Ameya DalviAug 10, 2021 09:35:46 IST
Price: Rs 9,999
Xiaomi jumped from fitness bands to the fancier fitness watches category with the Mi Watch Revolve (Review) last year, which was a solid all-round option for the price. It’s successor has now arrived with the ‘Active’ suffix. Looking at the spec-sheet, one may say that it is just like its predecessor, but with an SpO2 sensor. However, there are a few changes, though its price isn’t one of them. Time to take the Mi Watch Revolve Active for a run and tell you what we liked about it and what we didn’t.
What we liked about the Mi Watch Revolve Active
Lightweight and comfortable to wear for long hours
While I liked the metal body of its predecessor, the company has replaced it with a glass fiber-reinforced polyamide shell (basically plastic, just more sturdy), making the watch quite light at just 32 grams (without strap). The preinstalled textured TPU strap is comfortable to wear for long hours and does not cause skin irritation. It has a standard 22 mm width and can be replaced with any third-party straps of the same width. The locking mechanism is quite simple and you can replace the strap on your own.
Excellent AMOLED screen
The AMOLED display is one of the standout features of this watch. The vibrant 3.53 cm circular touchscreen with a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels is quite sharp and responsive. There is no mention of Corning Gorilla Glass protection, but it does have a curved glass on top that blends nicely into the casing. You hardly spot any smudges on the screen, nor was there a single scratch after a few weeks of usage. You get five levels of brightness to choose from, along with an ‘auto’ mode. I used level 3 indoors, and level 4 is good enough under bright sunlight. In the current cloudy weather, even level 3 is perfectly legible outdoors.
The Mi Watch Revolve Active supports an always-on display, but it’s best to turn it off and use the flick-to-wake screen option; more on that a little later. Flick-to-wake worked well most of the time, and has the right amount of sensitivity. I seldom had to flick my wrist twice to turn the screen on. You also get a toggle in the quick settings to switch off the feature, or you can schedule it to stay off during your sleep hours, which is a smart thing to do.
A good collection of watch-faces
The company offers a library of over 100 watch-faces for the Mi Watch Revolve Active, and one can expect more in the future. This is probably the best collection among competing brands in this segment in India; not necessarily in terms of quantity, but definitely in quality. You get a good mix of analogue and digital options that provide a wide variety of information and stats. Though you cannot customise any of them, you are sure to find a handful of options that display the parameters that matter to you.
The Revolve Active lets you store quite a few faces on the watch itself that you can swap at will, without messing with the companion app. I am not sure what the upper limit is, or if there is one, but I currently have a dozen faces loaded on the watch. That’s a good feature, given that a lot of watches limit you to about five or six in addition to a couple of preinstalled ones.
Uncomplicated UI and a feature-rich app
The watch UI is fairly simple. Swipe down for notifications, swipe up for quick settings, and right or left to cycle through widgets such as daily activity progress, heart rate, sleep info, stress levels and more. The companion Xiaomi Wear app lets you choose the widgets you want to see there, which is a good option to have. The Revolve Active has two physical buttons on the right; the top button acts as a shortcut to the app library and also doubles up as a home button. The bottom button serves as a shortcut to workout modes.
The UI and animations are smooth and lag-free. The app shortcuts are represented by tiny square icons that are devoid of labels. It can get a little confusing initially to understand what is what, but the learning curve isn’t steep. Since this watch doesn’t run a smart OS such as Wear OS, you do not get an option to install additional apps, which is the case with most watches that run their own RTOS.
You need to install the Xiaomi Wear app to sync this watch with. It is available on Android as well as iOS. The app is quite simple, clutter-free and has a detailed breakdown of workouts and other fitness related parameters such as sleep, heart rate and stress. You get daily, weekly and monthly reports of your fitness activities, and most things are neatly organised and presented. It also lets you download newer watch-faces, and choose widgets to display on the watch, as well as the notifications you want to see on your wrist.
