Huami owned Amazfit has recently announced international availability of its Amazfit Bip smartwatch. The wearable has been available in China since last year, but its only in 2018 that it has made it across the border.
The low-cost smartwatch comes packed with features such as built-in GPS, heart rate sensor and notifications. In addition to keeping tabs on your activity 24/7 the gizmo also provides tracking of your runs, cycling and other sports with mapped routes, detailed stats and heart rate zones.
But Bip’s claim to fame is its astonishing 30+ days of battery life, and that’s with an always on colour touch-screen! Choose the ‘minimal notification’ setting and battery life climbs to 45 days.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
To some, all this might sound a bit too good to be true. Especially considering Bip sells for less than $100 on the company’s website (check price on Amazon). I strapped one on for the past couple of weeks to find out just how good it really is.
Amazfit Bip is a very lightweight timepiece that comes in at just 31 grams or 18 grams without the strap. Its super comfortable to wear day and night, so much so that you’ll hardly feel it sitting on your wrist.
I am not the first to notice it. With its rounded corners and square shape, the device resembles the Pebble Time. If Pebble was still around, I can imagine the now defunct company releasing just such a device. It also slightly reminds one of the Apple Watch, only a lighter, thinner and more plasticky looking version.
But Bip doesn’t look anywhere near as inexpensive as it actually is. The casing is polycarbonate and you can choose from four different color options including Onyx Black, White Cloud, Kokoda Green and Cinnabar Red. All come with 20 millimetre standard width changeable silicone watch bands. Additional bands are available for purchase, so you can customise the watch to your liking.
It’s pretty well made, too. The device sports a colour touch LCD 1.28 inch display, that is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Resolution measures 176 x 176 pixels. While the display is rather small with big bezels all around, the panel is reflective which preserves battery life. Rather usefully, the screen is always-on and shows the time and your stats even when in standby mode. Without the backlight the display is readable, but only just.
Raising your wrist will switch the backlight on and this instantly makes everything much more easily readable. Admittedly, I did struggle at times to make out my stats while running outdoors, but this wasdue to the small fonts and not the display itself.
While raising your wrist will enable you to read the home screen more easily, to fully unlock the device you will need to press the single physical button on the right. While some might find this a tad annoying, at least it prevents accidental brush-swipes triggering an unwanted activity. It also helps to preserve battery life.
Unlocking the Bip will trigger a quick animation after which you are free to roam around by sliding your finger across the display. The screen is very responsive to touch. Swiping down reveals your connection status, battery life and lets you toggle the ‘do not disturb’ mode. Swiping up reveals your notifications for calls, messages, emails, and other apps. Swiping left and right moves you through a status screen, activity, weather, alarm, timer compass and settings.
Long-pressing the single physical button is a short-cut to launching an outdoor run, but if you wish you can set it up for treadmill, cycling or walking instead. Amazfit says more sports modes and apps will be added with subsequent software updates.
All things considered, Amazfit Bip looks perfectly decent. Not stunningly beautiful but not cheap either. Its a cheerful-looking smartwatch that both men and women would be equally happy to wear.
Under the hood, you’ll find an triaxial accelerometer, geomagnetic sensor (compass), air pressure sensor (barometer for elevation), optical heart rate sensor, a GPS and GLONASS module and Bluetooth connectivity. Specs which most would agree contradict its low price.
The swans in the above image are a dead giveaway. Yes, you can use Amazfit Bip come rain or shine, thanks to its IP68 water resistance rating. It will even resist the occasional splashing. But don’t take it to the pool expecting it will track your swim sessions. Its not built for that.
Where the gadget really shines, though, is in its battery life. On as single charge the 190mAh Li-Polymer battery can keep going for a stonking 30 days with regular use, and up to 45 days with minimal notifications. With GPS switched on, you can squeeze around 22 hours out of it.
I’ve been using the watch non-stop for the past two weeks, tracked a few runs with GPS, and it still had 42% of battery life remaining. In a few years time this might become the norm, but right now this sort of battery life is quite frankly amazing. Charging time is about two and a half hours, but it might be easier to occasionally just top it up instead.
I did not expect much from the Amazfit Bip, but walked away pleasantly surprised. The device covers pretty much everything an average person needs when it comes to 24/7 activity tracking. And it does it well and without any fuss.
Bip keeps tabs on steps, calories, distance, heart rate (current and continuous) and dishes out sedentary alarms. For sleep, you’ll get info on deep sleep, light sleep, awake time, along with an overall daily sleep score. Thanks to the GPS, it also has various sports profiles and provides specific data for each of these.
When it comes to basic activity tracking, probably the only thing that is missing is an altimeter for counting floors. Mind you, it does have a barometer for estimating elevation, so perhaps the company will enable the feature in one of its future firmware updates.
