Huami - the Xiaomi sub-brand - is back with another budget smartwatch that apes some of the more established players in the space.
Where the Amazfit Bip had a rather strong resemblance to the Apple Watch, the Amazfit GTR could pass as something from Samsung or Fossil’s stable of smartwatches. But it's no-where near as sport focused as the huge Amazfit T-Rex outdoor watch.
That’s one of the Amazfit GTR’s stronger elements, because in the looks department it punches well above its circa price point. Battery life is also again one of the attention-grabbing features at a reported 24 days (47mm variant).
It works with both Android phones and iPhones, so it's an option for the majority and not a minority unlike the Apple Watch and some other smartwatches.
So does the Amazfit GTR manage to take on some of its more expensive rivals? We've been living with it for a well over a month to find out. Here's our comprehensive verdict.
Amazfit GTR: Design
The Amazfit GTR is available in 47mm and 42mm options. There are some big differences - beyond just the size of the screen - depending on which option you go for. First off, the 47mm variant takes 22mm bands, whereas the 42mm option takes 20mm bands.
Read this: The best budget smartwatches
Internally, the battery capacity is night and day, too. The 24-day battery life mentioned earlier is for the 47mm variant as it has a larger 410mAh battery. The smaller 42mm variant only has a 195mAh battery, which only delivers a reported 12-day battery life.
We were sent the 47mm option to test out. From a distance, the Amazfit GTR looks a lot like the Fossil Q Explorist, especially with the tan leather band pairing seen in our pictures. That’s to say it certainly feels far more premium than you might expect it to when you consider the price.
The watch casing is a combination of metal with a ceramic bezel around the display. There are options that use stainless steel, titanium and aluminum alloy, each having a different weight. We were sent the latter, which is the lightest model at 36g without the strap.
The lightweight feel of the watch helps to offset the slightly thick design at 10.75mm, so it proves to be far more comfortable to wear all day despite its slight bulkiness.
With two crowns on the side of the watch it’s a pretty classy design overall. Unfortunately, the ceramic bezel isn’t the most resilient and can pick up scratches if you’re not careful. The watch face at least uses Corning Gorilla 3 tempered glass and we didn’t notice any damage in our time with it.
The display is a 1.39-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 454x454. That amounts to 326 pixels per inch. The 42mm variant has a 1.2-inch AMOLED with a 390x390 resolution and the same pixel density.
The display is vibrant and bright under most conditions, although outdoors it can occasionally be a struggle to see some details such as running graphs.
There’s also an always-on option, which can display a basic digital or analogue watch face. This has a negative impact on battery life as you might expect.
The top crown button serves to turn the display on or off, alongside the standard wrist gesture to wake the display. You can’t simply cover the display with your palm to put it back into standby like many other smartwatches, so get used to using the button.
The bottom button can be customised to open different functions, such as your activity status, notifications or quick access to workouts.
The model we used included a leather strap. Immediately, this didn't feel an ideal pairing for any sports. But the underside of the strap is actually rubberised, which aids in comfort and sweat-resistance. It does mean calling it a leather strap is slightly disingenuous when it’s just a thin layer that’s actually leather.
Still, while the Amazfit GTR is water-resistant to 5ATM, it’s probably not a good idea to get what little leather there is wet.
Amazfit GTR: Fitness tracking
Inside the Amazfit GTR lies an accelerometer, barometer, compass and GPS and GLONASS. Flip the watch over and there’s also a PPG optical heart rate monitor. So, pretty much all of the stuff you could want from a sports watch. The Workout app can track 12 different exercises including outdoor running, cycling, swimming and skiing alongside what the GTR lists as generic ‘Exercise'.
The center screenshot above shows where the routing has gone awry
Getting a GPS lock was an issue, however. On one occasion we waited a full five minutes, stood in the cold, and the Amazfit GTR had still not managed a GPS lock. The GPS tracking was also problematic with the mapped route at the end showing we had ploughed straight through buildings like a rampaging Hulk on an outdoor run gone wrong.
Run tracking compared: Amazfit GTR (left) vs Whoop Strap 3.0 (right)
It wasn’t an ideal showing for the GTR's GPS tracking accuracy. The heart rate monitoring during the run was also less than ideal when put up against the Whoop Strap 3.0 we wore on our opposite wrist. The Amazfit GTR shows a higher maximum heart rate and average. Based on our previous experience, we would put greater trust in the Whoop Strap’s results.
Essential reading: Understanding the running stats on your wearable
It’s a similar case with the sleep tracking. The Amazfit GTR has a tendency to over-report time spent sleeping, as well as not breaking it down clearly to time actually spent asleep. For example, on one occasion it reported 8 hours 47 minutes asleep, when the Whoop Strap 3.0 reported a time in bed of 8 hours 28 minutes, of which only 7 hours and 42 minutes was actually spent asleep.
Like the Amazfit Bip, the GT has problems detecting time spent awake in particular, regularly reporting zero minutes awake when we had definitely been roused from slumber on a few occasions that were picked up by both the Whoop Strap 3.0 and a Fitbit Charge 3
Like the Fitbit Charge 3, the Amazfit GTR assigns you a Sleep Score and interesting statistics compared to other users, but it’s hard to put much trust in the findings when the smartwatch is struggling to track the fundamentals accurately.
Beyond the sports and sleep tracking, you do get the usual step counting and you can set a goal in the companion app. There are also move alerts for when you’re sedentary too long, but we found these hit and miss.
On more than one occasion it told us to get up and start moving when we were already stood up and having taken a few steps already.
Amazfit GTR: Smartwatch features
On the smartwatch front, the Amazfit GTR keeps things basic. That might be absolutely fine for some, but if you're expecting Apple or Samsung level of smarts, you may be left disappointed. If you’re just after notifications and call alerts, the Amazfit GTR does these pretty well. You can mirror pretty much any notification with a strong vibration to alert you to whatever activity is happening on your phone.
It’s a passive experience, however, so you can’t reply to messages or take calls from the watch. Annoyingly, the Amazfit GTR can't display emoji either, so get used to empty boxes appearing instead. That’s pretty much it from a smart perspective, beyond a Weather app and event reminders.
There’s supposed to be music playback control but we couldn’t get this working when paired with an iPhone.
One strength is the amount of watch faces you have at your disposal. There are some really good looking options that help to show off that impressive display.
There’s also a smart do not disturb mode that detects when you fall asleep and automatically turns on. This mutes any notifications from coming in and disturbing your sleep.
You can also disable the wrist wake gesture during certain times from the app so you don’t get the watch turning on when you’re in bed.
Amazfit GTR: Battery life
So, back to that bold 24-day battery life claim. It’s worth mentioning this is under very specific usage: “Heart rate always on, sleep monitoring, 150 pushed notifications with screen light-up, lift the wrist to see the screen 30 times, run or exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes with GPS on, and 5 minutes for other operations.”
In short, we only managed around half of this from a single charge. This was with the always-on display turned off and only about an hour of GPS use, but probably a lot more notifications being pushed and lifting our wrist to see the screen more frequently.
It’s not clear if Huami means 30 times a day or in the entire period, but then who only checks the time 30 times in a 24-day period?
Still, 12 days of battery life is more than most smartwatches can afford, especially with a bright AMOLED display. There’s also a basic watch mode that supposedly lasts 74 days, but that strips the Amazfit GTR to basically just showing the time.
The most impressive aspect is how little impact GPS has on battery life. A 30-minute run only knocked about 4% of the battery life off.
- Attractive design
- Plenty of watch faces
- Decent battery life
- Inaccurate GPS and heart rate monitor
- Poor sleep tracking
- Basic smartwatch experience