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Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: Basic, but all-around good
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
What we like
What we don't like
Xiaomi devices are popular because they’re good and affordable. That is true for the company’s smartphones and fitness trackers, and it’s starting to be the case for its smartwatches, too.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a basic smartwatch with a surprising amount of fitness features. If you’re wondering if you should spend your money on this ultra-cheap smartwatch, read our full Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review.
Update, July 2021: We have updated our Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review with details on software updates and new pricing options.
What you need to know about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is yet another ultra-cheap smartwatch from the Chinese brand. It only costs €50 (~$60), slotting it in nicely between Xiaomi’s popular Mi Band line and the recently released Xiaomi Mi Watch. Eagle-eyed fans might also recognize it as a rebranded Redmi Watch.
Although it has a traditional smartwatch form factor, it’s best to think of the Mi Watch Lite simply as a Mi Band with a larger screen. There are important differences between the two, but its focus is on fitness, not smartwatch features.
What I like about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
Plenty of sport modes and fitness features
One would expect a €50 smartwatch to make some sacrifices in hardware. While that’s certainly true for the Mi Watch Lite, it comes with a surprisingly good spec sheet for the price.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite has built-in GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, and a 5ATM water resistance rating. We’ll talk accuracy in a second, but the fact that it has onboard GPS+GLONASS (not connected GPS) is great news for runners.
See also: The best smartwatches you can buy
It can also track a variety of sport modes. Those include outdoor running, treadmill, trail running, indoor and outdoor cycling, walking, open water swimming, pool swimming, cricket, hiking, and freestyle workouts.
The Mi Watch Lite’s GPS is about as accurate as that of the Mi Watch. That is to say, it’s okay, not great. On numerous outdoor runs, the Mi Watch showed me running through rivers and on the other side of the street, even with little cloud and tree coverage. It was surprisingly more accurate than my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro in some areas, but not by much.
The Mi Watch Lite’s heart rate sensor can monitor your heart rate all day in 30, 10, 5, or 1-minute increments or with manual spot-checks throughout the day. It can also alert you if your heart rate goes above a normal level during inactivity.
The Mi Watch Lite’s heart rate sensor has been quite accurate in my testing. See below for a four-mile treadmill run:
Throughout multiple points in the run, the Mi Watch Lite was able to keep up exactly with the Wahoo Tickr X chest strap and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. All three devices matched up in the peaks of high heart rate periods, and again in the big valley midway through the run.
It’s not perfect, however. The Xiaomi Wear app smooths the data too much for my liking and doesn’t allow for data exports. Nevertheless, it’s an all-around good heart rate sensor.
Also read: The best fitness trackers you can buy
Battery life and the charger
Xiaomi says the Mi Watch Lite can last up to nine days on a single charge. My testing shows that claim is accurate.
I’ve been using the watch every day for sleep tracking, notifications, and a handful of workouts each week. Currently, I’m on track to get the full nine days of charge. If you work out nearly every day, though, you may see reduced battery life.
The charger included in the box is fine. It’s proprietary (hello e-waste) and not very attractive. However, it allows for a nice bedtime clock view when the watch is plugged in.
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a good sleep tracker. Like other Xiaomi wearables, it keeps track of your total time asleep, deep, light, and REM sleep. It then gives you a sleep score from 0-100 based on how well you slept. Overall, the charts in the Xiaomi Wear app are easy to read.
Nevertheless, there are a few limitations. It does not track naps or daytime sleeping. If you have an unconventional sleep schedule, the Mi Watch Lite won’t be the sleep tracker for you. I’d also like Xiaomi to improve its sleep score implementation a bit. Right now, it’s light on the details on where the score comes from. It doesn’t give many details on how to improve your sleep score either.
A few other tidbits I liked about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite:
- Firstbeat workout analysis: Like the Xiaomi Mi Watch, the Mi Watch Lite offers detailed post-workout analysis. It is provided by Firstbeat, the now Garmin-owned analytics company. After your workout, you’ll see your total time, distance, calorie burn, steps taken, average and max cadence, average/max/min pace, average speed, heart rate, heart rate zones, and VO2 max.
- The watch faces: Xiaomi doesn’t allow for third-party watch faces, but it offers plenty of nice first-party options. There are over 120 available for download through the Xiaomi Wear app.
- The basic apps are all here: While the Mi Watch Lite doesn’t have support for third-party apps, it comes with all the basic pre-loaded apps you’d expect. There is a guided breathing app, a compass, an air pressure app, an alarm, a stopwatch, a timer, a weather app, a flashlight, as well as the ability to control your phone’s music.
