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Xiaomi’s latest smartwatch puts the Pixel Watch to shame in a big way

The world of smartwatches has finally caught up with traditional watchmakers (and Apple) and has discovered that making something that goes on our wrists out of quality materials is the way forward.

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro — announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 — has a stainless steel case, sapphire crystal over the screen, and a soft leather strap. All that makes it far more desirable than ones made out of “lesser” materials. I’ve worn it to find out more.

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The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro’s elevated design

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro worn on a person's wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The brushed stainless steel case comes in either silver with a brown leather strap or black with a black flourorubber strap. The sapphire crystal is neatly chamfered around the bezel, covering a large 1.47-inch AMOLED screen. The screen’s bezel is surprisingly slim, especially compared to the Google Pixel Watch, and the 46mm case means it suits my 6.5-inch wrist better too. However, I appreciate others will prefer the Pixel Watch’s smaller size.

The case back seems to be made of glass and is cool and comfortable on my wrist, but the leather strap gets wrinkled almost immediately after putting it on for the first time. The leather is thin, and the brown color is (in my opinion) unattractive. It is a standard size, though, and is attached using quick-release pins, so it’s a simple and relatively cheap effort to replace it.

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro's case back and heart rate sensor.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

On the side of the case are a rotating crown and a single button, making the design reminiscent of the Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro. The crown is placed at the 2 o’clock position and has a delicate knurled finish for plenty of grip. However, the placement makes it awkward to twist with your finger, and the menus don’t always react as quickly as I’d like because of it. The lower button calls up the workout mode.

Although it’s a little generic in its overall shape and design, the use of stainless steel and sapphire gives the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro a touch of class and elevates it beyond the simple, minimalist look of the Google Pixel Watch.

A brand new (and familiar) operating system

The tile menu on the Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Watch S1 Pro is the first to use Xiaomi’s new Watch OS software, and not a version of Google’s Wear OS 3. It still takes plenty of inspiration from both Wear OS and Apple’s watchOS software. You swipe down on the screen to see notifications, up to find Quick Settings, and across to see widget-based tiles. Press the crown, and a bubble-based collection of app icons appears.

It’s fast and smooth to use, though, without much slowdown apart from when you check notifications. I really like the design of the tiles too, which have small widgets inside easily pressed icons to show more detail on heart rate, your sleep, and calendar, or to quickly access features like the timer. It looks great and is unlike the designs from the other two major smartwatch operating systems.

Xiaomi has added Alexa as the virtual assistant. There are plenty of watch faces to choose from, and a list of 100 activities to track. On the back of the watch is a heart rate sensor that also monitors blood oxygen levels, plus the S1 Pro has GPS built-in. I’ve had the smartwatch connected to the Xiaomi 13 Pro, and it has been reliable when delivering notifications, with plenty of text shown on the screen to help you make a quick decision about checking it further on your phone. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any apps that can be interacted with on your wrist.

I haven’t used the smartwatch for long enough to fully assess battery life, but Xiaomi estimates 14 days of use from the 500mAh cell. It’s recharged using a plastic puck that magnetically attaches to the back of the smartwatch. The 14 days of use seems optimistic — with the always-on screen active, the battery dropped by 10% in a single day, suggesting it may not last beyond 10 days if you make use of the primary features.

Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro: price and availability

The Xiaomi S1 Pro smartwatch will not be officially available in the U.S., but it is available to buy in the U.K from February 27. It costs 299 British pounds, which is around $358. You’ll be able to buy it from Xiaomi’s online store and its retail store too. It competes with the Apple Watch SE 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, and is slightly cheaper than the Google Pixel Watch.

Xiaomi had to step up its game when it comes to smartwatches, as there are many excellent models available at the moment. The premium materials and decent software make the Watch S1 Pro definitely worth investigating further, but the price perhaps isn’t as competitive as it needs to be to frighten the established competition.

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