Xiaomi Redmi Watch review – GSMArena.com news


The Redmi Watch is Xiaomi’s latest affordable wearable. Coming in at a relatively low price of around $55, the Redmi Watch packs in fitness tracking features like a heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, and GPS all inside a traditional watch-shaped, water-resistant body. Let’s see how well it performs.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

Design

The Redmi Watch in ivory is a beautiful-looking device and one of the most elegant wearables in this price category. Both the watch body as well as the strap has a perfectly matching shade of off-white with a matching matte finish that looks stunning.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

The watch is also available in black with a choice of black or olive strap colors or blue with a matching blue strap, but none of them look quite as striking as the ivory version. However, because the ivory color is so striking, it might not always match your ensemble, in which case you might prefer the more subdued colors.

I can’t discuss the design of the Redmi Watch any further without acknowledging the ivory elephant in the room, which is the overwhelming resemblance to the Apple Watch. While hardly any detail is identical, the overall silhouette is still remarkably similar and from a distance, you’d be hardpressed to tell the difference. But I suppose that’s the point.

Still, the Redmi Watch does have plenty of good design elements of its own. The strap uses a simple buckle design that’s less finicky than the pin and tuck method on all the sports bands out there. Of particular note is the near-seamless way the strap connects to the watch without any visible lugs or any indication from the outside that the straps are detachable.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

If you do feel like removing them, then you need to simply press the button on the underside and pull. This is easier said than done but with a little practice, you can remove it without too much effort. Attaching the strap back produces a satisfying snap.

Getting back to the watch, the main body has smooth flat sides with a single, large button on the right. The button is likely made out of plastic but the fit and finish resemble metal, complete with polished chamfered edges. It’s also a neat gold color on the ivory model.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

The display is covered by a 2.5D glass that curves gently around the edges. Although a simple feature, the curved glass does make the watch look quite a bit more premium.

The back of the watch has a small bump with the optical sensor for heart rate monitoring. Below are two contact points for the pogo pin charger.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

At just 34mm wide and 48mm diagonal, the Redmi Watch is not large, nor is there a larger size available. For most people, this size would likely be adequate but if you have larger wrists or just prefer big watches then you are out of luck here.

The Redmi Watch is water-resistant for up to 5 ATM. This means you can use the watch underwater in a pool without having to worry about damaging it.

Overall, the Redmi Watch is simple but elegant. It’s not made out of any fancy materials but still manages to look and feel great on your wrist while resembling something that costs a lot more.

Display

The Redmi Watch has a 1.4-inch, 320 x 320 resolution IPS LCD type display. Because the display is square, it doesn’t take up the entire front surface of the watch face under the glass, leaving black bezels on the top and bottom, with the bottom bezel being slightly thicker. The display also lacks curved corners, although the software often compensates for this by curving the UI elements around the corners.

Usually, the display not taking up the entire front surface isn’t a problem. The only time it’s a bit bothersome is when you have a light-colored watch face and it has noticeably chunky borders on all four sides.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

The display has reasonable image quality for the price. However, the colors aren’t as vibrant as they should be, and this is usually noticeable when you set a new watch face and it doesn’t look quite as good as it did on the phone app. Viewing angles also aren’t as good as OLED panels but still decent nonetheless. The mediocre contrast and elevated black levels are also typical of LCD panels, and it means watch faces with a black background don’t quite blend with the black bezels, especially at higher brightness levels.

The display has average brightness levels but it does remain visible outdoors under sunlight so it’s not an issue. The display supports automatic brightness adjustment and you can even make out the light sensor in the bezel above the display.

The major issue with the display currently is the lack of an always-on mode. The watch also turns off the touchscreen when the display is off, which means you can’t wake up the watch by tapping the screen. This means you have to either do the raise to wake gesture or press the side button to turn on the display.

The raise to wake gesture is hit or miss and usually misses subtle turns of the wrist. It will also occasionally just not turn the display off when you turn your wrist away. Sometimes you could just be walking and the display would randomly decide to turn on even without you raising your wrist.

