- Beautiful, crisp and clear AMOLED display
- Built with Xiaomi technology
- Excellent value
- Multi-system stand-alone GPS
- Two week battery life with typical use
- May feel too small on large wrists
- GPS connection may take some time
- All-plastic construction
POCO recently announced its first-ever smartwatch. The device was unveiled at a launch event alongside the brand’s flagship POCO F4 GT smartphone and the POCO Buds Pro Genshin Impact edition. Available at po.co, the low-cost timepiece adopts a recognizable design. It comes in a lightweight body and packs the usual set of fitness sensors, plus built-in satellite connectivity. The latter isn’t something you’ll often find on a budget smartwatch.
For those not in the know, the POCO brand is owned by the Xiaomi umbrella but has been operating as an independent company since November 2020. In fact, the outfit was previously known as “POCO by Xiaomi and Pocophone”.
Its first smartphone was announced in August 2018. Since then, POCO has launched 10 more phones. Now, the Xiaomi sub-brand is looking to broaden its horizons with a device simply dubbed POCO Watch.
I’ve spent the last two weeks with the company’s first smartwatch. Here is what I made of it.
POCO Watch review: Design and hardware
- Very light little device
- Crisp and crisp AMOLED display
- Xiaomi software powers the watch
- Two week battery life with typical use
Look and feel
POCO’s first effort in the smartwatch space takes on a tried-and-true look. This is a product that looks very similar to a number of similar devices that have recently been unveiled by Xiaomi and its affiliates.
Two of these names are Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite and Redmi Watch 2 Lite. There are some differences, but the overall look is the same. Another example that comes to mind from another brand is the Amazfit BIP.
POCO Watch packs a 1.6 square AMOLED (320 x 360 pixel resolution, 301 PPI) with a 2.5 curved glass that never fails to register a touch. The display is off by default but comes to life at the turn of the wrist or by pressing the single physical button on the right.
You have an always-on option that allows you to specify the times of the day that the display will remain active. This will switch between your chosen watch face during active use and a simpler watch face that simply displays the time and date. If you prefer, you can choose an ever more complex watch face. Some options display things like steps. POCO warns that enabling the always-on option will dramatically decrease battery life, so you might want to think twice before doing so.
The watch’s polymer case feels a little cheap, but once the screen lights up, the device comes across as looking great. The colors really pop because the display is really of excellent quality. It’s crisp, clear and readable inside and out and is definitely one of the highlights of the device.
Surrounding the screen is a very small bezel which blends well with the sides of the case and is therefore barely noticeable. To help you customize the look, over 100 watch faces are installable through the smartphone app. Four of them can be saved on the device itself. A long press on the screen will allow you to switch between them.
At 31 grams, POCO Watch is a very small watch. Its body is thin and light and comes in a choice of black, blue and ivory case options. All of these come with a matching color strap.
I originally thought the band was swappable with 3rd party options as there was some sort of release button there. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. You can, however, interchange with other POCO straps, and the company sells a pink and olive option.
Taking everything into consideration, POCO Watch will be a great fit for those looking for a lightweight watch. I would definitely consider this a unisex device. It is also ideal for those with small wrists due to its small form factor. Those looking for a big, masculine-looking device might want to turn their attention elsewhere.
While the 5ATM rated device is marketed as a smartwatch, I would classify it primarily as a fitness and health device. To that end, it comes with what appears to be Xiaomi’s proprietary operating system. I recently reviewed the Xiaomi Watch S1 and to me the software and menu setup, as well as the technology inside, looks identical to what you can find on the POCO watch.
In fact, it all looks like a product made by Xiaomi that bears the POCO brand. Which shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. Xiaomi has been in this business for quite some time and has years of smartwatch expertise and know-how.
Sensors, battery life
Despite the small form factor, POCO Watch offers pretty decent battery life — two full weeks between charges with normal use. Which is quite impressive. Of course, turn on always-on display, turn on some of the more detailed health tracking options, and tap into the built-in GPS from time to time, which will drastically decrease. Still, without an always-on display, you should be good for at least a week, probably longer.
There’s a proprietary magnetic USB charger in the box that you’re supposed to use to top up the 225mAh battery. My experience with the watch supports that advertised battery life.
Snuggled next to the battery is the usual array of sensors. This includes optical heart rate, an accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass.
A nice addition for those who enjoy exercising outdoors is the built-in multi-system GPS (which also leverages GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou). Uncommon on budget devices, it lets you run and cycle outdoors and get detailed stats and maps of your activity without a smartphone.
39.1 x 34.4 x 9.98mm
31 grams (including strap)
Blue, Black, Ivory
1.6-inch AMOLED (320 x 360 pixels, 301 DPI)
Optical heart rate, accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou
225 mAh, 14 days of typical use
POCO Watch review: functionality
Fitness and health monitoring
- Works with the Mi Fitness app
- All the health basics are there, including SpO2 and stress tracking
- The level of health tracking detail is customizable through the smartphone app
Since it’s a Xiaomi sub-brand, it’s no surprise that the device uses the Mi Fitness app. Simply pair the watch with the smartphone software and you’re good to go. The connection between the two works well and is stable.
