Xiaomi has officially revealed the Mi Watch in China – but while we wait for a global release – it looks like its first smartwatch is a serious alternative to Apple and Samsung devices.
The Mi Watch becomes the first smartwatch to receive the Mi branding, following the company’s popular line of Mi Band fitness trackers, and will launch with LTE, GPS and a sub £200 price tag.
What’s more, the Mi Watch has received its first update – with iOS support added to the mix, alongside the launch of an app for Apple devices.
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As rumored, the Mi Watch runs on Wear OS – though not quite as we’ve come to know.
Instead of the typical, closed version of the software present on an army of watches from Google’s partners, Xiaomi has built a custom platform, called MIUI for Watch, based on the smartwatch software. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen a skinned version of Google’s platform.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Xiaomi Mi Watch.
Update: This article was originally written on 5 November when the Mi Watch was unveiled. We’ve updated it to offer more details about Mi Watch – and to include information on a recent update regarding iOS support.
Quick look: Xiaomi Mi Watch specs
- 1.78-inch AMOLED display
- 44mm case size
- 410 x 410 display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
- Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
- 8GB memory
- Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer
In terms of design, the watch features a 44mm square face, with a 1.78-inch AMOLED display pumping out a resolution of 410 x 410 pixels and a pixel density of 326 pixels-per-inch.
At first glance, the Mi Watch screams of an Apple Watch imitation – which is something of a modus operandi for Xiaomi.
Not only does it have the same square display as Apple’s smartwatch, but it also shares the same crown, button, speaker and mic placement, as well as the curved edges.
And as you can see below, many of the watch faces themselves are pretty close copies of Apple ones too.
Yes the design is boxier but still uses an aluminum finish – just like the entry-level Apple Watch. It’s available in both silver and black finishes.
Internally, the smartwatch is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 platform – the latest version of its processor, though an upgraded Snapdragon 3300 version has recently been rumored.
And it has a lot to power, too, with LTE available for music streaming and voice calls when you’re not connected over Bluetooth to a phone, joining Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS for location tracking and NFC for contactless payments.
There’s a quad core processor on board that should be enough to keep things speedy, and 8GB of storage, which is pretty typical across the smartwatch world. That should offer plenty of room to store music.
Being a Wear OS smartwatch you’re getting pretty much the standard set of smartwatch notifications, alerts and apps.
The Mi Watch’s software, as we mentioned, will essentially be a personalized skin of Wear OS called MiUI for Watch. This is a first itself – and has been designed to enable stripped-down versions of Xiaomi apps, like Mi Home, Tasks and Maps.
It’s not clear whether the watch will support current Wear OS apps when it lands in the West.
That’s new territory for Google, which has previously clamped down on brands forking its smartwatch OS. But with the market now moving quickly away from Google technology – it seems like something of a gamble from Google to help Xiaomi use its OS to aggressively corner some market share.
However, there’s more here than meets the eye.
Firstbeat has been called upon to license its technology for VO2 Max and heart rate analytics during sport. It’s the same algorithms that Garmin uses – and takes advantage of the Mi Watch’s heart rate sensor and GPS chip.
That means there should be some decent workout features to take advantage of – and body energy measurement is listed amongst the features, which should be similar to Garmin’s body battery measurement.
There’s a blood ox sensor on board too and the Mi Watch gets one up on Apple by including sleep tracking. However, it’s not clear whether the pulse ox sensor will add data to the sleep tracking features, as we’ve seen on Garmin devices.
Despite its similarities to the Apple Watch, it actually manages to outlast the device in the battery life department –at least on paper.
Xiaomi claims the Mi Watch will manage 36 hours of continuous use, even with LTE enabled, thanks to its 570 mAh battery packed inside.
Price and availability
We’ll be testing that claim during our full review, but, at least for now, the Mi Watch will remain exclusive to China and release on 11 November for CNY 1,299. That translates to roughly £145.
At those prices it seems like a compelling purchase – although Apple has really killed off some of the hype by reducing its Series 3 smartwatch to £199.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch is currently available on Gearbest for around £200, but there’s no English version of the app yet so we’d certainly wait for proper support. This is the same pattern we saw with the Xiaomi Mi Band – which eventually cornered a huge market share with low prices.
Xiaomi has said that the Mi Watch won’t land outside of China officially until 2020 – but we wouldn’t imagine it will wait too long.