Xiaomi Debuts Smartwatch That Mimics Apple at Half the Price
Xiaomi revealed its new Mi Watch this week. The $185 smartwatch appears to blatantly imitate the Apple Watch in both the hardware and software aspects, at a low enough price to compete with Apple’s premium elements.
Low-Cost Apple Watch?
The Mi Watch could be mistaken for an Apple Watch as first glance. The shape of the touchscreen, the scrolling and power button, and many of the other identifiers of Apple’s style are also part of Xiaomi’s product. It includes several of the technical elements of an Apple Watch, such as a heart rate monitor, although that’s much more universal among smartwatches today. Health monitoring is a major element of the watch in general, which includes a sleep and exercise tracker, a blood oxygen sensor, and “body energy monitoring,” although it’s not clear if that’s to measure fatigue or something else.
The Mi Watch uses a version of Google’s Wear OS called MIUI For Watch. The cosmetic difference ends up looking familiar to Apple Watch users as well. It’s not identical, but it’s hard not to think that Apple was the go-to inspiration for it. MIUI For Watch includes proprietary apps and its own app store, with versions of the standard smartwatch apps. The watch and its app store will only be sold in China to begin with, according to Xiaomi. No schedule for international sales have been announced, but the company may simply be waiting to ship them overseas.
Xiaomi and Smartwatch Growth
The Mi Watch is not Xiaomi’s first foray into smartwatches, including the AmazeFit, which added the Amazon Alexa voice assistant to its capabilities earlier this year. Xiaomi’s own Xiaoai voice assistant is built into the Mi Watch with full functionality, but other voice assistant options may be added as the product is extended to new markets.
There’s plenty of reason for Xiaomi to expect success with the new watch. A smartwatch similar to the Apple Watch at half the cost will appeal to plenty of people. And, lower-cost smartwatches are due to become a larger segment of the market according to a recent Gartner report, even as spending on wearable technology jumps 27% next year. Google is clearly aware of this trend, buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion recently, less than a year after it acquired Fossil smartwatch technology Based on the report, smartwatches don’t need to be a premium brand to compete. Successfully imitating the technology of one, but not the price, might be Xiaomi’s best bet for grabbing a bigger slice of the market.