- Easy to use
- Good array of features
- Bright display
- Screen responsiveness
- Battery life in heavy usage
- Heart rate iffy at high intensity
The Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, as the name suggests, is a pared down version of the Xiaomi Mi Watch, stripping back features and putting those smarts into a smaller watch body.
Launching in the UK and Europe it's priced at a very affordable £49.99. That puts it up against fellow cheap smartwatches like the Amazfit Bip U Pro and the original Realme Watch.
It's not properly available in the US although you will find it at retailers for around $99.99. But be sure to buy the global edition and that may mean having to adjust settings on your smartphone – especially if you use iOS.
It offers features like built-in GPS, notifications, music controls and more than a week's worth of battery. It's an Android and iOS compatible too for anyone that doesn't or can't stretch to spending big on a smartwatch.
We've already seen that the more affordable end of the smartwatch market is improving, so does the Mi Watch Lite fall into the category of a good cheap smartwatches?
Here's our full verdict on the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite. And read our Xiaomi Mi Watch vs Mi Watch Lite comparison.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: Design and screen
While the main Mi Watch uses a round design, it's square for the more budget Mi Watch Lite.
It's a 41mm matte-style plastic case that definitely has a real Amazfit Bip feel about it. You've got your pick of black, ivory and navy blue case colors with five official band color options, and the overall feeling is that it's a neat and tidy-looking watch without offering in kind of wow factor.
That case is paired up with a soft touch TPU strap that is removable, though it uses a different mechanism to the simple pin one used on the Mi Watch. It's far more fiddly to get that band off when you want to switch things up. It's a comfortable one at least and one that hasn't caused any skin irritation or made us want to get it off our wrists.
It weighs 35g and measures in at 11.9mm thick, which puts it around the thickness of similarly priced Amazfit smartwatches. If you like your smartwatches light, you'll this is for you.
On the side of the case is a solitary physical button that sits more flush with the case in comparison to the crown-style button used on the first square Mi Watch. Front and centre is a 1.4-inch, 320 x 320 TFT LCD touchscreen display that offers 350 nits of brightness. So it's a bit of a drop down from the AMOLED one packed onto the round Mi Watch.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (left) and Xiaomi Mi Watch (right)
Compare that to watches around it, and it's certainly better than what you get from Realme and Amazfit Bip range in terms of resolution and overall quality.
There is a big black bezel sitting around the edge of the display, though it's less noticeable when you pick a dark edged watch face and the software is optimised to make it less obvious too.
You miss out on that extra vibrancy and richer colors you get on the Mi Watch's AMOLED screen, but what's more noticeable is the responsiveness of the display. It works with taps as opposed swipes, and that can be a little problematic when you're trying to quickly interact with the display like during exercise, it can be a touch temperamental at times.
If you want to take the Mi Watch Lite for a swim or in the shower, the good news is the same 5ATM water resistant rating making it safe to be submerged in water up to 50 metres depth.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: Software and smartwatch features
Like the Mi Watch, the Lite works with Android and iOS devices and you'll need to download the Xiaomi Wear app if you use an Android phone or the Wear Lite app if you're rocking an iPhone.
The watch software is Xiaomi's own and it retains the same simple user interface used on the Mi Watch for getting around menus and screens.
In terms of the smartwatch features at your disposal, you're getting notification support, music controls, your choice of 120 watch faces and features like weather updates and alarms. The big things that don't make the cut from the Mi Watch is the Amazon Alexa support and the smartphone camera shutter mode, which is actually currently a beta feature.
The smartwatch experience, while a little on the basic side, works okay. You can't respond to notifications and some icons pulled through from notifications appear unable to be displayed during our time with it. Music controls work well too and feel similar to what we've experienced on Amazfit watches. You can't access those controls during exercise annoyingly though.
If you're looking at the Lite hoping to be drowning in lot of smartwatch features, you're simply not going to get that here. If you can accept that it keeps things simple, then you'll be largely satisfied here.
The responsiveness of the display can be a little on the irritating side, but it's a smartwatch OS you can quickly get to grips with and find your way around at least.
Off the watch, we spent time using using the Android version of the companion app and it's more of the same of what we experienced when testing the Mi Watch. You have the same three main sections and the Profile tab is arguably the most important one because that's where you can adjust watch settings and sync over new watch faces.
You'll need to go here to set up app notifications and turn on support for dealing with incoming calls. You can't answer calls, but you can get a heads up when someone is trying to get in contact when connected to your phone via Bluetooth.
