- Decent GPS performance
- Solid analysis
- Not premium feeling
- AI stuff feels half-baked
The Amazfit Cheetah Square is one of three versions of the Chinese brand's new running watch line – and is the smallest and lightest of the bunch.
But how does it stack up to the mainstays of the running world – and watches such as the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 6?
We've put it through its paces to find out.
Price and competition
The Amazfit Cheetah Square can be ordered now from $229/£229/€229.
It's the same price as the Cheetah Round, but less than the Cheetah Pro.
That makes it significantly more expensive than something like the Garmin Forerunner 55, which we do find initially concerning. The Forerunner 55 is one of our top picks, and is light, wearable, and packs plenty of battery life and Garmin Coach features.
In fact, at $229/£229, you could also say that the Zepp Cheetah Square also competes with the Forerunner 255, which you can bag for around £299/$299 – and cheaper if you look for a deal.
And let's not forget, it's in the same zone as the Apple Watch SE – which is no slouch when it comes to running and fitness prowess.
So Cheetah Square has its work cut out to impress us.
Design and display
The Cheetah Square is certainly a homage to the Apple Watch Ultra and apes the styling of the crown, buttons, and case.
While Amazfit is never too prescriptive about who it aims its smartwatches at, we’d say that the Cheetah Square has a more feminine positioning than its circular sibling.
The Cheetah Square is certainly thin and light – tipping the scales at just 25g, and measures 9.9mm. That’s 22% lighter than the standard Cheetah, and it’s super light on the wrist.
It doesn’t have the brightest AMOLED by any means, and the 1.75-inch, 390x450 screen can be a little hard to read in direct sunlight, and text on the interface can be pretty small.
There are three buttons, two on either side of the crown, which you can use to navigate menus. I found the navigation system a tad confusing, with the digital crown used to progress through menus, while on the Apple Watch, it’s the home button. That took a lot of getting used to.
The downside of being lightweight is that the Cheetah Square does feel slightly cheap for a $200+ running watch, and the lightweight polymer isn't the most premium.
It feels a part of the same family as the Amazfit GTS 4, but also the Bip 5, which isn’t a huge statement of quality.
We were hoping for a more premium feel if we’re honest based on the design.
The Amazfit Cheetah Square has a relatively small 285mAh battery, but does a good job at staying the distance for a watch that's so thin.
Amazfit promises 8 days of battery life, which is probably achievable if you keep the advanced features turned off.
We found around 5 days with features such as nighttime blood oxygen and breathing regularity tracking turned on – as well as 24/7 stress monitoring. It’s not too shabby – but most of these wellness features are offered on Garmin devices with longer battery life.
There's also a battery saver option, which will prolong the battery to 14 days.
In terms of running, we depleted around 10% on an hour run. Amazfit estimates 13 hours, so this doesn’t feel too wide of the mark.
Zepp Health wants to help you to your fitness goals, so there are two main features: Zepp Coach and Zepp Coach Chat, the AI trainer.
First is Zepp Coach, which analyses your fitness goals and prescribes workout sessions. You can choose the days you’d like to workout, and the type of fitness you’re looking to achieve, and it will suggest the type of session.
We told Zepp Coach we wanted to build endurance and offered up our preferred training days.
The experience wasn’t amazing – but we didn’t commit to the coaching. The coach started by asking us to complete a 14-minute workout at 140bpm. I’m a runner with two kids, if I’m going out, I’m having a proper run. So suggesting that kind of workout just makes me likely to ignore the session altogether.
Garmin does similar, but its stock endurance-building workouts are more like 30 minutes – so at least it feels worth going out.
The second part is the AI trainer, which costs $3.99 per month. This is a ChatGPT-style chatbot where you can ask questions about your fitness or query any of the data or information.
The first thing to note is that the Zepp Coach and Coach AI are not connected singing from the same sheet, so the AI has no idea what’s in your session. So if you ask it to design you a session it will a) be different to Zepp Coach and b) will ask you to confirm your fitness levels and personal goals all over again.
Just like most LLM models it’s quite interesting to play with and can be insightful, and also has the propensity to tell you the biggest load of rubbish at any given moment. This makes it feel like a beta tool, and therefore not something we’re that enamored with paying $3.99 a month for.
If you want to know what specific metrics mean or get some general advice such as how to build speed or endurance, then it works perfectly well.
But when tasked with analyzing personal data, things weren’t quite so good. I asked for a summary of my running performance by giving a data dump of previous workouts and analysis metrics, all of which are already available in the Zepp Health app. Amusingly, most of my running pace metrics were delivered in seconds per meter. That’s an insane metric to track and makes everything meaningless.
Overall, quizzing the LLM on aspects of performance generally returned bland general advice on running. It’s an interesting addition to the app, but not something we’d base the purchase of a $249/£229 running watch around just yet.
In terms of general fitness data, in addition to basic performance metrics, it will also track your training load, the effect of workouts on your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and VO2 Max. We found VO2 Max to be tracked pretty closely to Garmin, which is our gold standard based on past comparisons with a VO2 Max lab test. We got a VO2 Max of 46, while Garmin rates us at 48, based on years of running data.
Heart rate accuracy
We put the Cheetah Square up against a Garmin HRM-Pro over several runs and intensities.
