Announced just over a month ago, Amazfit GTS is an Apple Watch lookalike that comes with 14 days of battery life and a gorgeous high-res display. I thought the wearable might be the much anticipated update to the Amazfit Bip, but this seems to be a new line or a one-off. Or it might be the successor, only with a different name.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
This is only one of a plethora of devices launched by Huami in the past few months. It is, however, the one which has generated perhaps the most interest.
I’ve been walking, exercising and sleeping with the Amazfit GTS for the past few weeks. Here’s what I made of Huami’s latest smartwatch.
It’s clear where Huami got their inspiration from. Put Amazfit GTS next to an Apple Watch and you’ll notice the similarities. The devices share a similar look, color schemes and complications on the watch face. From a distance some people might even confuse the two. But a closer look will reveal the two devices are in fact more different than it seems at first glance.
Right at the outset of this review I will mention the highlight of Amazfit GTS – its 1.65 ” AMOLED screen with a resolution of 348 x 442 pixels. Put simply it is a thing of beauty, one of the best quality displays I’ve seen on a smartwatch. Indoors, outdoors, come rain or shine you are able to clearly make out what is written on the display. Everything is protected with 2.5D Corning Gorilla glass 3.
Its PPI is 340, surpassing the Cupertino outfit’s PPI of 326. Whats more, this is a customised display that comes with three real RGB sub-pixels under each pixel. This means the resolution is higher under the same PPI than would typically be expected.
The metal body of Amazfit GTS is very lightweight, coming in at 24.8 grams and thickness of only 9.4mm. So it has a slightly smaller form-factor than the Apple Watch. There’s a single physical button on the right which is thinner than the one you will find on the Apple Watch and a 20mm soft silicone strap.
Its worth stressing at this point that I am doing this review even though the watch has not officially launched internationally. Software updates are coming through thick and fast, each making the device better and more usable. No doubt, this will continue. So with this health warning out of the way, let’s continue.
Users get a choice of many watch faces. I was not really a fan of most of them so stuck to using the default one which seemed the most functional. The others seem a bit too “arty” for me. The company is planning to add many more watch faces in the future so the choice will get better.
Just like on the Apple Watch the display consists of complications or widgets. If you choose the default watch face the key information is displayed prominently, with the time in the upper left-hand corner and five widgets that can be customized.
A long press on the watch face takes you into the design menu. This is where you can change the watch face and tweak the widgets. The complication choice is quite extensive and includes battery life, steps, temperature, humidity, UV, sitting time, sport, timer, music, alarm, compass, calories, heart rate, event reminder and more.
The device itself is available in six different colors: Desert Gold, Lava Grey, Steel Blue, Obsidian Black, Rose Pink and Vermillion Orange. I tested the first one on this list as can be seen from the images. There’s only one size option.
By default the screen is off and lights up when you lift your wrist. The alternative is to tap on the display or press the physical button. There’s an always-on screen option which alternates between displaying the full watch face and one with just the basic info. Huami says this eats quite a bit into battery life so I didn’t enable it for long. It is there, though, if you want to use it.
The screen is very responsive to touch and in combination with the physical button you navigate the menus. A left or right swipe takes you through steps, heart rate and the default display. Tap on any of these to be shown more details. You can also click on complications on the home display which act as shortcuts.
A swipe up takes you to a few settings options. A swipe down gives you access to pretty much everything on offer. From exercise to weather, music, notifications, alarms, event reminders and detailed settings.
Amazfit GTS is rated 5ATM for water resistance which means you only need to take it off when charging. Under the hood there’s quite a lot going on. The watch comes with GPS + Glonass, Huami’s BioTracker PPG, 6-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor, air pressure sensor, ambient light brightness sensor, Bluetooth 5.0 Connectivity and a vibration motor. There’s also NFC which can only be used in China for now.
In addition to the display, the other highlight of the watch is its battery life. The 220mAh lithium ion battery has an advertised life of up to 14 days and an excellent 25 hours with GPS switched on. This is seven times more than what you get on an Apple Watch.
I found this jives with reality, so much so that you almost forget all about charging. About two or three hours is enough to refuel it for a couple of more weeks. If that’s not enough, the thing keeps going for 46 days in basic watch mode, but that’s with most functionality switched off.
I tested Amazfit Bip a while back and found it to be a perfectly decent fitness watch. It’s a popular seller due to its low price, great battery life and impressive feature-set.
You can think of Amazfit GTS as an Amazfit Bip but with a larger, much higher quality display and more premium casing and strap. The plasticky feel of the Amazfit Bip is gone. The watch also comes with an improved accelerometer and heart rate sensor, along with some features that are missing on Bip such as a swim-proof design.
In a sense, just like the Apple Watch, Amazfit GTS sits somewhere between a fitness watch and smartwatch. It’s a bit of both.
The device uses the Amazfit app which for me is the least attractive part of the package. The navigation is not very intuitive and I can’t help but feel Huami should put more focus on perfecting the smartphone software. While it does the job, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Open up the app and you’ll see three tabs: Workout, Friends and Profile. The last of these gives you access to the watch’s settings. These are quite comprehensive and allow you to choose the watch face, determine what notifications should come through, choose band location and much more.
