For its arrival in the connected watch sector, Xiaomi offers a Mi Watch at a reasonable price. Focused on monitoring activities, it nevertheless offers all the functions one would expect from this type of product and promises solid autonomy. What to compete with the big names in this market?
By Alix Denoyers
Champion of inexpensive connected bracelets for many years with its Mi Bands, Xiaomi finally passes to connected watches. At the very beginning of the year, the manufacturer launched the Mi Watch Lite on the French market (sold for 69 euros) and, a few weeks later, moved up a gear with an even more ambitious model, the Mi Watch, for more than double the price.
This Mi Watch incorporates most of the technical characteristics of its little sister by adding some functions, improved autonomy, but also a more classic design with its round “real” watch dial. It is the most expensive wearable sold by Xiaomi today, although the price remains “reasonable”. Does this watch have the assets to make you forget your Mi Smart Band 5 for less than 50 euros or the many models of the competition? We tested the Mi Watch daily for ten days to answer you.
Pricing and availability
The Xiaomi Mi Watch has been sold in France since March 9 in the brand’s boutiques, but also in most brands at a price of 149 euros. It is available in 3 colors: black, navy blue or beige. Note that despite its recent launch, it can already be found on sale for up to twenty euros less (on the Cdiscount Marketplace in particular). Sold in a long yellow packaging, it comes with a magnetic charging cradle.
Mi Watch technical sheet
|Dimensions||45.9mm x 53.35mm x 11.8mm|
|Definition||454 x 454 pixels|
|Resolution||326 pixels per inch|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0 BLE|
|Sensors||Integrated GPS, Heart rate monitor (with SpO2 and VO2Max measurement), accelerometer, Gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, barometric pressure sensor, ambient light sensor|
|Autonomy||16 days announced|
|Loading||USB magnetic base|
A large touch screen and two buttons to control the watch
While the Mi Watch Lite is equipped with an Apple or Fitbit-style square screen, the Mi Watch opts for a round dial in which is housed a large and bright 1.39 inch Amoled screen, very responsive.
Beyond one fairly classic tactile navigation – swipe down to read its notifications, up to access the main shortcuts or side swipes to scroll through all the widgets -, the watch is equipped with 2 buttons. The words “Home” and “Sport” which appear directly opposite on the dial leave no room for doubt. The former gives one-touch access to all functions and settings, while the latter allows you to start one of the many integrated sports workouts for tracking.
The whole is perfectly functional and allows you to get a good command of the Mi Watch in a few minutes. Xiaomi has not revolutionized the genre from this point of view, drawing inspiration as usual from the best of what can be found in the competition, even improving it a little in the process when possible. We won’t complain.
Design: plastic for comfort
Regarding the design, the manufacturer made the bet of all plastic (except for the screen, which is certainly only polyamide, but reinforced with glass fibers). The opportunity to lower the price of your watch, but not only that. Despite its fairly large dimensions – a diameter of 4.6 cm for a thickness of almost 12 mm – the Xiaomi watch can be much more discreet than the Huawei GT 2 Pro, thanks precisely to the use of plastic for the case. . The Mi Watch weighs only 32 grams (excluding the bracelet). Suffice to say that it absolutely does not feel on the wrist, which is a definite advantage for a model supposed to become the companion of your days and your nights. It’s undoubtedly less sophisticated than the titanium Huawei uses, but much more comfortable to wear. On the other hand, its more discreet style will fit better on a woman’s (small) wrist, despite its large diameter.
The watch strap, which matches the color of the case, is also made of a high-end, slightly textured flexible plastic, which is just as comfortable to wear.
Only three colors, quite sober, are offered on the French market – black, navy blue and beige as we said above – but Mi Watch straps are interchangeable and there are some olive green, yellow or orange. It is also quite easily found in e-merchants (Amazon, Cdiscount, etc.). Nothing will stop you from adding a touch of whimsy by getting one.
Xiaomi Wear: the new app for watches
With its Mi Band bracelets, Xiaomi offers the Mi Fit app, rather successful and rich in features. For the launch of its watches, the manufacturer wanted to offer a new app, Xiaomi Wear, compatible with Android (from 5.0) and iOS (from 10).
The service offered by the Mi Watch does not, however, differ fundamentally from that of the brand’s bracelets. GPS is now integrated, the screen is larger, but there are more or less the same intelligent functions – a little limited – such as the display of notifications. Unlike an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch, it is not possible, for example, to install additional applications. Bluetooth 5.0 compatible, the Mi Watch is nothing less than a connected bracelet that has adopted the design of a watch.
So, was it necessary to create a new app? Not sure, even if Mi Fit, with a slightly spartan design, deserved a redesign. The manufacturer may have wanted to break away from an app that was also used by Huami watches, a brand in the Xiaomi ecosystem. Anyway, Wear brings a little breeze of freshness with some more modern and welcome animations.
Easy to install, it provides the user with everything they need to take advantage of their watch. All the events of the day are listed in the “Status” section. “Trainings” allows you to launch an indoor or outdoor sports activity from your smartphone without touching your watch. Finally, “Profile” gives access to the settings and personalization of the watch.
