The best smartwatches can broadly be split into two camps. On one side, we have the Apple Watch – tethered to iPhone users, but vastly popular nonetheless. On the other, we have watches powered by Google's Wear OS platform – generally Android phone users, although models with Wear OS are often more accessible.
That binary setup hasn't stopped manufacturers from trying to use their own proprietary systems though. I've recently been using the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro, which uses Xiaomi's MIUI Watch OS, for example.
The S1 Pro is a fantastic smartwatch, but it does fall just short of being an absolute standout due to the limitations of the operating system. It might not be a problem for some, but the lack of third-party apps does feel restrictive – particularly if you're used to an Apple Watch, or the like.
That might not be an issue much longer, though. According to 9to5Google (opens in new tab), Xiaomi are working on another watch release, which would run on Wear OS 3. Details are relatively light, but the report suggests it would continue to use the Mi Fitness app to connect with your phone, but change out the MIUI OS for Google's alternative.
It's a really exciting prospect. One of my biggest gripes with other smartwatches is the dreadful battery life, which seems to have become a very unwelcome industry standard. Xiaomi seem to have bucked this trend, and while there's no telling how the move to Wear OS would affect that, I'm hopeful that any release would keep at least some of the longevity of other Xiaomi watches.
If it can – and I appreciate, that is a big if – we could be looking at the best smartwatch on the market. Models like the Apple Watch Series 8 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 have won over fans for their ease of use and interconnectivity, but they really do fall apart at the seams when it comes to battery life. Put a similar feature set in a watch that can keep going like the Duracell bunny? No brainer.
There's no word on exactly when this release can be expected, but the report did say it was expected in 2023.