Great hardware stifled by buggy software

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5

After getting India hooked to its Mi Band lineup of fitness trackers, Xiaomi recently launched the Mi Watch Revolve in the country. Priced at ₹10,999, the Mi Watch Revolve is meant to be a premium upgrade for existing Mi Band users or the first smartwatch for those who weren’t impressed by the sporty fitness tracker aesthetic. With its shiny metal case, AMOLED display, and compelling feature set, the smartwatch looks to be a great buy on paper. But does the Mi Watch Revolve have what it takes to replicate the Mi band lineup’s success? Read on to find out.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve: Specifications

Specification Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve
Dimensions & Weight
  • 46.2 x 53.3 x 11.4 mm (excluding straps and protrusions)
  • 40g (excluding strap)
Materials
  • Stainless steel case, silicone strap
Strap
  • Standard 22mm quick release
Display
  • 1.39-inch AMOLED touch display
  • 454 x 454 pixels
Compatibility
  • Android 4.4 or iOS 10 and above
Sensors
  • PPG heart rate sensor
  • Three-axis acceleration sensor
  • Gyroscope
  • Geomagnetic sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Baroreceptor
Connectivity
  • Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
  • GPS + GLONASS
NFC payments No
Battery 420mAh, proprietary charging dock
IP rating  5ATM water resistance, no IP rating
Colors Chrome Silver, Midnight Black

Note: Xiaomi India loaned us the Mi Watch Revolve in Chrome Silver for this review. This review was written after a month of use. Xiaomi did not have any input regarding the content of this review.

Mi Watch Revolve: Design & Display

The Mi Watch Revolve’s premium design is what sets it apart from Xiaomi’s Mi Band lineup of fitness trackers, even though it’s no more than a fitness tracker in function. It features a 46mm circular stainless steel case with an AMOLED touch display, a silicone strap with a traditional clasp, and two buttons on the right edge that control all of its functions.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review on wrist

While the stainless steel dial is machined quite well and doesn’t have any sharp edges, I’m not a fan of its size. The smartwatch looks massive on my wrist, and I can safely say that it’s not designed for those of you who prefer a more discreet look. On top of that, the Chrome Silver variant that I received is a tad too shiny for my taste, but thankfully, Xiaomi does offer a matte black variant.

The Mi Watch Revolve is massive and it’s not a great pick for anyone with slender wrists.

Despite the massive case, the Mi Watch Revolve features a 1.39-inch AMOLED display. This is because the display is surrounded by a thick bezel with dial marks. Xiaomi could have easily trimmed this bezel and offered a smaller 42mm or 44mm case with the same display, especially since these dial marks don’t really make sense on a digital watch.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review case back

The Chrome Silver Mi Watch Revolve comes with the Neptune Blue silicone strap, but Xiaomi does advertise three more color options — Cosmic Dust Maroon, Space Black, and Astral Olive. Xiaomi’s website also lists a fifth Midnight Black leather strap, but none of these alternative options were available for purchase at the time of writing this review. Thankfully, the Mi Watch Revolve makes use of standard 22mm quick-release straps, and there are plenty of third-party options that you can purchase if you don’t like the one included with the watch.

Coming to the display, the AMOLED panel on the Mi Watch Revolve has a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and a peak brightness of 450nits. The display is vibrant and gets sufficiently bright for optimal visibility in direct sunlight. The watch offers 5 levels of brightness settings, and I used it on level 3 for the majority of my testing with absolutely no issues. Thanks to the AMOLED panel, the watch also includes an always-on display option. You can turn it on to have the watch display the time and date even when you switch off the display. But I wouldn’t recommend using it as it reduces the watch’s battery life significantly.

Mi Watch Revolve: Features

As mentioned earlier, the Mi Watch Revolve is nothing but a souped-up fitness tracker. And as such, it offers pretty much all the features you’d find on a Mi Band. The watch includes 10 sports modes, continuous heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, notification alerts, and music playback controls. But unlike the Mi Band, the Mi Watch Revolve makes use of Firstbeat’s Motion algorithm to track a few other metrics as well. These include VO2 Max, body energy monitoring, and stress levels. You can keep track of all these metrics both on the watch and within the Xiaomi Wear app.

On the watch, you’ll find seven widgets to the right of the home screen, including Heart rate, Energy, Sleep, Weather, Stress, Music, and Activity History. As you can see in the attached images, these widgets display the most crucial information about each feature. The heart rate widget displays the current heart rate, along with the daily maximum and minimum figures.

