Redmi Watch 2 Lite launched earlier this month alongside the Redmi Note 11 Pro and Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G. In a smartphone first country like ours, any device launching alongside phones could lose their thunder. At the event, I felt like Redmi Watch 2 Lite lost its opportunity to shine as well. However, as the watch ticked on my wrist, I realised it has a lot of stories to tell.
The most obvious one being that the definition of smartwatch is subject to interpretation. A smartwatch in my textbook might not satisfy the rules in yours and a smartwatch or any wearable, for that matter, can do many functions with emphasis on one or two things. The Redmi Watch 2 Lite is in the latter camp with emphasis on price, design and a mix of features that you may or may not use. All those features are meant to help it challenge boAt, Noise, and others in the market. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.
Design and display
The raison d’etre of Redmi Watch 2 Lite is its design. Redmi is of the view that there aren’t many wearables in the sub-Rs 5,000 price segment that really look good and Redmi Watch 2 Lite definitely looks good. Like how every Chronograph gets compared to Rolex Daytona or Omega Speedmaster, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite also draws immediate comparison to Apple Watch.
Apple Watch has cemented itself as the de facto standard for square-shaped smartwatches and Redmi Watch 2 Lite draws that comparison because of this shape. However, this shape of affordable wearable is neither too thick nor clunky. It is plasticky but has been machined to look much more expensive than its price. The circular edges and straight lines make a statement and force people to ask “is that an Apple Watch?”
The square watch frame comes in three colours (ivory, black, and blue), is 10.7mm thick and weighs 35 grams including the strap. The use of plastic means it is extremely light and there are times when you won’t even feel like wearing one on your wrist. The watch strap is being offered in five different colours – ivory, black, blue, pink, and olive. Our review unit came with black frame and black strap, which makes it the most neutral looking of all the colours.
The strap is made of TPU material and has adjustable length of between 140 and 210mm and the mechanism used to secure the strap means that you won’t be able to find third-party options. Redmi says the Watch 2 Lite has a waterproof level of 5ATM, which means it can withstand a pressure of 5 bar or a water column of 50 metres. I am happy to say it survived the constant drenching in water during Holi and even survived washing hands and showering.
There is a 1.55-inch square display that uses a TFT screen with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels. During my time testing the device, I found the display to get plenty bright and I found myself using the watch with brightness set to 3 with 5 being the maximum. Sadly, there is no auto-brightness but that would have meant Redmi Watch 2 Lite punching above its weight. There is no always-on display but it does support raise to wake, which I found to have a noticeable lag.
On the right hand side of the frame, there is a single button which helps you turn on the display, access the main menu, and end the activity. This button is easy to access even with sweaty hands and does the job well. On the backside, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite houses all the sensors and magnetic charging port. In a nutshell, Redmi Watch 2 Lite has an inspired design executed to perfection but I would have opted for a different mechanism for its strap.
Activity tracking and other features
The housing of the Redmi Watch 2 Lite packs an optical heart rate sensor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and an electronic compass. It also supports standalone GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou for tracking the route of your activity. There is support for 24-hour heart rate tracking, continuous SpO2 tracking, and support for over 100 fitness modes.
When I first received the watch, I ran into an issue where the watch was able to track my activity but was not able to crunch the data into meaningful insights. Redmi quickly replaced that unit with a new one that was able to better translate the data. Of the 100+ activities supported, I only tried walking, outdoor running, and outdoor cycling. I was sceptical about the accuracy but I can say that Xiaomi has come a long way from the original Mi Band days when it comes to data accuracy.
In terms of activity, the data recorded by Redmi Watch 2 Lite were as accurate as those recorded by my Fitbit and Huawei Watch GT 2. There were times when it failed to offer me a stat like max pace during a walk or a run but the average pace reading was closer to other wearables at my disposal. Since it is not meant to be a core fitness device, the accuracy is also not the best in the business.
With select activities, I observed that Redmi Watch 2 Lite did not always break down the heart rate zone into an accurate representation. But then I bumped into a friend of mine who was wearing a Noise fitness watch and he did not even know that his wearable could offer such granular data. From step count, calories burned, to cadence, heart rate zone, and pace, Redmi Watch 2 Lite offers a lot of data.
I wouldn’t count them as the most accurate but it is better to have some kind of data than no data at all. One of the major downsides with activity tracking on Redmi Watch 2 Lite, in my opinion, is the need to tighten the watch strap. It often meant wearing it one step closer than your comfort level. The 24-hour heart rate monitoring worked well, sleep tracking was rather accurate but the SpO2 monitoring always showed me at 97 percent while the medical grade oximeter showed me 99 percent.
For a lot of people, the first batch of wearables or fitness trackers mainly acted as a means to measure their step count. I think the same holds true for the Redmi Watch 2 Lite as well. Most people will use it to track steps and calories burned and it excels at those talks. However, if you are serious about tracking your exercise and fitness activities, you should not only look elsewhere but also be prepared to pay a premium for accurate measurement.
Battery life and user interface
The Redmi Watch 2 Lite is rated to last for up to 10 days but I found myself charging it after 6 or 7 days. This is mainly because I kept the brightness at level 3 and used activity tracking. I also set heart rate monitoring to work at 30 minutes intervals, blood oxygen also set to every 30 minutes during sleep, stress monitoring set to all day, sleep monitoring set to advanced, and idle alerts for when sedentary for more than an hour.
That’s a lot of work for a wearable with just 262mAh battery. For most users, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite will require charging once every week but you can drain the battery in five days if you max the brightness and tweak the frequency of heart rate monitoring and other health tracking features.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite has a relatively simple user interface from the primary watchface to the menu layout. The menu can be viewed either in grid form or in the form of a list and there are four watch faces preloaded on the device. You can download many watch faces online and there is one in particular, called White Dance, that I liked the most. It only only gives an analogue vibe but also resembles the ‘California’ watch face offered by Apple.
You swipe down to access notifications while swiping up shows watch controls and you can swipe left or right to access information like heart rate, sleep data, weather, and other information. To access the full set of watch features on your smartphone, you will need to download the Mi Fitness app, which was previously called Xiaomi Wear.
The app is a must for you to activate the smartwatch and set core functions. It is also necessary to download any software update pushed by Redmi. Of course, you will need the watch to change watch face, download new watch face.
Further, the app lets you control the notifications and various fitness features available on the wearable. The app opens to a view called Health that shows your step count for the day, latest information on sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen, et cetera. It also shows the details of your last activity with the watch. This tab is followed by workout, device, and profile. The app is not much different from Huawei Health app in terms of its design.
India’s smartwatch market saw record 274 percent growth last year and surprisingly, Xiaomi did not feature in the top five list. With Noise leading and boAt not far behind, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite is designed with the goal of helping Xiaomi regain the lost ground. The biggest competition for Redmi Watch 2 Lite comes in the form of Noise ColorFit Ultra 2 and boAt Watch Xplorer O2, both of which prioritise design.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite is also specifically designed to look impressive with a square display and rounded corners. It is extremely lightweight and seamlessly blends with both business as well as casual attire. There is also a host of health and fitness-centric features that add to the strengths of this wearable. At Rs 4,999, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite is a well designed, affordably priced smartwatch that can compete against similar devices from rivals in the segment.
Pricebaba’s rating: 7.5/10
- Lightweight design
- Bright display
- Decent battery life
- 5ATM rating
- Raise to wake feature could be faster
- Less cumbersome strap mechanism
- Need to wear it tightly for activity tracking