- Beautiful, crisp, clear AMOLED display
- Built with Xiaomi tech
- Excellent value for money
- Multi-system standalone GPS
- Two week battery life with typical use
- Might look too petite on large wrists
- It can take a while for GPS to connect
- All-plastic build
POCO has announced recently its first ever smartwatch. The device was unveiled at a launch event alongside the brand’s flagship POCO F4 GT smartphone and POCO Buds Pro Genshin Impact Edition. Available at po.co, the low cost timepiece adopts a recognisable design. It comes in a lightweight body and packs the usual set of fitness sensors, along with built-in sattelite connectivity. The latter is not something you’ll find often on a low cost smartwatch.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
For those not in the know, the POCO brand belongs to the Xiaomi umbrella but has been operating as an independent company ever 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 released an additional 10 phones. Now the Xiaomi sub-brand is looking to broaden its horizons with a device simply dubbed POCO Watch.
I spent the past couple of weeks with the company’s first smart timepiece. Here’s what I made of it.
POCO Watch review: Design & hardware
- Very lightweight, petite device
- Sharp 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 adopts a tried and tested look. This is a product that is very much along the lines of a number of similar looking devices that have recently been unveiled by Xiaomi and its subsidiaries.
Two such names are Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite and Redmi Watch 2 Lite. There are some differences but the overall look and feel is the same. Another example that springs to mind from a different brand is the Amazfit BIP.
POCO Watch packs a square 1.6 AMOLED (320 x 360 pixel resolution, PPI 301) with 2.5 curved glass that never fails to register a touch. The display is off by default but springs to life at the turn of the wrist or press of the single physical button on the right.
You do have an always-on option which allows you to specify the hours of the day during which the display will stay alive. This will swap between your chosen watch face when in active use and a simpler one which just shows the time and date. If you prefer, you can choose a more complex always-on watch face. Some options show things such as steps. POCO warns that enabling the always-on option will reduce battery life quite a bit, so you might want to think twice before doing this.
The polymer case of the watch appears a little cheapish, but once the screen lights up the device comes across as a nice looking. The colours really stand out as the display really is of excellent quality. It is sharp, clear and readable both indoors and out and is definitely one of the highlights of the device.
Around the display is a very small bezel which blends nicely with the sides of the case so is hardly noticeable. To help you personalise the look, more than 100 watch-faces are installable through the smartphone app. Four of these can be saved on the device itself. A long press on the screen will let you switch between them.
At 31 grams, POCO Watch is a very petite timepiece. Its body is thin and lightweight and is available in a choice between Black, Blue and Ivory Case options. All of these come with a matching colour strap.
Initially I thought the band was swappable with third-party options as there is some sort of release button there. But this doesn’t appear to be the case. You can swap with other POCO straps, though, and the company sells a Pink and Olive option.
Taking everything into account, POCO Watch will fit the bill for those after a lightweight timepiece. I would definitely consider this to be a unisex device. It is also ideal for those with small wrists due to its small form-factor. Those after a large, masculine looking device might want to turn their attention elsewhere.
While the 5 ATM rated device is marketed as a smartwatch, I would classify this primarily as a fitness and health device. To this 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 configuration, as well as the tech inside, appears identical to what you can find on POCO watch.
In fact the whole thing feels like a Xiaomi-made product that carries POCO branding. Which should not be considered as a bad thing. Xiaomi has been at this for a while so has years of expertise and know-how in the smartwatch space.
Sensors, battery life
Despite the small form-factor, POCO Watch offers quite decent battery life – two full weeks between charges with normal use. Which is pretty impressive. Of course, enable the always-on display, switch on some of the more detailed health tracking options, and tap into the built-in GPS from time to time and this will sharply decline. Nevertheless, without an always-on display, you should be good for at least a week, probably more.
There’s a proprietary magnetic USB charger in the box that you are meant to use to top-up the 225 mAh battery. My experience with the watch is along the lines of this advertised battery life.
Snuggled beside the battery is the usual set of sensors. This includes optical heart rate, an accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass.
A nice addition for those that like to exercise outdoors is built-in multi-system GPS (also taps into GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou). Not often found on budget devices, it allows you to run and cycle outdoors and get detailed stats and maps on your activity without a smartphone.
39.1 x 34.4 x 9.98mm
31 grams (including the strap)
Blue, Black, Ivory
1.6 inch AMOLED (320 x 360 pixels, PPI 301)
Optical heart rate, accelerometer, gyroscope, electronic compass
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou
225 mAh, 14 days typical usage
POCO Watch review: Functionality
Fitness & health monitoring
- Works with Mi Fitness app
- All the health basics are there including SpO2 & stress tracking
- Level of health tracking detail is customisable through the smartphone app
As this is a Xiaomi sub-brand it should come as no surprise that the device uses the Mi Fitness app. Simply pair the watch to the smartphone software and you are good to go. The connection between the two works well and is stable.
