Mio Alpha

The Mio Alpha is a fitness watch with a built-in heart rate monitor. Its claim to fame is that it was the world's first device that could measure heart rate using an optical monitor on the wrist, rather than a chest strap. It is EKG accurate, even during high intensity workouts such as performance speed running, cycling, or even swimming because of its 3ATM water resistance rating. The continuous sampling helps with overall health monitoring and goal setting, and it will even tell the user what their average heart rate was during a workout. Paired with the Mio Pal app, the wearer can use their Personal Activity Intelligence score to calculate their ideal heart rate in order to maximize workouts. Users can then configure the Alpha to their ideal heart rate zone, and it will beep and flash LED lights to let them know if they go outside of that range during their workout. The Alpha has a durable and soft silicone band for a snug and comfortable fit, and is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 so it can send the heart rate data to a smartphone or tablet. It also has a timer and clock like a traditional watch. If you are looking to continuously monitor your heart rate during workouts and do not like wearing a chest strap, read on to see if the Mio Alpha might be a good fit for you.

Join our private, growing community of passionate runners.

Where to Buy
Backcountry Link
See Deal
Moosejaw Link
See Deal
Where to Buy
Backcountry Link
See Deal
Moosejaw Link
See Deal
Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Heart rate monitor works quickly and has good accuracy
  • Clear, easy to read display
  • Water resistance allows the fitness watch to be worn while swimming
  • Alerts the wearer when they are outside their target heart rate zone
  • Connects wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet without using a lot of battery life
  • Cons
    • Does not have a GPS
    • Does not measure steps or distance
    • Cannot run apps or store data
    • Does not connect to Mac or PC
    • Key Features
      The Mio Alpha can be worn while sitting, walking, running, cycling, racing, and during other intense workouts. It is water resistant for up to 30 meters, so it also can be used while swimming. Like a standard wrist watch, it can be worn all day long. It monitors the wearer's heart rate throughout the day and transmits the data to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
      Basic Features
      The Alpha is a basic smart watch that tells time and takes the wearer's pulse. It does not measure pace or distance; the wearer will need to connect the watch to a nearby smartphone for those features. It does, however, have a timer so that the wearer can measure the duration of their workout.
      Advanced Features
      The Mio Alpha has a green light optical heart rate monitor for convenient pulse-taking without a chest strap. It also has a timer and can beep and flash LED lights to notify the wearer if they are outside their target heart rate zone during a workout, and tell the user what their average heart rate was at the end of the workout. It is water resistant for up to 30 meters (3ATM rating), but the manufacturer notes that the buttons should not be pressed while underwater.
      Testers found that the Alpha has good accuracy. The heart rate monitor is EKG accurate and correctly detects the wearer's heart rate. It works right away, although it lacks a smoothing algorithm and can sometimes display high or low numbers on the screen even though the captured data sent via Bluetooth to the connected smartphone or tablet is correct. It has continuous monitoring that works optimally during intense workouts such as cycling, fast runs, and even when the wearer is jumping around. The clock and timer also works as they should.
      The Mio Alpha uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to a smartphone. It is compatible with Android 4.3 and higher, iPod Touch, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd generation and higher, and iPhone 45 and higher. It transmits data to the device, which can be used with an app to use the heart rate data for health and fitness tracking. A cable magnetically connects to the underside of the watch so it can recharge in a USB port.
      The Mio Alpha is designed to be used with other devices. When paired with a smartphone or tablet, it can transmit the heart rate data and the other device can track pace and distance. Apps can be used to set fitness and nutrition goals, as well as track progress toward those goals. The Mio Pal app for iOS and Android uses a Personal Activity Intelligence, or PAI, to measure the wearer's heart rate in response to physical activity. Using this data, it develops a personal profile for each user based on gender, age, resting and maximum heart rate, and can help them set goals in order to have a longer and healthier life.
      The Mio Alpha is comfortable to wear, light, and feels like a traditional wrist watch. It takes the wearer's pulse using an optical heart rate monitor rather than an uncomfortable chest strap. It can be worn on either wrist and is suitable for either left- or right-handed individuals. The holes in the strap allow it to adjust to just the right size, snug enough for the heart rate monitor to detect the wearer's pulse, but loose enough that it still feels comfortable.
      The Alpha's design is simple and understated. The watch bezel comes in black, white, and indigo. The silicone band is black with a gray outline and smoothly transitions into the face of the watch. The face is monochromatic, which some testers found boring, considering the colorful displays offered by other fitness watches. The heart rate monitor emits a green light. The LED buttons can flash in red or blue and there are four buttons on the side. Compared to other models, it looks more like an everyday watch and less like a sports watch.

