Microsoft Band: The 90 Day Report

Official MS Band picture
Official MS Band picture

I have owned several activity trackers. The Nike Fuelband for about a year. The FitBit Ultra to measure my activity from my pocket for a year. The FitBit Flex to wear on the wrist which I had for about 2 years. Finally, last October I purchased a Microsoft Band and I have used for pretty much every day in the last 3 months.

Initially it was a significant change from my FitBit Flex, which I charged once every 8-9 days. The Microsoft Band needs to be charged every 36-48 hours, I choose to do so every other night on my nightstand and it is really easy. It is a good trade-off, considering that the FitBit only has 5 LED’s and the Microsoft Band has a full color screen. Plugging it in with the magnetic clip to charge secures the connection.

I have a Windows Phone and I use the Microsoft Health app to track my activity. The software is top quality and very detailed, clear and easy to use. The band can be configured to use small apps that can be turned on and off. There are plenty of little apps; I normally have a few selected, plus a few interesting ones I try to experiment with. I’ve been using the UV exposure measurement that determines when I’ve had enough exposure to UV rays. The Starbucks app let’s me load my Starbuck’s card into it and whenever it is time to pay, pressing a button and then selecting the Starbucks tile displays a 2D Barcode that the barista can scan for my payment… and adds points to my account! I tested for a week or so the “Cortana app”, which allowed me to press a button and speak into the band and have Cortana answer on my Windows Phone with the request I had for her. I ended up replacing this tile because I ended up getting the “Hey Cortana” feature which made the whole band Cortana app redundant. The more typical ones are calendar and notifications that the smartphone receives and are displayed on my phone, stock ticker, Facebook notifications, etc… On the Fitness side there are specific tiles for runs and for workouts where I can get a personalized workout based on my selection.

It is a really good and complete tracking tool. I normally take care of the band by cleaning it up with a moist towel and immediately drying it out when I come back from my workouts. If I get caught up in the rain, I dry it out immediately after I get to a dry area. I am particularly careful not to use any chemicals on my Microsoft Band. Water is not getting into the device and thus, it keeps working great.

Heart-beat sensor rusting metal and flaking off
Heart-beat sensor rusting metal and flaking off

The build quality seemed sturdy at first but my continuous use of the band… day in a day out has taken an unjustified toll off of it. I have come to the conclusion that the build quality is not up to par with Microsoft’s build quality it has in other praised devices such as Surface Pro, mice, keyboards, etc. I would have expected some marks to have appeared after a year or so, but unfortunately, after less than 90 days, I am seeing some serious flaws that I had never seen in the other 3 devices I used in the past. While the other devices lasted at least 1 full year and an enormous amount of punishment, in these first 3 months, being more careful than I ever was; I am seeing most metal parts

Big bubble over battery cover
Big bubble over battery cover

start to rust, plastic/rubberized battery covers bubble up and screen become a magnet for scratches. See the pictures for yourself. They show reactions that should not be happening at the 3 month mark. My Nike Fuelband (first generation) started to rust its clasp after 11-12 months due to contact with sweat. The Microsoft band has a pretty solid clasp and seems to be just fine. The other exposed metal parts (heart-beat sensor and charger contacts) are seriously rusting to the point that they are flaking off. My FitBit Flex was accidentally submerged in a pool and the ocean by accident. All it took was drying it out and cleaning it with a slightly damp cloth and all was good for the following year… The dual battery covers on the sides of the Microsoft Band are made of

both battery covers bubbling up
both battery covers bubbling up

plastic – or rubberized plastic to be precise. They are now bubbling up and will soon reach the screws that hold them in place. I am concerned that the batteries may get exposed to sweat and may end up reacting with it. The screws that hold the battery covers are also starting to show some rusting signs. I just cannot see these issues being considered acceptable by any quality control panel or person. The screen is absolutely gorgeous but having it made out of a soft and scratchable plastic lowers the overall quality of the device. Yes, Microsoft handed out free screen protectors (similar to the ones for your smartphone or tablet) but that is just a patch to the poor choice of materials.

bubbled up and peeling off
bubbled up and peeling off

Overall, I am happy about the features, but the poor choice of materials diminishes an otherwise great product.

It is commonly known that Microsoft requires 3 attempts to get things right, let’s ty to get this one right in the second attempt, guys!

In the meantime, I will bring mine to be returned and exchanged for a new one or even returned in exchange for a FitBit.


This post has been viewed 8648 times.

About Diego Samuilov

Editor in Chief/Founder Diego Samuilov is an executive, consultant, IT strategist and book, e-book and web published author. Diego has worked in Microsoft’s environments since 1990. Since then, he has successfully filled many positions related to the Software Development lifecycle. Having worked as a developer, analyst, technical lead, project lead, auditor and, since 1996 a project manager, manager, director and VP in the Software Development, Server, Desktop and Mobile environments. Diego is very passionate about the software development process, which has played a great part in his skills development. Since the introduction of the first ever PDA (the Apple Newton MessagePad) in 1994 and Windows CE in 1998 he has pioneered and pushed the envelope in the field of mobile software development. He has developed many solutions used in mobile markets, desktop and server environments. He participates in public and private developer community events. He actively collaborates with the community at support forums and blogs. Diego is the author of "Windows Phone for Everyone" available [HERE].
  • Pingback: Show Links Observed Tech PODCAST Episode 155 #OTP | WindowsObserver.com Wiki()

  • Ryck Roland

    I’ve had my Band for 2 months now, and I’m also seeing the bubbling on the metal around the heart rate sensor. Luckily I’m not seeing any issues with the plastic over the batteries. I’m hoping this thing will hold out, because I love my Microsoft Band!

  • Same thing here, three months and the sensors are flaking off, the lower one ore. Still nothing with battery covers. Maybe a lot problem?