Generally reliable performance
The readings provided by the Mi Watch Revolve Active are fairly reliable, except for the occasional jump in heart rate displayed on the watch screen at the start of the workout; I don’t think it gets recorded though. Be it heart rate monitoring or blood oxygen levels, the sensors do a good job. The oximeter takes a little extra time to deliver a result, but accuracy is at par with dedicated over-the-counter oximeters. The GPS tracing is accurate and so is the step counter, with no false steps being recorded. GPS takes about 20 to 30 seconds to get a lock, which is acceptable, and the link stays strong during outdoor walks/jogs.
Sleep tracking seems to be on the money too. You get a proper breakup of your sleep pattern into deep sleep, light sleep, REM and awake time, along with a sleep score and a line or two on the sleep quality. More sleep doesn’t guarantee a higher score; it is a combination of quantity and quality. There’s stress monitoring based on heart rate variability and VO2 Max score too, hinting at the state of your cardio-respiratory health.
Last but not the least, there are 117 fitness modes, including 17 professional sports modes. Before you get too excited, let me add that these modes primarily track your quantum of workout and calories burnt. Don’t expect inputs to improve your skills in the said sport. The Revolve Active is 5ATM water resistant and can be worn during a swim without a worry.
Beyond fitness features, you also get notifications from selected apps on the watch. Given the decent screen size, the messages are perfectly legible on the watch screen. However, you cannot reply to them. It also displays incoming call alerts; you can either cut or silence a call, but cannot answer it from the watch. You also get music control options to handle your music playback without the need to pull your phone out.
Good battery backup
Xiaomi claims that the Mi Watch Revolve Active can go for two weeks on a full charge in ‘typical usage mode’, and it does get close. I managed to get about 12 days with ambient display off, flick-to-wake-screen enabled, screen brightness set to 3, a few notifications enabled, one hour of fitness activity on alternate days, approximately three hours of cumulative GPS usage, continuous heart rate monitoring on, four Oximeter readings daily and five nights of sleep tracking during that period. An hour more of GPS usage (that was denied to me due to rain) and daily sleep tracking can still push it over the 10-day mark, which is pretty good battery life for the segment, if not the best. The watch can be charged fully in well under two hours with the bundled charger.
What we did not like about the Mi Watch Revolve Active
We got the beige variant for review, and while it looks sporty, it has a certain dullness about it. Given that looks are subjective, I took multiple inputs on this matter, and most opinions weren’t favourable. The black or blue variants will likely look better than this, and less plasticky. I had absolutely no issues with the build quality though; the watch feels sturdy despite its light weight.
Alexa implementation is fairly limited
If you were expecting a full-fledged Alexa integration as in the case of Amazon devices, you are in for a disappointment. The Alexa features here are very limited. You can ask her basic questions about the weather and a few other things, and you get a reply in text on-screen, as there is no speaker on this watch. Yes, you can also control certain IoT devices at home from the watch that are connected to the Amazon ecosystem, but I couldn’t test that feature. I imagine that this is just the beginning, and perhaps we will have more features in the future.
Always-on display is a battery hog
As I mentioned earlier, the watch does support an always-on display, but it drains its battery faster than it should. The battery life drops to less than half with the feature turned on, which is too much of a sacrifice to see the time and a few basic extras. You cannot even schedule it to turn off during the sleep hours. Best to leave it off entirely and use the flick-wrist-to-wake-screen option.
Mi Watch Revolve Active: Price and verdict
The Mi Watch Revolve Active is priced at Rs 9,999, which is same as its predecessor’s launch price last year. It is commendable that Xiaomi has managed to squeeze in a few extra features without inflating the price tag. It is covered under a one year warranty. The price is more than fair, and though there are a couple of similarly priced competitors like the Realme Watch S Pro and Amazfit GTR 2e snapping at its heels, it manages to hold its own.
The overall performance of the Revolve Active is slightly better than that of the Realme, and weighs almost half, making it more comfortable around the wrist. The fitness data in the Xiaomi Wear app is more detailed too, in comparison. This Xiaomi watch and the Amazfit GTR 2e are evenly matched on almost every front, including their price, but the latter does have a more elegant design and longer battery life, while the the former has a better SpO2 sensor and better watch-face collection. Given their price, they are loaded to the brim with useful features, and neither will disappoint you.