When it comes to the best smartwatches, the Apple Watch has been the undisputed king for quite some time. It's not without criticism though – many users are displeased with short battery life and a lack of cross-platform functionality.
The stage is set for a smartwatch that is reasonably priced, with great health-tracking and connectivity, to come in and steal users away from Apple's dominance. Enter the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Price
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro was released on the 26th of February 2023 at MWC in Barcelona. The watch costs £299 in the UK.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Features and Design
Straight out of the box, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro just oozes style. The stainless steel case uses a combination of brushing and polishing to distinguish between sides, and the result is a sumptuous blend of bright and muted hues. On the right hand side, a digital crown and a button at the two and four o'clock positions are the only appointments.
At 46mm it's on the larger side, but it should be manageable for most people. That wearability is aided by a 52mm lug-to-lug width, which makes it wear like a smaller timepiece.
My review unit came with the black fluororubber strap and I've been pleasantly surprised by it. It's much thinner than the Apple Watch straps, which makes it incredibly comfortable. I've barely noticed mine, even with it worn more tightly than I usually would.
The 1.47-inch AMOLED display is covered with sapphire crystal, and looks superb. Colours are vivid and defined, and motion is accurately portrayed. There's 600 nits of peak brightness on offer, which is pretty good, although I did struggle to make out some aspects in bright light.
Inside, a 500mAh battery keeps things charged, and is rated for up to 14 days of use (more on battery life later on). Other sensors include a heart rate sensor for SPO2 monitoring, a temperature sensor, a three-axis accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope, and more. Safe to say, if you're looking for health insights, the Xiaomi has you covered.
The user interface will be familiar to users of Xiaomi smartphones. There's an overall cartoonish feel, which wont appeal to some people, but it's fine, and very easy to navigate. That being said, a couple of the app icons are a little ambiguous, so you might need to hunt for the right thing until you get more familiar.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Watch Faces
One of the most crucial parts of any smartwatch is the watch face. It's the part you interact with first, and can be used to define your style. Fortunately, the Xiaomi has a wide range of options to choose from – over 100 in fact.
I've added images of a few of my personal favourites above. Users have options which mimic traditional timepieces, like the moonphase dial which comes as the default, right through to information dense dials that are perfect for stat lovers.
Details on the dials are fantastic. Things like shadowing to give the appearance of height are really nice touches that give the face a 3D quality. For me, the default moonphase dial was a real standout. Utilising the side dials as a step counter and a battery level indicator is a great way of incorporating the older design with more modern use.
However, I do have one gripe with the watch faces, and that's the ticking seconds hand. Maybe I'm being too picky, but it really makes the watch feel less premium than it is. I think I know why they've done it – one movement per second should allow for a 1Hz refresh rate, which would save battery – but I'd like the option to sacrifice that saving to have the nicer looking movement.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Fitness Features
Fitness tracking is one of the core reasons people buy a smartwatch. Users can track everything from their running route to their resting heart rate, and see all of the data in real time.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro is more than capable on that front, with over 100 different sports activities built into the watch. There are also ten different kinds of running courses built in. These work like a kind of personal trainer on your wrist, with different levels of activity in different intervals, to achieve a set workout.
Once you complete a workout, the watch gives you a wide range of different metrics related to how you performed. This includes things like heart rate, cadence, elevation and more. All of the data can also be viewed in the Mi Fitness app.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Battery Life
For most people, the battery life of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro will be one of most enticing features. It's rated for up to 14 days of life from a single charge – leaps and bounds ahead of some of the competition.
In practice, I found that the battery dropped around 20% per day, giving around five days of use. That was with all of the health trackers running constantly, the always-on display turned on all-day, and doing a couple of workouts each day. I have no doubt that turning off some of these more power hungry features would increase performance, and yield even better results.
When the time came to recharge, the Xiaomi was equally impressive. A full 0-100% charge took around an hour, beating the performance listed by Xiaomi themselves. That's a really rapid charge time and should inspire an extra degree of confidence in users.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: Verdict
There's no doubt, this is a good smartwatch. If you need something that can accurately monitor health data, is comfortable to wear all day long, and will keep going like the Duracell bunny, it could be a great option.
The lack of a common OS does lets it down a little though, with no option to add external applications to the device. That won't bother some people, but it will put others off and does limit you if you need a watch to handle other tasks.