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Mi Band vs. Apple Watch, should you spend big on smartwatches?

I like technology. Whenever there is a new release of a smart device, I’d read about it. But not for smartwatches. For some people, a smartwatch is an everyday essential but for me, it seemed like another device that throws all the notifications we don’t need at us, taking away our valuable time to enjoy our lives.

About a month ago, I found a Mi Band on a 50% discount making it under NZ$30. I had to make a quick decision because the discount was expiring at midnight and I only had a few minutes. Late night impulse buying was creeping over my usual sensible thought process, so after a quick compatibility check with my iPhone, I decided to try it out.

It’s been a month since then and I LOVE it!

I don’t need to carry my big phone in the tiny (if not non-existent) pockets on female clothing or in my hand. I can check time, choose which app notifications I’d like to receive on my watch, and the pedometer motivates me to walk more deliberately throughout the day.

All the good things about my Mi Band made me wonder what it would be like to use an expensive smartwatch.

I recently joined Thematic and had an opportunity to play with the analysis tool. Conveniently, this was a great opportunity for me to find out what people thought about different smartwatches.

As an iPhone user, I chose Apple Watch to compare with Mi Band. To compare the two, I  uploaded reviews gathered from Amazon into Thematic for analysis. The reviews aren’t for specific models as I wanted to compare the general feels for each watch.

Key takeaways

  • Apple Watch users have no negative reviews of the Sleep tracker!
  • Mi Band has an amazing battery life.
  • Apple Watch takes the lead when it comes to display quality
  • People believe Apple Watch is worth the extra money

Keep reading below for the deeper dive into our analysis, and discover if you should spend big on smartwatches, or save that cash for a rainy day.

Overall Ratings

Apple Watch users rated 4.6 and Mi Band users rated 4.3 on average out of 5. Both user groups rated high and I could see that they’re generally happy about their watches. But what exactly about the watches are they happy about?

Features: Does Mi Band or Apple Watch have the best features?

Let’s take a deeper dive into our Thematic analysis of these reviews, and look at the features of each product. Sleep tracker, heart rate monitor and step counter were the top three feature themes people talked about in their reviews.

Sleep tracker

Apple Watch users didn’t have anything negative to say about it while Mi Band users’ sentiments were evenly distributed between positive, neutral and negative.

Apple Watch sleep tracker sentiments
Apple Watch
Mi Band sleep tracker sentiments
Mi Band

Heart rate monitor

The majority of Apple Watch users felt neutral about this feature. Mi Band users are again, evenly distributed between the sentiments.

Apple Watch heart rate monitor sentiments
Apple Watch
Mi Band heart rate monitor sentiments
Mi Band

Step counter

Both groups had mixed feelings about the pedometer feature with slightly more negative Apple Watch reviews compared to Mi Band.

Apple Watch step counter sentiments
Apple Watch
Mi Band step counter sentiments
Mi Band

While the overall sentiments of each feature were very similar between the two products, there was an interesting fact about the reviews.

Mi Band users talked about these features a lot more than Apple Watch users.

My take on this was that these three features are the key features of Mi Band, and Apple Watch has a lot more features for the users to review on.

Thematic proved it to be correct with its analysis on the theme, ‘features’. Even though not many Apple reviews specifically included the three feature themes, when it came to the general features, there was a similar percentage of Apple Watch reviews that included other features as subthemes - notifications, weather, text and phone to list a few. This resulted in the overall amount of comments about the general features to be quite similar between the two watches.

Battery Life

I noticed that my Mi Band has an amazing battery life. I charged it once when I first got it, and after close to a month’s usage, it’s still at 46%, and this was very obvious in the Thematic analysis.

Mi Band’s battery life affected the reviewers to rate higher whereas over 30% of Apple Watch reviews that included battery life as a theme had the rating of 1.


Mi Band did a lot worse when it came to the display. Around half of the reviews conveyed the negative sentiments towards it while the majority of Apple Watch reviews were the opposite.

Apple Watch battery life sentiments
Apple Watch
Mi Band battery life sentiments
Mi Band

Here are some examples of Apple Watch users’ positive comments and Mi Band users’ negative comments that contributed to the conclusion above.

Conclusion: Should you spend big on smartwatches?

With Thematic’s theme analysis, I found out that each product had its own strengths and weaknesses. However, it seemed the users were happy about their purchase. Both products’ review ratings averaged at 4.7 with ‘positive experience’ as the base theme.

It was also surprising to see the same for the price and value of the two products. My initial assumption was that since Mi Band is a lot cheaper than Apple Watch, users would be much more satisfied when it comes to the price and value of the product. I was wrong. Despite the price difference, people thought Apple Watch was worth paying for and gave really good ratings.

Answer: I’d say choose a watch that you’re happy paying for. I’m sure there are a lot more pros and cons of each product that weren’t covered as part of this post, but if you’re like me and are happy with the basic features like notifications, music control, health tracking, Mi Band would work just fine.

If you can afford a more expensive version and are interested in more features, do consider other options!

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