If you want to change the watch face, you’ll need to choose from the available watch faces on the list. This will download the necessary update and then transfer it over to the watch next time you sync. It will actually get added on to other watch faces you have already saved to your device. This allows you to switch between them at will from the watch itself.
The default screen in the smartphone app is the Workout screen. This is the one you will look at most often. It provides you with a daily snapshot of fitness and sleep stats, along with any exercise. Tapping on steps, sleep, heart rate, weight or exercise takes you to more detailed information. This is also where you can find daily, weekly and monthly trends.
You get pretty much all the basic activity tracking smarts apart from counting floors climbed. Amazfit GTS keeps tabs on steps, calories, distance, heart rate (current and continuous) and dishes out sedentary alarms. The sample frequency for heart rate can be defined in the settings. As you’d expect, a higher frequency reduces battery life.
For sleep, you’ll get info on deep sleep, light sleep and awake time. There’s also an overall score which lets you know at a glance how well you’ve slept.
But stats on their own have limited use. And this is where the Amazfit app tries to go the extra distance.
For example, this morning I was told I slept “better than 65% of the users”. I was also told I “Fell asleep too late” and that I should try going to bed around 22:00 (not going to happen…). In addition, I was told my deep sleep time was too short. Interesting and useful info if you take the time to read it. Finally, you also get a couple of charts showing how your sleep session compares to users with the similar age and from the same area.
In the morning, you’ll also get a resting heart rate value. This is one of the most important metrics of your health and fitness. The value is pretty much on par with what I get from Garmin watches, perhaps 2-3 beats higher.
In terms of exercise, there are 12 sports modes to choose from including indoor and outdoor running, walking, indoor and outdoor cycling, indoor and outdoor swimming hiking, skiing, mountaineering, treadmill and weight lifting. All of this is integrated with the GPS+GLONASS sensor.
Walking, Running and Cycling exercises can be started from the app, but there’s really no need as the same can be done from the watch. A long press on the physical button takes you through to the exercise screen. Stopping or pausing the exercise is done the same way.
An interesting addition is something Amazfit calls “Behavior tagging”. You have a list of about 20 “behaviors” in the app, such as brushing teeth, transport, ping-pong and custom where you can define your own. Then, for example, if you are brushing your teeth start the behavior from the app and it will record it and display it in the behavior history timeline. According to Chinese forums the functionality is used by the developers to collect data to help improve their code. Perhaps in the future they’ll be able to algorithmically determine behavior if enough of it is tagged.
I tested the watch on a few runs and compared it with the Garmin Forerunner 935 on my other wrist. The GPS connects pretty quickly and functions well. Sometimes it was just a quick to connect as the Forerunner, sometimes 10-20 seconds slower. In open spaces it performed just as well as the Garmin. In heavily wooded area I found that it was off by perhaps 20-30 meters per kilometer.
The running stats are quite detailed and include things such as average pace, average heart rate, cadence, stride, calories burned, km, a map of the run, laps and more. There are also charts that show pace, heart rate, heart rate zone and altitude change.
As mentioned, the GPS works well but the quality of the heart rate data does deteriorate at higher intensity activity. For most people the data will suffice but hard-core runners will not be happy with the discrepancies. Perhaps future software updates will address this.
There are also pages in the app for VO2Max and Training Load. These, too, will hopefully be populated once the software is updated.
Outside of the more standard fitness tracking Huami says Amazfit GTS also supports AI-based automatic identification function for arrhythmia (including atrial fibrillation). This warns you of potential heart risks. I didn’t get any notifications, but then again I do not have arrhythmia so did not expect to get any.
The smartphone app also has a Friends tab. This allows you to add people you know and view their activity and sleep info. But apart from that there is little else in terms of virtual rewards or competitive elements. Info on your achievements such as furthest distance run, maximum time used for 3 or 5km is pretty much where it ends.
Amazfit GTS is a smartwatch so it comes with a few non-fitness features, too. The device allows you to view and reject incoming calls from a smartphone, messages, email notifications and other app notifications. There are also some extras such as a weather forecast, alarms, compass, timer, stopwatch, event reminders, a “find your phone” function and more.
The thing runs on proprietary software so there is no way of adding third-party apps to its software package. Which means the watch does lack some of the functionality you’d get on the Apple Watch or Wear OS devices.
The final smart feature worth mentioning is music control. You do need to make sure to enable the watch to be connected to the phone via Bluetooth in the Amazfit app settings in order for this to work. Then it’s a matter of opening the music screen on Amazfit GTS, choosing the music you like and clicking on play. All of this works very well. For ease of use you could even add a complication to access the Music Control page from the watch face.
Think of Amazfit GTS as a more premium version of the Amazfit Bip. It comes with the same great battery life but a much better design. The watch also has an improved accelerometer and heart rate sensor, along with some features that are missing on Bip such as swim-proofing. But no doubt, its highlight is the absolutely beautiful AMOLED display.
In a sense, the device is a fitness watch with some smart functionality such as notifications, weather and music control. All the basic activity tracking functions are there, along with GPS for tracking those runs.
All of this works very well although the heart rate sensor does lose a bit of accuracy at high intensity activities. Another downside is the smartphone app which could do with a revamp to make the navigation more intuitive.
All things considered, Amazfit GTS delivers a lot for the price. If you’re after a nice looking fitness watch and don’t want to be bothered with charging often, it presents itself as a great option.
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