which should you go for?

We recently reviewed Xiaomi Watch S1 and found it to be a solid performer. It is a great choice if you are looking for a fitness and health timepiece. Also in our possession is the Active version of the same. In this article we compare Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active.

Purchase Xiaomi Watch S1 if you want an elegant fitness device that is affordable and gives you a bit of everything. The S1 Active comes with much of the same functionality, but a less premium build. This means that it sells at around a $60 discount.

Which of the two should you go for? Read on to find out.

Jump to

Design & hardware
Features
The verdict


Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active: Design & hardware

The biggest difference between Xiaomi Watch S1 and S1 Active is to do with the design. What they share is the same circular build and overall look. The display is also identical. So whichever device you purchase you’ll get a beautiful 1.43 inch AMOLED display with 326 PPI and 450 nits of brightness.

This is actually one of the best screens we have come across. Everything shows up incredibly sharp, crisp and clear regardless whether you are in or outdoors thanks to the 60Hz refresh rate. You also have an optional always-on setting. This will, however, eat into battery life quite a bit.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

Touch functionality is excellent, never failing to register a tap, swipe or press of the two physical buttons on the right. The watches run on a proprietary Xiaomi operating system which is slick, fast and simple to use.

As its name implies, the S1 Active packs a more sporty design. This is entirely to do with the build. Its case is constructed of Glass fibre-reinforced polyamide and there’s a metal bezel around the sides. Due to this type of build, at 36.3 grams the device is very lightweight. As far as the actual dimensions, they come in at 46.5 x 47.3 x 11mm.

Compare this with Watch S1 – and that one is a slightly smaller version built with more premium materials. This includes a 316L grade stainless steel case which gives a very smart feel to the device. There’s also Sapphire glass which is extremely hard, with scratch resistance far exceeding that of ordinary glass.

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active
Xiaomi Watch S1

Of course, the negative is that the weight of the device climbs up to 52 grams. Not a big deal as that is still pretty lightweight for a watch that size. As far as dimensions of Watch S1, they measure 46.5 x 46.5 x 11mm. So this iteration is a fraction smaller than Active.

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Xiaomi Watch S1 Active review

Xiaomi Watch S1 Active
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Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

The water resistance of both S1 options is 5 ATM. So you are perfectly fine to go swimming with either of these two watches.

Where there is a difference is in strap material. With S1 you get a calfskin leather and fluororubber option in the box to switch between. I wouldn’t suggest you go swimming with the leather strap, but it is there if you want to smarten up your watch for that evening out. The fluororubber is pretty good at keeping sweat, dirt and grime at bay.

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

S1 active doesn’t come with a premium strap. Instead, you get a plan silicone band that is also perfectly conducive to exercising. Both of these watches feature removable bands with a simple pin mechanism. So you always have the option of purchasing additional straps if you want more variety in your life.

Sensors, battery life

Not much difference below the hood. Both timepieces feature a heart rate sensor (with blood oxygen sensor), accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, atmospheric sensor and ambient light sensor. There’s also multi-band sattelite connectivity with support for GPS, BEIDOU, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS.

A potentially big difference that will be important to some is the way the watches charge. The S1 Active uses a proprietary charging cable as the sole way of charging. The cable has two tiny magnetic contact points which snap onto the back of your watch where they stay firmly in place. The more premium S1 also has a charger which connects magnetically, but with the added option of QI wireless charging.

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

The actual battery life, though, is the same. That’s becomes both watches have a 470 mAH battery, which can keep going for up to 12 days on a single charge, or double that with power saving options.

Here are the all-important specs.

Xiaomi Watch S1

Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

Build

Sapphire glass + stainless steel case

Glass fibre-reinforced polyamide

Strap material

Calfskin leather/Fluororubber

White silicone, black and blue TPU

Physical size

46.5 x 46.5 x 11 mm

46.5 x 47.3 x 11 mm

Touchscreen

Yes

Yes

Display size & type

1.43″ AMOLED display

1.43″ AMOLED display

Display resolution

466 x 466 pixels

466 x 466 pixels

Weight

52 grams

36.3 grams

Battery life

470 mAh
12 days battery life, 24 days in battery saver mode

470 mAh
12 days battery life, 24 days in battery saver mode

Wireless charging

Yes

No

Water-resistance

5 ATM

5 ATM

GPS

GPS, BEIDOU, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS

GPS, BEIDOU, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS

Sensors

Heart rate sensor (with blood oxygen sensor), accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, atmospheric sensor, ambient light sensor

