We tested the Wear OS watch with WhatsApp that we have been asking for for years: analysis of the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro

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Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro

The new smartwatch from the Chinese company is capable of combining high performance at a low price, which makes it an interesting purchase.

The decision that Google made two years ago to renew its commitment to smart watches has proven to be the right one. The launch in Spain of Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro, with a price of 269.99 eurosshows that Android users demand an experience on par with the Apple Watch.

Since the launch of Wear OS 3, the wearables market has been revitalized, something that has been noticed not only in devices based on the Google system; also in those of the competition, which has no longer been able to rest on its laurels. Although the Samsung Galaxy Watch were the initial reference for this revival of Wear OS, since then several companies have opted for new versions of this system.

Now it’s the turn of the brand we were really waiting for: Xiaomi. This launch in Spain represents a big step forward for Wear OS, and it is the demonstration that the platform has a future. And we must remember that Xiaomi already has its own operating system for wearables, and that in China it has already launched a watch with its new HyperOS. So why launch one based on Wear OS now? Because people ask for it, and for good reasons.

Xiaomi watch with Wear OS

Those words, “Xiaomi Watch with Wear OS” until not long ago were a dream, which has now come true. Yes, the models launched by Samsung, Ticwatch and the rest of the manufacturers that have opted for the platform are very good and totally recommended; but We cannot underestimate the popularity of Xiaomi, nor his mastery in the balance between quality and price. This Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is cheaper than the competition; Although the difference in RRP is not incredible, it still represents a lower investment, especially if we take advantage of one of the brand’s usual offers. For example, last Black Friday it was already possible to find this watch on sale in some stores. If we are looking for the cheapest Wear OS watch, we can really stop reading. But of course, that’s not the whole story.

Because Xiaomi is no longer the cheap brand that it was in its beginnings in Spain, six years ago; It has recently tried to shed that image, perhaps fearing that consumers will associate ‘cheap’ with ‘bad’. Therefore, just because the Watch 2 Pro is the cheapest does not mean it has little value. That is evident as soon as we take it out of the box and look at its stainless steel case with a 46 mm dial, which manages to reach a level of quality more typical of expensive watches. The feeling of quality is reinforced in the unit we have tested, since it comes with a brown leather strap with a very elegant and original design compared to what is usually seen in this sector. Without being a fan of leather, it has been very easy for me to appreciate the touch of quality it brings; In addition, we can opt for a version with a black case and a black fluorocarbon strap that seems more subtle.

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro offers a good feeling of quality

The quality feel extends to the controls. Here the presence of a rotating crown like those of classic watches, although it has given me conflicting feelings. On the one hand, it is easy to use, allowing you to slide through menus quickly and without using the touch screen, but on the other hand, I didn’t like that it didn’t offer any resistance, so I often skipped the option I wanted. . I have verified that the vibration when using the crown is only used in some apps, something that surprises me because it helps a lot. The crown is accompanied by two side buttons that offer a good tactile sensation and offer quick access to the watch’s multitude of functions. Despite having so many physical controls, the Watch 2 Pro offers a resistance of 5 ATM, making it suitable for swimming and shallow diving.

Apps on your watch

The user experience of the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is exceptional, and means a leap from previous generations of Wear OS watches. It has been able to respond to many, but not all, of my complaints about the system, and has done so by following Google’s original concept very closely.

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is based on Wear OS 3.5; Although it is not the latest version, Wear OS 4, it already has many of the advantages that the platform offers, and which will be especially useful if we use an Android mobile. For example, the possibility of install apps like WhatsApp, Google Maps or Spotifywith connection to Android apps to offer an adapted experience, but very similar to that of the mobile phone.

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro offers access to the Play Store and Google apps

Indeed, in this watch we have access to the Google Play Store, with access to some of the most popular apps. Although obviously the list of available apps is not as long as on mobile phones, some inclusions have surprised me and show that the platform is gaining followers. The Play Store opens the door to many functions that until not long ago made no sense in a watch, such as being able to read and respond to emails, check the route in Maps, record audio, control our smart home, or watch videos.

Obviously, the experience changes a lot depending on the app, but interesting details can already be seen; For example, Spotify was able to detect that I had the app installed on my phone and allowed me to log in with just the press of a button. And WhatsApp not only allowed me to read the messages in my chats, I was also able to send WhatsApp audios using the watch’s built-in microphone.

