The Xiaomi Watch S1 and S1 Active both have premium designs and they feel good to hold and touch. They both have loads of features, including over a hundred fitness tracking modes, though some are more in-depth than others. However it's not exactly clear what justifies the higher price tag over previous Xiaomi smartwatches.
Useful watch face widgets
Good battery life
S1 doesn't justify price hike
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At the Xiaomi 12 launch, the Chinese tech company showed off a few extra gadgets, including the Xiaomi Watch S1 and Watch S1 Active, its two new smartwatches.
These two wearables are priced above the older Xiaomi Mi Watch, and so represent more premium wearable offerings than we're used to for the brand.
You won't find many differences between the watches, and that's because the changes begin and end with the design. The Watch S1 has circular crowns which stick out from the watch, as well as leather straps, while the Active has flatter square crowns and a sportier strap - oh, and it's the cheaper member of the family.
When the Xiaomi Watch S1 and S1 Active launch, we'll make sure to test them out to see if they're good for you - but at the Xiaomi 12 launch, we got just enough hands-on time with them both to see what they're like.
Xiaomi Watch S1 release date and price
The Xiaomi Watch S1 and S1 Active both go on sale on April 1 - in the UK at least, but we're waiting to hear about availability elsewhere. If you can wait, the Xiaomi 12 Pro release date is April 15 and a pre-order bonus for that phone is the Watch S1 Active.
If you're not buying it via pre-order, the Watch S1 Active costs £159 (about $210, AU$280) while the standard model costs £199 (around $260 / AU$350) - those are both steps up over the Mi Watch's price of £119 (around $165, AU$210).
The difference between the two new watches lies solely in the design - and we're not exactly sure whether the extra cost for the standard device is really worth it.
Design and display
Both the Xiaomi S1 smartwatches look similar, at least on the screen. They have 1.43-inch AMOLED touchscreens, which are as punchy and vibrant as you need for all the colorful menu icons.
Both handsets come with either black or silver bodies depending on which you opt for, and the Active also has a blue option, but the bodies themselves vary by watch. The standard model has a more traditional minimalist smartwatch look, and touts two circular crowns, while the Active has a more prominent bezel and flatter squarish crowns.
The differences continue to the bands. The Active has a silicon strap while the standard comes with both a fluororubber and leather strap in the box. That's real leather, not faux leather, like lots of smartwatch straps are made of, and it ensures you've got a piece of dead animal on your wrist all the time.
Both watches have a 5 ATM water resistance rating, but neither has an official IP rating.
In our images, the black watch is the Active while the one with the orange strap is the standard model. Both felt fairly comfortable and lightweight.
Performance and software
Both the Xiaomi Watch S1 models have exactly the same software and features.
The watches run Xiaomi's own operating system. It's been reworked slightly from on the Mi Watch, and we're big fans of the most noticeable change.
On most smartwatches, from the main watch face, you can swipe to the side for quick access to functions. Most of these are functional ones like a heart rate scanner, music controls, the weather, run mode quick-starting, and more.
On the Watch S1 models, each face has several app widgets, instead of just one. This means you can see your daily fitness goals at the same time as your sleep metrics, for example. It's not clear if the combinations of widgets are customizable. We didn't get to see the tie-in smartphone app to find out.
By bunding these widgets together, you don't have to swipe for ages to find a particular function, and this neat and tidy design likely makes using the watch a lot easier.
Xiaomi says the watch will last for two weeks between charges. Nice, long battery life like that is roughly standard for such smartwatches.
Xiaomi has advertised its new smartwatches as having over a hundred fitness modes, though the main workout menu has a limited list. All the main modes like running and walking are represented, but you can add more if there's a niche mode that you use frequently.
A hundred fitness modes sound like a lot, but not all of them are equal. Sure, when you use the running mode you'll likely be able to use the built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, and other features, but there are likely loads of other modes which only offer you limited tracking.
This was the case in the Mi Watch (and in wearables from loads of companies, in fairness), and while we didn't blitz through all the S1 modes, we imagine it's the same.
In fact, in our time with that previous smartwatch, we found that some of the health features had problems and bugs, so we're going to have to test these new watches to know if they're better for fitness and health.
Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.
He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.
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