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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active review

Great jump, bad landing

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active
(Image: © Aakash Jhaveri)

Our Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active is the company’s new budget smartwatch for the season. It comes with a long list of features such as in-built GPS, 100+ fitness tracking modes and Alexa — features that are uncommon at this price point. However, more work needs to be done on improving the tracking accuracy if it wants to succeed as a fitness companion.

For

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Long battery life
  • Vibrant display

Against

  • Limited smart features
  • Fitness tracking accuracy
  • Alexa isn't very useful

TechRadar Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active is the company’s new budget smartwatch for the season. It comes with a long list of features such as in-built GPS, 100+ fitness tracking modes and Alexa — features that are uncommon at this price point. However, more work needs to be done on improving the tracking accuracy if it wants to succeed as a fitness companion.

Pros

  • +

    Comfortable to wear

  • +

    Long battery life

  • +

    Vibrant display

Cons

  • -

    Limited smart features

  • -

    Fitness tracking accuracy

  • -

    Alexa isn't very useful

Two-minute review

Xiaomi is no stranger to the Indian market, but smartwatches haven’t been an easy segment for it to crack. The new Mi Watch Revolve Active is the company’s latest jab at this form factor, bringing it closer to its ambitions but not quite.

Unveiled in June, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active competes with other budget smartwatches under Rs 10,000 such as the TicWatch E2, Realme Watch S Pro, Amazfit GTS 2 series and others. 

As a mid-range wearable, it comes with a solid core of features but without the in-depth and accurate tracking that some of its rivals boast of. However, it tries to make up for that with more lifestyle features

This is a fine smartwatch, but one with a few issues – if we had to sum up the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active’s foibles in one statement, it would be this: the watch has a huge breadth of features, but not so much in the way of depth.

You can track your heart rate, energy levels, stress, steps, sleep and more, but the numbers weren’t always accurate. For instance, it struggled to differentiate between sleeping and lounging on the bed. Similarly, pulse-based stress tracking seemed more like guesswork than science. That’s not to say all these modes are straight-up wrong, and we often found them useful, but the discrepancies stood out.

There are over 100 fitness-tacking modes, which vary in depth and complexity, but they’re often pretty useful, and the built-in GPS comes in handy for lots of them. When you go for a run, lots of metrics are tracked to provide a detailed analysis of your exertions, though you need to use the Xiaomi Wear app to get all the feedback.

Sure, some of the workout modes aren’t as in-depth as running, which is arguably the most popular one — but metrics for the other modes weren’t even always relevant, just extrapolation of steps and heart rate.

But given the price, it isn’t too bad. Credit where it is due, the Mi Watch Revolve Active’s design is quite comfortable and easy-to-forget-about. Even its battery life was quite good, offering more than a week’s worth of juice on a single charge. Being able to forget about a smartwatch when you’re not using it is a big tick in its favour.

This smartwatch, then, is perfect for those who want to keep an eye on their health and fitness, without needing nuanced and detailed breakdowns of their wellness. For that audience, it’s pretty good, though it falls short of being great.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active price in India

Launched on June 22, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active is priced at Rs 9,999 in India. However, during sales, it can be found for as low as Rs 8,999 — so it might be worth tracking the price for a bit before committing the purchase. On Amazon, it is available in black, blue, silver and white casing options. 

For reference, the Mi Watch Revolve from 2020 was priced at Rs 10,999. 

Design and display

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

As with most other watches, the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active comprises a body and two detachable straps. The included strap might feel a little too long, but they can easily be swapped out for any standard 22mm band. There are plenty of holes for a finer fit and beathability, while the thermoplastic polyurethane (which feels like a mix between rubber and plastic) keeps things comfortable.

The watch face is circular, with two crowns: one is used to navigate to the app menu, and the other the workouts list. There aren’t any embellishments – this is a pretty plain device. It’s very lightweight, weighing in at just under 40g, and so it’s very easy to ignore the watch when it’s on your wrist. Just don’t expect it to turn any heads.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active screen spans 1.39-inches across and it’s very bright and crisp. You will be able to view it even in direct sunlight. Thanks to the AMOLED tech, it is super-colourful and rich.

Unlike its competitors, we also found it to be quite smooth, with all animations on the screen feeling fluid, be it scrolling through menus or reading post-workout summaries. The refresh rate hasn’t been mentioned, but Xiaomi has done a good job with the optimizations. A responsive-feeling screen like this can be a joy to use, especially if you haven’t experienced it before.

At a time, the watch can hold only four watchfaces, but the app has a huge selection to choose from. There is something for every occasion and every outfit, so your preferences are likely to be matched.

Performance and software

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active runs on a custom operating system that is far from Wear OS but closer to RTOS — focussing more on the simpler functions and fitness tracking and less on notification management,

Navigation is quite simple, where horizontal swipes will cycle between widgets for weather, heart rate, energy level, last night’s sleep score, air quality, SpO2, music controls, etc. A swipe down reveals the quick toggles while a swipe up brings up the notifications.

