Amazfit, the second largest wearables manufacturer globally, recently launched Amazfit Arc, an elegant heart rate and activity tracker. The wearable joins the company’s ceramic-based Moonbeam and Equator devices released earlier in 2016.
This is a fitness tracker that sits squarely in the budget category. No bells and whistles here – you get a device that keeps tabs on your ticker, counts your steps/distance/calories and monitors your sleep. Users can also stay connected by receiving phone call and message notifications via vibration alerts.
I’ve been testing the wearable for the past week, and have pitted it up against some more sophisticated and pricier opposition. Here are my impressions.
Arc arrives in smart packaging. Inside the box you will find the activity tracker, a proprietary USB charging cable and a little instruction booklet.
The sleek, discreet looking device sports a large but slim 0.42 inch UV coated and scratch resistant OLED touchscreen. The display is one seamless black surface that is equally readeable in both sunny or low light conditions. Only the bottom portion of the screen registers your touch, but it is very responsive and immediately springs to action. The screen is off at most times, but similar to the Apple watch, it will switch on when you lift your wrist.
In terms of design, the tracker is crafted so that it doesn’t catch too much attention. A curve is applied to the core unit bending around the arm to provide a snug fit. Aluminum edges form a subtle frame that visually reinforces this curve. With a traditional watch buckle, it sits safely on your wrist. At only 20 grams, the device is also extremely light-weight. You will quickly forget that you are wearing it, which is actually what you want from an activity tracker.
This is obviously a device which is aimed for the average person who is after an activity tracker that seamlessly integrates into his or her life. The unisex unobtrusive look would easily fit a formal evening occasion or an office setting, particularly as it comes only in black.
Because Arc is meant for everyday use, it boasts a water and dust resistance rating of IP67, meaning there is no need to take it off while you shower or wash the dishes.
Its claim to fame, however, is the battery life. With a power-efficient optical heart rate sensor (PPG) and accelerometer, a single charge provides enough juice for an impressive 20 days. I found this easily to be the case. After using the tracker for about a week, the battery level was just starting to dip below the 70% level.
Arc tracks your calories burned, distance traveled, light and deep sleep. There is also a Sedentary Reminder, as well as a vibrating alarm function. With your phone nearby, you’ll be notified of incoming calls or messages with a gentle vibration.
Heart rate tracking is not Arc’s strong point, so don’t expect 24/7 measurements. Similar to the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, its more of a pulse tracker providing readings on demand. Perhaps its just me, but I found that it didn’t work every single time, and rather frustratingly sometimes took a few tries before it registered a reading.
All of these stats are easily and clearly viewable by tapping on the display and cycling through heart rate, step count, distance traveled, calories burned, battery status, and time screens.
If you are after more detailed data, head over to the accompanying smartphone app. The app is a simple and intuitive affair, and provides you with clearly laid out daily statistics segreggated into hourly data. You can cycle through the days via the tab in the lower portion of the screen. Unfortunately there are no weekly or monthly aggregated statistics, no insights or social functions. You do, however, get a general overview of your steps, distance, calories, sleep and heart rate activity.
In terms of the step, distance and calorie count, I compared the Arc to the jack of all trades, the Garmin Vivoactive HR, and was rather impressed with how the two stacked up. There was very little actual difference in the activity statistics.
Arc also automatically tracks your sleep. On an iOS device, you get the length of your sleep session, periods of light and deep sleep, and the number of times you woke up. The Android app is a bit more feature-packed, and also provides you with an overall sleep score.
Again, there was little difference in results from Arc and the Vivoactive HR. Rather impressively, Arc was also successful at picking up on some afternoon naps, which cannot be said for its more expensive counterpart. On the whole, I came away with the impression that it does sleep tracking well. Its worth mentioning that sleep tracking from the wrist is not an exact science, so take any readings with a grain of salt.
Tracking your movement, steps and activity is a great way to keep you motivated to achieve your fitness and health goals. Arc defaults to a 8,000 step goal. If you need a little extra push, you can set your own fitness targets. Gradually increasing your step goal over time is a simple but effective way to increase your fitness intensity over time and to continually challenge yourself.
Aside from the large ring showing goal progression, there is little else to motivate you. Competing with family and friends can be extremely motivating. As of now, Amazfit offers no leaderboard or social functions, but the company says it plans to add these features via future software updates.
Lightweight and durable, with high water and dust resistance and a 20 day batery life, Arc is a very low-maintenance fitness partner. This minimalistic, smart looking device will provide you with a fairly accurate step, distance and calorie count during the day, and will automatically monitor your sleep at night.
Essential reading: Wearables that won’t break the bank
I suspect, Arc would be a good fit for someone who has never owned a fitness tracker, or is after a low cost device. Having said that, the app is a bit too simplistic for my liking, and lacks analysis leaving you on your own to draw conclusions and meaningful insights.
Reading through the Amazon reviews, it seems people have either a love it or hate it relationship with the device. I suspect it is to do with expectations. Arc is an entry level fitness tracker that is designed to provide you with core information at a fraction of the cost of a high-end device. And it does this well. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and I certainly feel that this is true with this item.
If you are after a more feature packed fitness tracker, you might be better off looking at one of the other options such as Arc’s big brother – Amazfit Pace. But if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to more expensive models that has solid features and still looks premium, you found it.
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