Even though the excitement around smartwatches has dwindled, exercise-focused wearables are becoming increasingly better. Sadly, they come at a highish price for what seems like so little functionality. So when I heard of the MGCOOL Band 2, I was quite intrigued.
Normally, I have pretty low expectations of Chinese products. But when I got my hands on the this exercise band, my low expectations were completely blown away by the quality and abilities of it.
The Band 2 is what I would call the Chinese Fitbit. It has a 0.66” OLED display with a 64×48 resolution. Inside is Bluetooth 4.0 so it can connect to your phone. All of that is powered by an 80mAh battery, which has an impressive standby time of 21 days. As a bonus, the Band 2 is IPX7 water resistant, meaning that it can be immersed in water up to one meter, for up to 30 minutes. All interaction with the watch is achieved by tapping on the touch-sensitive circle on the display.
With the specs out of the way, let’s look at how it performs on a day to day basis. I used it every day for a week — on a single charge. It didn’t even go below 40% at the end of it. As for the step counting, I initially thought it to be hyper. But after comparing it with a few Fitbits, it seems to be about on par with them, although it might be a little hyper. Do keep in mind that it is way more sensitive than Android Wear step counting, but it is more accurate than Android Wear.
There’s also a sleep monitoring feature built into the watch. While I don’t have anything to compare it to, it seems to be pretty accurate. It shows extremely light sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, as well as awake times during the set hours. I’ve found it provides you with a good idea of how you actually sleep.
The Band 2 has some other neat features built in, like heart rate monitoring, running tracker, camera and music control. Those all work as expected, except music control. I discovered the poor implementation of this the hard way. I simply crossed my arms, and a few seconds later music started playing from my phone. This is because my arm managed to tap the touch sensor and cycle through the different screens until I long pressed on the play button. So, be sure to turn that setting off in the companion app.
Speaking of the app, let’s take a closer look at it. The primary use is for syncing data to your phone, so you can look at it in the app. The other use is changing settings, but besides those two things there’s not much else to do. The good news is that the app is actually pretty well designed. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better than some Chinese apps I’ve used. Considering you don’t have to use it all that often, that’s perfectly acceptable.
When it comes to the hardware of the watch, it’s nothing special. The band is a nice silicone rubber, but the actual watch part is plastic. The only annoyance I found with the band was that it’s a little hard to put on. But, it doesn’t come off accidentally so it has that going for it. The oddest part about this watch is the charging clip. It’s just a clip with some pins on it that match up with the pin receptors on the watch. That style of charger works, but it’s funky and takes some getting used to.
Up to this point, I’ve just talked about the product, without mentioning the price: $32 if you get it from Amazon, and $24 from the MGCOOL website. At this price point, it is certainly worth it, even if just for a clock. I know that I’ll still be using this for fitness related activities, or if I need a battery to last me while I’m on a trip. This is a great buy, even if some of the sensors aren’t as accurate as a more expensive Fitbit. Purchase links are below if you’re interested in checking this out. Also, be sure to check out the video for a closer look at this band and the companion app!