Amazfit Bip S review: better than before, same price
Amazfit Bip S
- Excellent value for money
- Attractive & lightweight
- Always-on display
- Built-in GPS
- Awsome battery life!
- It's no substitute for a sports watch
- Sometimes experienced GPS connection issues
- App could do with a revamp
In June Amazfit Bip S became available for purchase in the US and Europe. Before that you could only buy it in select Eastern-Asian countries and Australia. The watch was originally slated for a February release but, as with everything else, the coronavirus situation has turned the plan upside down.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The original device was very popular as it worked well and offered a lot for the price. With Bip S, Huami has stuck to the formula that worked once before. What follows are my impressions after a few weeks of use.
Bip S review: Design
In terms of looks, Huami has again opted for a lightweight, cheerful design. For those with a long memory, the Bip S reminds a little of the discontinued Pebble Time watch.
It comes in black, white, pink and white, and orange and blue options. Plus you can couple the watch up with a choice of straps to make it your own. I have the orange and blue option.
As mentioned, the device is very similar to its predecessor. Put it next to the original and you might struggle to see the differences. But there are a few.
The most obvious is the change in size. Bip S measures 42 x 35.3 x 11.4mm making it slightly larger and thicker than the 39.4 x 34.1 x 9.5 mm of Bip. But don’t be fooled, the device is not at all big. I actually found the previous version to be a bit too small. Now it seems more suited for both men and women, and looks less like a toy.
Mind you, it is still very lightweight coming in at only 31 grams with the strap and 19 grams without. That’s actually 1 gram less than before.
Unfortunately, the larger dimensions did not go into increasing the screen size, rather it seemed to have all gone into widening the bezel. Which means you still get a 1.28 inch, 176 x 176 pixel resolution screen.
However, this time around it’s an always-on Transflective Color TFT with a 64 RGB color gamut rather. This is similar to what you will find on Garmin sports watches. It’s a type of display that doesn’t consume too much power and works well in sunny conditions.
In fact, the brighter and sunnier the conditions – the easier it is to read the display. It’s only on dark cloudy days when you might actually struggle. In conditions of low lighting you can press the physical button and the watch back-light will spring to action.
All things considered, the concept works well. It means the display can stay always on without compromising the battery life too much.
As before, Bip S has the one physical button on the right and this is used to wake the device up and for simple navigation. For everything else you can use the touch display. I found the screen to be very responsive to touch. Absolutely no lag issues to report or need to redo a swipe more than once. Good job.
An important improvement over the original is that the timepiece is now fully waterproof. That’s an important selling point. In fact the thing has a 5 ATM water-resistance rating which means you can leave it on 24/7. No need to take it off when you go for a bath, shower or jump in the pool. The predecessor was only splash resistant so you had to be careful not to get it wet too much.
In terms of sensors you still get all the basic usual fitness tracking goodies. This includes a 3-axis accelerator and 3-axis geomagnetic sensor. Huami says it has upgraded the BioTracker PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Sensor so that it is more accurate. Of course, the built-in GPS/GLONASS is still there- as is the big selling of Bip – battery life!
The larger size of the case may be to accommodate a slightly bumped up 200mAh battery. This can keep everything going an incredible 40 days when filled to the max and 22 hours with GPS switched on. I did not need to reach for the charger even once during the few weeks of testing.
You’ll struggle to find another watch with such awesome battery life and comparable specs. Leave it in standby and you can forget all about refueling. It will literally keep going for months!
Bip S review: Features
The Bip S is meant for those who are after activity tracking basics in a nice looking, cheerful package that won’t break the bank. In this sense, it will more than suffice. But don’t be fooled, this is no sports watch.
The device runs on Huami’s proprietary operating system which is simple to use and works well. And as is the case with all Amazfit devices, it uses the Amazfit app.
In there you’ll find info an steps, calories, heart rate and much much more. The one thing that’s missing is a floor count. The watch doesn’t have an altimeter or barometer so it doesn’t keep track of this.
Most of these metrics can be viewed on the device itself. Wake up the display and simply swipe to the left or right to flick through the individual screens. Then swipe up or down for more detailed information. That’s all presented clear and well.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the app which could really do with a revamp. It does the job but Huami would do well to spend some time simplifying and upgrading the smartphone software. It’s all there, it just doesn’t feel very polished.
Open the app up and you’ll see a home screen which servers as a dashboard of your stats. This shows a snapshot of your steps, calories, sleep, heart rate, exercise and more. Tap on any of these and you’ll get a timeline for the day, along with daily, weekly and monthly history.
For sleep, you 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. Scroll down and you’ll get insights based on your data. For example, this morning I was told that I “fell asleep late”, “sleep time is too short”, “deep sleep time is short”. All three were true!
