The Redmi Watch 2 Lite is a cheap smartwatch that’s promising to punch above its budget price tag. The Xiaomi-owned company launched the first generation Redmi Watch in the first half of 2021 and its parent company dished out a very similar-looking Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite, which we reviewed earlier this year, just months later.
The Watch 2 offers a square smartwatch look that works with iPhones and Android phones, offering features like a color display, continuous heart rate and SpO2 monitoring, built-in GPS, 24/7 fitness tracking and over a week of battery life.
It’s priced at a very affordable Â£59.99 in the UK, but there’s no details of US pricing and availability just yet. That works out to around $80 and puts it in the price range of smartwatches like the TicWatch GTH and the Amazfit Bip U Pro, winner of Best Affordable Smartwatch award at the 2021 Wareable Tech Awards.
The more affordable end of the smartwatch market is more competitive than it has ever been with Amazfit, Xiaomi, Realme, Mobvoi and even Huawei seeking to offer the best option under Â£100/$100.
We’ve been putting the Redmi Watch 2 Lite through its paces to see if this is a cheap smartwatch worth considering. Here’s our full verdict.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite: Design and screen
We’ve alluded to it already, but the Redmi Watch 2 Lite looks a lot like the Xiaomi Watch Lite, with a similar sized square watch case, and a touchscreen that at first glance, feels identical.
Once you spend a bit more time with it though, you can actually appreciate that there are some differences here between the Xiaomi and the Redmi smartwatches that actually for us make the Watch 2 Lite more pleasing on the eye and to live with.
You get a 41mm matte finish plastic case that you can pick up in black, ivory or blue. That’s partnered with a TPU strap, which has a nice smooth finish, and has been comfortable to wear day and night and during exercise.
It’s a watch that carries a 5ATM water resistant rating, which does mean you can swim and shower with it, though apparently not in hot showers according to Xiaomi.
There’s just a solitary physical button the side of the case to turn wake up and turn off the touchscreen display, but it’s not a crisp AMOLED one you’ll find on premium smartwatches. It’s a 1.5-inch, 320×360 TFT display, which is actually bigger and offers a higher resolution compared to the Xiaomi Watch Lite.
You’re certainly not getting those deep blacks and rich colors you’ll find on an AMOLED, but colours certainly aren’t horribly washed out, the black bezel around the screen is well hidden and it’s actually a surprisingly nice display to glance at.
When you’re tapping and swiping on that screen, responsiveness is fine, but there is some lagginess when scrolling through screens and your notification feed. It’s not the worst we’ve seen at this price, but it’s certainly not a buttery smooth experience.
It’s a neat and tidy smartwatch in appearance. Crucially doesn’t feel cheap, the screen is reasonably good quality, and it is one you should be able to wear 24/7 indoors and outdoors no problem.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite: Smartwatch features
Unlike some budget smartwatches, the Watch 2 Lite does work with iOS and Android devices and our experience was spent largely with the latter.
You’ll need to download the Xiaomi Wear app or the Wear Lite app for iOS users, which does still feel a bit amateurish in places in terms of the presentation, but is easy to glance at your fitness and health stats, track outdoor workouts, and tinker with watch settings.
Once you’re set up, which is something that was nice and painless to do, it’s worth heading into this app, particularly if you want to make sure features like notifications and incoming call alerts are enabled as well as some of the more advanced health monitoring features.
It’s also here where you can pick out new watch faces. There are just four preloaded onto the watch, but there’s a large collection that’s available to download via the app.
It’s a strong collection of watch faces too, but we think the digital-style watch faces feel like the best fit here.
On the watch, you can swipe down from the main watch screen to view new notifications and you can clearly see where notifications have come from.
You can’t act on them, but we’d definitely say notifications are nicely optimised to the screen and are handled much better than other budget smartwatches.
Hit that physical button and you’re booted into the main app screen where you can see additional features like weather updates, music playback controls, timers, a remote smartphone camera shutter control and the ability to set controls.
We found music playback controls and the weather updates the most useful of the smartwatch features outside of notifications. While you’re not getting the richest smartwatch experience here, what you do get works very well.
The gesture-based UI on the proprietary software is easy to get to grips with, so living with it isn’t a taxing time. You do have to live with those laggy, slightly slow moments scrolling through screens, but it’s a cheap smartwatch that performs solidly in this department.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite: Sports and fitness tracking
In that small square body, Redmi packs in fair amount and proves you don’t have to spend big to get some big health, fitness and sports tracking features.
We’ll start with the fact you’re getting an optical heart rate sensor to continuously measure heart rate day and night, measure during exercise and it powers stress tracking here too. There’s now the addition of continuous blood oxygen monitoring and it will track steps and sleep automatically too. You’re also getting guided breathing exercises and female health tracking here too.
For exercise tracking, there’s access to over 100 workout modes and that includes core sports like running, cycling and pool swimming along with indoor activities like rowing, HIIT and skipping. For outdoor tracking, Redmi is including support for GPS, Glonass, Galileo and BDS satellite systems to improve accuracy tracking for outdoor runs and rides. We should also add that while data primarily lies inside of the Xiaomi Wear app, it is compatible with Strava too, which is nice to see.
So how well does the Watch 2 Lite perform? Well, we’d say actually not that bad overall, but if you want supreme accuracy on all fronts, unsurprisingly, you’re not going to get that here.
