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For fitness fanatics who lean on the extreme side of sport, this smartwatch is an excellent choice.
With its sporty exterior and extremely lightweight design, it’s clear Xiaomi wanted to position the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active as the ultimate fitness smartwatch, and dare we say they’ve succeeded with their goal. Our team has extensively reviewed the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, and this is why we think it’s the best budget smartwatch for fitness fanatics.
If you’re into fitness and you’re looking for more than a run-of-the-mill fitness tracker, we’d recommend the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active.
While we’ve nominated the Garmin Forerunner 45 for the best budget fitness tracker, for its hugely reliable series of tracking features, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is a smarter option for those of you who take fitness more seriously than tracking metrics. Plus, coming in at a similar price as the Garmin Forerunner 45 (the Garmin is £159.99), you definitely get more options for your budget.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active has extensive fitness features. The 117 fitness modes include everyday activities like walking, running, and cycling, as well as more unique sports such as curling, darts, and snorkelling. There’s also 19 professional fitness modes, with practices like basketball, tennis and swimming, as well as almost 100 extended fitness modes.
There’s never any doubt that your chosen workout is being tracked, too. The built-in dual-band GNSS chip supports five major satellite positioning systems to achieve more accurate positioning, giving you professional statistics. The smartwatch has auto-detection of three outdoor activities (running, walking and cycling) and knows where you are before you start your route.
If you’re serious about fitness, you’ll want a smartwatch which is as equally as attentive. Let’s find out if the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is for you.
The RadioTimes.com team were impressed with how lightweight this smartwatch is. If you’re wearing a watch to track your fitness, you don’t want to be able to notice you’re wearing a watch; like with uncomfortable clothing, anything to distract you from the task at hand is a big no.
The TPU strap is extremely lightweight and comfortable; it’s flexible and smooth, and bends round the wrist easily. The 1.43-inch circular screen is large and fairly thick, which is where the majority of the smartwatch’s 36.3g weight comes from. Unlike the Garmin vívosmart 5 — which made it virtually impossible to tell you were wearing a watch — the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is noticeable on your wrist. However, the smartwatch is comfortable.
We tested the Space Black-strapped smartwatch, but the TPU strap also comes in Ocean Blue, and for silicone options, there are Moon White, Orange, Yellow, and Green versions. We can’t speak for all of the straps, but the Space Black one is non-irritable on your skin when you’re sweating.
Despite its RRP of £159, you can get your hands on the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active in Space Black, Moon White or Ocean Blue from £139 at selected retailers. The interchangeable Orange, Yellow and Green straps are sold separately.
This smartwatch, targeted at fitness goers, was released to UK audiences in April 2022. It was launched at the same time as the Xiaomi Watch S1, and these two wearables are prices above the predecessor: the Xiaomi Mi Watch. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active retails for £159, whereas the Xiaomi Watch S1 is slightly more expensive at £199, and both are higher in cost than the older Xiaomi Mi Watch (£119).
Xiaomi definitely has a signature style when it comes to design. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, Xiaomi Watch S1, and Mi Watch are sleek, smooth and circular, and the Mi Watch Lite, Redmi Watch 2 Lite, and Redmi Smart Band Pro follow suit yet are more rectangular. The Mi Watch launched in 2020 alongside the Mi Watch Lite.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active connects to the Mi Fitness app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. On the Health screen, you’ll see an overview of your data: calories burnt, steps, how many minutes spent working out, sleep, heart rate, how long you’ve spent moving and standing, blood oxygen levels, stress, and PAI.
For those of you who are unsure what PAI is — admittedly, we weren’t certain until recently — it stands for Personal Activity Intelligence. You earn PAI points every time your heart rate increases, so, for example, when doing exercise, and people who achieve at least 100 PAI points per week live a longer life, on average.
The Device tab has things such as incoming calls, your emergency contact, and app notifications.
Profile includes all of the information you gave the app during launch: your gender, age, height, weight, and so on. There’s also the Workout tab, which we’ll come to in more detail later on.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active has a whole host of different functions. Here’s what you can expect:
Valued at £159 on the Xiaomi website, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is more than deserving of its price tag.
The 1.43-inch AMOLED high-refresh screen has high-definition graphics and seven different watch faces (with up to 200 downloadable ones); I chose the astronaut one.