But what bothered me the most was just the delay in turning the display on. Even when you do the gesture perfectly, there is almost a second-long delay before the display turns on. Pressing the side button instead does turn the display on quicker but it’s still not instant. It’s not the end of the world but it’s just salt in the wound when you are already missing an always-on display.

Software and UI

The Redmi Watch has a simple, easy-to-navigate UI. From the watch face homescreen, you can swipe down to access your recent notifications and swipe up to access a control center of sorts with some quick access buttons. Swiping sideways on the homescreen lets you cycle through the heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, weather, activity monitor, and music player functions.

Pressing the side buttons opens up the ‘app’ launcher, where you can access all the functions of the watch. Aside from the ones mentioned above, you can find things like breathing exercises, compass, barometer, alarm, countdown timer, stopwatch, flashlight (turns the screen white), and find my phone (makes your paired phone ring if still connected). Navigating through the UI is handled with simple taps and swipe back gestures, with the side button always taking you back to the watch face.

The UI isn’t very fluid and most of the time it doesn’t even feel like there’s any scrolling or transition animation as it just snaps back and forth between the current and next list of items. However, the UI is fairly snappy and responsive, so it doesn’t feel like a chore to use like on some of the fitness bands.

As you’d expect, you can have your phone’s notifications show up on the watch. You have to manually enable which apps can send notifications before you start seeing them. As we find with most of these implementations, the Redmi Watch does get notifications from the phone but it’s just a one-way street. This means that if you interact or dismiss the notification on the phone, the watch has no idea about it. The notifications on the watch have to be dismissed manually. Also, since there are no apps on the Redmi Watch, you can’t interact with any of the notifications on the watch itself in any way other than simply reading them.

Speaking of apps, the Redmi Watch makes no claims about being a smartwatch so the lack of any sort of third-party app support here isn’t a big issue. But at this price point, that’s not a major drawback.

To use the watch, you will need to install the Xiaomi Wear app on your phone, available on Android and iOS. The app handles all the watch duties, as well as collating all your fitness data. You can keep track of your step count, calories burnt, workout history, sleep tracking, heart rate, and also how long you’ve been standing. You can also choose to start workouts from within the app.


Xiaomi Wear app
Xiaomi Wear app
Xiaomi Wear app

Xiaomi Wear app

The Wear app is also where you can install additional watch faces from on the Redmi Watch. This is one area where Xiaomi has done some great work as the Redmi Watch comes with dozens upon dozens of watch faces. There are tons of fantastic looking options in here and this is easily one of the best sets of watch faces I’ve seen on any wearable so far.


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Watch faces

Unfortunately, the watch can only store five of them in memory, of which two cannot be deleted, so you’re down to just three custom slots. For most people, this may still be enough and when you’re just in the mood to try out all the watch faces, the Redmi Watch allows you to keep installing them while silently deleting older ones from the memory in the background rather than telling you you can’t install any more without manually deleting old ones first. This is a good approach and lets you mess around to your heart’s content before finally settling on to the design of your choice.

The watch faces can also support complications. However, it seems only one of the two permanent watch faces can do this. None of the other ones I tried allowed me to change any of the complications.

One major drag with changing watch faces is just how long it takes to transfer one to the watch. Most watch faces are under a megabyte but to transfer that one megabyte takes nearly 80 seconds. And during this time, the watch is unusable.

Getting back to the Xiaomi Wear app, I found it to be quite well-designed and easy to use. The app supports many more features than seen here but it’s limited by what the Redmi Watch supports.

Activity tracking

The Redmi Watch is a basic fitness tracker that can track certain workouts and also keep a track of basic vitals.

Starting with workouts, the Redmi Watch can be used to track outdoor running, treadmill running, outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, walking, trekking, trail run, pool swimming, open water swimming, cricket, and freestyle. Aside from just counting your steps automatically, the watch cannot actually detect a workout, so you have to activate it manually.