Heart rate sensor (with blood oxygen sensor), accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, atmospheric sensor, ambient light sensor

NFC

Yes

Yes

Music storage or smartphone control

Smartphone control

Smartphone control

Microphone & speakers

Yes

Yes

Wireless connection

Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.2

Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.2

Color options

Black (black leather strap + black fluororubber strap); Silver (brown leather strap + grey fluororubber strap)

Moon White /Ocean Blue /Space Black

RRP

$265

$215


Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active: Functionality

Health, fitness and sports tracking

When it comes to the difference in functionality of these two watches, there isn’t too much to write about. We suggest you read our detailed hands-on review of Xiaomi Watch S1. Pretty much everything that can be found there, also pertains to the S1 Active.

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The watches use the Mi Fitness app which does not offer too much in terms of insights, but is pretty good at displaying an overview of all your metrics. The general health-tracking features are quite decent and comparable positively to other brands. You’ll find everything that you’d expect, including steps, activity, detailed sleep tracking, all-day heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and more. It’s all quite comprehensive and pretty accurate.

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

Sports tracking also fits the bill. The watches can monitor more than 117 different activities, 19 of them with professional-level stats. Mind you, there are no Firstbeat type performance stats. Which is a bit of a disappointment for those who like to run or cycle on a regular basis.

On the bright side, the GPS accuracy is quite good. The same is also the case with heart rate tracking during exercise. In our tests, the average and max values were typically spot on with the Garmin on our other wrist, or within a few beats. The caveat is that GPS can take a while to connect at times. The Garmin typically secures a sattelite link within a minute. The Xiaomi is sometimes just as quick, but at other times it can take up to 5 minutes to secure a connection. And 5 minutes feels much longer if you are all hyped up ready to start your run!

Smart functionality

As these are smartwatches, you also get some functionality beyond health and fitness. The devices comes with a built-in microphone and speaker so when your phone receives a call, you can answer it on your watch with one touch and talk directly into the device.

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Beyond that there are alarms, timers, weather and camera shutter control. You can also use the thing as a flashlight. Unfortunately, features such as mobile payments do not work in all countries. You can only have the option to use MasterCard payment types through Xiaomi Pay.

As far as built-in music storage – it doesn’t exist. But you can use the watches to control smartphone music playback.

Xiaomi is also advertising built-in Alexa voice assistant. This will tap into this functionality once it launches. At the time of writing the functionality has still not been enabled. But when it is live, you’ll be able to look up information and control your smart home devices with your voice – hands free.

As mentioned, Xiaomi’s operating system works really well. Of course, the downside is that you don’t have a proper app library and third party software options that can be found on Apple Watch’s iOS and Google Wear OS watches.

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active
Xiaomi Watch S1 Active

Xiaomi Watch S1 vs S1 Active: The verdict

The insides and functionality of both these watches are pretty much identical. They essentially come with the same experience but different designs.

S1 is a classy, premium timepiece, while Active is a cheerful, sporty, more lightweight device. Because straps are removable, you also have some leeway in the sense that you can smarten up S1 Active if you choose to do so. Not to mention the 200 or so watch-faces which are also there to make the device your own.

In our testing, we found that both options are good and cover most needs when it comes to health, activity and sports tracking. There’s built-in dual-band GPS which can be a bit slow to connect, but once it does is very accurate. Heart rate tracking during exercise is also spot on. You get support for more than 100 different sports modes, along with 5 ATM water resistance.

Xiaomi Watch S1 review

Xiaomi Watch S1
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Xiaomi Watch S1

An extra that you get if you choose the more premium S1 is support for wireless charging. This should make it easier to top up once every 12 days or so, which is how long you can expect between charges. Such excellent battery life comes courtesy of Xiaomi’s proprietary operating system that is built on RTOS. It is lightweight, slick, quick and easy to use.

Where the watches really impress is in terms of value for money. It is clear that Active does offer more bang for your buck as it sells for around $60 less. Having said that, you are unlikely to find a smartwatch with the level of craftmenship of the S1 – at that price.

Have a read through our full hands-on review of Watch S1. The current prices on Amazon of Xiaomi’s latest timepieces can be found here: Watch S1, Watch S1 Active.


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