How much extra does it cost to buy a heart-rate monitor for a wearable? If you looked at Fitbit's products, you'd say $20 — that's the difference in price between the $129.95 Charge and heart-rate sensing $149.95 Charge HR. For Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi, however, the cost is just $3. The company's new Mi Band Pulse, which incorporates an optical sensor to measure blood flow, will sell for $16 — just $3 more than the original Mi Band fitness tracker it released last year.
Xiaomi claims the Mi Band is the third most popular wearable globally
It's incredibly low prices like these that are helping Xiaomi succeed in the wearables market. Although the company's products are only available in China and some neighboring countries, it's already the third biggest wearables vendor in the world, according to estimates from IDC. Market analysts claim that Xiaomi shipped some 3.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015, behind Apple (3.6 million) and Fitbit (4.4 million), but ahead of Garmin (0.7 million) and Samsung (0.6 million). Of course, comparing the pricey Apple Watch and the $16 Mi Band Pulse ignores how much more revenue Apple is making, but in terms of pure volume, Xiaomi is still doing extremely well.
The new Mi Band Pulse will go on sale on Singles Day in China on November 11th. Although this isn't a well-known calendar event in the West, it's the largest online shopping day in the world, with sales that dwarf both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's a frenzy of shopping that's perfectly suited for cheap, impulse buys like the Mi Band Pulse, which, as well as monitoring users' heart-rate, can track activity, unlock their phones, and lasts up to 30 days on a single charge. Xiaomi hasn't announced any plans to offer the device worldwide, although on its Facebook page the company is asking: "Would you like to see this launched in your country too?"