Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, analysis and opinion

Xiaomi returns to charging with a new product oriented to sports monitoring. We analyze the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite the most affordable smartwatch

Xiaomi returns to charging with a new product-oriented to sports monitoring. We analyze the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite the most affordable smartwatch of the Chinese brand and give you our opinion.

Xiaomi broke the market for monitoring wristbands with the Mi Band, a device with limited – but sufficient – functions that offered sports and health monitoring with a price within reach of all pockets.

The Chinese brand has used the same approach for the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, the most affordable version of its 2021 Mi Watch– which we have already analyzed here – offering a very basic smartwatch but more than enough to monitor the daily and sports activity of any user.

Functional, lightweight, and with affordable materials

With a budget as tight as that proposed by Xiaomi in this model you can not expect a large deployment of premium materials or sophisticated designs. However, Xiaomi designers have once again done their magic by taking a smartwatch with a simple yet very functional design from the joker. Unlike the Mi Watch, the MiWatch Lite opts for a rectangular design of soft lines with dimensions of 41 x 35 x 10.9 mm and just 35 grams in weight.

Put on the wrist is a very discreet smartwatch that does not attract attention for its size or raucous design. For this analysis, Xiaomi has sent us the Mi Watch Lite in a black finish, but it is available in pink, ivory, navy blue, and olive green.

Its discreet design allows it to adapt to any type of dress style and is not limited only to the sports environment. Being a very light and not too bulky smartwatch, you literally forget that you wear it after a couple of hours of use.

If we examine it in more detail we find no trace of steel or aluminum, but we do find a box made of plastic that looks good quality in which a glass that predominates throughout the front ends in rounded edges and soft corners is set.

On the left edge, we find a single button with a metallic touch that allows you to activate the screen and access the functions of the watch.

We think Xiaomi's decision to place this button on the "external" side of the watch and not on the opposite side is very right as it makes it more accessible to see the information during training or in the day-to-day when, for example, the watch is partially covered with the sleeve of the jacket or shirt.

If we turn it around we find a base with soft shapes that explains the comfort when using it. We don't have hard edges or edges that get keyed on the wrist.

It highlights the presence of the optical sensor area, located in a small lump in the center of the box, under which the charging contacts are located.

The Mi Watch Lite strap is 22 mm and is made of silicone that is very reminiscent of the one used in Mi Band bracelets. They allow being replaced by an anchoring system that, although in theory should be simple, in practice is much more expensive.

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Instead of opting for the fast pin system that is being imposed on most smartwatches, Xiaomi has opted for an exclusive anchoring system for this button-based model that, when pressed, releases the wristband for replacement.

The reality is that the button offers too much resistance as pressing it without the help of some tool that allows releasing the strap. However, to reassemble the strap, simply insert it into place and press until you hear the "click" indicating its anchor to the box.

The belt fastening system does not innovate too much and bets on the traditional buckle, pin, and belt closure system to prevent accidental unbuttoning.

Good resolution, correct brightness, and confusing tactile response

The screen grabs the entire front of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, or at least that's what it looks like by taking a quick look at a screen whose dial features an intentional black base color.

If you look in more detail or use a different sphere, the frames make an appearance reducing the useful screen space. It is a 1.40 inch LCD touch screen and a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels.

This leaves a density of 323 dpi causing the screen to display a very good definition and pixels in texts and graphics are not appreciated. The truth is that, except for the intensity of the colors and the depth of the blacks, the screen of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite does not show many differences from those of other models that mount AMOLED panels.

Brightness is one of the aspects where you do appreciate the clipping in screen technology. It is not a bad brightness because its 350 nits allow correct visibility even outdoors in full light thanks to the sensor integrated into the frame of the screen that adjusts the brightness of the screen according to the ambient light.

In these bright scenarios, it is where you most see the seams of this model because it can not offer the intensity of colors that other models that, all are said, also double or triple their price.

The Xiaomi watch does not have an always active screen mode as we do find on the MI Watch due to the change of screen technology, but it does have a mode that activates the screen only when you make the gesture of looking at the clock. This gesture works really well on the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite and has recognized the gesture on almost every occasion.

Those of us who have tried some smartwatches know that this gesture recognition is very useful in everyday life, but at night it can be annoying when, when you move, suddenly the screen lights up.

That's why the Mi Watch Lite includes a Do Not Disturb mode similar to mobiles: That way, from a certain time, the synchronization of notifications and screen motion activation is blocked so that nothing bothers you while you sleep.

Touch sensitivity is somewhat strange because, for example when switching between menus, there is no immediate response in the form of a transition, but when completing the gesture the change occurs, creating some confusion for not knowing if you are recognizing the gesture.

In terms of watch customization, Xiaomi announces the availability of more than 100 different spheres to give a personal touch to the aesthetics of the smartwatch.

The truth is that this data is not entirely accurate since among those 100 spheres many of them that are color variations of the same design should be discarded. Even so, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite allows you to download up to 5 dials directly to the watch to exchange them quickly without having to configure it from your smartphone.