There are three strap options to accompany the 36.3g metal bezel watch body and glass fibre-reinforced polyamide frame: Moon White (silicone), Ocean Blue, and Space Black (both TPU), and all are the same cost. You can also buy Orange, Yellow and Green straps separately, but these aren’t currently available. The Xiaomi website has told us to check back for strap updates, so we’ll update you as soon as we know.
It doesn’t look like there’s a warranty. You have 30 days to return the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active in its original packaging if there’s a manufacturing problem, and 14 days to return the smartwatch if it's in perfect working condition. Mi will cover the return cost.
Without a doubt, keep fit fanatics will think this smartwatch is good value for money, and as the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is primarily aimed at that audience, we would have to agree it has achieved its goal tenfold.
We were blown away with how many fitness modes the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active offers: 117 of them, including 19 professional modes. The variety of sports is outstanding, too. The smartwatch tracks activities like darts, tug of war, kite flying, curling, and bobsleigh, as well as more widely-played sports such as tennis, basketball, and HIIT. There’s also close to 100 extended fitness modes.
For water babies, there’s swimming, finswimming, water polo, and snorkelling fitness modes amongst others, and the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active has 5 ATM water-resistance which means it’s swim friendly up to 50-metres deep for 10-minutes. However, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active doesn’t have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. This defines how effectively electrical enclosures are sealed against things like dirt, dust and moisture. So although the smartwatch was absolutely fine when we wore it in the shower, we can’t guarantee it’ll be in tip top condition after extreme water sports like snorkelling, especially as it's water-resistant – not waterproof.
As well as fitness features, there are health ones, too, including women’s health. You can choose to track your periods on the Mi Fitness app, and your cycle will show on the app and the smartwatch. You can also set reminders around your period via the app, and the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active will display these like notifications.
There’s also mental health functions. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active has stress detection, and suggests breathing exercises to relieve physical and mental stress. At the risk of proposing something that turns into Her (2013 movie), could smartwatches include more to aid our mental health? For example, a Headspace subscription or ‘good morning’ notifications?
There aren’t any extras included with the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, for example, an interchangeable watch strap or app subscription, but we don’t think add-ons are necessary. The Mi Fitness app required to pair with the smartwatch is free — unlike Fitbit which charges £7.99 a month for its premium subscription to access functions such as sleep and stress tracking. You can sync the smartwatch data with additional apps like Strava and Apple Health, too.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is also durable: exactly what we’d expect from a fitness smartwatch. The frame is glass fibre-reinforced polyamide which is tough, and the TPU and silicone strap options are waterproof and tough, yet lightweight and flexible.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active design is best described as sleek, and none more so than the all Space Black version.
There are 200 watch faces to download, and the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active includes seven options as standard. I chose the astronaut one, and they all come in full colour, which was a nice change to the Garmin vívosmart 5 which exclusively had black and white watch faces.
The RadioTimes.com team were impressed with how responsive the smartwatch was, too. The two external buttons, coined ‘Home’ and ‘Sport’, take you to their respective apps. ‘Home’ directs you to the homepage, which includes apps like SpO2, sleep, and weather, whereas ‘Sport’ leads you to a workout. The side button on the bottom right-hand corner operates as your emergency call; click the button three times in a row to call your emergency contact, but remember: you need to have set the contact up in the Mi Fitness app on your smartphone first. It’s also extremely straightforward to navigate between functions.
If we had one teeny complaint, it’s that it’s annoying to press the external buttons twice to get to the ‘Home’ and ‘Sport’ screens when the always-on display isn’t activated. We understand it’s to unlock the smartwatch, then to access the relevant screen, but that’s our tiny annoyance.
Speaking of the always-on display, this handy feature prevents the smartwatch from locking and allows you to check the time quickly, as the always-on screen is a digital clock. It’s worth noting that the always-on display will deplete the smartwatch’s battery. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active has a 12-day battery life with typical usage, a 24-day battery life with battery saver mode, and a 30-hour battery life when in GPS mode.
The high-resolution display with 60Hz high refresh screen and high definition graphics is brilliant. Notifications, such as incoming calls, health reminders, and workout notifications, are displayed clearly even in direct sunlight.
We’ve already gushed over the extensive fitness features of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, but what other day-to-day features does it have? Let’s take a look.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active can connect to WiFi, alerts you to call and message notifications — you also have the option to silence these, too — supports your wireless earphones via Bluetooth, automatically adjusts brightness, has a find your phone option, plus allows you to snap photos on your watch which then appear in your smartphone’s camera roll. You can also use the watch to make contactless payments.