A complete application, but youthful flaws
Overall, Xiaomi Wear offers most of the sports functions you would expect from a watch, with the exception of an ECG (electrocardiogram) like on the Withings ScanWatch, for example, or possibly an advanced module to combat stress, like on the Fitbit Sense. With the Mi Watch, we are satisfied with breathing exercises and a stress indicator.
Everything is there: continuous heart rate monitoring thanks to the integrated heart rate monitor, measurement of the oxygen level in the blood, monitoring of the VO2 max performance indicator (maximum oxygen consumption) and more than a hundred sporting activities are part of the game – from running to Yoga to… curling.
Enough to schedule long fitness sessions. Of course, it is on practices such as walking or running that we obtain the most detailed activity reports. Distance traveled, pace, heart rate, track of his route … the information provided by the watch and especially the app are numerous and for the most part very useful.
The application nevertheless suffers from youthful flaws. Not to mention the few typos and other haphazard translations in the interface (Size instead of Altitude, for example!), the raw data still lacks a little too much targeted explanations, or even quite simply “embedding”. Some encouragement, for example, would not be too much … Read that one is permanently “exhausted” in the Energy section without really understanding why or that one has an “average” or “bad” quality of sleep during several days in a row can quickly become boring, even anxious. Oddly enough, sleep deemed “average” in the application interface is indicated as “normal” from the watch screen. Some graphics also deserve to be reworked to be easier to analyze and understand by all.
It is all the more astonishing that those present on the watch – quite numerous, which avoids having to systematically refer to the app – are much more successful, such as the breakdown between the different phases of sleep below.
Despite these few flaws that may be corrected through updates, Xiaomi is doing quite well by offering a wide range of services in the fields of sport and health, as well as tuning possibilities similar to what can be found in the competition.
Simple to implement and efficient monitoring of activities
With a simple press of the “Sport” button, launching a sports activity tracker on the watch only takes 2 or 3 seconds. It is also possible to assign this button to a particular sport if you practice it several times a week (it is then even faster to start the said activity) or to place it at the top of your favorite activities list.
For outdoor training, we particularly appreciate the speed of the GPS to be operational. We noticed during the first exercises that there could be 2 to 300 meters (over a few kilometers) compared to distances measured with competing watches, but this did not happen again at the end of the test. Nothing crippling anyway.
From the settings (on the smartphone or the watch), it is easy to set goals for duration or distance traveled, to vibrate the watch for each new km traveled or each goal reached, but also to consult in real time on the dial its performance by scrolling through the screens with a swipe of a finger.
For walking and running, an automatic mode allows you to start activity monitoring after a few hundred meters. Handy if you’ve forgotten to press the sport button on your watch. From this point of view, everything is designed to make life easier for the user.
Finally notifications with emojis… without the color
Like any good smartwatch, the Mi Watch embeds a whole set of “intelligent” functions. In addition to a torch, an alarm, a timer, the weather forecast, a barometer and a compass, quite basic tools, but not necessarily available on all watches, we can discover a music player which is actually a remote control for the smartphone. You cannot install a Spotify-type application or store music on your watch, but we can at least interrupt or zap a song directly from its dial. Amazon’s Alexa assistant is also on board and will respond in writing to any questions you may have orally (what time for tomorrow in Paris or when my Amazon order will arrive), the Mi Watch being equipped with a microphone, but not a speaker!
Thanks to a recent update, it is also possible to trigger your smartphone’s camera from the watch. We can also make it ring to find it when we can no longer get our hands on it. Note also that we found at the bottom of the application an ECG menu. Is it intended for another model or does Xiaomi plan to integrate it into its Watch later? The future will tell ! We appreciate, on the other hand, the many “dials”, a good hundred, made available free of charge to personalize your watch. It will thus be possible to offer this Mi Watch in a few seconds the look of a real analog watch with hands or, on the contrary, a more original aspect, with the display of all its performances (number of steps taken, calories expended, heart rate , weather forecast, remaining battery, etc.
At the cost of a few minutes spent giving Xiaomi a whole series of authorizations, it becomes possible to receive notifications on the watch : calls (which of course will be impossible to take from the watch), SMS, social networks, etc. An appreciable function that was already available on Mi Band bracelets. From now on emojis are part of the game, but not all. Mostly, they are displayed in black and white, which makes them rather inconspicuous. Yet at Huami, Zepp watches connected with the Mi Fit app, benefited from color emojis. Astonishing that Xiaomi does not manage to do the same.
Mi Watch: among the best in autonomy
What you like about a watch intended to accompany you on a daily basis, day and night, to track your activities, is that it doesn’t have to be recharged too often. From this point of view, the Mi Watch does not disappoint. Despite our many requests during this test period, it still displays a little more than 30% of autonomy after 10 days. What rank it among the most enduring watches on the market. By using it in a fairly classic way, that is to say by only using the GPS 2 or 3 times a week, it should happily pass the 16-day mark announced by Xiaomi. Note also that Xiaomi announces 50 hours of battery life for use with GPS activated continuously.