- Great price
- Good health tracking & PAI
- Mature, well designed app
- Flakey notifications
- Plasticky build
- No apps
Amazfit’s range of smartwatches is rapidly growing, and rapidly improving. No longer the cheap and cheerful Chinese bargain-bin smartwatches, the Amazfit range offers big specs and low prices.
At it's one of the cheapest watches around - but with a huge amount of smarts built in. But Amazfit now offers more than that.
The result is a smartwatch that’s belies its low price.
Read on for our full review. And check out details of the new Amazfit GTS 2.
Amazfit GTS: Design
The Amazfit GTS is always going to draw comparisons to the Apple Watch – and not hugely positively. There are elements throughout the experience, from the physical design and even interface, that are clearly derived (copied) straight from the market leader.
Yes, it’s an inferior alternative, and while no-one outright complimented us for wearing the Amazfit GTS, many mistook it for an Apple Watch, which is at least something.
It’s a square-faced design with a 1.65-inch AMOLED display, with a pretty impressive 341PPI and a 348 x 442 resolution. It’s a great screen, and up there with the brightest and best. Not quite as good as the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, but ahead of most of the Wear OS smartwatches you’ll find.
The GTS comes with a hot-swappable 20mm silicone strap, which is comfortable but pretty uninspiring. But you can easily swap out for anything you like, which we'd advise as the strap had a habit of flapping around after coming out of its loop.
At 14mm thick the Amazfit GTS is supremely light, although this is thanks to a plasticky build. It’s an “aluminium alloy, polymer material” but it doesn’t feel in any way premium. But has the benefit of being barely noticeable on the wrist.
However, it still manages 5ATM water resistance, which means it can be submerged up to 50m.
Amazfit GTS: Features
When it comes to features, the Amazfit is nearly as packed as its spec sheet.
We’ll be exploring some of these in depth later in the review, but the main points are as follows.
The Amazfit obviously offers notifications from you smartphone, and this was one of the weakest areas of the experience. When we first paired our notifications weren’t delivered at all – and it took a re-pairing to get them coming through. They disappeared again after the watch was turned off, which started to get annoying.
However, such is the experience that we actually preferred having no notifications.
WhatsApp messages were hard to read thanks to the way the text was formatted, and although you can edit the apps that can deliver – the list is not complete. We were soon bombarded with alerts from our Arlo home cameras.
There’s only two watch faces weirdly, which offer a few options for complications that can be set through the watch. You can add hundreds more through the Amazfit app, although they’re generally static and pretty mundane.
The complications include weather, schedule alerts, heart rate, steps and PAI.
Like the Apple Watch there’s an always-on display that sleeps to a more simple clock until you raise your wrist. We found the wrist raise reliable, although it was a little problematic when sleeping, when it would sometimes blind you with a false positive. There’s a setting in the app to snooze always on between certain times, which is a useful workaround.
Things get better elsewhere. The Amazfit GTS is a good activity tracker, with top sleep monitoring. There’s a heart rate monitor on board, although no ECG or blood oxygen sensor. Amazfit is cementing its place as a health and fitness company, and there’s plenty to like here.
There’s built in GPS, with 14 tracked sports that can be accessed with a long press on the side button. You can track running, cycling, swimming (pool and open water), hiking, skiing, elliptical and open workouts.
There are other smaller features of note too.
You can control music playback from the watch, there’s a compass, find my phone feature and stopwatch too.
There’s no app store, and that’s the downside of running a custom Amazfit OS – so what you see is what you get.
Amazfit GTS: Health
The strong spec sheet of Amazfit is no secret, but the power of fitness tracking took us a little by surprise.
Swipe across on the watch and you can review heart rate data, steps, resting heart rate and more.
In the Amazfit app, health tracking is front and center. Step tracking was accurate and pretty much stacked up against the Fitbit and Garmin we used as comparison.
There’s no real use of active minutes like most fitness trackers, but this has been replaced with PAI, a single score measure of your activity over the last week.
There’s been plenty of proprietary scores over the years – the one TomTom launched before its demise springs to mind. But PAI is different. PAI was developed by Mio Global, the company that invented the optical HR tracker, and was devised from a 25 year study involving 45,000 people. In other words, this isn’t something that Amazfit has dreamed up on a budget – and it works.
If you hit your step count and stay active every day, you’ll get a decent PAI score. Likewise, if you’re a runner or gym goer you’ll get credit from PAI from the workout, even if you’re not hitting a step goal.
The PAI score is always viewable from the app, and you’ll get an alert when you hit PAI 100 – the top score.
But one of the most impressive aspects of the Amazfit GTS was the sleep tracking smarts.
The Amazfit GTS uses motion and heart rate tracking (if turned on from the Amazfit app) to offer a single sleep score, much like Fitbit’s. You also get the same sleep stages data, with breakdowns of deep, light and time awake. We found the wake-up periods to be especially accurate – but there’s no independent tracking of REM sleep.
Amazfit also does a good job of offering analysis of your data, by adding context to your sleep by offering information such as “you fell asleep earlier than 40% of people” and also explaining aspects of your stats. It also focuses on things like sleep consistency, which is extremely important for good quality sleep.
Amazfit GTS: Sports and heart rate tracking
Sports tracking is a big part of the Amazfit GTS, and it has 14 sports trackable from the watch. With GPS built-in, outdoor running, cycling and swimming is all tracked accurately.
This has been a major criticism of past Amazfit watches, but a new system update seems to have corrected the issue. We used the Amazfit GTS in a 10K race, and it was not only spot on (10.15 KM is well within the error margin for GPS) but also matched up to other runs against a Garmin Fenix 6.
Not only that, Amazfit hooks up to Strava so your workout data doesn’t have to live in the Amazfit app, which is a legitimate concern for sports types. That functionality is hard coded, and is the only API Amazfit has hooked up to.
To back up accurate GPS, the Amazfit GTS will also use the optical HR sensor. We’ve seen some terrible results on budget devices, but the results on the GTS was largely useable. It matched a chest strap at low-medium intensity, although tracked a little low on a threshold run.
We tried a HIIT session but the sensor couldn’t keep up at all, spending most of its time stuck at 150bpm– but that’s pretty much the same across optical HR using competitors.
If you want accuracy you need to use a chest strap – although the GTS won’t pair with external sensors. However, it will broadcast to other devices, such as a favourite fitness app on your smartphone.
However, we were highly impressed by the level of data from workouts in the Amazfit app (above).
It’s extremely data rich and nicely presented, like most things, within the Amazfit app. You get a map of your workout and the essential pace/distance/calories/cadence/heart rate at the top.
Then each aspect is clearly presented in charts and graphs, including time spent in HR zones, altitude change and even the time spent on each kind of incline. We’re big fans, and all the data stood up to scrutiny too.
Amazfit: Battery life
The Amazfit GTS spec sheet boasts a battery life of 14 days, with 20 hours of GPS tracking. We turned everything on – including advanced sleep tracking metrics – and managed five days of battery life. It’s clearly a way off Amazfit’s estimates which, to be fair, include a bucket load of caveats too numerous to list.
The 10K run chipped off around 7% battery life, so we’ll say that Amazfit’s battery estimate is pretty spot on in that regard.
How we test