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I wore a smartwatch that’s unlike any you’ve seen before

A person wearing the Xiaomi Watch S3 with yellow strap and bezel.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

How do you make smartwatch design interesting? It’s difficult, as few will accept something unusual like a triangular case (unless you’re a Men in Black fan) or anything overtly fancy. As such, most stick with the tried-and-tested way of providing a few bezel designs to choose from at the time of purchase and then alternative straps down the road.

Xiaomi has taken this one step further in its quest to make an eye-catching, fun smartwatch. On its new Xiaomi Watch S3, you can quickly change both the strap and the bezel to suit your taste, outfit, and lifestyle at any time. I’ve been doing exactly that, and it has been brilliant.

What makes the Xiaomi Watch S3 unique

The Xiaomi Watch S3's bezels.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Xiaomi Watch S3 looks exactly like most other smartwatches as it has a circular case made of aluminum and a strap attached to it. However, with a swift twist, the bezel comes away from the watch, and by using the quick-release pins, the strap comes free in a similarly short amount of time. It then takes no time at all to replace them both with alternative versions, entirely changing the look of the smartwatch in the process.

While swapping the strap for another on the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 makes it look different, the case remains exactly the same. This isn’t the way with the Xiaomi Watch S3, as it really does become a different watch once you’ve changed the bezel. Xiaomi has made another crucial alteration really simple, too, as when you click the bezel into place, it immediately suggests you enable a custom, made-for-the-bezel watch face to go with it.

The side of the Xiaomi Watch S3.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

In less than two minutes, the Xiaomi Watch S3’s entire style is altered, meaning you can do it as often as you like, even multiple times a day if the mood takes you. Just look at the photos.

It’s easy to think there are three different smartwatches shown, but in reality, it’s the same one, just with a different bezel and strap. The small lugs emphasize the case and bezel, and perhaps the only downside is the case itself remains a simple black or silver color, so while it still goes with everything and rarely looks completely wrong, it doesn’t quite match in the same way as it would if the smartwatch was designed with a single color scheme in mind.

Plenty of bezels to choose from

A person wearing the Xiaomi Watch S3 with a black strap and bezel.
The standard black strap, bezel, and custom watch face Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I was sent the Xiaomi Watch S3 in black with a black bezel and black strap. It’s good-looking but unassuming. Luckily, I could jazz it up with the Ocean Blue strap and bezel combo or a brighter yellow strap and bezel, both complete with diver-style count-up number scales. The blue version’s bezel is made of stainless steel, while the yellow is made of ceramic, so both give a high-class look to the watch when attached.

A person wearing the Xiaomi Watch S3 with a blue strap and bezel.
The Ocean Blue strap, bezel, and custom watch face Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The straps are made of leather and have quickly adapted to my wrist, proving lightweight and flexible and also comfortable enough to be worn overnight. There are two other options: the first is a fantastic dual-color (black and green, so very on-trend) ceramic bezel that I think would go well with the standard black strap, more so than the unusual dual-color leather strap that’s officially paired with it. Finally, there’s a carbon fiber rainbow version, matched with a leather strap with colored stitching.

A person wearing the Xiaomi Watch S3 with yellow strap and bezel.
The yellow strap, bezel, and custom watch face Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It’s a sensible array of options that doesn’t overwhelm and suitably taps into the world of watches, both fashion and luxury, through design choices. The materials used make the bezels feel and look expensive, and the straps are really comfortable. Xiaomi has done something different but hasn’t cut any corners in the process, making it a far more desirable end product.

A good overall smartwatch experience

A person wearing the Xiaomi Watch S3 with yellow strap and bezel.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Xiaomi Watch S3 doesn’t use Google’s Wear OS software; instead, it has Xiaomi’s HyperOS shown on the 1.43-inch AMOLED screen. The platform is Xiaomi’s push towards software suitable for a wide range of devices, such as smartphones and even electric cars. I recently used it on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone, where it didn’t really differ from its older MIUI interface over Android. On the Watch S3, it is more individual but doesn’t deviate far from the usual swipe-based gesture controls.

I like how it approaches Tiles though, as it shows multiple small squares on a single screen by default, but you can also change the layout if it’s a little small or busy for your taste. There’s a helpful always-on screen so it shows the time when it’s not being used, the raise-to-wake gesture is fast and reliable, and the overall performance is excellent — making the software a slick, smooth experience. Xiaomi has employed Amazon’s Alexa to act as the virtual assistant, and it’s a great choice.

The back of the Xiaomi Watch S3.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve used the Xiaomi Watch S3 connected to the Xiaomi 14 Ultra and the OnePlus 12, and it has delivered notifications reliably, although there isn’t much interaction available. It uses the Xiaomi Mi Fitness app to connect, which is colorful, clearly laid out, and informative.

It’s reminiscent of Samsung’s Health app and contains enough data points to interest both the casual and the more experienced exerciser, but it’s not as comprehensive as more expensive health wearables. For example, the sleep tracking doesn’t include heart rate variability (HRV) data. The battery has lasted for about 10 days on a single charge.

Where you can buy the Xiaomi Watch S3

The Xiaomi Watch S3 with the blue bezel and strap.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Xiaomi doesn’t officially sell its mobile devices in the U.S., but the Watch S3 is available in the U.K., and it’s sold for a very reasonable 120 British pounds at the time of writing. That said, it will increase to 130 pounds at the end of the current promotion. This converts over to $150, which is half the cost of an Apple Watch and about the same as you pay for a much less stylish Fitbit Charge 6, which also has a subscription model attached to its app.

Currently, Xiaomi has four different strap and bezel combinations available, and if you want the pair, it costs approximately 40 pounds, or around $50. If you buy the smartwatch and all four bezel and strap combinations, it’ll still work out about the same as just the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 on its own. However, just a pair of different bezels and straps will probably be enough, and considering the smartwatch itself is decent, it all represents very good value.

Is this the future of smartwatch design?

A person holding a yellow bezel for the Xiaomi Watch S3.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Xiaomi isn’t the first to offer a watch with interchangeable bezels, but it’s almost certainly the first smartwatch to incorporate the feature. Whether it’ll influence other brands remains to be seen, but it would be fantastic if third-party companies also made straps and bezels (of similar quality), helping Xiaomi increase the number of options available.

But fun bezels and straps would mean nothing if the Watch S3 itself wasn’t very good, but this isn’t the case. It’s way better than the price suggests. I’ve enjoyed wearing it, and the app is informative enough to keep me interested. Good design, a fun and expertly implemented feature, most of the health data you need, and all at a reasonable price? The Xiaomi Watch S3 is an easy recommendation.

Editors' Recommendations

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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