Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite review: Affordable, small smartwatch

Rating

Alongside its extensive smartphone offering, Xiaomi has a full range of wearables, from the Mi Band 6 to the Mi Watch. In this article, we are reviewing the middle ground between fitness tracking and smartwatch territory, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite. It’s definitely very affordable, with a price of about 60 USD, and it looks good at first glance. But is there more to it? Here’s our experience with using this smartwatch for two weeks:

Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: who is it good for?

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a good choice if:

  • You’re on the lookout for a small, light smartwatch
  • You want basic smartwatch features, GPS, and workout monitoring
  • You don’t have a big budget, but won’t compromise in build quality

Pros and cons

Here are the things we liked about the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite:

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  • The smartwatch is stylish and small
  • Even when you wear it for long periods of time, it’s comfortable
  • It has integrated GPS tracking, an excellent offer for the price
  • The battery life is great for a smartwatch
  • The price is good

However, there are a few things that we disliked about it:

  • The screen-to-body ratio is not great (1.4-inch display on a 2.12-inch body); the screen has poor viewing angles and colors
  • No support for apps, only the integrated widgets
  • The user interface looks outdated, lacks animations, and is difficult to interact with
Product rating 4/5

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite makes a smooth (and affordable) transition from a fitness tracker to a smartwatch. It looks elegant, the battery life is good, and the smartwatch is comfortable to wear. The only real letdown is the screen, which looks outdated. The user interface on the device can use a revamp, while the Xiaomi Wear app gets a “good enough” evaluation. Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is a great choice if you’re looking for a small, simple, entry-level smartwatch, at a price that many can afford.

Unboxing the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite

Xiaomi typically uses high-quality materials for the packaging of their products, and The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is no exception. It comes in a black box, with a picture of the product on the front. The only other element on the front of the box is the name of the smartwatch.

The front of the box the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite comes in

On the back of the box, we have some technical specs and features of the Mi Watch Lite in several languages. The size of the box is 3.94 x 3.94 x 2.95 inches (100 x 100 x 75 mm).

The back of the box contains technical specs and features

The smartwatch is carefully packaged, with its accessories in a separate compartment. The box contains the smartwatch (with the strap already mounted), the USB charging cable, and a manual. Nothing too fancy.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: what's in the box

The unboxing experience for the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite was nice, certainly better than the price point would suggest. Xiaomi went with a simple design for the packaging - all-black, with minimal graphics. The smartwatch was very well packaged, with screen protection, in a fixed compartment in the box, separated from the charger.

Design and hardware specifications

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite dimensions are 1.61 x 1.38 x 0.43 inches (41 x 35 x 10.9 mm), with 0.47 inches or 11.9 mm at the HR sensor. It weighs in at 0.74 ounces (21 grams), just the watch itself, or 1.23 ounces (35 grams) with the strap. Immediately after unpacking it, we had a feeling of deja-vu, like we’d seen this format, size, and shape on another smartwatch. Now, which one could that be…

The Apple Watch Series 4 (left) next to the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (right)

The smartwatch looks good. It only has one button, which is used to wake up the device, enter or exit the menus, and power off. The smartwatch is waterproof at a depth of up to 165 feet (50m) and a pressure of up to 5 ATM. The chassis is made of plastic, while the strap is made of TPU. The buckle is also plastic, but it feels fairly sturdy. The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is available in black, navy blue, and ivory (with more color options available for the straps).

There are three colors available for the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite body, and five for its straps

The adjustable strap is removable, a useful feature if you damage it. The touchscreen is a 1.4 inch TFT LCD display, which, at first glance, has a fairly good pixel density (323 pixels per inch) and a decent maximum brightness (350 nits). In reality, though, the screen looks outdated, with poor viewing angles and mediocre color accuracy (especially the black, which ranges, depending on viewing angle, from dark to light gray). Here’s how the screen looks from the front:

The display looks OK when viewed from a good angle

Nothing wrong here, right? Now, let’s tilt it a bit:

At a shallow angle, the display loses a lot of its brightness

The pictures were taken and edited using the same settings. When increasing the viewing angle, the brightness drops abruptly, the colors shift, and it becomes apparent that the screen is simply not up to par with the rest of the design of this smartwatch. That is a real shame, especially since the less expensive Xiaomi Mi Band 6 sports an excellent AMOLED screen. This proves that Xiaomi has the resources to equip its wearables with good displays. Hopefully, the next iteration of the Mi Watch Lite will get an updated screen technology.

To add insult to injury, the screen is too small, the bezels are quite thick, so the smartwatch gets a solid thumbs-down in regards to the screen. It does have automatic brightness adjustment though.

It's prettier with the screen off

But it’s the sensors that are the ones that define a wearable and its purpose, and the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite has a decent collection:

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • PPG heart rate sensor (light-based)
  • Barometer
  • Compass

It has no SpO2 sensor, but it does monitor sleeping patterns. Unsurprisingly, there’s no NFC, no speaker, and no WiFi. A big plus, though, is the presence of a GPS sensor with A-GPS and GLONASS, which is a nice surprise at this price point. This means that you can go jogging without taking your smartphone with you (if you fancy being a rebel) and the smartwatch will accurately measure the distance traveled. The connection to the smartphone is made via Bluetooth 5.0.

The back of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite houses its heart rate sensor and the charging contacts

The non-removable battery has a capacity of 230 mAh. It should last about 9 days with typical use or 10 hours with continuous GPS usage, according to the manufacturer. It charges fairly quickly, in roughly 2 hours. The charger is not magnetic, you just snap it in place. You can only insert the smartwatch in the correct position, no danger there. The cable is very long, compared to the ones from other manufacturers (31.5 inches or 80 cm). If you want to check the full technical details of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, you can visit the official website here: Mi Global Home - Mi Watch Lite.

