Hands-On: Xiaomi Mi Watch Smartwatch with MIUI (Wear OS)
Update: During his visit to the Berlinale, Shou Zi Chew, Xiaomi’s CFO and President International, revealed that the Xiaomi Mi Watch will soon be released as a global version for the western market.
Currently, Xiaomi is probably still working on the operating system, which, compared to the Chinese version, will probably speak all western languages. We also consider the implementation of other apps, which are more relevant in this country than in China, to be possible.
Whether it will be possible to falsify the China version of the watch with the official Global ROM of MIUI for Watch is unfortunately still in the stars.
With the new Xiaomi Mi Watch there is finally a full-fledged Smartwatch from Xiaomi, with Wear OS, MIUI interface and similar features as the Apple Watch!
Xiaomi’s close partnership with Huami Amazfit
With the first Mi Band, Xiaomi had already placed a successful fitness tracker on the market at a very early stage – long before Xiaomi’s smartphones also attracted even more attention in Europe. The Mi Band is now in its fourth generation and has enjoyed great popularity ever since.
Despite many innovations between the first and fourth Mi Band, the arguments for Xiaomi’s fitness tracker remain similar: great price/performance ratio, long battery life, well-developed app and simple operation. Because of this, fans of the company have been speculating and wishing for a Xiaomi Smartwatch for quite some time.
So far the “Wearables” division has been left to the close partner Huami Amazfit, who also produces the Mi Band 4 in his factories for Xiaomi. Together Amazfit/Xiaomi have become one of the world’s leading wearable manufacturers and have even left Apple behind.
But unfortunately all Amazfit models, including the current Amazfit GTR models and the Apple Watch clone Amazfit GTS, lack some important functions that make a real smartwatch. For example, it is not possible on Amazfit watches to reply to text messages or to use NFC for contactless payment. This is now changing with the Xiaomi Mi Watch!
Packaging and scope of delivery
The Xiaomi Mi Watch arrived in a really nice box, I think. In contrast to the Apple Watch, it has a similar format, but is matt black instead of white. On the short sides there is a shiny Mi logo and on the underside there are some technical data (in Chinese).
On the upper side, the clock is depicted in relief printing or 3D printing. A holographic “Watchface” is depicted at the place where the display sits. All in all, the whole thing looks super high quality and you don’t have the feeling as if you had bought a watch that is around $200 cheaper than the Apple Watch.
If you open the box you will be presented with the Xiaomi Mi Watch. It lies in a precisely fitting “cardboard bed” and can therefore under no circumstances fly loosely through the cardboard – optimal for importing from China.
The rest of the accessories can be found under the cardboard case in which the watch is located. An instruction manual, which is of course completely in Chinese, and the charging cable. Xiaomi even includes a 5V USB power plug, in this case unfortunately with CN plug, in contrast to almost all other wearable manufacturers.
Xiaomi Mi Watch with Apple Watch Design
One simply has to admit that the Xiaomi Mi Watch looks similar to the Apple Watch in many respects. That’s not just because Xiaomi has opted for a rectangular design. The crown on the right side of the watch and the control knob underneath are almost 1:1 exactly the same as on the Apple Watch.
I don’t necessarily want to criticize Xiaomi for this at this point, because from the point of view of usability it’s probably the right way. Most people will wear the watch on their left wrist and for me the arrangement makes sense.
In my opinion, rectangular watches also have the advantage that text messages, pictures, menus etc. can be displayed more beautifully. But not only the display shape reminds of Apple, there will also be a rotating crown and a control knob underneath.
While the Apple Watch traditionally comes in two different sizes (40 mm and 44 mm for the current Series 5), the Xiaomi Mi Watch is only available in a 44 mm version. Specifically, the Xiaomi Smartwatch measures 44.69 x 36.92 mm and is 12.28 mm thin. In comparison, the Apple Watch Series 5 is only 10.7 mm thin. The Xiaomi Mi Watch is unfortunately 1.58 mm thicker than Apple’s competitor model.
Standard and Premium Edition with different materials
The standard version we received to review from GearBest is available in two different colors. On the one hand in “Technology Silver” and “Elegant Black” – our test model is the Elegant Black version. The frame itself is made of a durable aluminium alloy and looks pretty noble in my opinion.
Depending on the color selection, a silver or black rubber band made of fluororubber is included as a bracelet. Similar to the Apple Watch, this strap is resistant and sweat-resistant, which will be a pleasure for athletes who want to record their training regularly with the watch. Without a wristband, the Standard Edition made of aluminium weighs 44 g and is therefore heavier than the Apple Watch in a similar design. This weighs only 36.5 g in the current Series 5.
The Premium Edition of the Xiaomi Mi Watch is not made of aluminium, but of stainless steel. In addition, there is no rubber wristband, but a classy steel wristband. The dimensions of the two models are identical, but the Premium Edition with a weight of 56g (without bracelet!) is even heavier. For the sport this is certainly not ideal and probably less intended than the Standard Edition.
