Amazfit GTR review: A stylish fitness watch that won’t break the bank
The Amazfit GTR is one of the most recent additions to Huami’s growing sports watch range. Although similar in specs and name to Amazfit GTS, this timepiece comes in a much different design. The letters GTR stand for “good looking, tools, reliable”, in case you were wondering. GTS stands for “good looking, tools, square”.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Huami has had a very busy 2019. It released an almost bewildering number of watches in the space of just a few summer months. The Amazfit GTR doesn’t really come as an update on a predecessor device. In that sense it stands on its own as a one-off, or perhaps marks the beginning of a new range.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with Amazfit GTR strapped to my wrist. Read on for my full review.
Amazfit GTR is mostly about styling up what Huami already has on offer. The main news here is the design which looks and feels extremely stylish and premium.
The timepiece comes in two size options. The first is a 47mm variant which can be picked up in a choice between stainless steel, aluminium and titanium cases. The titanium iteration is of particular interest due to the special properties of this material. It is extremely light, durable, it has good corrosion resistance and it’s not easy to scratch. Ideal for sports lovers and exercise freaks.
Huami says the 42mm edition is one of the smallest and lightest smartwatches on the market. It measures 42.6 x 42.6 x 9.2 mm and weights only 25.5g. You can pick this one up in a choice between starry black, moonlight white, cherry powder, and coral red colours. The 47mm is a bit bulkier coming in at 47.2 x 47.2 x 10.75 mm and weighing: 36g (aluminum alloy), 48g (stainless steel), 40g (titanium metal).
It’s worth mentioning that in addition to the above design choices, Huami is also throwing up a 42mm Swarovski Edition with crystal encrusted bezels. The final option is a limited 47mm Iron Man Edition with a themed dial, black matte ceramic bezel, gold coloured case and a red silicone strap.
As shown in the images, I tested out the stainless steel option with a brown leather band. Right out of the box the watch impresses with its looks. The “G”(TR) for “good looking” is certainly there.
Both size iterations pack an AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection and 5 ATM water resistance. As you’d expect the screen size differs, measuring 1.39-inches (454 x 454 pixels) on the 47mm edition and 1.2-inches ( 390 x 390 pixels) on the 42mm one.
The quality of the display is excellent and I had no problems with visibility indoors or out. The fact that the screen is rather large makes the fonts easy to read.
The watch display is off by default but there is an always-on option that allows you to choose between a digital dial and a pointer dial. You’ll be warned that this will “seriously” effect battery life so keep that in mind. With the always-on option the display alternates between the full watch face and bare-bone data which consists of the date, time and steps. All of this works well.
The main watch face can be changed and there’s a healthy selection of options available in the accompanying smartphone app. Huami says more will be added in due course. Unlike the GTS, GTR does not have watch face complications so the individual elements on the home screen are not clickable.
Nevertheless, the display is very responsive to touch and navigation is lightning quick. The operating system used for GTR is exactly the same to the operating system for GTS. The menu choices are pretty much identical, as is the navigation.
A swipe to the right takes you to the steps screen, another swipe to heart rate. An upwards motion shows you a few settings options, while a swipe down takes you to a menu which has short-cuts to pretty much the whole gamut of features and settings.
All of this is simple to learn which is what you want from a smartwatch. You are not going waste much time trying to find your way around.
Under the hood there’s quite a lot going on. The watch has Huami’s latest BioTracker PPG, a 6-axis accelerometer, 3-axial geomagnetic sensor, air pressure sensor, capacitive sensor and ambient light brightness sensor. In terms of connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS + GLONASS and NFC support for UnionPay payments.
Some were hoping the watch would feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor but this did not turn out to be the case. The power consumption of the thing has been optimised, though, to offer excellent battery life. And this is one of the highlights of the watch.
The 47mm version comes with a 410mAh LiPo battery that offers up 24-days battery life with normal use, and up to 74 days in basic watch mode. The smaller model comes with a 195mAh LiPo battery that is good for up to 12-days with normal use, and up to 34 days in basic watch mode. You won’t find many watches with longer battery life.
As mentioned, GTS and GTR are pretty much identical in terms of features. This is true of fitness stats as well. Mind you, if you’re after sports watch high quality stats when exercising you might be disappointed. Amazfit Stratos or Pace 2 are a better choice. At least until issues with GPS and heart rate are ironed out.
Having said that, the GTR dishes out most things a person needs to keep tabs on their fitness around the clock including steps, distance, calories, sleep, heart rate and more. The only thing that’s missing is an altimeter for floors climbed but this is not a deal-breaker as lots of watches don’t have this.
