Xiaomi Mi Watch: Smartwatch with Alexa control for €99/$125.99
It took a long time for Xiaomi to launch its first smartwatches in Europe. They had already been announced in addition to the Xiaomi Mi 10T series in the fall of 2020. In addition to the Mi Watch Lite, the manufacturer will also release the Xiaomi Mi Watch. It has the same name as the Mi Watch from China, but it is not a WearOS smartwatch. Instead, it has its own operating system, over 100 sports modes and Alexa integration. Is this the hour for Xiaomi smartwatches?
Technical data of the Xiaomi Mi Watch
|Xiaomi Mi Watch|
|Display||1,39″ AMOLED, 454 x 454 p, 326 ppi|
|Colors||black, blue, beige|
|Battery||420 mAh, 16 days runtime|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5, GPS|
|App compatibility||Android 4.4|
|Water Resistance||ATM 5|
|Dimensions | Band | Weight||46.2 x 53.3 x 11.4 mm | 22 mm|
Not all Mi Watches are created equal
It could be so simple! The manufacturer has released the first Xiaomi Mi Watch in China. It is based on the open WearOS operating system and looks similar to the Apple Watch. However, our test had to be canceled due to the lack of a German language, fewer features and unsuitability for the German market. Subsequently, the Mi Watch Color was released. It also made it to the Indian market under the name Mi Watch Revolve. Both watches are the model for the Xiaomi Mi Watch, so the Mi Watch is the global version of the Mi Watch Color/Revolve! In addition, there is the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, which was launched in China under the name “Redmi Watch”.
A round thing!
It was only a matter of time before Xiaomi offered a more expensive wearable than the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 in this country as well. Instead of releasing the actual Mi Watch from China with WearOS, they are redesigning the Mi Watch Color. This means that the Xiaomi Mi Watch will feature a round watch design. The focus is on the 1.39″ display, which is surrounded by a screen bezel with a thickness of 2.5 mm. Unlike the Mi Color, they have redesigned the bezel, which is the edge of the screen. Instead of the number lines, there is now only a reference to the two function buttons “Home” and “Sport” there.
These are located on the right side of the watch, with the bottom button still featuring a red accent. The Mi Watch is available in several colors: Black, Navy Blue and Beige, with the silicone strap also apparently available in Orange, Yellow and Olive Green, but we couldn’t find the bands. The watch comes in at a weight of 32g without the band and dimensions of 45.9 x 53.35 x 11.8 mm, making it roughly comparable to an Honor MagicWatch 2. Xiaomi focuses on athletes and that’s also why it uses a silicone strap with a customizable length of 130 to 220 mm.
From a purely visual point of view, the MagicWatch 2 is probably really the best comparison, except for the bezel, they are almost identical. Despite a price tag of over 100€, however, you can tell that this design is not the end of the line. The Amazfit GTR 2 looks even fancier and higher-quality overall due to the rounded top and bottom. In general, the design is relatively generic, and the Mi Watch does not really dare to do anything, at least not visually.
Workmanship & wearing comfort
Xiaomi remains true to its basic “as much quality for the money as possible” motto. You will look for workmanship flaws in vain, even if the transitions between the case frame, bezel and underside are not quite as elegant as on the GTR 2, as mentioned. Unlike the Mi Watch Lite, Xiaomi also integrates additional connectors between the watch and the silicone strap here, so the almost standard pin closure is also possible. This is a big plus, so it is easier to customize the watch, at least visually. The glass-fiber-reinforced polyamide case looks sturdy overall and gives the watch an almost premium feel.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch is protected against water according to the ATM 5 classification. Thus, you can take a shower and swim with it. I at least did the former several times during the test period without any problems. Unfortunately, you cannot activate a display lock for this, but have to deactivate the “turn wrist” function so that the display remains in standby. This seems a bit cumbersome to me, but it works as well.
Sharp and bright display
The AMOLED display with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and the choice of over 100 watchfaces is one of the highlights of the Mi Watch. The pixel density is a strong 326 ppi, which puts it on par with the GTR 2. The specified brightness of 450 nits can even keep up with the display brightness of a Mi 10T Lite. The brightness can be adjusted in five levels, whereby an automatic adjustment is also possible. I already manage very well on level 2 and did not have to change the brightness once during the test period, except for YouTube videos.