Later we will detail how these interchangeable spheres are managed from the control app installed on the smartphone.

Limited functions in a rather austere system

At the beginning of this analysis, we mentioned that the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite came to be located between the Mi Band 5 and the Mi Watch Lite. The operating system is certainly the section in which this statement makes the most sense. At the system and feature level, the Mi Watch Lite is a Mi Band 5 with more screen.

The touch integration of the display works the same way as on the Mi Watch. Simply swipe right or left from the main sphere of your smartwatch to access the various carousel-shaped widgets that you can customize from the control app installed on your mobile.

That way, swiping the screen to the left reaches the heart rate widget, which displays the average values and the last reading; to the sleep monitoring widget, weather forecast, calorie consumption or music playback controls to finish again on the main sphere that displays different information depending on your design.

By swiping down the screen, you access the notification area where you can see the last received ones. This is a point that has generated mixed sensations since we have loved that the notification allows us to read the whole message that, for example, you receive from a messaging app or Twitter, and not just the first words forcing you to take your mobile to read the full sentence.

The notification displays a portion of the text and clicks on it displays the contents of the entire message. Emojis resist you and are only able to represent some of them, while others are displayed as strange signs.

In return, we find ourselves unable to respond from the smartwatch to the messages that are received. It doesn't even allow you to answer them using predefined responses or emojis as in other models.

Notifications include incoming call alerts but, since the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite does not have a microphone or speaker from which to answer, the only options it displays are to mute or reject the call.

Swiping up shows the quick access area from which, by tapping on the different icons, you can turn Do not disturb mode on or off, activate the screen by gestures, lock, and even turn the screen on as a flashlight with a single tap.

My Watch Lite
Size41 x 35 x 10.9 mm
Weight35 grams
PanelTFT LCD | 1.40" | Resolution of 320 x 320 pixels | 350 nits
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.1 | GPS, A-GPS, and GLONASS
SensorsAccelerometer | Gyroscope | Heart rate sensor | Sleep measurement | Breathing control | Barometer | Compass
ProtectionResistance 5 AMT
Supported operating systems and devicesFrom iOS 10 | From Android 5.0

And the physical button, what's it for? In addition to waking up the screen, the only function of this physical button is to display the app drawer represented by icons in the form of two groups of nine tiles. The same one that we found in its older brother the Xiaomi Mi Watch.

In this case, you also don't have an app store from which you can install additional apps or uninstall existing ones, so you'll need to settle for apps pre-installed from day one with no options to install third-party apps like Spotify.

In the first position stands out the Training icon from which you can access the 11 sports disciplines that this device monitors among which are outdoor running, treadmill, outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, walking, hiking, track running, swimming in swimming pool, open water swimming, cricket, and freestyle.

As a curious note say that when you start any of the swimming activities the touchpad is disabled to prevent the water from generating false pulsations.

Although the variety of sports allows covering the basic needs of runners and gym activities under the umbrella of freestyle mode, they miss very popular physical activities.

Absences such as different fitness disciplines, team sports such as football or basketball, and, on the other hand, bet on a sport like cricket that may triumph in India, but not for these latitudes.

Unlike what we find in widgets when opening monitoring apps like heart rate we do find more extensive and detailed information, not a single relevant data as in widgets.

In general, it is a fairly austere system in aesthetics and functionalities for a smartwatch but that, as in the Mi Band 5, covers the basic needs of those users who do not need professional monitoring of their physical activity but only want to start living a more active and healthy life.

Xiaomi Wear, the new Mi Fit for smartwatches

For years Mi Fit has been the reference app for Xiaomi's sports and health monitoring devices.

However, that is changing with the advent of the Mi Watch and Xiaomi Wear series of smartwatches (Xiaomi Wear Lite in the case of iOS) has become the control center of the Chinese brand's sports devices.

The app stands out for its simplicity of options and graphically displays the data collected by the smartwatch in the form of themed cards. Clicking on one of them starts to drill down into the data by getting more details.

Tapping on the Training card displays the data for each of the recorded physical activities and, if it has been outdoors, shows the route by which the training has elapsed on a map divided into numbered sections.

Under this map, all the telemetry of the workouts is decreased with data such as the pace in each of the sections, the cadence, the unevenness, or the heart rate.

The sleep card shows the metrics related to rest, indicating the hours of sleep and the time runs in which the different phases of sleep have been distributed. Also, taking all these values into account, the app values the quality of rest.

The app also allows you to use the sensors of the mobile to record the activity, but the data are not as accurate as those obtained by the watch among other things because they do not have vital constant sensors.

In addition to all these graphical representation functions of the data collected in each training, Xiaomi Wear fulfills the function of the control panel of the smartwatch, allowing it to install on the watch the different spheres available or customize which widgets and in what order the carousel widgets are displayed.

Basic monitoring to get in shape

The Mi Band surprised their own and strangers with a range of sensors and functions that met the basic needs for a very affordable price.