For activity tracking, there’s plenty of watch faces to show off daily progress for step counts and calorie burn with a dedicated watch widget that looks like Apple’s Rings sliced in half to glance at steps and daily activity stats. We found daily step counts in general were within 500 steps of the tracking on the Fitbit Charge 5 and you do get regular inactivity alerts during the day to keep you moving.
Sleep tracking compared: Redmi Watch 2 Lite (left) and Fitbit Charge 5 (right)
Switching to sleep and along with a dedicated app to view most recent sleep stats, the companion app will show you sleep stages and duration along with average heart rate and blood oxygen. To get the most advanced sleep tracking experience, which includes tracking REM sleep, that needs to be enabled in the app first.
We found sleep tracking data a bit of a mix bag. It tended to record over an hour of more sleep time compared to the Fitbit Charge 5 and the Whoop 4.0, though data like sleeping heart rate and blood oxygen measurements felt largely reliable.
The data doesn’t look the prettiest in the app, but the data is accurate enough, despite there being few real useful actionable insights/
Sleeping heart rate compared: Redmi Watch 2 Lite (left) and Fitbit Charge 5 (right)
While sleeping heart rate impressed, heart rate monitoring during the day seemed a bit more unreliable, tagging us in general with a resting heart rate 10bpm over our usual. You”re also getting stress data, which is powered by heart rate variability measurements, which suggested there weren’t very many stressful parts of our day, but doesn’t offer any really useful insights around why it’s monitoring your stress.
Flipping things over to sports tracking and we’ve run outdoors, taken it into the pool and used it for indoor rowing sessions and found the Watch 2 performed surprisingly well.
GPS tracking compared: Redmi Watch 2 Lite (left) and Garmin Enduro (right)
As a running watch, you can set up alerts based on time and distance and set goals based on time, calorie and distance. After a 3-second countdown you can scroll through to see information like pace, average pace, heart rate, stride, cadence and data from your previous kilometre.
On runs, despite that multi-system satellite support, was still a little off on the distance tracking, but it wasn’t terrible, though definitely clocked us going at a slower pace compared to a Garmin Enduro. Total calorie burn totals were similar in our comparison tests though. Digging into heart rate, and for steady runs, it held up pretty well against a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor. Pick up the intensity, and like a lot of optical sensors, it does struggle to keep up with a chest strap monitor. Plus, you don’t have the ability to pair it up with an external sensor to remedy that.
HR tracking compared: Redmi Watch 2 Lite (left) and Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor (right)
In the pool, it recorded similar distance tracking totals compared to the accurate swim tracking on the Finis Smart Swim goggles, but again clocked us hitting a slower average pace. It accurately recognised swim stroke type and number of lengths and you can get additional stats for stroke rate and SWOLF inside of the companion app.
Pool swim tracking compared: Redmi Watch 2 Lite (left) and Finis Smart Goggles (right)
The experience of using it in the pool is good as well. When you start tracking a session, the screen will be locked and still keep an eye on number of lengths and pace. Unlike a lot of smartwatches too, if you accidentally record a session, it won’t needlessly save it.
Tracking for indoor workouts worked well too on the whole, letting you see additional metrics for activities like rowing and skipping. You can even pause for rests and set up intervals along with viewing stroke and jump counts.
We’d actually say that the sports tracking and fitness tracking on the Watch 2 Lite beats some pricier watches in many respects for the reliability of core data. It’s certainly not without its faults, like tracking heart rate at high intensity and it’s a shame there isn’t some more actionable insights around your data.
Given what you’re paying here, the Redmi Watch 2 Lite actually does a solid job.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite: Battery life
The Redmi Watch 2 Lite packs a 262mAh capacity battery, which Redmi states is capable of getting you up to 10 days battery life in typical usage mode and defines typical usage as sampling heart rate data in 30-minute intervals, disabling advanced sleep monitoring, all-day stress monitoring and just 35 minutes of GPS use in a week.
In more heavy use, the Watch 2 Lite will go for up to 5 days. Our testing time definitely veered more on the heavy side and we’d say those battery claims are accurate.
With notifications enabled, continuous heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring and using the GPS to track 30 minutes to an hour length workouts, we saw drop-off of around 20% a day. Using the GPS to track over an hour of running saw battery drop by just under 10%, which isn’t too bad a showing for a budget smartwatch.
It’s a smartwatch that can certainly get you a week’s worth of time in between charges, which is the minimum we’ve come to expect at this price point. If you’re not fussed about having continuous health monitoring features enabled or the richest sleep tracking, this watch shows it has some solid stamina.
Redmi Watch 2 Lite
The Redmi Watch 2 Lite is a budget smartwatch that belies its price. It looks good, has a nice, colourful screen and most of the features on board work well. The smartwatch features are basic, but they work. The surprising array of sports and fitness tracking features perform well too, making it a strong alternative to other great budget watches in this price range like the Amazfit Bip U Pro. We’d also say it’s a better option than Xiaomi’s own Mi Watch Lite and the TicWatch GTH for design and performance.
- Smart look
- Good performing sports tracking features
- Heart rate performance during sleep
- Works with Strava
- Xiaomi Wear app isn’t the prettiest
- Laggy touchscreen
- Basic smartwatch features
- Sleep tracking generous at times