The AMOLED technology also enables an always-on display, which can be found in the settings as “Always on display”. There are eight preloaded watchfaces for this, but they cannot be set temporally. If you want to turn off the AOD, you have to put the palm of your hand on the display, then the screen stays black. Xiaomi should improve this via an update. In terms of time, it is only possible to set from when to when the “Lift to wake up” function should be active.
Surprisingly, Xiaomi integrates “only” four watchfaces on the watch, just as many as on the Lite. In return, you can install over 100 more via the Xiaomi Wear Lite. However, none of them is customizable, which is a clear disadvantage compared with the Mi Watch Lite. Without any complications, i.e. shortcuts, on the watchfaces, you always have to go straight to the menu for most applications – a pity! However, Xiaomi should be able to fix that via an update, since the Mi Watch Lite offers this feature for two of the four watchfaces.
Operation of the Mi Watch
Xiaomi uses the same operating concept that already threw my habits overboard in the Mi Watch Lite. Contrary to the Amazfit operating system, the notifications are opened by swiping down, not up. If you swipe up like on Instagram, you get to the quick settings. There are a total of six items, for example, flashlight, DND, alarm clock or a shortcut to the settings. The Alexa button can also be found there, but more on that in a moment.
Swiping to the right or left from the watch face takes you to the favorites or widgets. Widgets like heart rate measurement, sleep tracking or music control are on this horizontal level by default. Unfortunately, we have to deliberately speak of widgets and not applications. For example, the sleep tracking only shows the sleep score (not very helpful) and the duration of sleep, but not the division into sleep phases. For that you have to go into the application via the menu, so you have a much further “way” to get there. Thus, it would be nice if these widgets also served as shortcuts to this application. We already criticized this with the Mi Watch Lite.
There are also two function keys on the right: Home and Sport. Xiaomi has defined them as such, which unfortunately means that they cannot be assigned otherwise. The home button serves as a menu button, but also as a home button and lets you return to the watch face from a setting. Alexa listens when the home button is pressed and held. The Sport button serves as a link to the Sport app by default and lists all 110 sport modes. The button can be assigned alternatively via the app and a special activity, such as jogging, can be added – practical!
Functionality of the Xiaomi Mi Watch: How smart is it?
Unlike the Chinese Mi Watch, the global Mi Watch is not equipped with an open operating system (WearOS). Xiaomi’s own operating system does not allow subsequent app downloads, music storage or Bluetooth telephony, but it still offers a wide range of features.
Since the Mi Watch does not have LTE, it has to be connected to the smartphone (Android 4.4/iOS 10 or higher) via Bluetooth 5. Remote triggering of the smartphone camera and receiving notifications are then also possible. .
With the Mi Watch, the focus is primarily on sports enthusiasts, after all, Xiaomi implements a proud 117 sports modes. Xiaomi integrates GPS, a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, an air pressure sensor and a geomagnetic sensor to track and collect sports and health data. The Sport button on the watch takes you directly to the workout modes, where you can add and remove sports. Theoretically, the list can also be adjusted to two or three favorites.
I could only try jogging during the test period and am satisfied with the tracked data overall. The GPS fix occurs a few meters after the start for me. You can define goals and intervals in advance and also activate the automatic pause detection. This functioned a bit slowly in my test, and I lost a few seconds compared with the Apple Watch SE. While running, you can control the music with a swipe to the right, but you get quite a lot of data while running. The only thing I miss here is the screen lock.
In my last unit, the difference in tracking was just 80 meters compared to the Apple Watch. The tracking on the Mi Watch takes almost 40 seconds longer, for which I have no explanation. Of course, this also changes the pace: 5:05/km on the Apple Watch, 5:17/km on the Mi Watch. Overall, the results are still inconsistent for me. Out of three units, one was very good, one was missing a section, and the last and longest unit so far is missing 1.8 km. It can be seen on the map that one section was not located at all. Xiaomi will have to improve this a bit with an update. If you have had other experiences, let me know in the comments.