The Mi Watch Lite we are analyzing follows those same guidelines by offering a monitoring system that allows us to know the main data to start living a more active life and correct bad habits harmful to health.

We found a heart rate sensor and the combination of an accelerometer and a gyroscope. By combining the data obtained from these sensors, the Mi Watch Lite allows quantifying the performance and efficiency of the workouts, even if they consist of walking at a good pace.

The main incentive concerning Xiaomi sports bracelets is found in GPS connectivity that allows to position the user on a map and records the route of training.

This positioning data is also combined with other data such as altitude, speed, or heart rate to provide a much more accurate assessment of the efficiency of physical activities.

GPS is automatically activated when selecting an outdoor activity, such as walking, running, hiking, etc., and its accuracy is quite accurate in terms of height data and vital signs, but not so much as positioning on the map, which suffers a slight deviation when showing the routes on the map.

We would have liked the Mi Watch Lite to automatically detect physical activities at the beginning, just like other smartwatches do. This is a feature that is not available in this model and it will be necessary to activate activity monitoring from the Training icon or the app installed on the smartphone.

When it comes to accuracy in step counting, we have found slight differences when compared to data recorded by other more expensive and specialized smartwatches such as Fitbit sense – which we analyzed here – or the Huawei Watch GT 2e – which we analyzed here.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite has counted an average of 200 steps less in each activity. According to Xiaomi, this has an explanation since what the watch shows are not steps in itself, but "valid steps inactivity".

Actually, the counting system uses an algorithm that filters movements and overrides nonconsecutive steps. That is, if you walk two steps and stop, those two steps will not be counted as part of the activity but as an offset of the same position.

This is something that, for example, can happen while cooking and moving one step to the right or left to catch ingredients, but it doesn't involve walking or doing a sporting activity.

Rest is also part of a healthy life and it's important to monitor it. The sleep measurement sensor allows to capture the different phases of sleep based on movement and recorded heart rate, being quite accurate in the detection of rest hours.

The Mi Watch Lite does not have advanced sensors such as ECG (electrocardiogram), Sp02 (blood oxygen), thus limiting access to native functions on other Xiaomi smartwatches such as energy measurements, stress, or the PAI value that quantifies fitness.

Xiaomi should take a little more care of the detail in aspects that would also not imply a cost for the Mi Watch Lite, as is the section of the software. An example is the music playback control function built into the watch, which allows you to pause or advance the audio being played from your smartphone.

This feature works perfectly while the smartwatch is not recording any physical activity, but when starting a sports activity, which is precisely when it is most useful to not have to use the smartphone, it crashes and does not allow you to stop the audio or go from the song.

6 days of actual use with moderate USE of GPS

Another section in which the Mi Watch Lite stands out is in the autonomy section. Xiaomi announces a duration of up to nine days of use thanks to its 230 mAh battery.

Brands often get this data based on scenarios that rarely happen in the usual use of the device, but we have found that in this case, you don't have to juggle to achieve that autonomy.

Talking about battery life on these devices is very complicated because they influence aspects such as the number, type, and duration of weekly workouts or physical activities, device screen settings, number of notifications received, etc.

In our personal use, we have not reached those nine promised days of use. We set the Mi Watch Lite to receive notifications from some moderately used messaging apps, set several alarms, and adjusted the screen activation to turn on when you gestured to look at the time with the auto-brightness adjustment.

Also, we do an average of four weekly outdoor physical activities with GPS positioning. The result was six days of actual use and we need to load it towards the end of the sixth day or the first hour of the seventh.

That battery life could have been stretched without too many complications until the eight or nine days promised by Xiaomi limiting the number of notifications received or being more restrictive with some functions.

However, we believe that the smartwatch is already limited enough not to enjoy all its functions in exchange for a remarkable six days of autonomy.

When it's time to recover the load, the Mi Watch Lite has spent 43 minutes reaching 50% of its load, and 90 minutes to reach up to 100% of its capacity.

The charger used by Xiaomi's new smartwatch consists of a base on which the watch fits by matching the base connectors with those on the back of the watch, while the opposite end is connected to a USB type A.

Smartwatch on the outside, monitoring wristband on the inside

Once the necessary tests to this Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite are finished it is time to draw our own conclusions about it.

The truth is that we were not too wrong with our first perception in thinking that it was going to offer an experience quite close to the one I personally had until a few months ago with the Mi Band 5.

Except for highlights such as GPS or the convenience of reading notifications on a wider screen, both devices share more similarities than differences.

Obviously aesthetically this Mi Watch Lite offers a better presence on the wrist for those who prefer to wear a watch instead of a narrow bracelet. However, the absence of increasingly common functions on smartwatches such as the pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen levels, or the ECG sensor pushes this model away from the standards in equipment you would expect from a smartwatch.

The limited functions of this smartwatch do not imply that the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite lacks interest for many users looking for a device that motivates them and helps them get started in the practice of some sporting activity to lead a healthier life without having to overpay for functions that they most likely don't need in their first workouts.

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