The Energy widget shows your current energy level out of 100, the Sleep widget shows you information about last night’s sleep, the Weather widget shows the current temperature, daily min/max, and weather info, the Stress widget shows your daily average stress based on your heart rate variability, and the Activity History widget shows calories burnt, steps, and the number of times you stood up in a day.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review onboard apps

If you want to see more details for each of these features on the watch itself, you’ll need to open up the app drawer by clicking the top button, select the app, and then swipe through all of the available screens for additional details. In the app drawer, you’ll also find a couple of additional features like a breathing exercise timer, alarm clock, stopwatch, timer, air pressure gauge, compass, and a Find My Phone option.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review notifications shade

Along with these widgets, the watch also shows you incoming notifications for whitelisted apps. The notifications are displayed on the watch face as soon as they arrive, and you can view them later by pulling down the notification shade as you would on your Android smartphone. The watch also has a quick settings menu that you can access by swiping up on the home screen. It includes six quick settings tiles to turn on/off the flashlight, raise to wake, toggle DND mode, lock the display, disable automatic display shutoff, and open the full settings menu.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review quick settings panel

In the Settings menu, you can choose a different watch face, adjust the display brightness, turn on DND mode, configure the raise to wake feature, customize heart rate monitoring, enable/disable activity reminder, turn on Bluetooth disconnect reminder, configure additional display settings, adjust the vibration effect, and turn on a setting to light up the display whenever you receive a notification. You can also switch between installed watch faces by tapping and holding on the home screen, and then swiping through the available options.

Furthermore, the Mi Watch Revolve has GPS onboard. This is a great addition for those who don’t like to carry their smartphone when going out for a jog. On paper, these features seem adequate for a smartwatch in this price range. However, the Mi Watch Revolve is lacking a few features like camera shutter control, and we hope that Xiaomi may add this in a future update.

But before adding any new features, Xiaomi has to fix the multitude of bugs I encountered over the last month. Here’s a quick rundown of all the issues I experienced on the Mi Watch Revolve:

  • Step tracking is not accurate. The watch sometimes counts steps when I’m sitting down, and at times it doesn’t register anything even when I’m moving around.
  • The watch sometimes doesn’t record standing data at all, and even when it does, it’s mostly inaccurate. According to the data collected by the companion app, I didn’t stand up at all on two days in the last month. That’s unlikely.
  • The raise to wake function only works 50% of the time.
  • After declining an incoming call from the watch, it keeps vibrating for about 30 seconds.
  • Weather/temperature info doesn’t sync quite often, and even when it does, it’s sometimes inaccurate.
  • GPS takes about 10 minutes to lock on, which results in inaccurate location tracking.
  • Sleep tracking isn’t accurate, and the watch often shows lower/higher figures than the actual amount of sleep I got. On top of that, it doesn’t track daytime naps.
  • Syncing watch faces from the Xiaomi Wear app is a tedious process. The app often doesn’t load all the watch faces available and displays blank circles.Xiaomi Wear app Watch faces don't load
  • Downloading the watch faces that it does load takes a frustratingly long amount of time. And when the watch face does download, there’s no guarantee that it will successfully sync with the watch.
    Xiaomi Wear app VO2 max reading
  • The VO2 Max reading also doesn’t seem to be accurate. After a 15 minute brisk walk, I received a VO2 Max score of 0. I’m not exactly sure what to make of that.

And these issues aren’t limited to my unit. A quick look at the Play Store reviews for the Xiaomi Wear app shows that several early buyers are experiencing similar issues.

The Xiaomi Wear app currently has a 2.7-star rating on the Play Store due to a string of 1-star reviews posted by disgruntled Mi Watch Revolve buyers in the last few weeks.

Some users have also highlighted additional problems like the lack of a 12hr time format, no option to sync data from the Mi Fit app for existing Mi Band users, and more that I didn’t spot in my testing. This paints a terrible image for the Mi Watch Revolve, and Xiaomi needs to fix these issues ASAP if it wants to replicate the success it achieved with its Mi Band lineup.

Battery life & charging

At the moment, the only saving grace for the Mi Watch Revolve is its exceptional battery life. In my testing, the watch lasted 13 days on a single charge with continuous heart rate monitoring turned on, always-on display turned off, screen brightness set at level 3, moderate GPS use, and notifications turned on for 4 frequently used apps. This falls in line with Xiaomi’s 14-day battery life claim. However, the battery life took a massive hit while using the always-on display feature, and the watch dropped from 100% to 8% in just 8 days. Add to that frequent GPS use, and the watch’s battery life drops down to around 18 hours.

Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve review charging cradle

In my opinion, the always-on display feature isn’t worth the trade-off. It’s kind of redundant as you’re going to raise your wrist to check the time anyway, and the raise to wake feature should do the trick (if Xiaomi fixes it via an OTA update). The charging performance was also satisfactory, and the proprietary charging cradle managed to get the 420mAh battery back to 100% in about two hours.

Should you buy the Mi Watch Revolve?

As you might have already guessed by now, I’m not going to recommend the Mi Watch Revolve in its current state. Xiaomi really needs to step up its game and push an update (or several) to fix all the software issues with the smartwatch. And I might not recommend it even when these issues are fixed, since there are a couple of cheaper alternatives, like the Amazfit GTS (review) and Amazfit GTR (review), that offer more features and aren’t plagued by so many software issues.

In case you don’t wish to buy Amazfit’s older models, you can also wait for the upcoming GTR 2 and GTS 2 that were recently launched in the US and the UK. Amazfit’s second-gen smartwatches may be slightly more expensive than the Mi Watch Revolve, but they offer additional features like Amazon Alexa support, onboard music storage and playback, and more to justify their higher sticker price.

    Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve
    The Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve offers a vibrant display and great battery life, but the poor software experience leaves a lot to be desired.

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