By Abhik Sengupta: While the Indian smart-wearable market continues to boom, Xiaomi has been relatively less visible in this space. This could be attributed to the smartphone maker’s more subdued approach to smartwatches compared to Indian players like Noise, boAt, Fire-Boltt, and Gizmore. However, Xiaomi is no stranger to this segment, having played a significant role in affordable wearables with its Mi Bands. The company’s ongoing efforts to regain its position in the market continue with smartwatches under the Redmi brand. But lately, Xiaomi has adopted a different mantra.
For instance, Xiaomi’s new Redmi Watch 3 Active offers almost everything that we get (and want) from smartwatches in the sub-Rs 3K segment. It provides useful health features, like a heart-rate monitor, a stress monitor, SpO2, and a sleep tracker. There are also some additional features (read: useful) like Theatre mode, Bluetooth calling, and SoS alert.
What sets the Redmi Watch 3 Active apart is its ability to give users more control over the interface and settings. For instance, users can easily customise widgets with the Mi Fitness app. Moreover, there’s the option to sync messages and even the calendar, which technically reduces your phone screen time. Most importantly, the smartwatch can run for 12 days on a single charge, which could be highly convenient for someone who dislikes charging the same device every day.
In that case, if you’re considering getting a new watch, should you think about the Rs 2,999-worth Redmi Watch 3 Active? Here is what you need to know.
Redmi Watch 3 Active design and display
At first glance, the Redmi Watch 3 Active may appear similar to an Apple Watch with its rectangular frame and soft rounded corners. The frame is mostly plastic though there’s a “non-conductive vacuum metallisation” coating to offer a premium look. It also keeps the smartwatch lightweight, considering there’s a 1.83-inch display. Personally, I do not mind the build quality, though I hope Xiaomi explores new designs, considering the Watch 3 Active closely resembles the Watch 2 Lite of last year. There’s 5ATM waterproofing.
That does not mean that the Watch 3 Active looks or feels sub-standard by any means. The metallic coating on the rims leaves a glossy finish that adds to its premium appearance. The side button also has a nice click on it. Customers can choose between charcoal black or platinum grey colours. For the review, I received the black unit, which I quite like in terms of looks. Additionally, I received an olive-green strap that looks better than the original black band. The price is also reasonable at just Rs 499.
My favourite part about the silicone strap is its similarity to Fitbit’s Sport band, complete with a quick-release pin. I prefer this much more than the classic metal buckle that we find on old watches and even some cheap smartwatches. Unless you’re allergic to silicone materials, the band on the Redmi Watch 3 Active is comfortable and easy to use. During my review, I did not find it uncomfortable, even when wearing the watch to bed.
The display on the Redmi Watch 3 Active offers adequate brightness outdoors and the touch response is decent. Scrolling between apps and other features is fairly smooth, though you may notice some stutters occasionally. The colours are also good, but I’ve seen better on smartwatches with AMOLED displays. However, using the large 1.83-inch display is surprisingly useful and fun.
The Redmi Watch 3 Active also cleared my general apprehensions about large displays on your wrist. Xiaomi has also added some thoughtful display features, such as the theatre mode that silences notifications and limits brightness when you’re watching a movie. There’s no always-on mode, but you can extend the auto lock by up to five minutes. While I still prefer an AOD mode, extending auto lock is a clever way to prologue the battery backup. Other features like ‘raise to wake’ and ‘cover display to enable sleep mode’ also worked seamlessly during one week-long review.
My advice for Xiaomi would be to reduce the bezels in their next Watch iteration. The thick bezels on the Redmi Watch 3 Active do not significantly hamper the viewing experience, but slimmer bezels would certainly give them bragging rights.
Redmi Watch 3 Active performance
Before I start, readers must note that I used the smartwatch with an Android phone, but they can also use it with an iPhone as well. I did not face any connectivity issues during my review.
In a nutshell, the Redmi Watch 3 Active packs almost all the features you’d expect from a smartwatch in the sub-Rs 3K segment. From setting up the watch to using it daily, the Redmi Watch 3 Active is quite a breeze. However, as the popular Hindi dialogue goes, “ye dil maange more” (the heart desires more), my feelings are somewhat similar.
Smartwatches in general never offer the most accurate measurements of your health metrics, and the same goes for the Redmi Watch 3 Active. These offer good reference points to track your healthy habits. Of course, the goal would be to be as accurate as possible.
The Redmi Watch 3 Active offers a mostly accurate reading of step counts, but I noticed inaccuracies while running at the gym. I compared the results with Fitbit Versa 4, and in some cases, the Redmi Watch 3 Active counted two extra steps. The bottom line is that you must walk an extra mile at the end of the day to hit your desired goal.
Sadly, there’s no altimeter to track changes in altitude or elevation. It could be highly useful to track when a person climbs stairs or goes up or down hills.
The Redmi Watch, at least, measured resting heart rate and SpO2 levels on almost all occasions. I compared the results with an over-the-counter oximeter. There’s also a stress calculator that offers a range between 1 to 100. I mostly got mild stress levels ranging between 30 and 40 (which I doubt). I would’ve liked an auto-stress tracking feature and notifications to get reminders to take deep breaths when the levels are high. Similarly, the sleep tracker is not always accurate but offers a good reference point. With the app, users can monitor their sleep stages (REM, light, and so on).
As I mentioned, the Redmi watch is more about the experience than the hardware. You can receive notifications, call logs, and even a calendar. I like the interface of the pre-set timers and the weather app. You can use the Redmi Watch 3 Active as a Bluetooth remote to click phones with the connected smartphone. There’s also Bluetooth calling, which surprisingly worked well during my testing. Typing out numbers on the big 1.83-inch display is a lot more convenient. With the app, users can even set their favourite contacts.
Redmi Watch 3 Active battery
Perhaps, my favourite part about the Redmi Watch 3 Active is the battery backup. Since there’s no AOD, there’s a much better backup per charge. Frankly, I haven’t charged the watch even once since I received the watch nearly nine days ago. This was achieved by keeping the wake time at 2 minutes. If you select five minutes, the backup per charge will drop.
Xiaomi claims a 12-day backup and two hours of charging time with the magnetic charger in the box.
Redmi Watch 3 Active verdict
Overall, the Redmi Watch 3 Active gets the basics right, and users will not have major complaints with the smartwatch. However, Xiaomi faces stiff competition from domestic players, and for all the right reasons. While the Rs 2,999 price tag may not seem significantly bloated compared to Apple Watches or Samsung Galaxy Watches, there are brands like Noise and boAt that offer smartwatches with similar features at relatively cheaper prices.
But the Redmi Watch 3 Active is more about the experience than the hardware or the price tag. In some cases, the smartwatch feels like a reliable extension of your smartphone. Compared to rivals in the segment, the Redmi Watch 3 Active’s strengths include a large display, battery backup, and an intuitive app experience.
Its weaknesses include a common design, no always-on display, and patchy auto-trackers. However, Xiaomi has a good track record of listening to fans and users. Only time will tell what comes next.