Uncovered: Fake Xiaomi (Mi) Fitness Tracker & Replacement Bands

After a few months of wearing my Mi Fitness Tracker, the first sign of weakness started to appear. The design of the wristband has a thin edge which “slots in” to a channel in the body of the fitness tracker unit to form a seal. This thin edge gets stressed with every insertion and removal of the body, and over several charges, the edge itself can start to peel away from the rest of the band.

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A small dab of superglue was enough to arrest the growing tear in the band, but that got me thinking – why don’t I buy a replacement band altogether?

Genuine Replacement Band … or not

In a story that’s becoming all too common for me, eBay purchases are nowhere near as safe as they were before. In looking around for a replacement band, I came across a listing which claimed “Genuine Xiaomi”, so I bought a green coloured replacement band. Here it is, photographed with the genuine product (black) to distinguish the differences.

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When it arrived, it was clearly not a genuine product. Instead of being a nice lime green in the listing, it was more an olive green. The band is missing the moulding of “designed by xiaomi”. The texture of the silicone is slightly different, with a slightly rougher feel than the original.

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The finish on the buckle itself is worse, with no polished bevel, instead having just the one edge at a right angle. This edge is a little sharp for my liking. The buckle itself doesn’t have a nice firm click action like the original, and requires a bit more pushing to get it to secure.

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Another key difference is the moulding of the loop, which is straight rather than angled as in the original.

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Internally, the moulding around the pins is wider and is different, and the side-walls are a bit thicker and closer, which results in a bad “bulging” fit when compared to the original, as the silicone edge is not going into the recess in the tracker unit.

Sad to say, the item was sold as a genuine replacement band, when it is clearly not a genuine product. It doesn’t have the same quality as the original, and while it does work, it doesn’t seem to be as secure as the original.

Xiaomi Fitness Tracker … or NOT!

I had a feeling that the replacement band might not have been a good item, so I decided to go and buy another fitness tracker unit altogether. This one was listed as a Xiaomi, without any qualifying words such as “compatible” or “for” and was listed at AU$20, which is a decent price for the unit considering its original price from Xiaomi.

When it arrived, it clearly was not a Xiaomi product at all. It came in a small package, which is unlike the Mi package received earlier, and is completely devoid of the Mi branding.

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The backing cardboard has a sticky-label QR code link for the software, with no branding on the cardboard at all. The text is all in Chinese.

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Following the link for the Android results in downloading haipaiguizu_30_unobfs_zipaligned.apk file directly, which reveals the product is from Shenzhen Movnow Science & Technology Development Co., Ltd. The unit identifies in a BLE scan as MovNow-W79. This is obviously not a Xiaomi product. It’s not even Xiaomi compatible!

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The user manual features only English text, but with poor English expression. The capitalization on the L in User Manual is broken too. There are no graphics in the manual, which makes it very amateurish.

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With the units side by side, the differences are difficult to distinguish at a glance. The genuine unit on the left has a much better fitting band which fits much better with the unit resulting in less “bulge”.

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The band is missing the “designed by xiaomi” as in the fake replacement band above, and features the same poor “click” fit action which requires a significant amount of pushing to get it to secure.

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The same unrefined edge on the buckle is evident, and the moulding of the loop has less of a tilt as compared to the genuine.

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The physical units are pretty much identical in size, although the fake one has a less fine finish on the top, including a wider polished bevel at the edge, and rough plastic all around with no Mi logo on the rear.

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Both feature a near-identical pin set-up for charging and recess for the band to “seal” into.

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The counterfeit also comes with a nearly identical charging cable, but the copy has a lower quality plastic resulting in the edges being “tapered inwards” rather than being parallel like the original.

Other differences include that the LEDs of the imitation unit are a lot dimmer and more difficult to see than the original (possibly due to poor PCB alignment) and the counterfeit is almost 2 grams lighter. The counterfeit also has a squeaky vibration motor.

Conclusion

It’s a very sad result when even the Chinese can’t protect their own intellectual property from being stolen. In this case, the shape and design of the Xiaomi fitness tracker had been shamelessly ripped off, and sellers were selling non-Xiaomi products with the Xiaomi logo, images and marketing literature. This is the sort of counterfeiting which makes for a very disappointing shopping experience – if I wanted to buy fakes, I would go to Alibaba rather than eBay.

When receiving the product, make sure to examine the packing and the product closely. Genuine products typically have quality packaging, prominent branding and sharp printing. The counterfeit products are of lower physical construction quality, and appear to be less refined at first glance. If you paid for and expected a genuine product based on the listing, then that’s what you should get.

I suppose the one happy ending I have is that I was able to get a no-strings-attached refund from both sellers for their clearly counterfeit items after starting a case AND leaving negative feedback AND waiting for a week for them to reply. If you end up being stung, on a listing which claims “Genuine Xiaomi”, then you are entitled to a refund due to the fact the item is counterfeit (which I got stung, twice). Don’t be fooled – products listed as “compatible with”, “for Xiaomi” are definitely not the real deal, and if you buy them, then you buy them at your own risk with the full knowledge it is not genuine.

That’s probably why it’s worth paying a little more from a trusted dealer that will supply you the real product. But I suppose now I do have another fitness tracker to test, so expect to see a quick review of the counterfeit within a few weeks.

About lui_gough

I’m a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!

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One Response to Uncovered: Fake Xiaomi (Mi) Fitness Tracker & Replacement Bands

  1. Pingback: Review: MovNow W79 (aka Counterfeit Xiaomi Fitness Tracker) | Gough's Tech Zone

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