Xiaomi Smart Band 7 Pro review: This oversized Mi Band 7 has a few enticing extras
Like Xiaomi's fitness band but want a larger screen? The Smart Band 7 Pro may just be the ideal device for you.
Xiaomi is one of the world's largest wearable manufacturers, and while that is entirely down to the budget Mi Band series, the Chinese brand is now turning its attention to the mid-range category. Xiaomi has introduced several smartwatches over the last 12 months, with the S1 Pro setting a decent foundation. With an increased variety of devices in the portfolio, Xiaomi is catering to users that are looking for a budget smartwatch with the Smart Band 7 Pro.
The Smart Band 7 Pro is basically a Mi Band 7 with a larger screen and a few additional features, and the smartwatch is available in the U.K. for £74.99 ($90) — £25 ($30) more than the Mi Band 7 (which is sold as the Smart Band 7 in the region). To make things less confusing, I'll refer to the Mi Band 7 as the Smart Band 7 for the rest of the review. The smartwatch is available in the U.S. as well for $109.99.
So what do you get with the Smart Band 7 Pro? Well, where the Mi Band 7 has a 1.62-inch AMOLED screen, you get a wider 1.64-inch rectangular screen that looks really good. There's also a larger 235mAh battery that's touted to last 12 days on a full charge, built-in GPS for outdoor running, and you can buy the smartwatch in six color variants.
Given that the Smart Band 7 Pro uses the same foundation as the standard model, there are a lot of similarities here. For starters, you get the same heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring sensors, and a few features like sleep tracking are identical. You'll also find the same stress monitoring feature here, along with breathing exercise and female health monitoring.
There's also the same suite of workout modes available, and with over 100 listed on the smartwatch, it's a given that you'll find your workout of choice on the smartwatch. And similar to the Smart Band 7, the Smart Band 7 Pro has 5ATM water resistance and connects over Bluetooth 5.2. The key differentiator here is the fact that you get a built-in GPS module on the Smart Band 7 Pro, allowing you to monitor outdoor runs without taking your phone along.
Another area where the two devices are different is the design. The Smart Band 7 Pro is available in six color variants, and the Ivory model I'm using has a gold accent encircling the screen that looks much more upmarket than the plain aesthetic of the Smart Band 7. Xiaomi bundles a silicone band of the same color with the Smart Band 7 Pro, and there's a traditional buckle for fastening the band — that alone makes the Pro model stand out.
The band is lightweight and comfortable to wear all day, and it is interchangeable as well — just like the Smart Band 7 — so you can switch up the look of the smartwatch. Like the Smart Band 7, the Pro model is made out of plastic, and the sensors are located at the back. That's where you'll find the magnetic connector for charging as well.
The main reason for picking up the Smart Band 7 Pro is the larger screen, with Xiaomi offering a 1.64-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 456 x 280. While the screen size isn't that much larger than the standard Smart Band 7, the added width means you get much more screen real estate here, and that is evident when viewing notifications.
My favorite addition here is an always-on mode; the smartwatch will show the time even when the screen is off, and you can set up a schedule for the mode to kick in. There isn't a similar feature on the Smart Band 7, so if you need an always-on mode, you will need to get your hands on the Smart Band 7 Pro.
The interface is identical to what you get on a Smart Band 7, but the added width means you can view more information. That said, the Smart Band 7 Pro doesn't have any physical button for navigation, and that is a sore omission considering just how useful they tend to be on other smartwatches.
Navigating the interface is fluid for the most part, and it is straightforward to get started with; the smartwatch does a great job mirroring notifications to our wrist. That said, there's no actionable notifications here; you will need to pull up your phone to get back to messages. On that note, there's no way to take calls on the Smart Band 7 Pro, and that's also a major feature that's missing here.
One reason why it took so long to do this review is that I couldn't get the smartwatch to update firmware. It pairs over Xiaomi's Mi Fitness utility, and while the firmware build 2.1.46 downloaded just fine, it just would not sync to the smartwatch. After trying a few times, I decided to leave the phone on the update page, and it took an agonizing 75 minutes to install the firmware. I've never had to wait so long for a firmware update on any product, and this is an area that Xiaomi needs to fix.
In day-to-day use, the Smart Band 7 Pro is just as reliable for fitness and activity monitoring as the standard model, and while it isn't on par with the best Android smartwatches in this regard, you get a decent number of features here. What makes the Smart Band 7 Pro stand out is the battery life; even with always-on mode and activity monitoring features enabled, you'll get nearly a week's worth of use between charges, and that is nothing to scoff at.
Overall, the Smart Band 7 Pro is a great alternative to the standard model if you want a product that looks and feels more like a smartwatch. It has a wider screen with more real estate, built-in GPS, an always-on mode, larger battery, and a better design that looks a little more elegant. Considering there's just a £25 ($30) difference between the Smart Band 7 Pro and the Smart Band 7, it's an easy recommendation to get the Pro variant — you are still getting a fabulous value.
Things are a little different in the U.S., where the Smart Band 7 Pro costs over double that of the standard model. It isn't as good a value, but if you need an always-on mode and GPS, it is a good choice.
With a larger screen that comes with an always-on mode and a sleeker design, the Smart Band 7 Pro has a lot to offer. The built-in GPS is a fabulous addition for outdoor runs, and you get the same weeks-long battery life as the Mi Band 7.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.