Besides the sports modes, sleep tracking, step counting, heart rate measurement and stress level measurement are of course possible. Xiaomi installs a PPG heart rate monitor, which also allows measuring the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), on the bottom. SpO2 measurement has been in demand since the Apple Watch Series 6 at the latest, but it was also possible before with a Huawei Watch GT2E, for example.
The heart rate monitor spits out much more accurate measurements than on the Mi Watch Lite, where it seemed more like a random generator. The SpO2 measurement also runs smoothly, but I personally do not find the values very informative. At least Xiaomi provides an explanation to classify the result. In addition, there is a stress level measurement (blood pressure) and an energy level measurement, both of which consistently show a moderate result.
Xiaomi advertised a decisive advantage over Huawei’s smartwatches in advance: native emoji support! The first notification on the Mi Watch unfortunately could not keep the euphoria alive. Currently (as of Feb 2021), the Mi Watch unfortunately does not support emojis. These are not even displayed as errors (question mark in a box or similar), but not at all. So I received some messages without content.
At least umlauts are supported, but the sender’s name is heavily abbreviated. For example, there is only an “A” in a message from Alex – that is not helpful in everyday use. At least the Wear Lite app differentiates between several apps and can also display the WhatsApp icon, for example. In return, you can hardly interact with the message as usual. The only option is to delete it, but even then all active notifications are deleted. Why?
How to use Amazon Alexa on Xiaomi Mi Watch
A highlight is the support of Amazon Alexa via voice control. This gives you a clear advantage over the Amazfit GTS 2, which unfortunately still has not received the update. To use Alexa on the Mi Watch, you have to link your Amazon (Alexa) account in the Xiaomi Wear Lite app. To do so, simply click on Amazon Alexa under “Profile”, log in with your Amazon data, and the phone will link both accounts. The Alexa app is not absolutely necessary for this.
There are three ways to activate Alexa on the watch. Holding down the Home button for a long time proves to be the most practical way in everyday use. Unfortunately, the watch does not register this on standby; you have to activate the display first. Alternatively, an Amazon button can be found in the quick settings or in the menu. All three buttons have the same range of functions, and there are no further setting options via the watch itself; you would have to use the Alexa app for that.
You can actually use Alexa with the watch just like you would with an Echo or the Hands-Free function on your smartphone. You can ask questions about the weather, daily events or general knowledge and Alexa answers quite quickly. You can also put things on your shopping list or set a reminder. It is also possible to control your connected smart home devices. The Mi Watch supports the German language right from the start, but English, French and many other languages are also available.
Alexa is probably the highlight feature of the Mi Watch and works surprisingly well. The response time is often very short, even though Alexa sometimes has to reconnect, which is fast. In everyday use, the lack of shortcuts on the watch face can be overlooked, since it is possible to set a timer for cooking noodles, for example. However, the full potential can only be exploited if the smart home is equipped with (several) Alexa-compatible devices.
Similar to the first generation Amazfit GTS or GTR, the Xiaomi Mi Watch only supports music control, not offline playback. This means that the watch detects when your smartphone is playing media, e.g. via Spotify. You can then control this, i.e. pause/start playback, adjust the volume and jump to the previous and next track. The watch displays the title and artist or the podcast. This works well and quickly, and the latency is refreshingly low. However, you also get music storage and offline music playback in the price range of a Huawei Watch GT 2e, for example.
As with the Mi Watch Lite, I have my little problem with the watch functions on the Mi Watch. However, this is only due to the icon selection in the menu, because at first glance you see three watches in blue. However, the actual applications then work well. The various alarms can be set on the watch itself, and you can also define a regularity. The vibration strength can be adjusted between two strengths, whereby the “standard” option is sufficient for me to wake up. There is also a stopwatch and a countdown that can also run in the background – practical! So a bit of multitasking is possible.