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Fitness features

Helping with the outdoor tracking is the built-in GPS. The GPS takes about 30 seconds or so to connect under an open sky but once connected it stays locked unless you move indoors. The built-in GPS also means you can just go out for a workout without your phone, assuming you can do without any mobile connectivity or even audio playback ability as the Redmi Watch has neither of those.

Also helping with the tracking is the heart rate monitor. The Redmi Watch does not have continuous HR tracking but you can choose from different intervals, the lowest one being one minute.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the activity tracking features on the Redmi Watch, as that’s more difficult to do than just strapping on another smartwatch. However, for my use case of just keeping a casual record of going out for a walk or a run, the Redmi Watch seemed to do just fine.

However, I can say with certainty that the sleep tracker on the Redmi Watch is just plain inaccurate. On most nights, I have one extended, continuous bout of sleep followed by a series of short naps until I finally wake up 7-8 hours later. The Redmi Watch routinely would just stop counting after I had my first continuous stretch, which meant it would usually just count about 4-5 hours of sleep every night and ignore the rest. It would then go on to give me a low score for my sleep, even though I was generally well-rested.

I had the watch on for several days at night during testing and it did this every night. There was also one night where it simply didn’t track my sleep at all as there was no data the next day. This meant that I simply cannot rely on the Redmi Watch to do any meaningful sleep tracking and I’m not even sure if this is just an issue with the watch or a YMMV situation.

One notable feature missing from the Redmi Watch is a blood oxygen saturation monitor. An awfully useful thing to have these days due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding us, the feature is conspicuous in its absence on the Redmi Watch, especially since even the cheaper OnePlus Band and Realme Watch have it.

Battery

The Redmi Watch has a claimed battery life of ten days, which was achieved with a fairly conservative usage at the default settings. I had my unit bumped up to check heart rate every five minutes, have a higher manual brightness level, longer screen on time, and used the GPS for about an hour every day. With these settings, I got about five days of battery life.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

Compared to a proper smartwatch that requires almost daily charging, five days is not too bad with relatively heavy use. You can also easily improve on that figure by turning down some of the settings. As such, I think the battery life is decent if unspectacular.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

The charger that comes in the box is also nicely designed like the watch. It stands sideways and the watch face is then perpendicular to the surface, making it ideal for use at the bedside. There is even a special screen that kicks in, which shows the time and battery in large font and sideways. Unfortunately, since there is no always-on display, this mode is somewhat useless unless you press the button on the side every time to see it.

Conclusion

The Redmi Watch is an attractive, well-designed watch with good material quality and finish. The large display, although not special on a technical level, helps it stand out among the sea of capsule-sized fitness band displays and also makes the Redmi Watch look like a regular watch, which may be important to some. The software is also simple and easy to navigate and comes with a ton of excellent watch faces.

Xiaomi Redmi Watch review

What the Redmi Watch isn’t is a good fitness tracker. The workouts it can track are limited, there’s no continuous heart rate tracking, and there’s also no blood oxygen saturation monitor. The sleep tracking is also a joke and not once did it work correctly for me.

Beyond that, the only real issue with the Redmi Watch for me is the lack of an always-on display or even a display that can be tapped to be woken up. It would have been nice to swap some of that battery life for an always-on display, at least as an option.

At INR 3,999 ($55), the Redmi Watch is an affordable way to get into the smart-ish watch segment. However, it is by no means the cheapest offering on the market, with the Realme Watch offering several more features at a lower price. If you prefer the aesthetics or just want something super affordable that works with an iPhone, then the Redmi Watch makes sense. Otherwise, the Realme Watch seems like the better option overall.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Lightweight, comfortable strap
  • Simple, easy to use UI
  • Tons of great watch faces
  • Built-in GPS
  • iOS support
  • Cleverly designed charger

Cons

  • Display lacks always-on mode; cannot be woken up by touch
  • Raise to wake gesture is slow and somewhat unreliable
  • Limited workouts supported
  • Inaccurate sleep tracking
  • No continuous heart rate monitoring option
  • No blood oxygen saturation monitoring
  • Watch faces take ages to transfer; can only be stored three at a time



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