Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite smartwatch for $58.99: Can Xiaomi do watches?
It took a long time, but smartwatches are now part of Xiaomi’s extensive portfolio. Released in China as the Redmi Watch smartwatch, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite smartwatch is already available for around $60. Compared to its competition, the Mi Watch Lite brings one important advantage. But can Xiaomi do smartwatches at all?
- Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
Technical specifications of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
|Product name||Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite|
|Display||1.4 inches; 320 x 320 pixels|
|Battery||230 mAh; ~9 days|
|Protection certification||ATM 5|
|Features||Pedometer, heart rate monitor, alarm clock, call and push notification, 11 sports modes, sleep tracking, GPS|
|Weight||35 g (with wristband)|
Same design, same colors
Xiaomi basically sticks to the rectangular design of the very first Mi Watch, which was only released in China, for the Mi Watch Lite. At second glance, you will also notice that it looks exactly like the Redmi Watch. That was also only introduced in China. Finally, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is the global version of the Redmi Watch. The center of attention here is certainly the 1.4″ large display. The upper and lower screen edges in particular are thicker than on the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini, for example, but it remains pleasantly narrow on the right and left.
The display glass is slightly rounded on the sides. However, the display is also clearly framed in the plastic casing of the watch, and the transition is not as nicely solved as in the Amazfit. This is not the only reason why the watch looks a bit more angular in general, but also because of the function button, which provides a notch, and the missing transitions between the watch and the silicone strap. The silicone wristband is made of TPU and is replaceable in itself. However, Xiaomi uses its own clasp here, so you cannot fall back on the conventional 20 mm bands. The clasp is also quite stiff and the band lacks a thorn, so the rubber strap always protrudes a bit.
The Mi Watch Lite works just like the Redmi Watch with a function key on the right side. However, the majority of the operation is done via the touchscreen. The Mi Watch Lite is available in the same colors as the Redmi Watch: black, blue, green, gold and rosé. The watch cases are also darker in the darker colors, and they are gold-colored in gold and rosé. The watch thus tips the scales at 35 g with and 21 g without the strap, which makes it very comfortable to wear despite its edgier design. This also applies in the shower; the Mi Watch Lite is protected against water according to ATM 5 classification.
The bottom line is that I like the watch both visually and in terms of workmanship and it is appropriate for its price. However, not much more. Users who place more value on design will have to dig deeper into their pockets and look in the direction of the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini or Huawei Watch Fit.
TFT instead of AMOLED
As with smartphones, the screen is a decisive quality criterion for a smartwatch. Xiaomi opted for a 1.4″ TFT color touchscreen display with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels for the budget watch. This adds up to a pixel density of 323 ppi, which is a strong value for a watch in this price range! Just for comparison: an Apple Watch offers 330 ppi pixel density, the more expensive Mi Watch 326 ppi, but both use an AMOLED panel. This simply offers a better contrast ratio, less power consumption and the option of an always-on display, which you have to do without on the Mi Watch Lite.
In return, it is quite bright with 350 nits. The brightness can be adjusted automatically or manually in six levels. In the test, half of the brightness is enough for good readability. Users who want to save battery power can even manage with level 1. There are again numerous watchfaces, over 120 to be exact, some of which are also customizable. However, only four are preinstalled. Unfortunately, the memory is also limited. Otherwise, there are no settings options except for the automatic lock.
The watchfaces are partly customizable, at least my modular watchface offers four complications. Almost all applications can be stored as shortcuts in the three lower modules, but only almost. I personally miss the watch functions like timer or stopwatch. Otherwise, however, applications like the sports modes or the music control can be used there. The central module offers fewer options.
Operation of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
Xiaomi turns the familiar smartwatch operation upside down. You start from the watch face as usual, but you swipe up to get to the quick settings, which are at the bottom. The notifications open with a swipe down, so they are at the top. On the horizontal axis, however, you get your favorites as usual, which you can also customize in the app. You have more options under the quick settings than in the GTS 2 Mini, for example, and you can also quickly access the settings. However, the favorites are not a real link to the application, but a kind of widget that does not offer all options. Under sleep tracking, for example, you can only find sleep duration, but not sleep-in and wake-up time.
