The price and positioning of the Apple Watch range makes it aspirational and perhaps a little too expensive for many of us, but it has made smartwatches more desirable overall. The result is a thriving budget smartwatch segment supported by diverse brands leveraging their expertise in smartphones and Bluetooth connectivity to offer powerful wearable technology at reasonable prices. This includes Xiaomi, which recently launched the Redmi Watch 3 Active, a health-focused smartwatch priced at Rs. 2,999.
My previous experiences with budget smartwatches haven’t been great when it comes to fitness tracking; Affordable devices tend to be best for core features like notification mirroring and watch face customizability. It will be worth seeing if the Redmi Watch 3 Active lives up to its name and performs well as a fitness and health tracker, apart from fulfilling the requirements of a budget smartwatch. Find out if the Redmi Watch 3 Active is worth its price in this review.
Design and specifications of the Redmi Watch 3 Active
The budget smartwatch segment is more about offering as many features as possible while keeping the price low. Therefore, the design and shape tends to be a bit straightforward in this area, and the Redmi Watch 3 Active stays true to this sleek and simple look. The lack of distinctive elements and logos means that you can’t really tell at first glance that it’s a Redmi product. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you, but I personally found the look a bit too boring and ordinary.
Still, it’s functional, and some might even like the glossy exterior that matches the 1.83-inch color screen. There are thick bezels around the edges of the screen, but if you’re using a watch face with a black background you won’t really notice these, and the front looks pretty uniform unless you look closely. There’s just a single button on the right side of the watch that controls power, opens the app drawer, and wakes the screen from standby.
Conveniently, the screen can also be woken up using the lift-to-wake gesture (turning the wrist towards it, as you would normally see on a wristwatch) or by double-tapping the screen. You can quickly turn it off by covering the screen with your palm or put the Redmi Watch 3 Active into standby mode after a predetermined time using the screen timeout.
On the bottom of the Redmi Watch 3 Active is the device’s only logo, placed directly above the optical sensors that enable heart rate and blood oxygen tracking. Below that are the contact points where the magnetic charger snaps into place, while the other end connects to a USB Type-A port, although the device doesn’t come with a power adapter. The removable and interchangeable straps can also be detached from the bottom of the smartwatch.
The Redmi Watch 3 Active is available in two color options – Charcoal Black and Platinum Gray. The test sample sent to me is the former, but the latter probably looks a little better and more distinctive. The standard strap is quite comfortable and is also fully waterproof, which goes well with the 5ATM water resistance of the smartwatch itself. For connectivity, the Redmi Watch 3 Active uses Bluetooth 5.3 and supports Bluetooth calling when paired with your smartphone. To make this work, there is of course also a built-in speaker and a microphone.
Redmi Watch 3 Active software, interface and app
Compatibility with both smartphone operating systems (and sometimes even within the Android ecosystem) is not a given for budget smartwatches, but the Redmi Watch 3 Active ticks all the boxes in this regard. The device works with the Mi Fitness app, available for both Android and iOS, and supports the smartwatch on both platforms.
For my test, I installed the Mi Fitness app on a OnePlus 9 Pro (test report), coupled with the Redmi Watch 3 Active. The app manages the connection between the smartwatch and smartphone via Bluetooth, also establishes the connection for voice calls and synchronizes notifications between the two devices. The fitness and health data collected on the watch is sent to the app to also enable better insights and analysis.
The app itself is clearly designed and includes widgets for activity, sleep, steps, heart rate, blood oxygen level and more. You can also start workouts from the app, and outdoor workouts appear to have mapping built into tracking, but this depends on your phone’s location; The smartwatch itself does not support location tracking. Device settings and basic tools can be easily adjusted and overall it is a simple but functional and sufficiently featured app for the device itself.
As with any good smartwatch, the Redmi Watch 3 Active also has a large selection of watch faces. Aside from the three standard options, there is a relatively large list of downloadable options that is sorted at random. When you see something you like, you can download it to the smartwatch via the app and, in addition to the three standard selections, save up to two additional watch faces that you can remove and replace as often as you like. While many of them were too strange for my taste, there were a few good tips that I liked.
Performance and battery life of the Redmi Watch 3 Active
Almost every smartwatch, regardless of price, has basic fitness tracking. However, the accuracy and usefulness of this feature is hit or miss on budget devices, although given the ‘Active’ moniker, the Redmi Watch 3 Active hopes to stand out as a fitness-friendly option.
However, the reality is largely in line with the rest of the budget smartwatch market, and the Redmi Watch 3 Active doesn’t exceed its claims by much. While there are over 100 tracking and sport modes with supposedly tailored tracking performance, most of them are niche modes and it’s hard to tell if the tracking data is accurate.
In my review, I limited myself to the basics – especially steps, heart rate and blood oxygen. In our 1,000-step test, the Redmi Watch Active measured around 1,060 steps, of which I counted 1,000 manually, which suggests an error rate of 6 percent. This is pretty similar to what other smartwatches in this price segment deliver, and is a bit too far from the much more accurate step tracking data that higher-end devices can generate.
Heart rate measurement is also questionable, especially when I tried to take a measurement while moving. the figures were often too low or jumped around wildly. Standing still or sitting with your arm still was pretty much the only way to get a reasonably accurate heart rate reading, and the same was even true for the blood oxygen measurement, both of which were compared to the Apple Watch Series 7 for a meter’s accuracy.
The sleep tracking was extremely basic and only seemed to make sense in terms of actual sleep duration, while the specifics of the sleep tracking didn’t really seem detailed or accurate enough. On the whole, health monitoring may be able to give users a general overview of what’s going on, but it’s far too irregular to rely on for important things. The overall performance of the Redmi Watch 3 Active is decent, with the basic interface and apps mostly working as expected. While the screen isn’t as sharp or nice to look at as some competitors in this segment (which use OLED displays), the Redmi Watch 3 Active is bright and completely satisfactory for the price.
I managed to get about seven days of use out of the smartwatch on a single full charge, wearing it all day, including while exercising and occasionally sleeping. You can extend the battery life a little if you turn off the continuous connection for calls and generally don’t answer too many calls on the Redmi Watch 3 Active itself.
If you want to use this, you can easily enable it from the Bluetooth settings. Even when connected, answering a call on your paired smartphone instead of the watch conveniently ensures that the audio is redirected to the correct device, and the Redmi Watch 3 Active will only be activated for calls when you actually answer the call on the Receive your smartwatch yourself. The call quality is sufficient for short conversations in quiet environments. For longer phone calls or in noisy environments, you will find it a bit too quiet and distracting and will probably want to switch to your smartphone or suitable headphones.
While the Redmi Watch 3 Active is positioned as a fitness smartwatch, its actual fitness benefits aren’t particularly great. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a smartwatch at all; It’s a capable, affordable wearable that handles features like notifications and calls quite well. Other than that, it looks and feels good, has a decent screen and software, and runs reliably for about seven days on a single charge.
So there’s not much to complain about here, but there’s also not much that really sets the Redmi Watch 3 Active apart. Consider this if you want a new, affordable smartwatch for under Rs. 3,000, primarily for the reliability and durability you can expect from a device from the Xiaomi stable.