- Great design, high quality display
- Decent fitness tracking
- Improved smartwatch features
- Heart rate and GPS accuracy during workouts
- Battery drain with always-on display
- No streaming music service support
The Amazfit GTR 2 attempts to build on a successful 2020 for Amazfit smartwatches, and offers impressive fitness and health features with a much improved design.
And it launches alongside the the Amazfit GTS 2, its square sibling, which boasts the same price and features.
However, it comes in above the Huawei Watch GT2e, which impressed us with its work tracking, GPS accuracy and guided modes.
The first GTR offered plenty in the way of fitness tracking, but it didn't really deliver the performance and has dated quickly in terms of design.
But the GTR 2 is sleeker, and packs in a much stronger feature-set, coming with a built-in music player, Amazon Alexa integration (if it works) and supposedly more accurate heart rate monitoring including blood oxygen levels.
So does the Amazfit GTR 2 hit the sweet spot as an affordable smartwatch? We've been living with it to find out. Here's our full verdict.
Amazfit GTR 2: Design and screen
The first GTR matched up a good quality metal case with a quality leather band – but the bezel was massive.
Things have been changed up this time and the result is a more svelte, sleek watch that remind us of Huawei's Watch GT smartwatches.
The two size options have been ditched for just a 46mm model that comes in a choice of two case materials.
The GTR 2 Sport packs an aluminium case and the Classic comes with a stainless steel one and costs $20 extra. Whichever you go for, you're getting something that's noticeably slimmer than the last GTR and we think has a more attractive look as well.
Paired up with that case is a 22mm strap that comes in either leather or silicone with a simple pin mechanism to make it easier to swap in another band. We had the silicone option and can say it was comfortable to wear during the day and night and for exercise.
Up front is a ceramic bezel that breaks up an otherwise streamlined design. That surrounds the clear highlight of the GTR 2 – the screen. It's a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED touchscreen display with those rich, deep blacks that tell you it's a high quality display. It's sharp, vibrant, offers strong viewing angles and we didn't have major issues glancing at it in bright outdoor light.
There's an always-on option, if you want the display on 24/7, though you'll be warned that it will severely impact battery life. An additional smart mode will turn the display off when it recognises you're sleeping and will turn it off when you take it off your wrist to help conserve battery life.
You've got two physical buttons to get you into the main watch menus and give you quicker access to sports tracking. As a package, you're getting something that's water resistant up to 50 meters, so it's fit for a swim in the pool and you can keep it on in the shower.
Amazfit GTR 2: Smartwatch features
As far as what the GTR offered as a smartwatch, it was pretty basic. We got notifications and music controls that only worked when paired with Android phones.
It's fair to say things have got a little better on the GTR 2. It's still compatible with Android phones and iPhones, though you're going to get the fullest experience pairing it up with an Android phone.
You're getting notifications, though they're still not actionable and can bunch up when they come from the same app in quick succession. You have music controls that can be used during workouts.
There's also weather forecasts, plus the ability to set reminders and change watch faces, with a nice selection available via the store you can find inside the companion phone app.
There's a built-in speaker and microphone that let you take calls when your paired to your phone over Bluetooth. If you've got to do it, you get good volume on those calls and decent clarity for having a chat on a watch.
There's some big additions here and the first is a built-in music player. There's roughly 3GB of storage giving you space for around 300-600 songs. That means you can pair up Bluetooth headphones and listen to music packed onto the watch. We tried pairing up with Jabra's Elite Active 75t and the Jaybird Vista trule wireless earbuds and had no problems connecting on the first attempt.
Transferring the music is done via the Zepp companion app, where you'll need to upload audio that's already present on your phone. That's great if you still buy a lot of music. We imagine most people stream it, so getting some kind of music streaming service tie-up would really make this feature worthwhile.
Like the Amazfit Band 5, there's Amazon Alexa support to let you fire queries to the watch. Unfortunately it wasn't available for us to try, so we can't vouch for how well it works. If you want an idea of what to expect, definitely have a look at our Amazfit Band 5 review.
The voice assistant we did get to try was one that doesn't require being connected to your phone to make use of. The offline voice control can be activated when you simply raise your wrist and you'll spy a small blue bubble that indicates it's listening.
You also have control over when you can respond to the activated assistant. So it could be as soon as you raise your wrist, or alternatively wait until the screen lights up.
There's a list of voice commands you can use on the watch and the app and these range from doing things like turning the do not disturb mode on or off, starting a workout, opening music controls, skipping tracks and even selecting named playlists. We found the assistant responsive on the whole and if you like the idea of hands-free control for some core features, it does a good job.
It's certainly an improved smartwatch experience. Core features like notification support haven't really improved though and while a music player is a step in the right direction, it really needs some music streaming service support to make it a really desirable feature.
Amazfit GTR 2: Fitness tracking
The fitness tracking features are the kind we've already seen from other Amazfit wearables like the Band 5, the T-Rex and the GTS. You can track steps, continuously monitor heart rate, track sleep and take SpO2 readings.