What I don’t like about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite
Kneecapped smartwatch software
I know I just praised the watch face options for the Mi Watch Lite, but surprisingly the on-device software is a notable step down from the Mi Watch proper.
Everything is set up in mostly the same way. You swipe down for notifications, up for quick settings, left or right for widgets, and press the button for the all-apps screen. Yet, there are a few omissions that bring the overall experience a step down. For one, there are zero software animations. That sounds nit-picky, but in reality, it makes using the smartwatch a pain. As a result, the Mi Watch Lite feels laggier than I think it actually is. I don’t know if my touches are registering until the next page of the settings menu shows up.
There’s also no haptic feedback which adds to the annoyance. Little things like haptics and animations help you connect with the device you’re using. Without them, you feel like you’re swiping around and hoping the swipes register. There’s no always-on display, likely because the Mi Watch Lite uses an LCD panel instead of OLED.
At launch, the Mi Watch Lite didn’t have an option to switch off do not disturb mode when you’re sleeping. Thankfully, Xiaomi added auto-DND mode to the Mi Watch Lite in software version 4.1.20, which automatically triggers when the watch senses you’ve fallen asleep. This is at least a small quality of life improvement if you forget to mute notifications before bedtime.
Still, despite this improvement, you’d think the Mi Watch Lite’s software experience would be on the same level as Xiaomi’s other devices.
The hardware and design
I won’t rag too hard on the Mi Watch Lite here. This is a €50 device, after all. However, I have run into some hardware issues that you should know about before buying one.
- The straps are interchangeable, but it is very difficult to change them. The button to unlock the straps is too hard to press down. I’ve only successfully been able to remove the straps on my unit once. I’m not sure if this will be the case for other devices, but it is for mine.
- Speaking of straps, this is about the same quality silicone strap as you’d find on the Mi Band line. Translation: it feels cheap and rubbery, yet soft to the touch.
- I can’t give Xiaomi a pass without addressing the obvious design cues taken from the Apple Watch. The Mi Watch Lite copies the Apple Watch’s design in all the wrong ways, even down to many of the watch faces. I’d really like to see Xiaomi design a watch on its own merits and not based on whatever Apple is doing at the time.
The Xiaomi Wear app needs a lot of work
I just covered the Xiaomi Wear app in my Xiaomi Mi Watch review. In the interest of brevity, I will point you to that review if you want to learn more about the companion app. While it’s a step above Mi Fit in aesthetics, I have frequently run into translation issues, conversion issues from metric to imperial, and issues with time preferences.
|Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite|
1.4-inch TFT LCD
320 x 320 resolution
Dimensions and weight
41 x 35 x 10.9-11.9mm
35g (with strap) 21g (without strap)
Case: Black, Navy blue, Beige
Strap: Pink, Ivory, Black, Navy blue, Olive
~9 days with typical usage
~10 hours with continuous GPS usage
100% charge in ~2 hours
GPS / A-GPS / GLONASS
3-axis accelerometer and
Android 4.4 and above
iOS 10.0 and above
Price and competition
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is available from mi.com for €50 (~$60) in parts of Europe. Xiaomi is remaining quiet on the exact regions in which the Mi Watch Lite will be available. Your best bet is to check mi.com or Gearbest to see if it’s available in your region. If you’re in the UK, you can snag one on Amazon UK for ~£50.
If the Mi Watch Lite isn’t your cup of tea or isn’t available in your region, you can find many alternatives that share the same DNA. The obvious competitor is the Amazfit Bip U. It is readily available on Amazon in the US, India, and other regions for around the same price as the Mi Watch Lite. It can track far more sports modes and has the same long-lasting battery. However, in her full review, Adamya noted that the materials used in the band are quite cheap-feeling.
If it’s just fitness tracking you’re after and you don’t find yourself in need of standalone GPS, consider the Xiaomi Mi Band 5. It tracks lots of activities, can last two weeks on a charge, and has about the same amount of smart features as the Mi Watch Lite. It’s also ~$15 cheaper. When the Mi Band 5 can’t be found, the Amazfit Band 5 is a similar alternative.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: The verdict
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a good fitness tracker, but a very basic smartwatch. If you’re after the Mi Band experience and would like the benefits of a larger display, Xiaomi’s latest budget smartwatch is a fine option. It’s limited beyond those basic functions, however. Those looking for an on-device voice assistant or music storage for offline listening will want to look elsewhere.
I hope to see more competition in this space from companies that aren’t Xiaomi or Huami. Until then, this might be your go-to option if you want a smartwatch for around €50.