Processing & Materials
Our standard version of the Xiaomi Mi Watch with aluminum case makes a pretty good overall impression. I couldn’t find any processing or material defects. In my opinion, it also feels really good haptically.
But one thing disturbs me a little bit. Compared to the Apple Watch, the crown protrudes further out of the case, so much so that you can stick your fingernail between the watch case and the crown. With the Apple Watch, the gap is smaller at this point, which pleases me more personally.
I don’t really have much to complain about in terms of wearing comfort in the test, even after a longer period of wearing it doesn’t get unpleasant. Compared to the Apple Watch, there are a few small differences.
While Apple uses a specially constructed bracelet attachment, the bracelet of the Mi Watch is attached with ordinary quick fasteners. Thus, the wristband doesn’t fit as well to the wrist, but in my opinion this has no negative effect on the wearing comfort.
What I find unfortunate, however, is that the mounting construction for the bracelet on the aluminum case is not made of metal, but of plastic. This doesn’t stand out visually, but in my opinion Xiaomi should have held its own with high-quality materials.
The positive thing about this is that the plastic component is attached to the aluminium housing with two small Torx screws. So it can be easily replaced in case of a defect, which is quite good.
AMOLED Display with 1,78 inch
The Xiaomi Mi Watch is equipped with a 1.78 inch AMOLED display. Compared to the Amazfit GTS with 1.65 inch AMOLED display, the Mi Watch’s display is noticeably larger. It has a resolution of 368 x 448 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 326 PPI. So the small screen of the Xiaomi Mi Watch is about as sharp as the Apple Watch Series 5, but the Amazfit GTS with 341 PPI remains even sharper!
The Standard Edition display is protected with Gorilla Glass 3 to ensure that the watch can withstand everyday use. The Premium Edition even uses sapphire glass.
I think it’s a shame to differentiate here, because the Standard Edition is actually the more attractive watch for sports due to its lower weight and the rubber wristband. In my opinion, the stress and the probability that you might stupidly bump into something is more probable. Therefore I would have wished for sapphire crystal for the Standard Edition!
The brightness of the display can be changed in the settings in five steps, from very bright to very dark. There is also an auto brightness mode, which I prefer in everyday life. In the test, the display can be read easily even in direct sunlight, that’s how it has to be.
Thanks to the AMOLED display, the Xiaomi Mi Watch also has an Always-on mode. This mode is missing at least the Apple Watch 4 and was implemented only with the newest version at Apple. For my taste the Always-On screen is a bit too dark and could have been a bit brighter. Unfortunately the brightness of the Always-On mode cannot be changed.
Beside the Always-on mode there is also a “Tilt-to-wake” mode, where the screen automatically turns on when you lift your wrist. It works as well as the Apple Watch Series 4 – I like it!
Technical data – Is the Mi Watch a performance monster?
At the heart of the Xiaomi Mi Watch beats a Snapdragon 3100, a quad-core processor from the Qualcomm Wear series, specially designed for Smartwatches. It is also used in some fossil watches and clocks at 1.2 GHz. In addition there is 1 GB RAM and 8 GB ROM.
While Apple charges a surcharge for a model with eSIM that is not too low, the Xiaomi Mi Watch is equipped with an eSIM in all versions. So you can use the Smartwatch for self-sufficient calls and surfing.
Unfortunately, the eSIM, at least with the Chinese version of the Xiaomi Mi Watch, cannot currently be used. In general, the devices for which mobile providers can activate eSIMs can still be counted on two hands. Xiaomi’s Chinese homepage currently states that the providers China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile are supported. We hope that the update will come soon.
Further sensors for sport and fitness
The Xiaomi Mi Watch is equipped with several other modules and sensors that improve sports tracking and usability. With GPS, GLONASS and BEIDOU, the Xiaomi Smartwatch can precisely measure the location or distance covered. With the Amazfit GTR and also the Amazfit GTS there have been problems with the accuracy, but we do not trust Xiaomi to take over these problems.
- A+G sensor (acceleration sensor)
- heart rate monitor
- Geomagnetic sensor (compass)
- Ambient light sensor (automatic brightness)
- Barometer (air pressure gauge)
- OTS Optical Displacement Tester
New operating system: MIUI for Watch
Surprisingly Xiaomi has already announced on 30.10.2019 that the Xiaomi Mi Watch is equipped with a new, own operating system! Like the smartphone system it is called MIUI (for Watch). It is based on Google’s Wear OS and has been optimized by Xiaomi for the angular Smartwatch design.
Currently the MIUI for Watch is unfortunately only in Chinese, if you change the system language of your mobile phone to English, at least the settings in the clock are also in English. We hope that there will soon be updates with further languages, respectively a Global ROM.
