OPINION: Samsung has long secured its spot as one of the best smartwatch manufacturers for Android smartphones, culminating in the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 with a plethora of apps, Google Wear OS 4 and cool health features like full body scanning tech.
However, with this week’s reveal of the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro, the company has set its sights firmly on Samsung’s wearable – and Samsung should be worried.
Revealed alongside the Xiaomi 13T and Xiaomi 13T Pro in Berlin earlier this week, the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is the latest in Xiaomi’s smartwatch range. Xiaomi devices have usually been limited to Xiaomi’s own wearable OS, which tends to limit just how capable they can be, lacking features like third-party app support, Google Assistant, Google Wallet and other Google-fied features available on competing Wear OS smartwatches – but that has all changed with the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro.
That’s because the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is the first Xiaomi wearable to run Wear OS 3.5, with Google’s head of product and design for Wear OS, John Renaldi, appearing on stage at the launch to talk about the partnership with the two companies. Though it’s not quite the Wear OS 4 of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, the software is a massive upgrade from what was previously available on the OG Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro.
That brings a range of benefits to Xiaomi’s latest wearable, but the most impactful will no doubt be the introduction of third-party standalone apps that’ll work on the watch, with big-name apps like Spotify and WhatsApp available to download alongside a range of alternative exercise apps like Strava.
But it’s also smaller features that’ll level up the experience on offer, from contextual notifications with smart reply technology to access to Google Wallet and Google Assistant from the wrist. Compared to Xiaomi’s older alternative, it’s day and night.
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But why should Samsung specifically be worried? There is already a range of Wear OS-enabled smartwatches on the market, after all. For me, it all comes down to one huge feature: body scanning tech.
It’s tech we’ve already seen on recent generations of Samsung Galaxy Watch and essentially allows users to get a detailed analysis of their body, including elements like weight, muscle mass, water weight and more simply by holding the two side buttons on the watch. The catch? The feature requires a Samsung-branded Android smartphone to work, despite the fact that the Galaxy Watch is compatible with all Android smartphones.
This means that, if you’ve got a Galaxy Watch 6 and a Google Pixel 7, you’re out of luck.
That’s where the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro comes in, with an almost identical feature that delivers much the same data as Samsung’s option, but crucially, it’ll work with any Android smartphone. That’s an instant leg-up on Samsung’s wearable.
It’s not like the two look that dissimilar either, though the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro is closer to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic with a traditional design and a stainless steel body. Regardless, it’s a high-end build that helps the wearable look more premium.
The biggest threat for Samsung, however? That’d be the price. At just €269 (around £230), or €319 (around £276) if you want an LTE-enabled variant, it’s way cheaper than both the £289 Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and £359 Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic – and that’s without LTE connectivity.
That means you can get a very functionally similar smartwatch to Samsung’s option at a cheaper price, and it’ll work with more Android smartphones too.
So yes, I think Samsung has a lot to worry about with the Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro, and I hope this forces Samsung to rethink its Samsung-only wearable features in future generations of watch.