WhatsApp works on the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro and allows you to send audios

The 1.43-inch AMOLED screen of the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is ideal for this experience; 326 dpi resolution is good enough for read text and see images clearly. The brightness is high enough that I can use the watch on sunny days without problems, and I have had no difficulty reading my watch’s notifications at a glance while walking down the street.

Wear OS has matured

With the Wear OS 3.5 version, it is finally noticeable that the platform has matured and has found its place in the market. The interface is well designed and it is easy to find what we need. The only thing that momentarily confused me is that notifications appear when you swipe from the top and not from the bottom like on other smartwatches; By sliding from the bottom we will find the control panel, with access to basic functions such as airplane mode or the always-on screen.

If we swipe left or right, we will find functions related to health and help. By pressing the upper right button we will open the training mode, and by pressing the lower one we will access the most recently opened apps. Pressing the crown opens the installed apps view, and If we hold it down, the Google Assistant will open, which we can use with our voice. It’s hard to get lost, because pressing the crown always returns us to the home screen, the watch face.

Access to the Google Play Store is a great point in favor of the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro

At no time did I miss more power, although I did notice very specific ‘jumps’ when using the interface and moments in which the apps took a couple of seconds to load; but it’s much better than the experience I’ve had with Wear OS watches from past generations. The key to this performance is not only in the system, but also on the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 processor; It is basically the same chip used in the Google Pixel, a watch that costs 130 euros more. Xiaomi has installed 2 GB of LPDDR4X memory, in addition to 32 GB of internal storage.

Unfortunately, the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro suffers from the same problem as all Wear OS watches: battery consumption. Although it is true that important advances have been made, it is still the cross that all watches that opt ​​for this operating system carry. I’ve been unable to get much more than two days of use out of this watch, which seems good, but it’s a figure that drops by half, or less, once we start using apps or advanced training features. And of course, the always-on screen is useful, but you have to use it knowing that it is going to ‘eat’ the battery. It is a somewhat frustrating situation, especially when other systems obtain a much longer life with similar functions, but in this case Xiaomi has little fault.

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro allows you to use all types of watch faces

In fact, the only thing I can criticize Xiaomi is that it is not obvious that this is a watch from their brand; which is a positive or negative thing depending on your tastes. What you will find is a lot of Google presence, with apps like Google Maps, Wallet and Assistant already pre-installed. The only original touch from Xiaomi is in the watch faces, although at least I really liked these and they have versions adapted for when we activate the always-on screen.

Apart from that, Xiaomi’s biggest ‘software’ work is noticeable in the health functions. This watch has all the capabilities one could expect from a modern wearable, including monitoring heart rate and oxygen levels throughout the day. Other more advanced functions that are not found in other watches are the body composition measurementwhich quantifies the levels of fat, water, and bone in our body.

The Mi Fitness app offers access to all the data on the watch

Although health and exercise data are accessible from the watch itself, from the mobile phone we will have more information and context using the official Mi Fitness app; which, by the way, is not the same app that the rest of the Xiaomi watches use or used, although data migration is possible even if we had the Zepp app (from when Amazfit made Xiaomi watches). From the app we can access more detailed information on the health data recorded by the watch. The sleep monitor, for example, is expanded much further by including a ‘sleep animal’ that fits our habits; I’m a koala, apparently. The dual-band GPS has also been very precise, accurately marking the path on the map even without carrying the mobile phone.

I buy it?

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is one of the best Wear OS watches available in Spain, and the best thing is that it is also one of those that costs the least; Although 269 euros is not ‘cheap’ compared to other smartwatches, it is compared to models from Samsung, Google and Ticwatch based on the same system.

The alternatives, therefore, are obvious. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 continues to be the reference in Wear OS, and the one that is receiving the new features of the system first; while Xiaomi has not yet clarified what plans it has to bring Wear OS 4 to this watch. However, the Galaxy Watch offers a more ‘Samsung’ experience, something we won’t like if we don’t have one of their phones or use their services.

The Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is one of the best Wear OS watches available in Spain

The Pixel Watch 2 is now available in Spain, but it is much more expensive and the pure Google experience does not differ much from what this Xiaomi offers, at least on paper. Finally, the Ticwatch 5 Pro is a less popular option, but I actually consider the main rival of this Watch 2 Pro as it has very similar hardware and an experience closer to that of Google.

All in all, if you are looking for a Wear OS watch, I highly doubt that the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro will disappoint you, because it meets everything we could expect from a similar device, becoming a great option to make the jump to the system.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise