 is here, what can Xiaomi bring to the table to woo even more consumers?

The price is what has made many wearable shoppers gravitate towards the original Mi Band, and things will be no different this time round. The new Mi Band 2 will go on sale for just RMB199, which is about $23, £16 or €21. But what do you get for the money?

The biggest visual upgrade over the Mi Band is the addition of an OLED display, which shows you the time, and your step count and heart rate. With the previous generation you had to pull out your smartphone to view that kind of information. The new model is clearly more usable on its own, which is something that can prove useful while jogging or doing any kind of exercise where you simply don't want to handle your smartphone.

On top of the fitness and heart rate monitoring features, the Mi Band 2 also monitors your sleep. With that you should get information like the time you fell asleep, how much you moved in bed, when you woke up, but also a smart alarm which tries to wake you up gently based on your sleep patterns.

Design-wise, you are looking at a pretty sleek fitness tracker. The band is made of silicone and is hypoallergenic, and will be available in a variety of colors. There's an "ultra-thin" button on top of the device itself, which is IP67-certified which means it is both dust and water-resistant.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 colors

With the Mi Band 2 you can set up your smartphone so that it unlocks automatically -- when a passcode is set up -- when the fitness tracker is on you or nearby, which is nice. As you may know this kind of feature is available on Android, but may not also work on iPhones.

Xiaomi also claims that the Mi Band 2 features an upgraded pedometer algorithm and second-generation Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which should translate into faster and more stable connections with your smartphone. Oh, and there is also that 20 day battery life promise, which is impressive though shorter than the previous generation.

Geekbuying has reached out to me to announce that it will be carrying the Mi Band 2. The initial price is $39.99, and I'm told it will be available starting June 7.

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