Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: What can the affordable smartwatch do and what differentiates it from the more expensive Redmi Watch
Case and Equipment – A smartwatch with a TFT display
The almost similarly named wearables already differ visually in the shape of their case. While the Mi Watch is round, the Mi Watch Light uses the square design of the Apple Watch. Both smartwatches are waterproof up to 5 ATM, so that you don't have to take them off for taking a shower or going for a swim.
At 21 g (~0.7 oz; without the band) the Mi Watch Lite does justice to its name, at least in terms of its weight. The plastic case with the color-matching band is available in black, ivory, and navy-blue colors. Bands in pink and olive green color are also available as a separate accessory.
Instead of the AMOLED display of the Mi Watch, the Mi Watch Lite uses a TFT display, which also lacks an always-on mode. When you lift your arm, it takes a brief moment until the black screen shows a watch face. Xiaomi has equipped the affordable wearable with a brightness sensor, allowing you to also read it outside without having to manually adjust it. A disadvantage of the TFT is that the dark background is also illuminated when doing that, so that the large bezel around the watch face can become visible, thereby reducing the overall visual appeal. In both watches, the full area of the touch display is sensitive to touch. The Mi Watch Lite has one button, the Redmi Watch, two.
While Xiaomi has equipped both watches with GPS, in addition to GPS and GLONASS, the higher-quality GPS chip in the round watch also communicates with Galileo and Beidou. Furthermore, the Mi Watch Lite lacks the voice assistant and also does not measure the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2).
Setup and Operation – A slow touchscreen
We tested the Mi Watch Lite with an iPhone 12 Pro as well as a Honor V20. On the iPhone, you install the Xiaomi Wear Lite app and under Android, the Xiaomi Wear app. Changing between the two succeeded relatively trouble free and without any loss of data, by resetting the Bluetooth connection on the Mi Watch.
You can get additional watch faces from the app, if you like. Since not all manufacturers also connect the iPhone app with the web store, we also want to note here, that you can get the watch faces also from the Apple phone. According to Xiaomi, for many of the total of 120 watch faces the detail screens are also configurable, optionally opening health statistics, weather info, or a remote control for the smartphone player. Here as well, Xiaomi does not exclude the iPhone, as is the case for the wearables from Honor and Huawei. We tried the remote control with Apple's native music app and Spotify. In both, it is able to pause the music, change to the next song, and control the volume.
For the player remote, there is also a widget, which appears when swiping horizontally across the touchscreen. Additional widgets show the weather info, the current activity, last night's sleep quality, or the heart rate. In addition, several tools such as a flashlight, compass, and barometer are installed on the smartwatch. The touchscreen responds sluggishly to swipe gestures, reminding us that this is a low budget wearable.
Call Functions and Notifications
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite signals incoming calls including the caller identification (optional for Android) and also allows you to reject the call. In the notification settings, the iPhone app only differentiates between the call notification and all the others, while you can activate it separately for each app under Android.
The already mentioned sluggish response of the touch screen is of course also noticeable when flipping through the notifications. Xiaomi displays Emojis based on the OpenMoji library. During the period of our testing, there were still many gaps where only the question mark icon was displayed instead of the Emoji.
Health and Fitness – GPS route tracking
The fitness tracker records your daily movements, comparing them to the target amount of steps that you set for yourself. In addition, it determines the amount of calories used, and if you also wear it at night, a sleep index. You can view the statistics on your wrist, as well as on the app, which displays a daily, weekly, or monthly comparison.
The power nap in the afternoon remains unreported by the Mi Watch Lite, since it only registers sleep phases between the evening and morning, and that only if they are longer than two hours. Xiaomi reserves the blood oxygen saturation, which is measured by an increasing number of wearables to recognize possible sleep apnea, to the more expensive Mi Watch.
Heart Rate, Heart Rhythm, and Blood Oxygen Saturation
Unless you shorten the measurement interval for the heart rate to 10, 5, or 1 minute, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite measures it every half hour. In addition, you can also trigger the measurement manually at a suitable time to get the resting heart rate that otherwise is not reported by the smartwatch. If you specify a top limit in the setting, there is supposed to be an alarm when it is exceeded.
Recording of Trainings
The Training app measures the heart rate at shorter intervals and displays it in the Training screen. Only in the sense of showing an increasing trend, did the measurements of the Mi Watch Light correspond to those from a chest belt that recorded in parallel for comparison. Not only limping behind, the measurements deviated by 10 beats per minute several times. Within the normal range, the minimum, maximum, and average heart rates did not deviate significantly from the daily values recorded by another tracker in parallel.
With just 11 training modes, the amount pales compared to the more than 100 types of sports of the Mi Watch. On the other hand, the Mi Watch Lite has GPS, which is more than many other affordable – and even more expensive – sport trackers offer. While some users complain about errors in the route recordings on the Internet, our test unit is characterized by a high accuracy. Separate from the smartphone, the Mi Watch recorded the distance correctly, and correspondingly also determined the same speed as a second tracker we took with us. With Apple, the Mi Watch Lite can optionally also be synchronized with Apple Health.
The 230-mAh battery lasts for a long time. Xiaomi specifies about 9 days and in sport mode with continuous GPS usage, 10 hours. Xiaomi defines the long-term scenario as two half-hour long training sessions with GPS, a permanently activated step counter, and measuring the heart rate at half-hour intervals. Per day, Xiaomi transfers the considerable amount of 100 notifications and activates the display 50 times to show the time.
In our practical test, it was about 20 notifications per day, and the functions for health monitoring including sleep tracking were also activated. The smartwatch automatically controlled the display, while the light indoors was limited corresponding to the current season in our test. After 3 days, the battery capacity dropped to 75%, and after 5 days, to 41%. According to the manufacturer, it takes 2 hours to fully recharge the smartwatch.
While at this point, you can often find the offered amount of functions and a long battery life in other affordable wearables as well, GPS and automatic brightness control have not been established in the lower price range yet.
In the affordable price class of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, GPS is currently still rare.
The affordable smartwatch is only recommended to a limited extent as a sport tracker, since the 11 sport modes cover hardly more than running, biking, or swimming, either indoors or outdoors, in a pool or lake respectively. The Mi Watch Lite reports all the other workouts such as rowing machine, HIIT, aerobic exercise, or Yoga as Free Training.
In practice, the watch faces scored with details that can be configured individually. However, while you can quickly get to the weather or bring up the player remote, the touch screen responds sluggishly. Here, we expect more from Xiaomi's well-rounded Mi Watch, which comes out ahead of the Mi Watch Lite in several regards but is also twice as expensive, according to the recommended retail price.
Price and Availability
During the time of our test, an affordable offer for the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite in black came from Amazon (Germany) for about 49 Euros (~$59; available for the global market starting from about $50). The ivory or navy-blue versions are more expensive.