You can also track stress and have access to the PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) health scores as another way of making sure you're getting your heart rate pumping regularly. It's a single score of your activity and exertion over the past seven days, based on your heart rate as well as movement.
We're a fan of PAI in theory, but we do feel that it could be made more user-friendly and engaging.
On the watch, you can view this series of data from widgets, watch faces and dedicated menus. It takes a bit of playing around to make the most of where things live and how to make it easy to absorb that data.
Theres's plenty here, but crucially does it deliver?
Step tracking compared: Garmin fitness tracker (left) and Amazfit GTR 2 (right)
For step counts, it was generally in the ballpark of what we got from another fitness tracker we wore during testing. There's a nice widget to glance at your stats and a further breakdown in the app as well if you want to look at trends over time. It's light on motivational features outside of idle alerts, though. If you want it for step tracking, it ticks that box.
When it comes to sleep monitoring, we put it up against Polar's pretty reliable wrist-based sleep tracking and found it did a good job of recognising sleep duration and offered roughly the same numbers for deep and light sleep.
There's was a bigger disparity with tracked REM sleep time, which is the aspect of sleep tied to restoration and learning.
Sleep tracking compared: Amazfit GTR 2 (left and centre) and Polar Vantage V2 (right)
You'll also be given a sleep score, a breakdown of sleep stages as percentages and sleep regularity insights to offer some trends for things like time falling asleep, total sleep and deep sleep.
Huami is also testing out a sleep breathing quality feature, which uses the SpO2 sensor to try an identify uncomfortable breathing during sleep that could have impact on your day.
The good news is that based on the comparison readings we took with a pulse oximeter that also measures heart rate, those readings appeared reliable.
So, you're getting a lot here and we think on the whole, the GTR 2 will serve you well as a fitness tracker.
Amazfit GTR 2: Sports tracking and heart rate
When it's time to think about more than steps and sleep, you have plenty at your disposal as far the GTR 2 behaving like a sports watch is concerned.
On the sensor count, you've got built-in GPS, the pretty standard motion sensors and an altimeter to measure elevation. You're also getting Huami's latest BioTracker PPG biological data sensor, which delivers the heart rate monitoring and can also measure blood oxygen levels.
There are 12 sports modes at your disposal including staples like running, cycling and pool and open water swimming. You also get modes for activities like indoor cycling, the elliptical and climbing to make use of that elevation data.
We spent most of our time testing out the running mode and the free workout modes as we can't get into the gym or pool at the moment.
Run tracking compared: Amazfit GTR 2 (left and right) and Polar Vantage V2 (right)
For running, picking up a GPS signal doesn't take too long and during a run you can view basic metrics like time, distance and pace. Post run, you can see additional metrics like cadence, stride andmaximum stride frequency.
In general, we found distance tracking came up short against a dedicate GPS running watch. Metrics like pace and cadence were slightly off too.
The Zepp app is a good place to review your runs with plenty of data, and unlike Huawei, you can spit runs out to Strava.
Free workout tracking compared: Amazfit GTR 2 (left and centre) and heart rate chest strap monitor (right)
We also spent some time using the free workout mode for some indoor rowing workouts and HIIT workouts and found it was a good window into the performance of the heart rate monitor for exercise. That was while wearing it with a secure, tight fit, but not so tight as to feel restrictive or uncomfortable.
Even while working in lower heart rate ranges the average readings and maximum readings were off from a chest strap monitor. It's something we see from a lot of optical sensors where they are slow to react to changes in heart rate.
HR interval tracking compared: Amazfit GTR 2 (left) and heart rate chest strap monitor (centre and right)
It doesn't get better when you up the intensity either. Above is a sample of a run with some high intensity intervals and while average readings weren't too far off from a chest strap monitor, the maximum heart rate recorded was high enough to put you into another heart rate zone.
While there's the promise of more accurate heart rate data, it's one that's better for daily readings and not so much for exercise. It's certainly not the worst performing we've seen, which is one small consolation.
Amazfit GTR 2: Battery life
A theme we’ve seen across the Amazfit watch range is the often ambitious battery life claims made, which are based on very specific usage of key features.
With the GTR 2, you’ve got a 471mAh capacity battery, which takes 2.5 hours to charge and when full, will give you 14 days in typical use. When you keep things basic, that can be as much as 38 days. What is defined as typical use is when you have features like continuous heart rate monitoring enabled, track sleep and listen to music for 30 minutes among other things.
You should comfortably get a week's use and it does have the capacity to go further. We had notifications enabled, as well as continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring. We also used GPS several times over a week, though didn’t have the display in always-on mode in general. When we did turn it on, battery life dropped significantly.
If you use the maximum available features and have the screen bright and always-on, you’re going to struggle to get 14 days from it.
But compared to smartwatches from Apple and Samsung, the battery life here is great.