However, the menu is also unusual, as it consists entirely of icons and does without fonts. A total of 18 menu items are arranged in a square, but that is not intuitive without fonts. The first visits to the menu of the Mi Watch Lite take a while, you have to find your way around, especially since not all icons speak for themselves. There are three clock icons for alarm clock, stopwatch and timer, but they are all purple. Of course, this settles after a while, but I still would have liked to see a list as a display option.
It is also noticeable that Xiaomi does not use any animations on the Mi Watch Lite. When you swipe to the left, the application simply opens and does not “swipe” along. This ensures speed, but it does not look very appealing. I think animations would have been good for the look, but Xiaomi opted for speed. Fair enough.
Range of functions of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is not necessarily “smarter” than the Redmi Smartwatch and is more of a fitness watch like the Amazfit Bip S or Amazfit GTS, for example. It works with its own operating system and therefore does not offer the option to install apps later. Instead, there is the option of music control, watch functions like timer & alarm clock, notifications, breathing exercises, weather forecast, and thanks to the integrated heart rate monitor, gyroscope, and accelerometer, heart rate measurement and sleep tracking. In return, the watch is unfortunately not multitasking capable.
Sports tracking with GPS
Thus, Xiaomi also integrates four more sports modes here than in the Redmi smartwatch, which brings you to 11 “different” sports. These include running, cycling, trekking, swimming, but also cricket. The crucial difference to the Redmi Watch is the integrated GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS. I could at least try out the running mode several times and am satisfied with the tracking overall. The GPS works precisely and the fix came after about 10 seconds, on the route I can also not notice any major deviations, slight fluctuations like here are also found in the competition.
Compared with the Apple Watch SE, which is six times as expensive, there is a difference of 300 meters in distance, which I cannot quite explain due to the small GPS deviations. In addition, the activity duration is a bit longer, which can be explained by operating two smartwatches at the same time. So of course the pace changes, but overall the GPS tracking is accurate. The GTS 2 Mini also had a variance of almost 150 meters for the same distance recently. Perhaps Xiaomi uses slightly different calculations here, but without the direct comparison I feel I can rely on the data.
You can also lock the display during sports and set destinations in advance, but music control is not possible simultaneously. This has to be done via the smartphone, since the Mi Watch Lite does not support multitasking.
Xiaomi learns from Amazfit’s mistakes and integrates sleep tracking on the watch as well, even in the favorites. Only the sleep duration is displayed there, but in the menu you also get wake-up and wake-up time, an evaluation of the sleep quality and the division into the different sleep phases. The app also provides a history, a graphical representation and additional information about sleep in general, which should help to classify the data.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite does not offer an offline music storage, which would also be unusual in this price range. Not even the more expensive Mi Watch has that. You can only control the media on your smartphone. The current track can be paused or played, you can jump to the next or previous track and change the volume. Of course, you also get information about the current track. That works sufficiently fast in the test, but the music control just doesn’t want to assert itself in my personal use. Do you guys use it?
Smartwatches are sometimes used to monitor one’s health, which is why heart rate sensors, breathing exercises or blood oxygen saturation measurement are now part of the standard repertoire. The latter does not find its way into the Mi Watch Lite, but that is not a point of criticism in this price segment. The crux, however, is the inaccurate heart rate measurement, which achieves strange results despite the PPG sensor and deviates strongly from the measurements of the Apple Watch. We are used to better results from Amazfit, which also uses a second-generation BioTracker sensor. However, those who like can perform guided breathing exercises between 1 and 5 minutes with the Mi Watch Lite.