Press the top crown and you get the app list; however, none of the icons have titles, so it’s initially incredibly confusing to find the feature you’re looking for. Stopwatch, timer and alarm all have clock icons, for example, so you’ll have to get used to this app list.

Once we got used to the Mi Watch Revolve Active’s confusing menu, we found the interface a little more intuitive – you never have to swipe or tap through too many menus to get to whichever tool or feature you’re looking for, and everything is sensibly laid out.

The watch can show notifications too, but the experience was very cumbersome. Multiple messages from the same chat might not all be shown. They are not arranged in chronological order and neither do they immediately disappear after having responded to. Add the fact that no messages can be replied to, and it’s easy to understand why this feature was not our favourite. We’d implore you to spend some time to get acquainted with the app and understand the notification system during the setup.

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active uses the Xiaomi Wear app on your phone, mainly for setting up the device and permissions, but it also lets you access more in-depth fitness information than you can see on the watch. It’s not exactly a comprehensive app, not compared to Fitbit or Amazfit’s alternatives, but it’s fine.

You also get Alexa integration, but the setup was quite a task, and even after that, it was nowhere as useful as something like Google Assistant. More often than not, it would be unable to answer our queries satisfactorily.

Fitness

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active has over a hundred sports modes, covering the essentials such as running and cycling as well as nice ones like ballet, surfing, equestrian, etc.

That number might be inflated by the inclusion of multiple modes that are essentially the same, though. It’s not clear how walking, trekking and hiking are different, for example – the metrics tracked for all three are identical, as are the resulting stats – yet they’re available as different modes.

Similarly, for modes such as football, it only measured the steps and calories burned, both of which seemed on the higher side.

Thankfully, the more common modes are well taken care of. For example, a run will track distance, time, calories burned, steps, cadence, pace, heart rate, VO2 max and the like. Additional information can be found on the Xiaomi Wear app, such as the route on a map along with a section-wise breakdown. 

We generally found the metrics tracked by the watch to be accurate, with the exception of distance, despite the fact the watch has built-in GPS. The distances were a little inconsistent – on our regular 8km run we regularly saw results that were up to 500m on either side of that.

The fact that this watch has built-in GPS is noteworthy though — not all low-cost smartwatches have the feature. This means you can go on a trip without your smartphone, and still have location data tracked.

If the fitness modes were okay, the health features were rather more suspect. There’s ‘energy’, which tells you how much energy you have at any given moment based on your sleep and workouts; sleep tracking, which gives you a breakdown of your different types of sleep; and stress monitoring, which gives you a level of how stressed you are.

We had issues with all three. The stress-tracking info seemed to bear no relation to how stressed we actually felt, and frequently over-or underestimated how stressed we were to a comical degree. Similarly, energy was based only on what the watch tracked, so if we woke up feeling drained or ate a sugary snack, the watch didn’t know this, so the energy level wasn’t affected. Therefore, it had little relation to how much energy we actually had.

We were also not fans of how exercises of the same muscle group had to be individually and manually tracked. Sure, people follow different splits at the gym but they would still include more than one exercise — making Xiaomi’s approach a hassle.

Sleep tracking seemed to conflate ‘being still’ with ‘asleep’ so if we read in bed before sleeping, or played on our phone immediately after waking up the watch still thought we were asleep. On one occasion, we took the watch off in the middle of the night and the watch though we’d woken up, throwing the energy level reading for the next day into disarray.

Oddly, the modes seem to take readings independently of each other. After a long run, the fitness report suggested a long rest while the energy tracker dismissed it as a ‘light workout’. Even the idle reminders were a hit or miss.

In short, if fitness tracking accuracy and granularity are important to you, you’re better off with a more fitness-inclined wearable.

Battery life

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Xiaomi claims that the Mi Watch Revolve Active has a battery life of 14 days with typical use. In our testing, the figure was close to 10 days which is still impressive. Few fitness trackers cross the one week mark, while smartwatches are even worse.

With the right mix of use, you should be able to get much better battery life. There’s also a long battery mode that turns off some features for added backup. 

Charging takes a little over an hour via the included magnetic cradle, which is great for a two-week smartwatch.

Verdict

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Buy it if...

You don’t want to charge your watch frequently

Two weeks is pretty good for smartwatch battery life, and the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active beats Wear OS and Watch OS competitors by about 13 days at that rate.

You like to work out without your phone

With built-in GPS, you can use the Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active for runs and get location data even if you exercise without your smartphone.

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Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve Active

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Don't buy it if...

You want to be able to respond to notifications

Very few watches in this segment offer proper notification management, let alone replying to messages. You will have to spring for a Wear OS smartwatch for the best experience.


Fitness is a big priority

While the watch has a barrage of tracking modes, many of them are half-baked or just not accurate enough for serious users.

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Aakash Jhaveri

Aakash is the engine that keeps TechRadar India running, using his experience and ideas to help consumers get to the right products via reviews, buying guides and explainers. Apart from phones, computers and cameras, he is obsessed with electric vehicles.