For the money, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active feels like a better proposition than the Xiaomi Watch S1 – you get largely the same experience for less money. You’ll have to live with the sportier look, but if you’re after a smartwatch that offers decent fitness tracking in a slim, exercise-friendly design, then the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active fits the bill. For those searching out the best smartwatch at this price, however, there’s better options out there.
- Light, workout-friendly design
- Solid fitness and sleep-tracking support
- Good battery life
- Dual-band multi-system GPS isn’t super-accurate
- Heart rate accuracy
- Payment support didn’t work
- UKRRP: £159
- USARRP: $210
- EuropeRRP: €194
- CanadaRRP: CA$265
- AustraliaRRP: AU$280
1.43-inch AMOLED screen
Comes in 3 different case colours
Works with Android and iOS
Dual-band multi-system GPS
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is the sportier version of the Xiaomi Watch S1 smartwatch. While both models are different visually, their feature sets are near-identical, albeit with the Watch S1 Active those features are wrapped in design that feels better suited to the rigours of exercise.
At £159, the Active also comes in £40 cheaper than the Watch S1, but still delivers big features such as the new dual-band multi-system GPS for more accurate outdoor tracking, NFC for contactless payments, and Amazon Alexa integration.
As such, of the two new Xiaomi watches, it feels like the S1 Active could be the one to reach for.
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Design and Screen
- Three different case colours
- Lightweight design
- 1.43-inch AMOLED screen
- 5ATM water-resistance
The Watch S1 is the stylish model of Xiaomi’s two releases, with the Watch S1 Active being the fitness-focused option. And that becomes clear once you strap it on. The moment I put it on I found it feels like a much better fit for exercise than the S1 I’d just finished reviewing.
It doesn’t have the stainless steel or sapphire glass finish of the S1, but you do get a similar-sized 46mm watch case that’s available in a choice of Moon White, Space Black or Ocean Blue shades, with six different colours of fluororubber straps, too. The S1 Active is lighter than the S1, too, at just over 36g, making it much more comfortable to wear while you’re getting sweaty. There is some metal around the screen, which is eye-catching, delivering a more distinctive design over the Watch S1.
The physical buttons here are flatter compared to those on the Watch S1, but they operate in the same way to let you wake up the display, while the bottom one offers a shortcut to the workout tracking screen.
The screen here is identical to the S1: a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen with a 326ppi pixel density. It can be set to be always-on, although this will be to the detriment of battery life. The lack of sapphire glass does mean the S1 Watch Active lacks the added protection that this brings, but the screen is bright, offers good visibility indoors and in direct sunlight, and it doesn’t feel laggy in operation at all.
As far as delivering a design that feels more memorable and unique from the rest of the fitness-centric smartwatches out there, there’s a little more to the Watch S1 Active compared to the Watch S1. Crucially, it’s light and comfortable to wear, has a strong display, and is fit to work on land and in the water, if you fancy taking it for a dip, too.
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Features and Performance
- Works with Android and iOS
- Amazon Alexa integration
- Bluetooth calling
- Contactless payments via Mastercard
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active offers all the same smartwatch features as the Watch S1, and what that means is that you’re getting a good enough experience that’s a step up from that offered by the Xiaomi Mi Watch.
For starters, it’s compatible with both Android phones and iPhones, and I didn’t encounter any major issues pairing it with my Android device and setting it up for testing. Note that you’ll need the Mi Fitness phone app for setup, which is a bit quirky in places and presentation. The UI pushes a lot of information to you in a way that’s not entirely logical, especially if you’re coming off a Fitbit or Apple Watch. Many of the more useful information is hard to spot at a glance at a glance early on as a result. Thankfully, after a few minutes tinkering with the watch’s settings, you can get it into a state where it does the job.
On the watch itself, you’ll be using swipes from the main watch face to navigate. Xiaomi lets you adjust the app menu screen, view screens with multiple widgets, and you can of course switch up watch faces. There’s a good mix of digital and analogue faces to choose from here, including animated ones, with more available via the companion phone app.
Notification support works well, even if you can’t respond to incoming notifications as you can on most smartwatches this price. They’re easier to read, and you can clearly see where they’re coming in from. There are some easy-to-use music controls but no music player, although that’s no big surprise given the price of the S1 Active.
The S1 Active’s headline features include smart assistant support for Amazon Alexa, the ability to take calls via Bluetooth, and contactless payments via Mastercard. Two out of the three worked fine during testing.
Alexa integration is similar to Amazfit and Fitbit’s offerings, letting you ask simple queries with responses displayed on-screen. Once you’ve set up Bluetooth calling in the companion app, you’ll receive calls to the device that are of acceptable call quality and loudness. However, the payment support feature simply didn’t work for me, crashing on the few attempts I tried to set it up.
Overall, then, Xiaomi doesn’t break new ground here. However, the company has at least attempted to offer a richer array of smartwatch features to match the slick and intuitive user interface over its previous watches.
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- Generous number of fitness tracking modes
- Dual-band multi-system GPS
- SpO2 monitoring
In terms of health, fitness and sports tracking, everything the Xiaomi Watch S1 can do, the Watch S1 Active can do, too – but in a lighter and more exercise-friendly design. I’d say the Watch S1 Active is a better fitness tracker than a sports watch, but there are some decent elements on that front as well.
So, for sensors you have both accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors for tracking indoor activities or swims, as well as covert monitoring of steps. There’s air pressure and magnetic sensors for additional outdoor data and a PPG heart rate sensor, which is also capable of measuring blood oxygen levels.
Head outdoors and the Watch S1 Active offers support for the five big satellite systems including GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. Xiaomi includes dual-band multi-system GPS, too, whereby the device grabs multiple signals from supported systems to deliver more accurate location tracking.
Much like the Watch S1, though, I found that pr