The square design of the Mi Watch Lite, but also the rectangular display of a Huawei Watch Fit, are particularly well suited for notifications. The Lite version of the Mi Watch can also display notifications, but it does not use emojis at all. They are displayed as question marks in a box – a pity! Otherwise, apps can be opened and deleted, but of course not answered. You have to buy a Ticwatch Pro 3 GPS for that. It is also a pity that hardly any app icons are displayed, so only “App” is written in front of the notification instead of the Facebook logo or similar. This is because no specific apps can be selected, there is only the “Other” option here.
Wear Lite: Own app for the Mi Watches
Surprisingly, Xiaomi does not require the Mi Fit app for the Mi Watch Lite, which we know from the Mi Band 5, but the Xiaomi Wear Lite app. This is also used for the regular Mi Watch and the Mi Smart Band 4C. But why actually? The Mi Fit app is already so widespread due to the Mi Band, offers all the important functions and could be adapted for the watch similar to the Mi Fit or Mi Home. However, the setup via the Wear Lite app is quite simple, the watch is found via Bluetooth and then the pairing only has to be confirmed. The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is compatible with Android and iOS.
The Mi Wear Lite app is nevertheless quite well done, looks tidier but also a bit less functional than the Mi Fit app. Via Status, you can quickly see the most important data like number of steps, calories burned, sleep time, pulse and the last activity at a glance, which I like better than the Amazfit app, where the activities are rather hidden. Mi Wear Lite also offers the option to sort this info. You can start an activity under Training, but that is also possible via the watch itself.
Under “Profile”, however, you will notice that the settings are a bit limited. Especially in the notifications, you cannot activate individual apps, but only collected “Others”. Beyond that, you cannot even specify on which arm you wear the watch, how the pulse should be measured or how strong the vibration should be. The only customizability is in the installable watchfaces and the widget management. In addition, the app wastes a bit too much space for a kind of Memoji, i.e. the user’s own character, which does not actually add any value.
The manufacturer opts for a battery capacity of 230 mAh, an appropriate capacity for a watch of this type. According to the product page, up to 9 days are possible, in fact, I can more or less confirm the claim. With my usage, I got 7 to 8 days, so the promise is almost achieved. My usage consists of activated notifications of some apps, medium brightness, 3 GPS units per week, sleep tracking, heart rate measurement and occasional use of the watch functions. However, the GPS usage naturally reduces the runtime; Xiaomi advertises 10 hours of continuous GPS positioning.
Charging is done with its own USB charging cable. It’s a pity that the device uses its own charger again and does not use the Amazfit charger, for example. A universal standard would be helpful. A complete charge takes about one hour and 45 minutes.
Conclusion: Buy the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite?
Xiaomi has chosen a very interesting price range for the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, which will eventually settle at a price of less than $60 in the long run. Thus, it is tempting for us testers to talk about the best smartwatch/fitness tracker under $60. The sharp display, the solid build, the unagitated design, the range of functions, the solid runtime and especially the GPS speak for that. That is still not a matter of course in the price range and is probably the unique selling point of the watch. I also like it better than the Amazfit Bip U due to the GPS and the display, which does no honor to the otherwise strong Bip lineup. I see the only competition in the price range in the Amazfit Bip S.
However, the watch also makes a few unnecessary mistakes. The menu is unintuitive, the widgets lack information, the silicone wristband has its own clasp, there is no emoji support, and the app definitely has room for improvement. The price segment is also a bit dangerous, because even the half-price Xiaomi Mi Band 5 offers many of the Mi Watch Lite’s features except for GPS. And if you are willing to spend a bit more, you will get a much better display and overall package with a Huawei Watch Fit (with GPS) or Honor Watch ES (no GPS).
“You can do it, but you do not have to”. There is actually no phrase that sums up the status of the Mi Watch Lite that well. For under $60, it really is one of the best options on the market, but you should think twice about either spending significantly less or spending a bit more. Do you already own the Mi Watch Lite and how satisfied are you with the smartwatch?To the gadget