Initially, we decided to do a separate review for the Mi Revolve Active. It’s a fitness watch that builds upon the previously launched Mi Revolve. The Active comes nearly 10 months after the first Mi Revolve and in the tech life span that’s pretty much 10 human years (exaggerated but you get the point). So where we expected the Mi Revolve 2 to launch, we’ve been greeted with an updated and slightly better version of the previous watch and that’s why we have decided to update this Mi Revolve review because the Active is the same watch with some half-yearly updates. This is common practice with tech brands but as for us, it’s more work (don’t tell my boss). Xiaomi has stopped selling the Mi Revolve on their website, you will only find the Mi Revolve Active now for the same price. If you’re aware of the feature set from Mi Revolve, you can directly jump to the first section in this review and read about the fresh tech that’s included with the Active.
Even if Covid pushed us away from protein shakes and dumbbells, smart wearables are not going to stop reminding us about fitness. Definitely not when we need them the most.
Xiaomi’s been straddling low with its fitness bands, only now to peer above water, offering something the fans and personally myself wanted for a very long time. A smartwatch that could rally up the budget buyers and even shake the socks off the more expensive offerings from other brands. Sadly, it’s not 100% here but, is it enough for anyone looking to grab a big shiny display instead of a thin fiddly one? We ran around the block for a couple of days to push this thing to its limits and our gravy bodies to their absolute discomfort.
UPDATE: Xiaomi Mi Revolve Active
Alexa, better tracking and more workouts. That’s pretty much the new stuff with the Mi Revolve Active. There are now more than 100+ workouts on the Revolve Active. So even if you like to swim with the fish or punch angrily at cushioned objects, the watch is very thorough at giving you an option to track your gains and burns. If you’re climbing a mountain, it can track your oxygen levels too. It’s not meant to be a precise calculation and if you’re using it for medical purposes, it’s best you use a dedicated tool for measuring oxygen levels.
There’s also very precise location tracking now thanks to a number of GPS trackers built into the watch. We’ve tried it and the cyclist in us loves this.
UPDATE: Xiaomi Mi Revolve Active
If I am being completely honest, the addition of Alexa had us excited. Unfortunately, it’s a half-baked effort here. Alexa can be beckoned but it’s often slow and buggy. There’s no speaker on the watch so you’ll have to squint to see the AI’s replies on the screen and if you want to control your Alexa compatible devices, the commands have to be very specific or else the watch will not execute it. ‘Play music’ will prompt you with “Sorry, Music and radio playback aren’t supported on this device”. You have to softly whisper, ‘Play Music on my Echo Dot’ and then it will work. There are no watch controls to monitor or control Echo devices too. There’s also no voice trigger to get Alexa’s attention. You have to press and hold the home button to get the AI to listen to you. It’s great for setting timers in the kitchen, or alarms for the morning or even controlling light bulbs but we wish it was complete. Not having a speaker and the lack of a voice-to-wake feature is disappointing.
Battery life is almost the same. If you’re on GPS tracking always then it might be reduced to 4 to 5 days but it’s generally pretty great.
Much of the issues we had with the previous version are still here. Especially the one where the watch doesn’t go into ‘Sleep’ mode and block the display from shining in your face in the middle of the night if you move your arm. Maybe with Mi Revolve 2?
Design and Performance
The watch only comes in one size (1.39in = 35.31mm) and in two colours. The one we have is Black and it’s absolutely pretty. The metal surface is smooth and has a nice finish. It won’t feel itchy or irritating over long periods of time. The silicone strap is of good quality as well. They have a quick release mechanism to interchange straps or buy new ones from Xiaomi. Even the Galaxy Watch straps should work here.
The top glass is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and it’s pretty too. In fact, the display is what convinced us that this was a smartwatch. Alas, a ruse to trick us into loving it. Which, we absolutely do. The AMOLED display is big, crisp, bright and colourful. You can see and move around its touchscreen with ease even if you’re rocking The Rock’s pinky. Although, the size is not for everyone and some might find it too big.
