Xiaomi Watch S1 review: Looking smart - MrLiambi's blog


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Saturday, 1 October 2022

Xiaomi Watch S1 review: Looking smart

The Xiaomi Watch S1 is a smartwatch that aspires to be a watch you can wear on formal occasions and can still keep it on when you're mountain climbing your way through a HIIT session.

The S1 sits at a price that sees it vying for a place on your wrist against the likes of the Fitbit Versa 3. It works with Android phones and iPhones, offering features like accurate outdoor tracking, 24/7 heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, NFC payments and Amazon Alexa.

Xiaomi wants to prove you don't have to spend big to get a great smartwatch, so does it deliver? 

Xiaomi Watch S1: Design and display

  • 46mm stainless steel case
  • 1.43-inch AMOLED display
  • Leather or fluororubber straps
  • 5ATM water resistant rating

The Watch S1 offers a 46mm case that measures in at 11mm thick and comes with the option of either a black or silver stainless steel case. The good news is that Xiaomi offers both colour versions with the choice of leather and fluororubber straps, so you can swap them in and out when you need to exercise or smarten up.

Xiaomi plants a good-sized 1.43-inch, 466 x 466 AMOLED display with Sapphire glass layered on top to up things on the durability front, while two physical buttons sit on the side of the case. The screen is great quality, responsive to touch and holds up well for visibility in bright outdoor light and you can set it to use it in an always-on mode.

A simple black bezel surrounds that display to give it the feel of a more classic watch and meets the screen to create a more unified look. If you want something that looks more sporty, then the Watch S1 Active replaces the black metal case with a lighter, glass fibre-reinforced polymide. 

Around the back is where you'll find the sensors that take care of the tracking, so there's an optical heart rate sensor that can also deliver blood oxygen data. That's also where you'll clip on the proprietary charging cradle, which supports wireless charging.

As a package, the Watch S1 comes with a 5ATM water resistant rating, which means you can dunk this in water up to 50 metres depth and it will survive to keep telling you the time and tracking your health and fitness stats.

When you consider the price, the Xiaomi offers high-quality materials, a strong screen and it's good to see it has included two straps here as well. Is it the best-looking smartwatch? No, but it's a look that will work for many. 

Xiaomi Watch S1:  Fitness tracking and smartwatch features

  • 117 workout modes
  • Dual-band multi-system GPS
  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring
  • Amazon Alexa

The Watch S1 has all of the key things you'd hope to find on a smartwatch that promises to be your ideal fitness companion. There's the sensors you'd expect to find, plentiful workout profiles and using those features is nice and easy to do on this watch. Just hit the bottom Sport physical button and you're into that workout tracking screen.

In terms of sports tracking, Xiaomi covers 117 workout modes with 19 of those ultimately giving you richer stats during and post-activity.  So that's things like running, cycling, pool and open water swimming and grabbing the skipping rope.

For outdoor fitness pursuits, you're getting dual-band, multi-system GPS, which can tap into the five major satellite systems to improve accuracy on runs and rides. In reality, it wasn't the most accurate when tracking distance, though it coped better than a lot of watches when running near tall buildings, which can impact on getting a strong tracking signal. Heart-rate accuracy was solid outside of putting it to the high-intensity test where most optical sensors falter.

Switching to activity tracking and you're getting something that captures step counts, heart rate, stress, blood oxygen levels and sleep. Step counts and sleep data were roughly in line with the Fitbit, Garmin watches and Oura Ring 3 we tested it against. It was a bit more disappointing on the continuous heart-rate monitoring front, where BPM readings were very high in comparison to other heart rate monitors. That casts doubt on the reliability of the heart rate variability-powered stress tracking, while blood oxygen monitoring seemed reliable but not all that insightful.

As a smartwatch, the Watch S1 does tick the key boxes of offering notifications, music controls, a nice array of watch faces and it also supports Bluetooth calling. There's some big extras here like NFC payments, access to a small collection of what we'd call mini-apps and you've also got Amazon Alexa integration here as well.

Those core features work well. You can't respond to notifications, but they're easy to read and absorb when you glance down at them. The music controls work fine too and if you want to take calls from your wrist with your phone nearby, you can. The big extras are more of a mix bag. We struggled to set up the NFC payment support and the app support isn't mindblowing, though the Alexa support did work without issues in our testing.

Xiaomi Watch S1: Battery life

  • 12 days in typical use
  • 24 days in power saving mode
  • Uses wireless charging dock

Xiaomi talks about some big battery numbers here. On paper, this is a smartwatch that can go almost two weeks without dropping it onto its wireless charging cradle. That is only if you use it in what Xiaomi deems as a typical usage mode.

What is typical usage mode? Well, this is based on Xiaomi's own lab testing and means using the watch to track heart rate all day, doing 30 minutes of Bluetooth phone calls and tracking two 30-minute GPS workouts a week among other things.

In our testing, it was a mixture of typical and heavy use and we found it lasted a week, even with more time spent using the GPS and having notifications firing on a regular basis. If you switch on features like tracking blood oxygen continuously and using the screen in an always-on mode, those features will sap the battery quicker.

There's additionally a power-saving mode you can enable, which will give you just short of a month of battery life. That does mean you have to live without heart rate and stress tracking and not track any exercise using the GPS - a pretty limiting smartwatch life to enjoy that extra battery.

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/smartwatches/reviews/xiaomi/162831-xiaomi-watch-s1-review-looking-smart

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