By profoundly modifying the technological and software structure of its watch, Xiaomi wants to titillate the market leaders. And despite its flaws, the Watch 2 Pro demonstrates its relevance.
We clear it all and start again. In September 2023, Xiaomi presented with its new 13T smartphones its interpretation of the connected watch revised from top to bottom. Exit the sluggish Zepp OS, welcome Wear OS from Google and its much richer application store. Finally, something to target in particular the Samsung models and the Pixel Watch also designed by Google. Especially with a floor price of 270 euros (330 euros in LTE version).
For this, the Chinese manufacturer is rather inspired by its Korean competitor in terms of design. There is no question like Google or Apple of purifying the traditional look of a watch, here we are clearly in the world of the classic chronograph with its two buttons and its crown on the edge. Tastes and colors cannot be discussed, but it is clear that our test model in silver stainless steel did not fail to make those around us react with its very flashy bling-bling side.
An ultra-responsive watch
Not to mention that the watch is of an imposing size (46 mm wide) which will certainly not suit all wrists (its weight of 54 grams is not annoying, however). But such a massive case was needed to integrate the large 1.43-inch AMOLED screen (466 x 466, 326 ppi). This disadvantage then turns into a strength since this display surface leaves a lot of space for the interface and makes it extremely readable; this is particularly the case for instant messages and other notifications. On the other hand, we regret the sluggish brightness of the panel: only 600 nits when the competition offers between 1,000 and 2,000 nits. This is felt in use, especially in bright light where it becomes difficult to read what the screen displays.
Fortunately, the interface is fluid and very pleasant to use. It must be said that Xiaomi has chosen to power this Watch 2 Pro with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5+ Gen1 chip, engraved in 4 nm. Performance is therefore there, at no time during our test did we find the interface slow or subject to any lag. As on the Pixel Watch 2, the Wear OS x Snapdragon combination once again shows its effectiveness.
The interface lacks sobriety
The interface precisely. If it is therefore reactive, it does not lack faults; the main one of which is certainly its design. Despite the thirty dials presented, it is difficult to find a sober and minimalist one. Those simulating a view of the innards of a mechanical watch are painfully defensible as they are so illegible. The digital versions are also often messy and we will hasten to change the garish colors with others that are softer to our eyes.
Moreover, the customization of the dials is far too limited, most often to their color. Impossible to change the complications or simply to display the dates in French format. Xiaomi still has work to do to rise to the level of the competition on this subject. By pressing the crown, the list of applications is displayed in the form of round icons – here too, the color code is closer to Playskool than to a watch brand – which you scroll through by turning the same crown . A long press on the latter triggers Google Assistant, a double press the list of recently used applications. To directly access the very last one, simply press the bottom button, while the top button opens your favorite application, by default the one dedicated to sports training.
Comfortable in sports practice
In this context, the Watch 2 Pro was completely comfortable and precise. The measurements taken during our running exercises were approximately equivalent to those of an Apple Watch Series 8 used simultaneously. During our first exercise we were angry to see that the screen did not activate when we raised our wrist, making it impossible to take a look at our performance without having to manipulate the watch. A trip through the settings allowed us to see that the “Raise to activate” functionality is not activated by default; interface behavior that is difficult to understand for such essential use on a connected watch. Note also that in a sporty setting, we would rather choose the version with a fluoroelastomer strap rather than leather as on our test model.
However, let’s make a slight caveat about GPS performance. The dual band system (L1+L5) requires between ten seconds and a minute of data acquisition before each exercise. It’s not much, but it doesn’t make it easier to use and can be quite frustrating when you’re in the swing of an exercise. In addition, the effectiveness of this dual band is not there, the GPS tracking of a single band Apple Watch Series 8 (L1) is, in fact, more precise.
On smartphones, the Watch 2 Pro’s companion application is Mi Fitness. Don’t be fooled by its name, it not only manages sports activities performed on the wrist watch, but also all kinds of additional settings. Very good point for Xiaomi, it is available on both Android and iOS. The latter, however, requires the creation of a Xiaomi account to be able to pair the watch, unlike the version available on Google’s operating system.
Some gaps in the application
The app’s home page opens with a summary of the watch’s sports and health data: heart rate, blood oxygen, VO2max, sleep; Everything is here. The “Training” tab seems of little use to us since it allows you to launch an exercise from the phone and which is also triggered on the watch. A strange duplicate. From the “Device” tab, you can change the dial and manage some other features. But strangely, the “Parameters” section which allows you to manage the complete settings from the watch is not there. You will therefore have to go through the Watch 2 Pro screen to access all of its settings (brightness, location, etc.). We have seen more ergonomics.
Finally, the autonomy is average of what the competition offers. Its 495 mAh battery allowed us to use the Watch 2 Pro until the next day at 4 p.m., performing a 30-minute exercise on the first day and an hour on the second, without wearing it at night. In this case, we will last less than a day and a half. We therefore remain far from the 65 hours announced for the Bluetooth version (55 hours for the LTE version). We will console ourselves with a complete recharge time of 45 minutes.