Amazfit Bip S first look: This $70 smartwatch makes few sacrifices

The inexpensive smartwatch gets a spec bump for 2020
First look: Amazfit Bip S
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Huami has found great success with its line of budget Amazfit wearables - 100 million sold and counting - and at CES 2020 it announced a few new health-oriented devices.

The rugged Amazfit T-Rex was the big wearable of the event, but Huami also announced an update to its Bip line: the Amazfit Bip S.

Read this: The best budget smartwatches

The Bip S is Huami doing its best impression of an Apple Watch on a sub-$100 budget. It's going to sell for $69.90 when it goes on sale next month, which is well below anything credible on the market today.

Keeping things on a budget has its pros and cons. Pros: cheaper components mean a battery life that can stretch up to 40 days, 22 hours in GPS mode. Cons: it looks like a cheap smartwatch.

The Bip S has a rectangular, plastic case housing a 1.28-inch transflective color TFT screen. It looks fine enough, and Huami says it’s increased the range of colors for the new Bip S display. The 176 x 176 resolution display still pales next to the Apple Watch or the Fitbit Versa 2, and can look decidedly washed out.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, the Bip is really thin and light, weighing just 31g. There are four color options: black, white, light pink, and an orange and blue two-tone model.

It’s all plastic, and the watch feels quite cheap, but for $70 what do you expect?

It’s better news on the features front, as Huami has loaded the Bip S with loads of tech. There’s an optical heart rate sensor that will check your heartbeat throughout the day and during workouts, and Huami says this new, improved sensor will improve accuracy and reduce power consumption. That's good, as poor accuracy was one bug-bear from the original Amazfit Bip.

There’s also GPS built in, which is respectable for any smartwatch in this price range. We found the GPS accuracy to be decent in the first Amazfit Bip, so we have reason to expect good things here. But again, using GPS will hammer that battery life.

Another place the Bip S improves on is in water resistance. It now carries a rating of 5 ATM, and the new swimming mode will track your stroke rate, stroke times, SWOLF index, and even open-water swimming.

We only got a short demo with the Bip S, but it was enough to get a feel for the interface which remains similar to the Bip and Bip Lite.

It runs Huami's own Amazfit OS, which works with both Android and iOS but is very much locked into the Amazfit/Mi app.

As a proprietary OS it enables long battery life, but the pay-off is zero apps – and certainly no third party names.

It also still feels quite sluggish, which is unsurprising for a budget smartwatch that won't be running the latest silicone.

Initial verdict

The Amazfit Bip doesn't wow, but it offers 40 days of battery life and a big handful of fitness features for a budget price.

Things like HR tracking and GPS may have become table stakes for smartwatches, but for just $70 it's an impressive offering. Whether we'll still be impressed come the full review is another question.