The menu system on the watch itself is pretty standard. Swapping left and right will guide you through your fitness and health stats, as well as things like the weather. A long press of the physical button opens an Apple Watch-like list of all the apps you can access. A swipe down from the main screen displays messages from the smartphone while a swipe up lets you access the settings. As mentioned, this is exactly the same as the menu system that can be found on the Xiaomi Watch S1.
The Mi Fitness app does a decent job of showing your health and workout stats. You can view all the basics and some more advanced metrics. This includes steps, calories, heart rate, sleep, stress and more.
Much of this is customizable through the smartphone app. For example, the settings allow you to specify heart rate sampling rate, enable high heart rate alerts, enable sleep blood oxygen tracking, enable stress monitoring all day, etc. It’s nice to have so much control over what the watch does.
For the highest level of sleep tracking detail, you’ll need to enable Advanced Sleep Monitoring. The result is a comprehensive overview of your nightly stats. You’ll get everything from sleep stages (Deep, Light, REM), how many times you’ve woken up, your average heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. The watch will even track your naps, as long as they last at least 20 minutes.
This all seems pretty accurate, although I found the average blood oxygen values to be too low. My nightly values averaged 95% or 96%, which I don’t think is true. With other devices I was mostly above 97% which is considered normal.
All of these stats can be viewed in daily, weekly, and monthly charts. To go back or forward in time, simply swipe the smartphone screen. It all works well and is nicely color coded.
One of the things on my wish list would be more in terms of ideas. You really don’t get much in the smartphone app, so you’re on your own to draw conclusions from the stats. Hopefully this is something Xiaomi will upgrade over time.
- More than 100 exercise modes, including a handle with automatic recognition
- Multi-system standalone GPS – works well but can be slow to connect
- Heart rate is accurate during exercise
Besides functioning as a health device, POCO Watch has the smarts to be a decent little sports tracker. There are about 100 exercise modes available, including 17 professional modes with more detailed statistics. There is also automatic recognition of a few activities such as walking and running. When the watch picks up any of these activities, it spits out a message asking if you want to track it.
Along with that, you get built-in multi-system satellite connectivity (GPS, Galileo, Glonass and Beidou). Which is pretty impressive for a device that costs around $80. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another watch with built-in GPS for this price.
Another indicator that this is Xiaomi-made technology is satellite connectivity. Just as I had noticed on Xiaomi Watch S1, connection times can be slow. Sometimes the GPS connects instantly, other times it can take a few minutes. Not really ideal to wait 5 minutes for the GPS to establish a connection. That said, once the link was established, tracking accuracy was pretty good. So nothing to complain about on this point.
What I also found impressive was the quality of the heart rate stats. Compared to the Garmin watch on my other wrist, average values for runs were generally the same or less than 2-3 beats per minute. You just need to make sure the watch is snug around your wrist while exercising. I would generally move the strap up one hole before the exercise and reduce it to a lighter grip when finished.
After the race, you’ll get a map of your route, along with some basic stats. It doesn’t go so far as to distribute Firstbeat type metrics. But you do get steps, calories, average heart rate, cadence, lap times, and a few other things.
If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes) a few minutes for the GPS to connect, the device is a perfectly decent sports tracker. It doesn’t go as far as a sports watch, but it offers good accuracy for those looking for basic exercise stats. Those who are very serious about racing will probably want more, but much of the rest of the population will be perfectly happy with the data on offer. Although it would be nice to have VO2Max and a few other performance metrics.
The smartphone app also lets you connect Mi Fitness to Strava and Apple Health. When you do this, your exercise will automatically find its way to these platforms. It is therefore a great edition that will be important for many runners and cyclists.
Beyond fitness and health tracking, you get a few smart features. This includes support for smartphone notifications, compass, smartphone music control, alarm, timer, weather, remote photo taking and more. The easiest way to access it is to long-press the physical button that opens the apps list.
The watch doesn’t go as far as fully featured smartwatches when it comes to this kind of functionality. For example, you don’t have things like Alexa and the smart assistant. But the device sells for a fraction of the price of the more sophisticated counterparts. Also, Xiaomi’s operating system is smooth and works well. It’s also lightweight, hence the excellent battery life.
POCO has done well with its first effort on the smartwatch front. One of the highlights of the device is its gorgeous 1.6-inch AMOLED display. The lightweight build makes it a great unisex device, although it might feel a bit too small on larger wrists. Everything looks like a Xiaomi product with the POCO brand.
Beyond the looks, the watch covers the basics when it comes to health, activity, and sleep monitoring. You also get advanced metrics like stress and blood oxygen, and the level of tracking detail is fully customizable through the Mi Fitness app.
Sports tracking is also included with support for more than 100 activities and the watch is natively exported to Strava. I found the heart rate tracking during exercise to be of good quality, and the same goes for the GPS. The only caveat is that the device may take a while to secure a satellite signal.
You can pick up the POCO Watch at po.co and a few other outlets for €79. This makes it one of the cheapest GPS-equipped watches on the market. Availability from Amazon has yet to be announced.