The software experience on the whole across the watch and the companion app works well enough. We didn't experience any major issues or bugs and if you're happy to live with its shortcomings, then the Lite does a solid enough job in this department.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: Fitness and sports tracking
When it's time to ignore the flood of notifications and trying to decide what watch face to use, Xiaomi serves up plenty in the way of how it can track your active life.
Along with 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors, you're also getting an barometer and compass and built-in GPS and Glonass to map outdoor workouts. There's 11 different sports modes, which includes running, cycling and swimming (pool and open water). There's a PPG heart rate monitor for continuous monitoring and measuring effort levels during exercise.
It will work as a fitness tracker too, counting steps and monitoring sleep with features like guided breathing exercises also in tow. What you miss out on from the Mi Watch is the higher quality GPS chip, stress monitoring, SpO2 measurements and Firstbeat-powered features centred around recovery and training.
Daily activity tracking is pretty basic, covering number of steps and distance covered along with plotting when those steps happened. While there's an altimeter on board it doesn't appear to track floors climbed. Accuracy-wise, it was generally within 400-500 steps of the Garmin fitness tracker we put it up against. As far as motivating you to move more, you'll get pretty standard inactivity alerts, but that's your lot.
Step tracking compared: Garmin fitness tracker (left) and Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (right)
Switching over to bed time and automatic sleep monitoring and you can expect the Mi Watch lite to capture sleep duration, and breakdown of deep sleep, light sleep and time spent awake. There's no REM sleep captured, which you will find on the bigger Mi Watch. You'll also get a points score for your sleep time similar to the sleep scores we've seen on watches from the likes of Fitbit and Samsung.
Much like the bigger Mi Watch, it tended to capture largely the same sleep duration but tended to overestimate sleep by around an hour in comparison to Fitbit's sleep tracking, which we consider to be the gold standard.
Sleep scores aside, there's nothing in the way of insights or advice offered on a bad night's sleep. It seems largely reliable information, but little effort made to put it into context of what your sleep time means.
Sleep tracking compared: Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (left and centre) and Fitbit Sense (right)
Moving to sports tracking and for running, it generally came up short for distance tracking and was slightly off on metrics like average pace compared to the run tracking on a Garmin, but did offer similar calorie burned numbers. Like the Mi Watch, it's a better fit for shorter runs.
Run tracking compared: Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite (left) and Garmin Enduro (right)
Indoor cycling compared: Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite and Garmin Enduro
Moving indoors and for cycling and rowing sessions, the emphasis here is on duration and heart rate. On that front, it held up well and data presented on the watch is nice and easy to digest.
As a cheap fitness tracker and sports watch, the Mi Watch Lite is pretty solid. However, it does have some issues when you turn your attention to heart rate data, which we'll get into next.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: Heart rate accuracy
Those measurements in general were identical, or within 1-2bpm of readings from a chest strap monitor. But when you delve into the daily data, the inaccuracies start to show themselves.
Resting heart rate data tended to be higher than what we captured on a Garmin watch and a chest strap. Max heart rate and average heart rate data tended to be noticeably higher as well.
For exercise, it actually performed well for most of our indoor workouts and was usually within 1-2 bpm from a chest strap for indoor rowing and cycling sessions.
When we headed outside, average heart rate data and maximum heart rate data even for steady runs were some way off a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor. The data from a run above suggested we hit 193bpm, which simply wasn't the case.
Like a lot optical heart rate monitors, it can be reliable in most instances, but will ultimately let you down when you push things a little harder.
Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite: Battery life
With a smaller frame and scaled back features, it's no surprise to find there's a smaller battery packed into the Mi Watch Lite. You've got a 230mAh capacity promising up to 9 days battery life in 'typical usage'. That's based on things like using it for sleep monitoring, enabling continuous heart rate monitoring taking data every 30 minutes and logging one 35-minute outdoor workout a week.
With that outdoor tracking, it's also promising 10 hours of GPS battery life. In our testing time, we monitored sleep every day, monitored heart rate continuously and tracked a workout a day and found the battery drop off was anywhere between 15-20%. That would work out to about five days of battery life, so short of that maximum 9 days.
Those GPS battery numbers seem to be about right. From an hour of running it dropped around 10-12%. It was a smaller dent for 30 minute workouts, so that 10 hours seems achievable.
That's a similar kind of battery life performance we saw from rival watches like the Realme Watch, Amazfit Bip S and the Amazfit Bip U Pro. So it holds up well with the competition, in heavy usage with the capacity to go longer when you sacrifice regularly tracking exercise and continuously monitoring heart rate.
How we test