Xiaomi Watch S1 Active in the test: The affordable alternative

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active follows the Xiaomi Watch S1 (test). Even if the watches appear almost identical from a purely technical point of view, we also put the sporty model of the S1 through our test course. Because there are a few differences that we would like to present to you in more detail at this point.
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active in the test – more sporty than elegant
In particular, there is the design and the processing. Because if you choose the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active, you choose the significantly less valuable model. While the normal S1 variant is also clearly intended to appeal to business customers, the Active version is clearly tailored to customers who are enthusiastic about sports. The housing made of glass fiber reinforced polyamide (plastic) is available in blue, black or white, just like the bracelet. The blue model we tested has a TPU strap, just like the black version. According to the Chinese manufacturer, the white version has a silicone strap.
A rather narrow metal bezel runs around the round display. What kind of metal it is in detail, Xiaomi leaves us in the dark. The imprints Active (bottom left), Outdoor (top left) and Sport (bottom right) are supplemented by Home (top right). Clear indications that we are holding a multisport GPS smartwatch in our hands. The screen itself: a 1.43-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels, which is quite high for a smartwatch.
The touch display is easy to read even in strong sunlight. This is ensured by a brightness sensor that automatically adjusts the screen brightness to the ambient light. With a manual setting, five brightness levels are available. In addition to the touchscreen, it can also be operated using two menu buttons on the right-hand side. The upper button to return to the home screen or to go to the widget overview, the lower one to start the workout mode.

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is pleasantly flat.

Uncomplicated setup

You will not experience any surprises if you want to set up the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active for use on the wrist. We paired the watch with an Apple iPhone 13 Pro for this test. The setup starts on the watch itself, but after selecting the desired language, it forwards you directly to the "Mi Fitness" app. There, the setup is then completed on the smartphone.
And with the Active variant, too, we had to experience that two Bluetooth connections were set up in parallel on the iPhone. One of the consequences we observed: In a Kia Ceed (model year 2014) it was no longer possible to synchronize the call list and contacts between the smartphone and the hands-free system. This does not happen with watches from many other manufacturers; we have only had to observe similar difficulties with wearables from Huawei.
You should bring enough time if the watch has updates ready for you. We were able to install two of them as part of our test. Immediately after setup, we were invited to install an update to firmware version 1.2.105. And that took… a very long time… a very, very long time. It took around 60 minutes for the update to be downloaded, synchronized and fully installed. Shortly before the end of the test, the watch delivered a smaller update to version 1.3.113, which was completed much faster in around ten minutes.

Before starting, explore Mi Fitness App

If you think that everything is done after the initial setup, you did the calculation without Xiaomi. Because you should then deal with the Mi Fitness App in detail. Countless setting options are slumbering here, with which you can adapt your new smartwatch to your needs.
For example, you can activate an extended sleep tracker that also records REM sleep phases, but just as little as the standard version determines a sleep score or similar. A stress level tracker and measuring blood oxygen content (SpO2) can also be switched on. These are all functions that put a strain on the battery, but in our opinion they make a smartwatch really worth experiencing.
However, simply activating the functions hidden in the app is not enough. Because you can often delve even deeper into the settings. For example, the heart rate sensor installed on the back can be set so that it measures the pulse either every minute or only every 5, 10 or 30 minutes. Deactivation is of course also possible – to save the battery. You can either use the SpO2 tracking all day or only at night. A specific measurement of the oxygen content of the blood takes place either every 10 or 30 minutes.
Numerous vital data that have already been collected are summarized on the start page of the Mi Fitness app.

Workout view in Mi Fitness app

If you wish, you can also start a workout in the Mi Fitness app.

Summary of nightly SpO2 tracking.

The sleep tracker provides interesting insights, but does not calculate a sleep score.
If you like, you can also adjust the watch settings directly in the app.
In the personal profile it is possible to change many settings.

The watch as a smartphone replacement, but…

Practical: If the watch is connected to a smartphone, you can make calls directly from your wrist. Because the watch has a microphone and speaker, you can use it to take calls and return missed calls right from your wrist. What doesn't work: Start a call with a number from the smartphone's address book right on your wrist. Unfortunately, there is also no number pad for manually entering a phone number. It is also worth mentioning that the speaker makes the caller sound extremely tinny. The Bluetooth telephony of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is absolutely sufficient for relaxed telephoning in the home office.
The interaction between the watch and the iPhone is not convincing with regard to the synchronization of notifications that arrive on the smartphone via push notification. In fact, if you wish, you can also collect the notifications on the Xiaomi smartwatch in a notification center to read them there. Problem: If you read them there and then delete them, they are not automatically removed from the mobile phone as well.
If desired, push notifications from the smartphone can also be sent directly to the smartwatch
Of course, that's not a big problem. But sometimes a bit annoying, because twice the work is waiting for the user. Garmin, for example, solves this much better with its GPS watches. In the other direction, the Watch S1 Active is also up to date. If you remove a notification on the smartphone, it also disappears immediately in the watch's message center if pairing is active.

