Redmi Watch Review: Bossing the Budget Basics Brilliantly
The competition had better watch out...
Redmi has arrived a little late to the smartwatch party, but it has made its appearance with a product that is typically Redmi – the Redmi Watch. The price is affordable (it is not unmatchable, but it is not high), the feature set is solid, and the specs seem more or less on point. The big question, of course, is how does all this actually come together and whether it does enough to unsettle the likes of AmazFit and Noise, which have comparable products, not to mention convince the “why not just get a fitness band for a lower price” crowd? Let’s find out in our Redmi Watch review.
Standard design and hardware
In terms of design and features, the Redmi Watch tends to tick most boxes. You can read our impressions in detail in our first cut, but for those who have missed that, well, the Redmi Watch is mainly made of plastic but is very smart looking. It has a square-ish 1.4 inch LCD display (with rather large bezels around it, but we do not really think that is too much of a factor in watches), with a single button on the side. It comes with a TPU strap which is comfortable enough to wear. There is no always-on display option, but a raise to wake feature is there. Xiaomi also has added an “auto adjust” feature, which tweaks the watch‘s brightness as per lightning conditions. It is a smart-looking watch that will not scream for attention but will not turn eyes away either – it does not look like a budget smartwatch. And it is pretty tough – it comes with a 5 ATM water resistance, so you can actually take it swimming.
It packs in some good hardware too. You get a heart rate sensor, a barometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, and a 3-axis accelerometer. You also get GPS on the watch itself (a rarity in budget smartwatches), which means you can rely on it for tracking your location and distance covered, even when you do not have your phone handy. It has 11 sports modes, including swimming and cycling (indoors and outdoors) and even cricket – that is not the biggest figure we have seen, but it should suffice for most users, as should the claimed battery life of ten days, with a 0-100 recharge time of under two hours. The charging case is almost the size of the watch and has to be used in landscape mode, but while charging, the watch itself switches to landscape mode and shows the level of charge as well as the time, which is a nice touch.
The absence of blood oxygen measuring is a bit of a surprise, given the times we live in and the pandemic (blood oxygen is a key indicator of COVID) and the fact that other bands and watches in this segment have this feature. Xiaomi says it did not include the feature as it was not sure it was accurate, which is understandable – Xiaomi does not have blood oxygen measurement on any of its wearables as of now. A bigger surprise is that the device has no women’s cycle tracking, something Xiaomi had itself highlighted on the Mi Band 5.
Of course, this being a smartwatch, you get notifications from your social networks and message and mail alerts on the watch. However, you do not get call alerts, which is a little surprising again, given that other watches have this facility. Still, by and large, the Redmi Watch has almost everything that you would expect from a smartwatch at this price point.
Scoring on interface…
We feel the Redmi Watch pulls ahead of its competition in terms of software and its implementation. We have seen other budget smartwatches too, but none have actually worked as smoothly as this one. The 1.4″ LCD display does not have an always-on option, but “raise to wake works” very effectively (more than what we have seen on other watches in this price segment). The auto-brightness feature also ensures that the display is readable in most conditions – just remember to turn it on, though (it is off by default).
The Redmi Watch runs on real-time OS (RTOS), which rules out third-party apps, although it does add to its battery life. As in most watches using this OS, the interface is a blend of touches, taps, and swipes, with the single button on the side serving as both a menu button as well as the home button, depending on what you are accessing. Things just seem to work more smoothly than we have seen on competing devices. The presence of large, colorful icons helps in navigating the interface, although we would have liked the option to increase font size. The Redmi Watch is one of the most responsive watches we have seen in its price segment. The bigger screen is also good for reading notifications (you can see more text). Thankfully, we got only one of each notification, not duplicates as seen in some more expensive smartwatches.
The watch gets paired with the Xiaomi Wear app (as opposed to the Mi Fit app, which works for the Smart Band 5 – a little odd) and works with both iOS and Android. The pairing process is smooth enough – you will need to sign up for a Mi account, though (almost every smartwatch brand makes you sign up for it). Once again, the app’s experience on the phone is a good one, with clearly defined sections and a colorful interface without being excessively loud. You even get an avatar of sorts, but it does not really resemble you, and you cannot customize it (mine had a fine head of hair and was incredibly slim). That said, the information is well presented. This takes us to the next point.
