Xiaomi has announced two new smartwatches for international markets — the Xiaomi Watch S1, which first launched in China in December 2021, and the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active — but what makes these wearables different from each other? Xiaomi is a major brand in the wearables space. While its Mi Band line of fitness trackers steals the spotlight, its wearables portfolio also includes full-fledged smartwatches.
Smartwatches from Xiaomi and several other Chinese brands do not run Google’s Wear OS but a proprietary operating system that is built on RTOS. These operating systems are lightweight and require less power which explains why these smartwatches usually boast long-lasting battery life. However, a downside they have in common is the lack of a proper app library when compared to Google’s Wear OS and Apple’s watchOS.
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Although the Xiaomi Watch S1 and Watch S1 Active are targeted at different users, there are some similarities between the two. Both watches have a round display, a 5ATM water-resistant rating, the same proprietary operating system, and Android and iOS compatibility. They also have a built-in microphone and speaker, so users can take calls right from the watch. The two watches will also gain support for Amazon‘s Alexa voice assistant via a future OTA update. However, the design is where they begin to differ. The Watch S1 is “created for the modern professional” according to Xiaomi, and this is evident in its build which includes a stainless steel frame, sapphire glass, and calfskin leather or fluororubber straps. On the other hand, the Watch S1 Active is for those with a more active lifestyle. It has a lightweight design, a metal bezel, a glass fiber-reinforced frame, and silicone or TPU straps.
Different Designs, Same Experience
The Xiaomi Watch S1 and Watch S1 Active both have a 1.43-inch 466 x 466 pixels AMOLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate and Always-on Display support. They can be operated by touch or using the two buttons on the side. Both watches offer users more than 200 different watch faces to choose from. A multi-channel PPG sensor on both watches adds support for 24-hour heart rate and blood-oxygen monitoring. There is also support for sleep tracking, stress detection, and breathing exercises, but only the Watch S1 Active can track women’s health. The two wearables pack a handful of sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, atmospheric sensor, and an ambient light sensor. They also have Bluetooth 5.2, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, and NFC with support for contactless payments (limited to Mastercard and select partner banks).
Both Xiaomi watches can track 117 sports modes including 19 professional ones, and feature auto-detection for activities such as indoor and outdoor walking and running. Inside each watch is a built-in dual-band GNSS chip that supports the five major satellite positioning systems. Users will also be able to sync their exercise data with Apple Health and Strava. In case of an emergency, pressing the bottom button on both watches three times in quick succession will dial an emergency contact on the connected smartphone. The battery capacity is 470mAh for the two watches and Xiaomi claims it will last up to 12 days in typical usage mode or 24 days in power-saving mode. The more premium Xiaomi Watch S1 supports Qi wireless charging while the sporty Watch S1 Active has a magnetic charger.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 is unsurprisingly the more expensive watch with a $269 price tag. Xiaomi justifies the price with the quality of materials used. It also includes a free fluororubber strap along with the leather strap that it originally comes with. The Watch S1 will be sold in silver and black color variants. The Watch S1 Active is significantly cheaper at $199, and while there are no premium materials used for its build and no extra strap included in the box, it is available in more color options — Moon White, Space Black, and Ocean Blue for the frame and Moon White, Space Black, Ocean Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange for the straps. It also has all of the health and activity tracking features of the Xiaomi Watch S1 which means those who pick it up won’t be missing out on any major features.