Xiaomi Watch S3 has an ingenious design feature that other smartwatches can't beat

xiaomi watch s3 with removable bezel
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

It’s pretty hard to get me excited about smartwatches. I gave up on wearing a regular wrist watch after getting my first smartphone, and the idea of strapping a computer onto my wrist never really appealed to me. But the Xiaomi Watch S3 and its interchangeable bezels caught my eye at MWC 2024. 

That is a perfectly literal description, I assure you. The Xiaomi Watch S3 lets you twist off the physical bezel around your watch face and swap in a new one in a matter of seconds. It’s a pretty neat concept, and it’s so simple that I was able to do it one-handed with the right starting grip.

Swapping the bezel doesn’t change functionality — it’s not like you can remove the default ring in favor of one that unlocks some kind of special feature. Beyond some kind of elaborate screen protector, I’m not even sure what kind of features you could add, and I’ve been racking my brain pretty hard.

No, this is all purely aesthetic, and that’s why it’s such an ingenious idea. The option to swap out a watch strap is nothing new, and those with any of the best smartwatches usually have a huge selection of styles to choose from. If you had enough money, and the energy to bother, you could easily have a new strap for every day of the year. 

The same goes for watch faces, especially with popular wearable products like the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch. But the main body of the watch is stuck in whatever shape or form you chose at the time of purchase. Wanting a change means buying a whole new watch, which is far from ideal. 

Being able to swap out the bezel on the fly means you could easily give your Xiaomi Watch S3 a fresh new look whenever the mood strikes. Heading to a formal event? Swap out a trippy-colored bezel for something a little more timeless. Alternatively, if you’re going out somewhere fun, you may not want a boring black watch to cramp your look.

xiaomi watch s3 with bezel removed

(Image credit: Future)

Is a feature like this enough to make me go out and become a smartwatch enthusiast? No, not in the slightest. But that doesn’t mean I can’t like what Xiaomi is doing here.

We have seen watches that let you go that extra step further, like the Huawei Watch GT. The idea with that watch was that you could literally pop-out the watchface (and crown) and put it into a whole new casing. The obvious downside to this was that the Huawei Watch GT didn’t get a very wide release. It was limited to China and select markets in South America and South East Asia. 

At the time of writing Xiaomi hasn’t confirmed where the Watch S3 will be released, so it may end up suffering from the same problem as the Huawei Watch GT. Fortunately it doesn’t share the Watch GT’s ugly, blockish design, which means it’s going to look a heck of a lot nicer on your wrist.

Still it’d be interesting to see other nicer-looking watches take that step and offer that additional customizability. Just as long as everything is durable enough to handle that kind of hot-swapping treatment on a regular basis. When I had some hands-on time with the Huawei Watch GT at IFA 2023, the amount of force needed to pop out the watch face made me feel like I was about to break something. And nobody should feel that kind of anxiety when they’re handling their gadgets.

But for now, it’s good to see that there are innovative kinds of smartwatch customization options emerging. Even if it’s only available to a single smartwatch for now, there’s no telling who may copy Xiaomi’s idea in the future.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we know neither how much the Xiaomi Watch S3 nor the replacement bezels will actually cost. Likewise there’s been no word on a release date or where the watch will be made available. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a pretty clever idea, and it’s something I’d like to see a lot more of.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.