…and accurate measurements
It is one thing to be able to present information in an attractive format, but quite another to present correct information. And accuracy of measurement is one front on which we have budget smartwatches miss out frequently. Most do a reasonable job of step counting but trip up in other departments, including heart rate and blood oxygen tracking. The Redmi Watch does a very creditable job. Step counting was among the most accurate we have seen on a device in its segment (perhaps GPS helps), and the heart rate count was impressively close to what we got from medical equipment with the difference between 2-3 beats in either direction, which is not that much of a factor. We could not try out how well it tracked swimming and cricket, given the restrictions right now, but it certainly tracked indoor cycling quite well.
The watch was also one of the few in its segment to give us almost totally accurate alerts about when to stand up and move a little, an area where others are notorious for messing up (many ask us to do so while we are taking a stroll, which was odd). And well, its calorie counts seemed to tally reasonably with what we got from other more expensive smartwatches. The one area where it did stumble a little was sleep tracking, where we felt it sometimes tended to start measuring sleep when we were awake. That said, it was very accurate at recording when we woke up in the middle of our slumber, even if we went back to sleep again. Incidentally, it totally failed to record tiny half-hour or hour-long naps taken in the day.
Yes, we missed the inclusion of blood oxygen, given the times we live in, but then Xiaomi’s justification that it was omitted because of accuracy issues makes sense. The battery life lives up to its ten-day life with automatic adjust brightness turned on. That is not quite in the fitness tracker category but is very good by budget smartwatch standards. And while the charger is bulky, it certainly charges the watch up in less than two hours – again, pretty good for this segment.
Fighting on performance, not price
At its price of Rs 3,999, the Redmi Watch slots right into the budget smartwatch segment. But as we said earlier, it is not an unmatchable “typically Redmi” price. Indeed, the Redmi Watch does face a lot of competition. The similarly priced Amazfit Bip U (Xiaomi is an investor in Amazfit) offers similar features and a few others besides. At the same time, the Noise ColorFit Pro 3 is slightly more expensive but comes with blood oxygen monitoring and a large 1.55-inch display. Goqii also has a few offerings in this price zone. And then, of course, there are fitness trackers that can do most of the things the Redmi Watch can, albeit on a much smaller display.
The edge that the Redmi Watch has over its rivals is in terms of sheer ease of use. As we pointed out, the interface is relatively simple, and the touchscreen responds very well (a bit of an issue with some other brands). As for fitness bands, they are an alternative only if you are happy enough with a much smaller display, tiny fonts, and less visible data (fitness or notification wise) on your wrist.
In a segment that is packed with devices that have good intentions but inconsistent performance, the Redmi Watch scores for delivering a smooth performance. No, it is not perfect – we would have loved blood oxygen measurement and women’s cycle tracking to be available – but unless those are massively important for you (and they can be for some), the Redmi Watch is excellent value for the money it charges. The brand might be known for its amazing prices, but the Redmi Watch‘s real strength is not its price tag (which others can match) but its performance. That makes it an excellent investment for anyone who wants a smartwatch for fitness data and notifications on a display that is easier to read (fonts on fitness band displays can be really tiny). It does pretty much what you would expect from a budget smartwatch. And most importantly, it flies in the two areas where others in this segment stumble – data accuracy and smooth operation.
All of which makes it easily the smoothest operator in the below Rs 4,000 smartwatch segment and a great option for anyone wanting to dip their toes in smartwatch waters. The competition exists, but it needs to look out for this one. Make that “watch” out because this watch is very much in (contention).
- Smooth operation
- Good display
- Good battery life
- Accurate heart rate tracking
- GPS on the watch itself
- No blood oxygen measuring
- No women's cycle tracking
- Sleep tracking a little erratic
- No call notifications
|Looks & appearance||
|Ease of use||
At Rs 3,999, the Redmi Watch goes up against the likes of the Amazfit Bip Duo and the Noise ColorFit Pro 3. What makes it special are the overall experience and performance. Here is our Redmi Watch review.