The menu system on the watch itself is quite standard. Swapping left and right will take you through your fitness and helath stats, along with things such as 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 shows smartphone messages while a swipe up takes you through to 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 at displaying 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.
A lot of this is customisable through the smartphone app. For example, the settings allows you to specify the frequency of heart rate sampling, it allows you to enable high heart rate alerts, enable blood oxygen tracking during sleep, switch on all-day stress monitoring and more. It is nice to have so much control over what the watch does.
For the highest detail of sleep tracking you’ll need to enable advanced sleep monitoring. The result of this is a comprehensive overview of your nightly stats. You’ll get everything from sleep stages (Deep, Light, REM), to the number of times you woke up, your average heart rate and blood oxygen levels. The watch will even track your naps, as long as they are at least 20 minutes in length.
All of this seems fairly accurate, although I did find the average blood oxygen values to be overly on the low side. My nightly values mostly averaged 95% or 96% which I don’t think jives with reality. With other devices I was predominantly above 97% which is considered to be 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 display. All of this works well and is nicely color-coded.
One of the things on my wish-list would be more in terms of insights. You really don’t get many in the smartphone app so are left on your own to draw conclusions from the stats. Hopefully, this is something Xiaomi will upgrade in time.
- More than 100 exercise modes, a handful with auto-recognition
- Multi-system standalone GPS – works well but can be slow to connect
- Heart rate is accurate during exercise
In addition to functioning as a health device, POCO Watch has the smarts to be a decent little sports tracker. There are some 100 exercise modes that are available, including 17 professional modes with more detailed stats. There’s also auto-recognition of a few activities such as walking and running. When the watch picks up on one of these activities it will spit out a message asking whether you would like to track it.
Along with this 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 struggle to find another watch with built-in GPS for that price.
Another indicator that this is Xiaomi-made tech is the sattelite connectivity. Just as I had found on Xiaomi Watch S1, connection times can be slow. Sometimes the GPS would link up instantly, at other times it can take a few minutes. Not really ideal to be waiting for 5 minutes for GPS to establish a connection. Having said that, once the link up is there, the accuracy of tracking was pretty good. So no complaints on that count.
What I also found to be impressive was the quality of heart rate stats. As compared to the Garmin watch on my other wrist, the average values for runs were typically identical or within 2-3 beats per minute. You just need to make sure that the watch is tight around your wrist during exercise. I would typically move the strap one hole up before exercise, and reduce it back to a lighter hold once done.
Post run you’ll get a map of your route, along with some basic stats. It doesn’t go as far as dishing out Firstbeat-type metrics. But you do get steps, calories, average heart rate, cadence, lap times and a few other bits and pieces.
If you don’t mind waiting (at times) a few minutes for GPS to connect, the device is a perfectly decent sports tracker. It doesn’t go as far as a sports watch, but it does offer good accuracy for those after basic exercise stats. Those very serious about running will probably be left wanting more, but much of the rest of the population will be perfectly satisfied with the data offered. Although it would be nice to have VO2Max and a few other performance metrics.
The smartphone app also allows you to connect Mi Fitness to Strava and Apple Health. When you do this your exercise will automatically find their way to these platforms. So that’s a nice edition and will be important to many runners and cyclists out there.
Beyond fitness and health tracking, you do get a bit of smart functionality sprinkled in. This includes smartphone notification support, compass, smartphone music control, alarm, timer, weather, remote photo taking and more. The easiest way to access these is a single long press on the physical button which opens the list of apps.
The timepiece doesn’t go as far as fully featured smartwatches when it comes to this type of functionality. For example you don’t have things such as Alexa and smart assistant. But the device sells for a fraction of the price of the more fancy counterparts. Plus Xiaomi’s operating system is smooth, and it functions well. It is 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 beautiful 1.6 inch AMOLED display. The lightweight build makes this a great unisex device, although it might look a bit too petite on large wrists. The whole thing comes across as a Xiaomi product with POCO branding.
Beyond the look, the watch covers the basics as far as health, activity and sleep monitoring. You also have some advanced metrics such as stress and blood oxygen, and the level of tracking detail is fully customisable via the Mi Fitness app.
Sport tracking is also there with support for more than 100 activities and the watch exports natively to Strava. I found the heart rate tracking during exercise to be of decent quality, and the same is the case for GPS. The only caveat is that it can take a while for the device to secure a satellite signal.
You can pick up POCO Watch at po.co and a few other retail outlets for €79. This makes it one of the cheapest watches GPS-equipped watches around. Amazon availability is yet to be announced.
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