Connect Xiaomi Mi Watch to Android smartphone
At least currently, with the Chinese version of the Xiaomi Mi Watch, connecting the Smartwatch to an Android smartphone is quite tedious. We also needed some time for this, because with the Wear OS App version from the PlayStore you won’t get far.
You need the Chinese Wear OS version! Beside the Wear OS App, you also need the Xiaomi Wear App, which is also not available in the Play Store, but has to be downloaded as .apk as well. If you have the watch it will send you a QR code on the display directly to download.
Connect Xiaomi Smartwatch to Andoird mobile phone – step by step
- Install Xiaomi Wear App
- Install Google Wear App (China version)
- Search Xiaomi Mi Watch Smartwatch in Xiaomi Wear App
- Change to the Wear OS App (China version)
The nice thing is that the Wear OS App in the China version is also multilingual (depending on the system language). The Xiaomi Wear App on the other hand is only available in Chinese and therefore only partially usable. But if you are familiar with the Mi Fit App, for the Mi Band, you should find your way around.
Connect Xiaomi Mi Watch to Apple iPhone
Paradoxically, connecting to the iPhone is much easier than connecting to an Android phone. Simply download the Wear OS app from the Apple App Store and connect the clock to your iPhone. In the test this works very simply and reliably.
A second app, like the one under Android, is not necessary here, but the Xiaomi Wear app is only available for Android, so you don’t have a nice data overview and also less watchfaces and settings options.
It is questionable if a possible Global version is also equipped with MIUI or if a Stock Wear-OS version is installed for Europe. However, since the advertising graphic explicitly states MIUI for Watch in English and not in Chinese, at least an English version of MIUI for Watch is considered probable.
Here you can see how the MIUI for Watch is structured:
Does GooglePay work with the Xiaomi Mi Watch?
For many the question of all questions: Can I pay contactless with the Xiaomi Mi Watch? Thanks to a built-in NFC module, this is not impossible! At least in China cashless payment with the Mi Watch is possible. However, currently only the payment models “Alipay” and “WeChat Pay”, which are widespread in Asia, are supported.
Unfortunately, there is currently no mention of GooglePay and there is also unfortunately no option on our Chinese version could make this possible. We have to be patient until there is a Global Version or at least an official Global ROM.
In China, thanks to NFC, bus tickets, tram tickets and admission tickets can also be linked to the Xiaomi Smartwatch. These functions have not yet been available for Amazfit watches.
Ten sports modes under MIUI for Watch
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Smartwatch is equipped with ten sports modes. In addition to the standards, there are also some more unusual sports:
- treadmill jogging
- Cross Country – (Mountain Bike Discipline)
- ride a bicycle
- Bicycle trainer
- Swimming lanes
- Open water swimming
- Free Activities
In addition to sports modes, the Xiaomi Mi Watch also measures health in everyday life and can evaluate it using the following parameters:
- Heart rate monitoring
- sleep monitoring
- stress monitoring
- body energy monitoring
- motion memory
Battery capacity and running time
In the area of battery capacity, the Xiaomi Mi Watch again distinguishes between Standard Version and Premium Edition. Thus in the standard version a 560 mAh battery is installed, in the Premium Edition it is 580 mAh. However, the battery life of up to 36 hours is the same for both devices.
Compared to the Amazfit Smartwatches or even the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, a battery life of only 36 hours is certainly sobering for some. However, a battery life of 1-3 days was foreseeable and is also the rule with Apple and Co. We are curious to see how the battery will perform in practice and whether 36 hours is a realistic value or whether there is even a bit more in it!
Price for the Xiaomi Smartwatch
In China, the standard version of Mi Watch will cost 1299 yuan (~$185). For the Premium Edition you have to put 1999 Yuan (~$284) on the table. Experience shows, however, that the direct conversion price cannot be taken into account.
We assume that the Standard Edition will probably start for about $200-250 and the Premium Edition for about $300-350 in the China shops. Of course we hope that this estimation is wrong and that the watch will become cheaper, at least with time.
Estimation – buy the Xiaomi Mi Watch?
We are looking forward to the Xiaomi Mi Watch and hope that it will soon also be available as a global version and with a not too reduced range of functions. It would be at least believable that the Chinese manufacturer has already translated the MIUI for Watch system into many languages.
The absolute killer features, at least for us, would be the implementation of GooglePay and the activation of western eSIM providers. Then the Xiaomi Smartwatch would have several advantages over the Amazfit watches, which could make up for the shorter battery life.
At the moment we would at least wait with a purchase of the Xiaomi Mi Watch. At the moment only the settings are translated into English, we hope that this will change soon with a Global ROM. There is also the problem that the watch in Europe cannot be coupled with an Android/Xiaomi mobile phone due to the wrong Wear-OS app version.To the gadget