When the Apple Watch was launched at a steep price of Rs 30,900, back in 2015, it instantly became aspirational for many. Much like most Apple devices. Fast forward to 2020, Apple smartwatches are still out of reach for many, not that they don’t deserve the premium. Not too many wearables can claim to be an FDA-approved EKG machine! Since then, other smartphones companies such as Huawei, Samsung, Oppo and many others have pulled up their socks to tap this pricing opportunity. Xiaomi, though a little late to the party, has finally thrown its hat in the ring. Their first smartwatch, the ‘Mi Watch Revolve’ has finally entered the India market at a price of Rs 10,999. You can get it at Rs 9,999, if you buy it before Diwali (14 November).
In my testing, I find the Xiaomi unit to be a really good option for those who are looking for an efficient fitness band that is almost a smartwatch.
Let me explain:
Can it minimise your screen time on phone like a smartwatch is expected to do?
Can it still track your fitness and attract attention?
The smartwatch does everything that a fitness tracker is supposed to, but less of what a smartwatch is expected to. Something as basic as taking calls is out of bounds here.
With the Revolve, has Xiaomi cut too many corners, or is it the right balance between looks, features and price?
Beautiful design with a gigantic display
The 1.39-inch AMOLED display might sound amazing on your wrist, but it is not. The watch produces good, punchy colours, offers adequate brightness with 5 levels to choose from, and has a 454 x 454 pixel resolution – quite sharp. But the dial of the watch is huge (46 mm), with no other size variant available. 46Mm, for a watch, is a very chunky size. This only works for those with large wrists, and entirely alienates normal-sized people. What were Xiaomi thinking?
Looks-wise, I really like the watch. There is something about a traditional circular dial that I always find classy. The silver, stainless steel rims around the display make it look subtle and elegant. You will see two physical pusher buttons at the top and bottom of the right edge. My review unit had navy blue straps made of a silicone material. You also have the option of buying a ‘Midnight Black’ variant.
The watch is comfortable and lightweight (40gm, excluding straps) but the straps are wide, and this started to irk me after using it for a prolonged period of time. The watch is just too large and awkward for my wrist. I would have really appreciated a smaller size.
Ample fitness features but not all are reliable
The Mi Watch Revolve has nearly all the features you get in the Mi Band 5. You get 10 workouts including cycling, outdoor running, freestyle, walking, treadmill and so on. However, the watch doesn’t automatically detect if you are working out, so you have to manually tell it to start the programme. Other major features include a continuous heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, stress monitor and energy level tracker. The heart rate monitor is pretty reliable, but in case you have an extremely low or high heartbeat, it won’t alert you or suggest what to do next. The sleep monitor did a pretty good job as well, as it automatically detected night time sleep and gathered near-accurate data, categorising it as “deep”, “light” and “REM” (Rapid Eye Movement). However, at times, it did tell me that I was awake for almost an hour at night when I wasn’t. A glitch in the algorithm, I’d guess. Also, the watch does not recognise daytime naps.
The smartwatch also comes with an always-on display feature that, unfortunately, eats up a lot of battery. I like my watch to show me the time at all times. That’s what a watch does. You can also turn on the raise-to-wake feature, but it was not consistently responsive. Also, there’s no 12-hour time format. This is a glaring omission.
I was disappointed to find that the Revolve does not come with female health tracking, because the newly-launched Mi Band 5 comes with a menstrual cycle tracker. Xiaomi should probably work in this direction too, though the 46mm dial size should make it clear that the audience is likely more male. The watch is also rather aggressive with its idle alerts, even when you’ve just sat down. That can be annoying! I hope Xiaomi fixes it in its next update.
The Xiaomi Wear app provides almost 100 watch faces to choose from. You can also update the face directly from the watch, but then you get just three options. When it comes to notifications, you can choose which apps can send you notifications. Just like the Mi band 5, you can see the notifications, but can’t interact with them. You can disconnect or mute a call, but cannot attend to it directly on the watch. I’d expect a little more ‘smart’ in a smartwatch.
Overall, with the app drawer, the UI is easy to navigate and looks clean. You get a weather app that keeps you updated about current temperature, weather forecast for a week and AQI. Phone finder, flashlight, air pressure, alarm, music control, timer, stopwatch are a few other features. The user interface of the Xiaomi Wear app is also user-friendly, but sometimes takes forever to sync data with the watch. While I didn’t use the app very frequently, it takes almost 5-10 minutes to sync, and that can get frustrating really quickly.
Xiaomi has created a feature-rich smartwatch with the Revolve, but software glitches make it difficult to recommend wholeheartedly. We hope future software updates fix some or all of these bugs.
The battery steals the show
With the always-on display enabled and brightness set at 1, I used the Revolve for daily sleep tracking, and frequent evening walks. The smartwatch battery lasted for 8 days, which is pretty impressive. The watch also charges from 0 to 100 percent in a couple of hours. I think that is acceptable since I only had to do it once a week.
Should you buy it?
Maybe, but I’d wait until all the software bugs are taken care of.
Post that, if you are looking for your first smartwatch that doesn’t break the bank, you should go ahead. It doesn’t come with top-notch smartwatch features like EKG or Bluetooth calling, but it is good enough for newcomers. As a health-focused wearable, it is a good option for the fitness-minded. But the 46mm size definitely needs consideration. If you’re a physically large person, or don’t mind having what looks like a tiny computer strapped to your wrist, the Mi Watch Revolve will work for you.