Strong performance during running training

Of course, we also put the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active to the test with regard to the built-in workout functions. And they can really be seen. Almost 120 sport profiles are available, the watch is water resistant (5 ATM) and while the GPS accuracy could perhaps be a bit more precise, we were really impressed by the watch's performance during several running sessions. Because the accuracy of the heart rate measurement during a workout can easily keep up with premium models from other manufacturers. In addition, GPS pairing is surprisingly quick. It only takes 10 to 15 seconds for the smartwatch to establish a connection to the supported satellite systems for position determination.
Workout mode on the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active: Pulse zones can also be viewed.
Are there also disadvantages for athletes? Yes there is. For example the fact that the watch does not provide any indication of how long a rest break should be taken after a workout. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active also does not provide recommendations for the amount of fluid intake after a workout. In addition, the automatic training recognition of the watch only works when running and walking.
We really liked the emergency function stored in the app. Pressing the sports button (bottom right) three times is enough to be able to call a specified emergency contact directly from the watch. Of course, the watch must be connected to the smartphone and the cell phone must be able to establish a mobile connection. The emergency button doesn't help much in dead spots either.

The battery life: good!

And how does the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active fare in terms of battery life? In one word: good! We tested two scenarios: the runtime without the always-on display (AOD) turned on and the one with the AOD turned on. We have not changed any other setting parameters. Means: Among other things, a minutely heart rate measurement, nocturnal SpO2 tracking and an activated stress level tracker were used.
Runtime with AOD turned on: Approximately 7 days Runtime without AOD turned on: Approximately 3.5 days
However, these two values are only examples. You can influence the running time of the clock with other settings both positively and negatively. The values measured by us are only for rough orientation. Xiaomi itself promises up to 24 days of use in energy-saving mode. Recharging the energy store from 25 to 100 percent took around 90 minutes in the test using the supplied USB charging cable.
On the back of the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active you can find the charging points in addition to the sensors.

How much does the Xiaomi Watch S1 Active cost?

Perhaps the best news, however, is that the Active version of the Xiaomi Watch S1 is significantly cheaper than its noble sister model. On paper there is a non-binding retail price (RRP) of 179 euros. With the Watch S1, it's 229 euros that you have to be willing to pay. In fact, the price of the S1 Active has already fallen. The following price comparison shows you where you can currently make a bargain.

Conclusion: Good for beginners

The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active is an equally good and inexpensive fitness smartwatch for beginners. It provides all the important basic functions that you could wish for. However, it lacks premium features such as the option to download topographical maps, the installation of apps, recommendations for the load during the next training session or workout animations. Here the difference to high-priced watches from manufacturers such as Garmin, Polar or Suunto is clearly noticeable.
And something else bothered us in the test: the software was not yet fully developed in some places. During the test of the Xiaomi Watch S1, we observed that the measured daily values suddenly reset to 0 on one day. At the time, we blamed it on an accidental key combination or something similar, but now we had to watch it again with the Watch S1 Active.
In addition, in the test of the Active version, we were woken up every morning at 7 a.m. with an alarm clock (even on weekends!), although no alarm clock was set at all. This error only disappeared after the clock was reset to the factory settings – only to reappear later at 9 a.m. There may be something wrong with the clock's Do Not Disturb (BNS) feature, which can be set to a specific period of time and after which we observed the alarm issues.
Annoying: an alarm clock every morning – even without an activated alarm clock.


Large, bright AMOLED displayGood battery lifeMany sport profilesWaterproof (5 ATM)Barometer and altimeter can be usedBluetooth calls on the wrist possibleAlexa voice assistant integrated


Does not count floorsOnly calculates calorie consumption from activity minutesNo recommendations for rest breaks or liquid intakeSoftware partially still with errorsWLAN function cannot be used in combination with an iPhoneXiaomi Pay for NFC payments with a German bank not yet compatible Double Bluetooth connection on an iPhone
Note: This test report was largely based on firmware version 1.2.105. The Xiaomi Watch S1 Active was connected to an iPhone 13 Pro with installed Mi Fitness app in version 3.2.1.

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