For our mitts, it was fine. We got a few laps around our local area every day without feeling uncomfortable by the size or even annoyed by its presence while lifting dumbbells.
Performance tracking is nice too. It doesn’t seem to have the sophisticated sensors that are on the expensive Fitbit trackers and watches but if you’re looking to chart down your daily routine, it’s consistent enough to help you. The sensors track your heart rate and steps consistently.
It’s waterproof too. So you can take a dip and track all your fish-like shenanigans. We couldn’t take a dip in a pool to test it out properly but we did take it in the shower every now and then.
Battery and OS
The battery life is absolutely insane. We haven’t charged it even once since we started using this. It’s been two weeks of either daily or sporadic use. You can expect a good week and a half of constant use and maybe two weeks if you remove it before going to bed and don’t hit the gym every day.
For lifestyle use, it doesn’t get better in terms of battery life and even aesthetics. Much of which is tied to its OS. It’s running on Xiaomi’s home-brewed OS and you get none of those Android WearOS features here. Even app functionality is heavily limited. None of the apps we used show up on the watch. So you’ll have to lug your smartphone around if you want to sink in an hour of audible or music. You will be able to control your music though. Play, pause, fast forward and stuff is all here. Albeit, no volume control is a bummer.
Once you start interacting with the watch it becomes very clear that this is not a smartwatch but a fitness band in smartwatch clothing. To give Xiaomi credit, they never said it's a smartwatch. We just wanted to clarify that if anyone is considering a smartwatch and has their budget open for Xiaomi’s offering as well.
It can track your fitness, calories burnt and all sort of smart band features that we’ve come to expect. Going to run around the block? It can track that with ease. Just don’t expect it to mark your route on a map and show it to you. It’s not very clear and won’t even automatically pick up your routine without you having to pick and choose from its 10 sports modes. Those features are reserved for more expensive watches.
Heart rate and VO2 measurements are here too. Constant heart rate tracking along with other sensors gives you a whole new circle of metrics like Body Energy Monitoring and Stress Monitoring. With its incredible battery life, you can take it to bed with you and your better half won’t mind. Sleep tracking was my favourite, but the watch isn’t smart enough to completely block the screen from activating while sleeping. I had its big bright screen scream into my eyes in the middle of the night because someone sent me an email and the other time I just moved a lot in my sleep so that too triggered the display.
It fails to talk to your smartphone and if you’re using Digital Wellbeing then the watch is not going to pay attention to those commands and execute wind downtimes. I wish it was a wee-bit smarter even if it didn’t have smartwatch features. It doesn’t pick up the alarms from your smartphone too. You have to manually set it on the watch and it’ll vibrate and wake you up from your slumber. Pretty useful but I wish it wasn’t distancing itself from my phone though.
You can check incoming calls and notifications but cannot reply to them which is fine for the price but it’s a waste to not make use of that big display, to be honest. I really like interacting with it. It’s one of the few displays I enjoyed using after Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. Fitbit does a half-baked effort at best.
You can use it with iOS and Android. I tried it with both and the only issue I had was when the iOS app did not allow the watch to update its firmware. Android had no such issues. I am sure Xiaomi will fix it in the next app update or so. You can download a few watch faces from the app itself and there’s a really nice selection of watch faces. Albeit, no store or anything as such but I am not complaining. I am not one for random watch faces, although tweaking and adjusting an already existing watch face according to your requirements could’ve been a great and an easy addition here. Something the Apple Watch lets you do on its app.
Mi Revolve is a fitness band in smartwatch clothing. It’s not high and mighty on tracking but it should do the necessary bits just fine. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that doesn’t look like an admission band from a fancy nightclub, the Mi Revolve is a perfect choice.
It’s pretty, bright and comfortable to wear. Some might even think you’ve paid twice as much for the thing simply because it looks neat.
So, it’s a fashion-first accessory that lets you track fitness on the side? Don’t expect it to trigger the Schwarzenegger in you. With its features, it's a fitness band at best. If you don’t want to pony up the extra cash, Mi Smart Band 5 does everything this does and comes at 1/4th the price.