Max HR was usually tracked well, but average HR lagged behind the chest strap. This was evident on runs in real-time, where comparing the Cheetah Square to the Garmin showed a lower live HR before it caught up a few minutes later.
The comparative data is below, and certainly within the margin for error – if not absolutely the gold standard. Due to our experiences with a slight lag mid-run, we'd hesitate to recommend the optical sensor for heart rate training, but it's important to note that the Amazfit is compatible with Bluetooth HR chest straps.
|Run 1:||Cheetah Round||Garmin HRM-Pro|
It’s not unusual for optical sensors to be slower and less responsive than an EKG chest strap, but over steady and tempo runs like the ones we trialed here, we’ve seen better performances from the likes of Garmin, Apple, and Huawei recently.
In terms of 24/7 and resting heart rate, the numbers held up. We saw resting heart rate ranges during sleep in the same ballpark as our established baselines in Whoop 4.0 and other smartwatches.
So heart rate tracking is solid here, but be careful about relying on it for real time zone tracking.
The Cheetah Square packs MaxTrack dual-band GPS tracking, which means it can access the L1 and L5 bands of satellites. That, in theory, should offer better accuracy in built-up areas and around tall trees.
We tested it extensively and didn’t have too many complaints about accuracy. It did come around 70m long over a known 5K race route, so it wasn’t perfect.
Looking at the data in GPXVisualizer shows a mixed bag. On the one hand, semi-decent accuracy around a tree-lined part of a regular route that I’ve seen cause problems for running watches in the past. Although we might expect better given this is a dual-band offering. See below.
But it wasn’t immune to wandering on paths and roads, and you can see where it picked up extra distance in our park run.
So it’s an effective GPS running watch at this price point, but we didn’t see levels of accuracy overall that exceeded our expectations.
And the Cheetah Square still has this annoying Amazfit quirk where it tells you the A-GPS file is out of date. It’s supposed to be shown if your phone hasn’t been connected for a week, but we seemed to get it before every run regardless, even if our phone was connected. If you get this message it’s then really tough to get a timely GPS lock, and it’s super annoying.
Mapping and navigation
Amazfit smartwatches have backed the ability to navigate GPX routes, and unsurprisingly, that comes over to the Cheetah Square.
You can easily upload routes created in apps such as Strava or Komoot, and upload them via the Zepp Health app. You can then follow along, which is especially useful for hikes and trail runs, but also useful for city runs too.
The Cheetah Square takes it further and offers mapping too. You need to sync the map to your watch before you head out, which does take around five minutes. It offers around 1,700 sq. kilometers, so more than most people would run or walk in a day.
You can scroll down to the map during a workout session, and then get a sense of your surroundings.
Sleep and health tracking
Zepp Health has also gone big on sleep tracking, and it’s now been given its tab in the slightly revamped app.
It’s a solid sleep-tracking mix of features, with sleep stages shown, as well as time spent in each. It will also rate you for consistency, which is important for building good sleep habits.
It will also track your respiratory rate, resting heart rate, and breathing quality – which are all important wellness metrics that we’re pleased to see here in such clarity.
For our money, sleep data was generally over-estimated – which is a common complaint.
Fitbit and Whoop devices tend to be very sensitive so it’s not uncommon to see shorter sleep durations on devices such as Amazfit, and that’s not a huge problem as long as data is consistent. The only issue is that it can put a positive sheen on average sleep, and make users less likely to take steps to improve their rest.
That said, I did notice that Amazfit wasn’t that excellent at spotting nighttime disturbances. I have a new baby, so I will often be up 2 or 3 times in the night for 5-10 minutes – and these wake-ups were often shown as just one or two minutes. So there does seem to be a lack of sensitivity.
There’s another AI feature here called Aura, which is another subscription service that offers relaxation, medication, and sleep sounds. It also uses your real-time heart rate to use AI to adapt the soundscapes to your level of relaxation and see you off to sleep.
We do like relaxing sounds for sleep, but generally, any ambient music will do – and we didn’t find that Aura was much more effective than music for us.
But if this is your first rodeo with meditation and relaxation, it could pleasently surprise you. And you get a couple of free soundscapes too.
Of course, there’s also an AI chatbot here if you want to get any advice or ask questions about sleep. But again, it’s not too prescriptive about your data and is better suited to general advice.
The Cheetah Square is pretty much a fully-fledged Amazfit smartwatch, so it’s pretty adept when you’re not working out.
Notifications from your phone will display on the wrist, and there’s full granular control of which apps on your smartphone are allowed to pester your wrist – which is something we like.
The vibration buzz does feel very cheap and shrill, so we quickly turned most stuff off.
There’s also Alexa on the wrist. Despite being an Alexa household, I’ve never had cause to want to use it on a smartwatch – but it’s on board here if you like that kind of thing. However, we had issues getting Alexa to connect.
One thing to note, no Bluetooth is calling from the wrist. So it’s a pretty barebones smartwatch experience compared to the likes of the Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch.
That means no payment features, or access to a proper app store, which means you can’t benefit from music streaming or any other bells and whistles. It puts pressure on the price tag of the Amazfit Cheetah Square and asks the question whether you’d be better off with an Apple Watch SE instead.
How we test