Xiaomi’s latest line of smartwatches is the brand’s big solo attempt to assert itself in this segment. Both the Watch S1 and the S1 Active bring several improvements over the first generation, and now they are wearables that we must take seriously.
During the last two weeks I had the opportunity to test the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active. This is the most suitable model for sports use in this line and can be purchased in the Xiaomi Store at a recommended price of €199.99 (on sale until July 27 for €179.99). The price is worth it? Come find out in this article.
Unboxing and first impressions
As soon as we take the Watch S1 Active out of the box, we know that this is not one of the cheapest products. There is some care in the packaging, appearance of the box, and above all in the design and construction of the product.
It has a circular flat screen, and we can easily associate its appearance with a Look more sporty It is accompanied by the magnetic charger with USB-A output that you will have to use to recharge it.
The sporty design does not embarrass in any situation.
As I’ve already highlighted, the Watch S1 Active has a sporty design supported by a metal frame and surrounding plastic areas. However, if you wear a more classic bracelet, it will not disappoint you in a work meeting.
You can count on a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch, a maximum of 450 nits and a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Added to this is a weight of 36.3 grams that does not make your use to be uncomfortable, even for someone with a thin wrist (like me).
A few words for the silicone strap that comes with the watch. It is a silicone bracelet that is quite malleable, and with many holes to adapt to your wrist, but also to let air pass.
On the sides you will find two buttons. The top is the button. home which is used to turn on the clock, but also to activate Alexa or enter the “applications” menu. The bottom button is sport and allows you to access the list of modalities, or you can customize it in the app my fitness for your favorite sport.
Two important details to highlight about the screen that I appreciate having in a smartwatch of this price. First of all, the presence of the screen always active, but also the ambient light sensor that adapts the brightness of the screen taking into account the outside.
Answer and make calls on Xiaomi Watch S1 Active
One of the most requested features in wearables is found in the Watch S1 Active. Thanks to the integrated microphone, it allows you to make and answer calls on the watch itself, if your smartphone is nearby.
This same microphone allows you to interact with the Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, but this is a region-dependent feature. The same goes for NFC functionality, whose payments still need partnerships with banks and cards to work in Portugal.
Even in the field of connectivity, the Watch S1 Active comes to us well equipped. In addition to Bluetooth 5.2 to connect with your smartphone, it also has Wi-Fi and GPS dual band that promise to make your location more reliable.
Third-party applications are already a reality
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active does not come with WearOS, but with the brand’s own operating system. Even so, this model already allows you to install third-party applications (only on Android, for now).
At the time of writing, there are five apps available, which you can see below. We have a game, a calculator, a radio streaming app, a notes app, and an airplane travel assistant. For some of these to work, they must also be installed on your smartphone.
A true sports companion
As I mentioned before, this is a very dedicated product for sports. I used it as just another smartwatch, but for those of us who play sports it may be an option to consider. It has 117 modes physical aptitude19 of them professionals.
Another important detail is that it can automatically detect training sessions. Let’s imagine you are going for a run or a walk outdoors. After a while, it detects and asks if you want to start a training session.
With dual-band geo-positioning, I can tell you that I never had a problem starting my bike rides with the built-in GPS. And considering I’m a more casual athlete, I didn’t feel any big difference compared to other tested models.
The measurements never failed, they seemed relatively reliable to me, considering that it is an 18 km bike route that I usually do. Having a dedicated button allowed me to start this cycling activity with just one click.
An important detail for those who usually swim or even run in the rain is that it has a water resistance of 5 ATM. This means that you can use it without any problem in these conditions. Compatibility with Strava and Apple Health is also important.
Autonomy above average, but below promises
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active comes with a 470 mAh capacity battery. But how does this translate to reality? According to Xiaomi, I would expect 12 days of normal use or 30 hours of always-on GPS.
In my use, I obtained an autonomy of about a week (7 days), which I consider more than enough. This is with occasional workouts, with constant heart rate measurement, and the always-on display feature active.
This is not the best range in the segment. But considering the functionality, a week is perfectly acceptable. When charging is needed, there is a magnetic charger in the box with a USB-A outlet for charging.
What it is like to use the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active in everyday life
The Xiaomi Watch S1 is the kind of smartwatch I can rely on to wake me up on a daily basis, as it allows me to tailor the vibration to my liking. So I no longer have to wake up with the noise of the smartphone to simply wake up with a vibration on the wrist.
I immediately have access to the time, with the always-on display function. With some bad beer sides, I have all the necessary information available. There I can see sleep, heart rate or weather data using the widgets.
If I get a call during the day, I can easily answer it on the S1 Active without having to pick up my smartphone. The microphone turns out to be loud enough for me to be heard on the other end, and the speaker loud enough for me to hear the other person.
The number of sports is more than enough, and the integrated GPS has always worked well in my tests. But the idea remains that we could have access to more detailed data, so if you want something more serious for the sport you will have to opt for other models.
In this one I was able to do math easily through the available calculator app, set alarms, access my calendar or even check the compass. I was also able to control the camera and music on the smartphone, as well as use the flashlight at night to great effect.
Is it worth buying the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active?
It really depends on your usage. If you want a product with all the basic functions and extras such as making calls, emergency calls and a week of autonomy, this is your model.
However, if you are willing to have a battery life of only 2 days, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 costs at the time of writing. €173 on Amazon Spain. A value slightly below this Watch S1 Active, and a product with Google WearOS and apps like Spotify integrated.
If you want a smart watch with potential and that is fully integrated into the Xiaomi ecosystem, this Watch S1 Active is still a good option. Especially if sport is a priority. Compared to the previous generation, Xiaomi makes a big leap in this model and I can’t wait to see what the brand will bring in the future in this segment.
If you want to buy the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, it is available at the Xiaomi Store UK for €199.99 (or €179.99 on sale).
Strengths of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active
- Possibility of making and answering calls on the watch itself
- Sports options accessible at the touch of a button
- Navigating with widgets is very useful
- Possibility of having the screen always on
- Possibility to install applications
- The screen is of good quality and looks good in the sun.
- Autonomy stands out for the benefits it presents
Weaknesses of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active
- The number of external apps is still limited and they only work on Android
- Using the smart watch for payments still doesn’t work in Portugal
- Amazon Alexa with availability that varies by region
Technical specifications of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active
- 1.43-inch AMOLED screen
- metal frame
- 326 dpi resolution
- Brightness up to 450 nits
- 470mAh battery
- magnetic charge
- 5ATM water resistance
- Weight of 36.3 grams
- PPG heart rate sensor (including SpO2)
- 3-axis accelerometer
- 3 axis gyroscope
- geomagnetic sensor
- air pressure sensor
- ambient light sensor
- GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Payment with Mastercard with NFC (depends on the region)
- Amazon Alexa built-in (depends on region)
- Compatibility with Android 6.0 or iOS 10.0 or higher
Thanks to Xiaomi Portugal for providing the product for testing.