You can view everything on the watch screen or accompanying Amazfit app which shows much more detail. The pairing works via Bluetooth without a hitch, and the data transfer is quite quick.
I don’t hide that I’m not a great fan of Huami’s smartphone software. Look long enough and you’ll probably find what you are looking for, but navigation is not as simple and intuitive as it could be.
The app defaults to the Workout dashboard which shows your step count, last night’s sleep, heart rate, exercise and more. Click on any of these for more details. There’s also a History sections which collates your data into daily weekly and monthly totals.
The sleep tracking stats are quite detailed. Your session will be divided into Deep sleep, Light sleep and Awake time and there’s a Sleep score which gives an at-a-glance value on how well you slept. This will also be compared to other users. For example, this morning I was told “You slept better than 13% of users’.
The software also looks at your nightly sessions to draw some conclusions. These vary from day to day and make interesting reading. While I had quite a long sleep session last night, my deep sleep was short. The app also told me this morning that “I wake up easily” so should aim not to strain myself too much before going to bed.
You’ll also find your resting heart rate value in the morning. However you will need to enable “Automatic heart rate detection & Sleep assistant” in the settings. This will switch on continuous heart rate detection and allow for more precise sleep data which in turn reduces the battery life.
The resting heart rate values are very consistent, although I did find them a bit on the high side as compared to info from other devices.
In terms of sports tracking, there are a total of 12 modes. This includes indoor and outdoor running, walking, indoor and outdoor cycling, elliptical machine, climbing, trail running, skiing and general exercise. Swimming is also on this list thanks to 5 ATM water-resistance. The watch can automatically identify the stroke, record the SWOLF value, pace and more.
Of most interest to me was running as I’m training for a marathon next spring. Amazfit GTR has built-in GPS/GLONASS positioning which ensures the data is accurate. At least in theory.
My experience was very mixed. On certain days the device would totally refuse to connect. Which means my only choice was running without GPS. On other days it would connect straight away. It seems there’s a software glitch and I experienced the same with with Amazfit GTS, only to a lesser extent. Huami has said it working on the problem and will address it via future firmware updates.
Also, the GPS is currently not as accurate as it could be. Below is a 5K run through the busy stress of London and amidst high rise building that Amazfit GTR clocked at 5.24km. As shown in the map the GPS sometimes had me running through buildings!
The other data is quite detailed. You’ll get the workout time, average pace, calories burned, average heart rate, cadence, stride and charts on pace, laps, heart rate, heart rate zone, altitude change and more.
But as was the case for GPS, the heart rate sensor can be temperamental at times. Plus the values it dishes out tend to be on the high side. The data would suffice for casual runners, but those more serious about their athletic pursuits will be left wanting. Hopefully the software bugs will be squashed in the near future.
Outside of fitness tracking Amazfit GTR has some smart functionality, too. The watch lets you know if about incoming calls from a smartphone. There are also notifications for messages, email notifications and more. Additional functionality includes a weather forecast, alarms, compass, timer, stopwatch, event reminders, a “find your phone” function and more.
Although it is a smartwatch, GTR runs on Huami’s proprietary software so there is no way of adding third-party apps. Which limits the smartwatch functionality as compared to the Apple Watch or Wear OS devices.
Lastly the timepiece can be used to control music on your connected phone but you cannot upload tracks to the device itself and it doesn’t have a built-in microphone for music playback. To get this to work make sure you have enabled Bluetooth pairing for music in the Amazfit app. Then simply open the music screen on Amazfit GTS, and choose the music you like.
The Amazfit GTR looks really nice and its large screen is beautiful. The thing is pretty lightweight and you’ll hardly feel it on your wrist. The watch doesn’t look or feel overly sporty and it’s perfectly appropriate to wear even in a business setting. The battery life is also super impressive and the whole package comes in at a much lower price than its rivals.
What is holding the watch back somewhat is GPS and heart rate accuracy when exercising. Huami says it is working on this and aims to address it via future firmware updates. I will update this review when issues are resolved.
Having said that, the basic fitness tracking works well as does most everything else. The watch is therefore excellent for day-to-day use and comes with smart functionality such as notifications, weather and music control. There are also tons of watch faces you can use and an always-on option for the display.
I would recommend this as a purchase as long as you keep your expectations in check. Basic fitness and health tracking, smart functionality, stylish design, and very long battery life are the highlights. But if you’re after a sports watch, at the moment you’ll be better off with the Amazfit Stratos or Pace 2.
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