      Read also about all white running shoes.
      The Mio Alpha has good durability. It was designed to be worn during high-speed, intense workouts, so it can bump into things without breaking. It is also water resistant, so it can be worn while swimming, although the watch can be damaged if the wearer presses the buttons while underwater. The wrist strap is also durable so that the wearer can move around without having to worry about it slipping off or breaking.
      The display is a dot-matrix LCD with grey pixels and a black background. It can show either the current time or the wearer's heart rate, and has an icon that indicates battery life. Some testers did not like the single color display or the small screen compared to other smart watches that show and stored more data.
      The wristband is black and made out of silicone, and the clasp is grey. It is comfortable, durable, and flexible. It fits most wrist sizes (5.7 to 7.8 inches) and has holes to adjust to a snug fit so that the optical heart rate monitor can detect the wearer's pulse. It is not removable or changeable.
      Sizes Available
      The Mio Alpha is about the size of a standard wrist watch. The black watch with the white bezel and black watch with black bezel fit wrists between 5.7 inches and 7.8 inches. The indigo watch fits wrists 5.2 inches to 6.7 inches in circumference. The bands are flexible and have holes to adjust to a comfortable fit. A few testers thought that the band was too large for those with smaller wrists, but most people seemed to think it fit just fine.
      Ease of Use
      The Mio Alpha is very simple to use. Users begin by removing the packaging and stickers and holding down the right button. After the Mio logo appears, you can set the time. It only takes a few seconds to detect the wearer's heart rate. The Alpha comes with a basic timer, displays the wearer's current heart rate, and transmits that data to a smartphone. When the heart rate monitor is turned off, it shows the time again, just like a traditional wrist watch. When the timer is running, the wearer will be notified if they are outside their target heart rate zone: one beep for just outside the zone and two for 10 or more beats outside the zone, with a red LED light meaning the current heart rate is above the upper limit and blue meaning below the lower limit. There are four buttons on the side to navigate the menus; some people found them difficult to press, while others found that they were easy to press if they used their fingernails.
      Power Source
      The Alpha is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery that comes with the device. The battery lasts for anywhere from 8 to 10 hours (according to testers) and 20 to 24 hours (according to the manufacturer) while it is actively tracking the wearer's heart rate. The battery will last for weeks if it is worn as a watch without heart rate monitoring. It comes with a charger that has a magnet that attaches to the watch on one end and a short USB cable on the other end that folds into the back of the charger. The Alpha can recharge easily by being plugged into USB port in a computer or wall adapter.
      The Mio Alpha is a bit on the pricey side. Although it is in the average price range for a fitness watch, the fact that it only has one function does not look good in comparison to other watches that offer many features in addition to heart rate monitoring. It does, however, capture accurate data during intense activity, and can be worn while swimming, as it has a rating for up to 30 meters underwater while other devices are only water resistant for up to one meter. When it first came out in 2013, it might have been a good investment for someone who really wanted to closely monitor their heart rate but hated wearing a chest strap. Nowadays, more features are offered for the same price or sometimes even a lower price. Because it is an older model, many retailers currently have it on sale for less than half its original price.
      The most commonly purchased accessory is the Mio Alpha Charging Pack. It works for both the Mio Alpha and the Mio Alpha 2. It has four charging pins that go on the back of the Mio Alpha or Mio Alpha 2 and a 3.3 feet extension cord with a USB cable for charging with a computer or plugging into a wall with an adapter. This accessory is useful because the cable for the charger that comes with the Mio Alpha is so short, and of course it can work as a replacement charger if the original one gets lost.
      Key Features
      • Measures heart rate on the wrist without requiring a chest strap

      • Durable and soft silicone band ensures a snug and comfortable fit

      • EKG accurate heart rate data during high intensity workouts

      • Continuous heart rate sampling to give a better overall picture of the wearer's health

      • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 to transmit data to the wearer's smartphone

      • Keeps track of average heart rate during a workout

      • Allows the user to configure their heart rate zone and notifies them if they are outside that zone with a beep and/or flashing LED lights

      • Timer and clock allow it to be worn all day and used as a traditional watch

      • 3ATM water resistant up to 30 meters
      Bottom Line
      The Mio Alpha is a nice fitness watch and heart rate monitor. It gives EKG accurate data and was designed specifically for high intensity workouts, with fast speeds and lots of movement. It can be used for just about any activity, from running to cycling to swimming. It is durable, water resistant, comfortable to wear, and easily connects to a smartphone. Its simple design means it is suitable for all day wearing, rather than just being a sports watch, and its long battery life means it can be worn all day for fitness tracking for for weeks if it is used as a timepiece. When it was initially released, it was a great way to accurately and comfortably one's monitor heart rate for fitness goals. For today's customer, it is a bit pricey for a device that only monitors heart rate. Although if someone prefers a device without advanced functionality, the Alpha could be a good purchase, especially if it is on sale.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
      See Deal
      Moosejaw Link
      See Deal
      By Stephanie Potter
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 04. 2021

      Join our private, growing community of passionate runners

      Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.