Right below that you get charts showing how you compare with others. All useful stuff if you take the time to read it.
In addition to this you also get a PAI score. This is a heart rate derived indicator of daily activity and you earn points by doing any activity or sport that increases your beats per minute (bpm).
The app starts you off with a goal of earning 30 PAI points in a week, with an aim of ultimately achieving 100 weekly points on a regular basis. Studies have shown that keeping your PAI score high helps improve the health of your heart. The PAI metric has started appearing in all new Huami devices and Bip S is no exception.
The app allows you to customize the heart rate sampling frequency and I suggest you take the time to do this. You can choose between 1, 5, 10 and 30 minute frequency. I picked the 1 minute option and was warned that this would effect battery life. There’s also an option to increase detection frequency when exercising and it makes sense to choose this option, as well.
As far as exercise, Bip S tracks ten different types of workouts unlike its predecessor which only tracks four. Swimming is also on this list thanks to the newly acquired water resistance.
As an avid runner, for this Bip S review I was mostly interested in testing out its run tracking ability. The company says is latest BioTracker PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Sensor improves heart rate monitoring accuracy to 98% whilst using less power.
I tested the watch against a Garmin Forerunner 935 strapped to the Polar OH1+ heart rate monitor. Both of these are top of the range.
My experience with securing GPS/GLONASS positioning was mixed. On most occasions Bip S would connect straight away, but on one occasion it simply refused to speak to the satellite. After waiting around for 10 minutes or so, I decided that life is too short so ran without GPS. Having said this, I tested the watch on four individual runs, and had this occur only once.
The same is the case with heart rate. The first time I tested a run the watch did not track my heart rate correctly for the first 5 minutes of the session. It then settled into things. On all the other runs it was fine. Perhaps on that one occasion I was not wearing the strap tight enough.
So as far as run tracking, when everything is working (which is most of the time) – the watch will suffice just fine. The fact that you have built-in GPS means you can leave your smartphone at home and still get detailed info on your performance.
But make no mistake – this is no sports watch. You might experience a glitch (with GPS or the heart rate sensor) which might render your run session stats useless. And as every exercise freak knows – that’s the equivalent to a tragedy!
So if you are a avid runner or cyclist I suggest you go for a fully fledged sports watch. For anything else, those that run or cycle occasionally and are looking for a device to track their health around the clock – Bip S will suffice. One has to take into account that Bip S sells for at least half the price of the cheapest sports watch with built-in GPS.
As far as the quality of stats, the difference between GPS metrics from Bip S and Forerunner 935 was acceptable. For example, I did a run in a heavily wooded area this morning and stopped when my Garmin told me I hit the 5 kilometer mark. The Bip S counted 4.74km for the same distance. The difference is not too big considering the terrain.
Heart rate stats were in line, as well. Polar OH1+ spit out an average heart rate of 152bpm for the run, and a maximum heart rate of 167bpm. Bip S values were 153 bpm for the average and 169bpm for maximum heart rate. Not bad at all – especially when you take into account you are comparing a wrist device to a heart rate monitor.
As far as other stats, you get a map of your route, info on pace (including average and fastest km), calories burned, heart rate and zone information, cadence, stride length, workout time, laps and more. Some of this is presented via charts which offer a nice timeline of your workout session. You also get many of these on the device itself, but I simply found the font to be too small for this to be of much use. But then again, my eyesight is not as good as it used to be.
What’s not there are more detailed performance stats such as VO2Max and Firstbeat-type metrics. But unless you are very much into sports, you are not going to miss these.
My Bip S review would not be complete without saying a few things about smart functionality. After all, this is a smartwatch so you do get things such as smartphone notifications, music control, time, compass, world clock and more. Its not the equivalent of what you’d get on an Apple Watch – but the things that are there work well.
For example if you start up the music player on your smartphone, the music controls on Bip S will instantly recognize this. The commands will spring to life allowing you to start, stop, pause, skip a song and more. The Bluetooth connection works very well for such things, as well as syncing the device to the app.
Bip S review: The verdict
Amazfit Bip S is no sports watch, but it offers a lot of the same functions for less than half the price. In fact, you will struggle to find a timepiece that delivers so much for the price. Bip devices have a loyal following for a reason.
The second generation watch sticks to the formula of its very popular predecessor. It is lightweight and cheerful in design, simple to use and it works well.
Amazfit Bip S
I would suggest Bip S for anyone who is looking for an all-round fitness tracking smartwatch. However, if you a avid runner or cyclist, it makes sense to go the full monty and purchase a fully fledged sports watch.
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