In terms of health features, the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active lets you monitor your breathing, stress levels, sleep, and blood oxygen levels (SpO2). You can customise the SpO2 monitoring, too, depending on whether you’d like it to track the levels all day or just during sleep. The smartwatch also vibrates when you’ve been sedentary for an hour to remind you to get up and move; don’t worry, though, it’s possible to turn this off when you’re, for example, travelling.
You already know this smartwatch has 117 fitness modes including 19 professional ones, such as tennis, basketball and HIIT. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active auto detects some workouts, such as running, and to get started with a workout, simply press the ‘Sport’ button, then push again on your selected workout. You can customise which workouts pop up on the ‘Sport’ screen. For example, if running isn’t your bag but more extreme sports are, simply remove the running workouts and add options from ‘other water sports’ and, for example, ‘winter sports’.
The 470mAh large battery and low power consumption means that you get 12-days battery on a typical usage. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active comes with a magnetic disk and USB cable which charges the smartwatch in just two and a half hours. When the smartwatch is charging, simply press either side button and you’ll see what per cent it’s on.
From box to wrist, the set-up took about 20 minutes and was relatively straightforward.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active packaging initially reminded us of a Swatch watch: it came in a big, long box and was heavy. The smartwatch inside was unusually positioned in a straight line, not wrapped around an imaginary wrist like the Garmin vívosmart 5 or Honor GS 3. The box has a photo of the smartwatch on the front, along with the name across the bottom. Along the side is what Xiaomi believes are the smartwatches stand out features: dual-frequency GPS, blood oxygen monitoring, 5 ATM water resistance, call making via Bluetooth, 100+ exercise modes, crisp and clear AMOLED HD display, and long-lasting battery life. On the back are the finer details: what the watch is, which Android and iOS systems support it, and what’s included in the box.
To pair the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active with your smartphone, download Mi Fitness on your smartphone, then create a Mi account. It’s super simple to do this and it’ll ask for statistics, such as your date of birth, gender, weight and height. Turn both the smartphone and smartwatch bluetooths on, then search for the compatible device to pair your phone with. This initially didn’t work for us: we had to delete the app and hard-restart the smartwatch before they connected. We’re sure this was an unlucky inconvenience as the pairing worked seamlessly after the restart.
Next, you can set goals to help you on your fitness journey: how many calories per day to burn, how many steps to walk, and how much to move.
The box contains a magnetic charging disk, USB charging cable, user manual, TPU strap, warranty notice, and, of course, the smartwatch itself. There isn’t an option to buy a plug.
One is ‘Active’, one isn’t. But which is better value for money?
Both smartwatches have the same display, a 326ppi high-resolution, with the same 1.43-inch screen. They have similar sleek looks, except the Xiaomi Watch S1 has a stainless steel bezel whereas the Active’s is metal, and the Active’s strap is either TPU or silicone, yet the Xiaomi Watch S1 has two calfskin leather and fluororubber straps included in the box for you to switch between. The bezel and the leather strap make the Xiaomi Watch S1 slightly heavier than the Active, coming in at 52g to the Active’s 36.3g. Although the Xiaomi Watch S1 is 5 ATM water-resistant, like the Active, you have to be mindful that you shouldn’t swim in a leather strap to avoid damaging it. The Xiaomi Watch S1's dome is sapphire glass, whereas the Active is glass fibre-reinforced polyamide.
Both smartwatches have the same features: 117 fitness modes, 19 professional fitness modes, always-on heart rate, blood oxygen tracking, sleep and stress monitoring, contactless payments, dual-band GPS, sensors, and emergency contact call.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active retails at £159, and the Xiaomi Watch S1 is available to buy for £199 on the Xiaomi website.
The Xiaomi Watch S1 arguably looks smarter with its sapphire glass face and leather strap, however, at £40 more, we don’t think a slightly more stylish exterior is worth it. So with this in mind, we’d recommend the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active.
If you’re after a fitness smartwatch, we’d absolutely recommend the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active.
This smartwatch is fantastic for fitness fans who like extreme sports too, as the smartwatch has the capability to track your workouts and is extremely durable. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is also great for people who sometimes leave the house without their smartphone, as you can listen to music and make contactless payments on the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active.
Overall star rating: 4/5