Apart from that, there are of course other apps, but I do not use them much in everyday use. The weather application provides a forecast of five days, but otherwise very little information. For example, I miss the sunrise and sunset times, which are even displayed graphically in the Huawei or Amazfit watches. However, the remote release function for the camera, where you can even set a timer, is quite practical. Apart from that, I tried the cell phone search function, but it simply did not work for me – too bad!
The Xiaomi Mi Watch is equipped with a 420 mAh battery. According to the manufacturer, this ensures a runtime of 16 days, so you should only have to recharge twice a month. This is achieved via a magnetic charging cradle, which takes two hours to fully charge the smartwatch. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not available. I would like to see the manufacturers slowly agree on a universal and/or Qi charging standard, since there are now many proprietary USB cables.
After my first test period, I cannot quite confirm Xiaomi’s claim so far. I used about 70% battery in a week of use, so about 10% per day. Of course, I use it much more than usual in the first few days for testing, but still, I can only imagine the 16 days under very moderate settings. With brightness set to level 2 without automatic adjustment, deactivated AOD, notifications of some apps, Alexa use, three GPS units per week, alarm clock and permanent heart rate measurement, I get about 10 days of use. Of course, that can still level out over a longer period of time.
However, I would rather say that it should be between 10 and 14 days of runtime for most users. The consumption in standby is quite low; battery consumption is more noticeable during active use.
Xiaomi Wear Lite App
You can use the Xiaomi Mi Watch smartwatch with both Android and iOS, the Mi Wear Lite app can be found in both app stores. After the Mi Watch Lite, this is the second case where we have to use the Wear Lite app instead of the old familiar Mi Fit app. In the meantime, the app has not necessarily grown on me. Still, I find the status page in particular much clearer than Amazfit’s, at first glance you get your last activity, sleep, health data and step goal, but you can also sort the data differently. The workout tab is actually unnecessary, since you can also start activities via the watch.
The profile page, on the other hand, is important. You can install additional watchfaces, configure settings or link your Amazon Alexa account. You can also manage the notifications there, where you have a lot more choice than in the Mi Watch Lite. In general, however, the range of settings for such a smartwatch is very limited. You cannot even set on which wrist you wear the watch. Xiaomi could learn a lot from Huawei and Amazfit here.
Pairing between the smartphone and the smartwatch is very simple and once again worked without problems in the test. Meanwhile, you just have to follow the instructions on the watch, scan the code and then select the watch via Bluetooth search. Fun Fact: The Bluetooth name of the Mi Watch is Mi Watch Color.
Conclusion: Buy the Xiaomi Mi Watch?
Actually, Xiaomi is often relatively fast when it comes to implementing products. They are pioneers in smartphone charging technology, had one of the first short-range projectors or even a transparent TV. Only with smartwatches did it take a while. And so the Xiaomi Mi Watch looks like it came a good six months too late on the market. Many of the features are reminiscent of the first generation Amazfit GTS or Amazfit GTR, which even come with music storage or Bluetooth telephony in the second generation. The Mi Watch does not have that, but it also costs less to be fair. It is only thanks to the Alexa integration that it is somewhere between GTR 1 and GTR 2. However, the GTS 2 Mini also offers that for less than €100.
Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Watch does a lot right for Xiaomi’s “first” smartwatch. The display, design and build are simply right and more than adequate for the price. The operating system also looks a bit better implemented than in the Mi Watch Lite, but that is probably more due to the better screen. The Alexa integration is the highlight and makes the watch a bit smarter than the competition, and the feature set is probably sufficient for most users. In addition, the watch is fast overall, works reliably and is also interesting for athletes due to the sports modes.
However, the GPS tracking would have to be a bit more consistent. One of three runs was tracked incorrectly, the other one almost “perfectly”. The app also has room for improvement; the customizable watchfaces and the emoji support are missing. Apart from that, it is a very successful start for the Xiaomi wearables. In the offer for under 100€, I see the biggest competitor in the GTS 2 Mini (as soon as Alexa is available there). At the MSRP of 120€, I would almost advise spending 10 to 20€ more for an Honor Magic Watch 2 or Huawei Watch GT 2 with music storage & BT telephony.
Do you already have the Mi Watch and what are your experiences with it?To the gadget