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Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: Fitness on a budget

Tracking your movement can be a good way to help you keep healthy, lose weight or increase your fitness. Xiaomi announced their latest fitness tracker, the Mi Watch Lite, last month as a combination fitness tracker and smartwatch which includes GPS tracking for under $100. 

As a brand, Xiaomi are quite well known in Asia, and are slowly becoming more well known here in Australia for their well priced, yet feature packed devices. 

The Mi Watch Lite design fairly obviously cribs from the Apple Watch playbook, though there are differences. It’s also a sight cheaper, but still comes packed with sensors to track your workouts, and an app that’s available on iOS and Android, all for $99.95. 

I’ve been using the Mi Watch lite for a couple of weeks now, and have some thoughts. 

Hardware and Design

The Mi Watch Lite comes in no-nonsense packaging, sitting proudly in the box when you slide the cover off. There’s little to the package beyond the watch, a USB Charging cradle and a user manual.

The watch itself has curves all around the 1.4-inch display which is touch sensitive for navigating the menus. It’s a fairly bright display when inside which is easy to read indoors but in direct sunlight it can be a little dull.

The overall design is obviously inspired by the Apple Watch, so if you’re into that look, it’s a winner. The watch has a physical button for navigation as opposed to the digital scrolling crown of the Apple Watch, but there’s no denying the inspiration.

The button is fairly rudimentary, but it’s large and easy to find without looking and doesn’t depress accidentally when you’re wearing it. Pressing the button wakes the watch if you don’t have tilt to wake in use, and it also launches the on-board menu. It doesn’t do anything beyond that, thanks to the touch navigation.

The watch body comes in black, Ivory and Navy Blue, with a TPU strap which is good for working out. It’s not the most stylish of materials, but you can change the band relatively easily with quick release buttons. The release button can be a bit finicky to release, however snapping them back on is a simple process though.

I haven’t seen official bands for sale on the Mi-Store, however a quick search through eBay found a number of options at pretty decent prices.

The rear of the watch has a heart-rate sensor, as well as dual pogo pins for connecting the charging cradle. The heart-rate sensor is pretty decent, and it can take a sample over the course of a day. It’s decently accurate, and good enough to let you know when you get in the right zone for cardio or fat burning.

The charging cradle is proprietary, but it snugly holds the watch to keep the charging pins aligned. It’s a decent quality charger and takes around 2 hours to charge.

Battery life is listed as 9 days, though less if you use GPS. I’ve been doing some exercise daily including walks, bike rides with some GPS, as well as indoor activity and am about on track for 7 days of use out of the 230mAh battery.

Overall it’s a pretty comfortable watch to wear. For people with smaller wrists it would be nice to see a smaller strap included in the box, but it’s pertinent to remember this is a sub-$100 watch.

Features and Software

There’s a good array of features built-in to the Mi Watch Lite. The watch supports step and sleep tracking, and can record how many times you get up and down.

There’s also 24 hour heart rate monitoring – which can be spot checked, or set to check automatically in 30, 10, 5, or 1-minute increments. The watch is also rated for 5ATM, so you can wear it in the shower, or go swimming with it which is one of the 11 activities you can track with the watch. The complete list includes:

  • Outdoor running
  • Treadmill
  • Outdoor Cycling
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Freestyle
  • Walking
  • Trekking
  • Trail Running
  • Pool Swimming
  • Open Water Swimming
  • Cricket

As you engage each mode you’re told to tighten the strap to help with heart-rate monitoring, and, if it’s an outside activity, you’ll be reminded you need to be outside to use the GPS. 

It’s rare to find a good GPS tracker for this price, but the Mi Watch Lite is definitely one of the better units I’ve tried, with very little drift and locks onto the satellites quite quickly. 

Once your workout is finished the watch syncs data to the app on your phone and you can review it there, or view quick stats on your watch.

There’s more features built-in to the watch such as breathing exercises, not a bad way to calm down and focus, and you can of course use the watch features which include the usual stuff like stopwatch, alarms and timers as well as view the weather or notifications. 

One of the more useful features – for me at least – was the flashlight which simply turns the screen on the watch white and amps the brightness up to full.  It’s a little 

Xiaomi Wear App

While you can do a lot on the watch itself, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite also uses the Xiaomi Wear app on Android, and the Xiaomi Wear Lite app on iOS on your phone.

The app is fairly simple, once you’ve connected to the watch via Bluetooth the watch syncs it’s data back to the app automatically. 

The app is laid out quite simply in three sections: Status, Workouts and Profile. The Status screen is where you’ll spend most of your time with the app displaying all your most commonly viewed data like step count and calories burned as well as any workouts you’ve done recently and your sleep stats. You can tap on any of these to get more info, but it’s very straightforward. 

You can do all the administrative stuff in the app including signing into your Xiaomi account;. You can also change your watchface – from an array of local options, or you can peruse their vast online repository. You can also  kick off a workout if for some reason you don’t have your watch.

There is support for displaying notifications on your Mi Watch Lite. You can setup notifications from apps, following the bouncing ball of allowing notification access. Once setup, the notifications are pretty decent. They’re not as rich or varied, and there’s no way to reply to anything, but it’s a good effort.  It’s hit and miss, but certainly better than no notifications.

Should you buy one?

As fitness trackers go, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a bargain. Xiaomi has filled it full of features, and it’s less than $100. 

The watch is accurate, and connects easily to your smartphone. In terms of features it ticks the boxes with a nice, large colour display, a week of battery life and GPS support, but it is fairly limited too with just those 11 activities – walking, running, etc.- able to be tracked. That said those activities are the most common types of exercise for a lot of people, so it covers a broad base.

The watch is comfortable to wear, and for under $100, it’s packed full of features and is definitely worth your time to check out. You can find the Mi Watch Lite on the Australian Mi-Store with either standard shipping for $9.95 or express for $14.95. 

Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: Fitness on a budget
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