The strap is comfortable and (not so easily) swappable

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is good-looking and well built, although the materials are not premium. It has the typical sensors for the price point, with GPS as a plus. The screen is the only real letdown, as all the other specs position the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite as a solid proposition in the entry-level smartwatch market.

Setting up and using the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite

Setting up the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is very easy. At startup, before being paired, the watch displays a QR code for downloading the Xiaomi Wear app. The device only works after pairing with a smartphone. The pairing is quick, and after it’s done, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite automatically updates the software to the latest version.

Pairing with a smartphone is easy: just follow the instructions on the smartwatch screen

After pairing, we proceeded to put the smartwatch on the wrist. In our opinion, the look of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite makes it a good companion for everyday use, as well as for fancier events. The clasp is classic and easy to adjust. Even with prolonged wear and tight fit, the strap is comfortable. We tested the locking mechanism for the strap, and we can report that our fingernails barely survived the ordeal. The straps are difficult to remove, but it’s not like you’ll do it on a daily basis.

No complaints on the clasp or the strap

Next, we started navigating through the menus. As stated before, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite only has one physical button, which can be used to wake up the screen, enter the widgets menu, and power off the device. The feedback from pressing the button is sufficient, but doesn’t feel premium. The menu structure is simple and easy to understand, but navigating through the menus is not a great experience, due to the unattractive icon design and especially because of the lack of animations. There are no transitions, no visual scroll feedback, so you won’t know if your touches are registering until the next page of the menu shows up. The lack of haptic feedback doesn’t help either.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite has just one physical button

The screen has a raise-to-wake function, which works correctly, albeit with a slight lag, most of the time. The device can only be woken up by raising your arm or by pressing the physical button - tapping on the screen doesn’t wake it. There’s no always-on for the screen (which is understandable, since the screen is not OLED, and the battery would take a big hit with such a feature on an LCD). One must remember the price point of the device when trying to compare it with other watches: in truth, there are very few smartwatches that can match the feature list and the design of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite.

Using the Xiaomi Wear app, we browsed through the many watch faces available online and configured our widget order and our notifications.

Using Xiaomi Wear, you can configure the watch face and the notifications

The smartwatch doesn’t have a speaker, so you’ll only feel a small vibration when you get a notification. As with the Mi Band 6, notifications are displayed as soon as they appear on the smartphone, but call notifications sometimes appear long after the actual call. When they appear on time, you can mute or reject the call. There is also media playback control for your smartphone, and it works correctly with Spotify and Youtube. If you plan to use the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite as a fitness tracker, you can choose between eleven workout modes. After going for a run while wearing the device, we can confirm that the GPS is sufficiently accurate, and the heart rate monitoring works as advertised. Bonus, if you need to navigate dense forests or underground dungeons, the integrated compass can help a lot. Finally, the battery lasted more than advertised, a very pleasant surprise. It charges fully in roughly two hours.

Using the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite was a good experience. We enjoyed the comfortable strap, the simple menu structure, and the reliability of the readings. While the screen and the graphical elements don’t look great, the device is perfectly usable - it just takes time to get used to it. The battery life is good, as is the charging time.

The features of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite

The smartwatch connects with your smartphone via the Xiaomi Wear app, available both for Android devices and for iPhones (here, it’s called Xiaomi Wear Lite). It’s not the greatest app we’ve ever used. It gets the job done, but we think there’s room for improvement, especially in the user interface department. The smartwatch itself doesn’t support apps, so you’re stuck with the relatively short list of widgets (12) made available by Xiaomi. You can reorder the main widgets with the app:

The Xiaomi Wear app is pretty basic

As a fitness tracker, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite is not as versatile as its more fitness-focused sibling, the Mi Band 6. Still, it has eleven workout modes (Outdoor running, Treadmill, Outdoor cycling, Open water swimming, Freestyle, Pool swimming, Cricket, Trekking, Trail run, Walking, Indoor cycling) and several health features:

  • Heart rate monitoring: automatic/manual heart rate monitoring, resting heart rate, and heart rate curve
  • Sleep monitoring: Deep sleep, light sleep, rapid eye movement (REM)
  • Women's health tracking: Provides recording and reminders for the menstrual cycle and ovulation phases
  • Breathing exercises: the smartwatch helps you with guided breathing exercises
  • Idle alerts: The smartwatch can be set up to vibrate and notify you periodically if it detects no physical activity
  • Step counter: Counting the number of steps on a daily basis

The fitness data is saved in the cloud and is accessible from any other smart device once you log in with your user and password.

The fitness and health tracking features are accurate, if a little lackluster

As a smartwatch, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite has a decent amount of features:

  • Weather reporting
  • Alarm clock with stopwatch and timer
  • Flashlight
  • Notifications from your smartphone
  • Caller ID
  • Call control (reject or mute)
  • Find my phone
  • Media control (play/pause, previous/next, volume control)

The feature list defines the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite as a relatively capable fitness tracker and a basic smartwatch. Its capabilities are very good for the price, and we think that it’s a good value device.

What do you think of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite?

This was our experience with the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite. We enjoyed using it, and in light of the price, we think you’re getting quite a bit of tech. Before closing the page, we’d love to know your opinion of the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite. Do you like it? Are you considering other devices as well for your next purchase? Let us know in the comments!

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