The standard watch face gives you the time, your step count for the day and heart-rate. You always have the option of switching it out for a number of alternative faces. I actually opted to keep the default one as it provided me with the information I need whilst retaining a clean look.
In addition to tracking your activity, Bip also monitors your exercise. This includes outdoor running, treadmill, walking and biking. The list is not long but the promise is that it will grow in the future.
The exercise screen provides the time, calories burned, current heart rate and heart rate zone information. There is an auto-pause function but if that doesn’t work, a long press along the bottom of the screen or a press on the single physical button will stop the activity. You can then choose to end or resume your exercise. There are also customisable heart rate, pace and distance alerts.
After ending your activity you are treated to a short summary of your stats on the watch face. More detailed information can be found in the accompanying smartphone app. The tracker works in conjunction with MiFit, which is available for Apple iOS and Google Android. I found Bluetooth pairing to be instant and automatic, so no problems there.
The smartphone software is a pretty comprehensive. To start off there is a daily summary overview. Tapping on pretty much any metric will take you through to a more detailed overview, but without cluttering you with statistics. Other screens group your data by day, week and month.
The app plays nice with Apple Health and Google Fit, too, so you can tie the steps and sleep info with other activities. Its simple to use, well laid out and does a decent job.
But stats on their own have limited use. And this is where Mi Fit tries to go the extra distance. The app is sprinkled throughout with coaching advice and tips. The software looks at your trends and picks out interesting bits of info to flag up. Its good to know my 11,399 step count yesterday was ahead of 71% of those my age and gender, and that I only slept better than 27% of users last night. Real-world information that allows you to understand where to concentrate your efforts to improve.
Equally important is the quality of data. And Amazfit Bip does not disappoint on this count either. Throughout my testing, I wore the Garmin Forerunner 935 on my left wrist, and Bip on my right wrist. Apart from sleep data, most of the other stats were in sync. In terms of resting heart rate, Amazfit’s device had me consistently about 5 beats above the Forerunner, but this may be due to the difference in how the two calculate its value.
When it comes to tracking runs, the smartphone app provides a wealth of info including pace, calories burned, speed, step frequency, average heart rate, heart rate zones, total steps, stride and elevation. Again Bip performed surprisingly well. It was as quick, or if you prefer as slow, as the Forerunner in acquiring a GPS signal. Most of the time, around 20-30 seconds is all it took. Bip uses a combination of GPS + GLONASS dual-mode positioning search. Once it connects, the signal remains steady.
I logged three runs and found the heart rate to be within a couple of beats between the two. GPS was off slightly but as I live in central London there can be distortion at times. Other stats were similar as well.
Logging treadmill cycling and walking also provides detailed stats in the app. The Bip has auto-recognition of activity so will pretty much log all your daily walks separately in the app, and mark them as slow walks or fast walking.
When it comes to awards, a community or competitive elements, the software leaves a bit to be desired. It will keep tabs on how many days in a row you meet your step goal, but apart from that there is little else. You do have the ability to add friends and view their activity and sleep info, but that’s pretty much it.
Bip is a smartwatch, so it comes with a few non-fitness features. The device allows you to view and reject incoming calls from a smartphone, view messages and other app notifications. There are also some extras such as a 7-day weather forecast, alarms, timer, stopwatch and settings to change the watch faces, adjust the screen brightness, and a “find your phone” function.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of adding third-party apps to Bip’s software package, which means it doesn’t really qualify as a fully fledged smartwatch. You cannot respond to notifications and there is no speaker or music storage. Still, its impressive how many features Amazfit has managed to cram in.
The old adage – you get what you pay for – is usually true. Not in this case. Amazfit Bip covers pretty much everything an average person needs for 24/7 activity tracking. It also provides tracking of your runs, cycling and other sports with mapped routes, detailed stats and heart rate zones. Most important of all, it does all this well and without any fuss.
With its always-on colour screen, it looks good too. Not stunningly beautiful but not cheap either. A cheerful-looking smartwatch that both men and women would be equally happy to wear. Most would equate it to a blend between Pebble Time and the Apple Watch.
Where Bip really shines though, is in its stonking 30+ day battery life and low price tag.
Is it perfect? No. It doesn’t have an altimeter for counting floors climbed, the number of sports it tracks is fairly limited and the non-fitness features pretty much end with notification support.
But if you’re after a simple wearable that keeps tabs on your fitness, tracks your running and cycling with GPS and you don’t want to be bothered with charging often, the Bip makes a strong case for itself. You’ll struggle to find a smartwatch that delivers anywhere near the same level of features for the price.
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