Amazfit GTR 4 review: improvements across the board make this a great fitness watch
Amazfit GTR 4
- Beautiful design
- Dual-band GPS works well
- Accurate heart rate monitor, connects to external chest straps
- Built-in storage for music
- Decent battery life
- Few advanced performance metrics
- Nap tracking needs an update
In this hands-on review I test out the Amazfit GTR 4. The timepiece has become available for purchase in the US and some European countries during the past few weeks. From today it can be also picked up in the UK.
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
The GT 4 range also includes the GTS 4 and GTS 4 Mini. The first was launched alongside the GTR 4 in late August, the second about a month earlier.
This line of devices dates back about three years. In that time they’ve become popular sellers. That’s because the watches look good and pack a lot of health and fitness smarts into something that doesn’t cost too much.
The GTR 4 and GTS 4 bring quite a few improvements over the previous generation. This includes the latest BioTracker 4.0 PPG optical sensor, dual-band circularly-polarised GPS antenna technology, on-board storage for music, the ability to connect to external heart rate chest straps and more.
How does all this function in real life? Read on to find out.
Design & hardware
General activity & health monitoring
Amazfit GTR 4 review: Design & hardware
- 1.43-inch AMOLED touchscreen is very touch responsive
- Premium look & feel
- Upgraded heart rate and other sensors
- Excellent 15 days battery life
Look and feel
The Amazfit GTR has always been a beautiful watch. Generation four ads some new design elements which make the device look even more premium.
For starters, you now get a round 1.43-inch diameter AMOLED touchscreen. It has a 466 x 466 pixel resolution and always-on option. This means the screen is larger by 0.4 inches as compared to its predecessor. But it is slightly smaller than the 1.45 inch AMOLED that can be found on the Pro version of GTR 3. The company has not mentioned a GTR 4 Pro so we may not be getting one.
Always-on display option
Of course, you get lots of watch-faces to choose from. You can save 10 of your favourite ones to the timepiece itself and choose between them. As before this is triggered by long-pressing on the display. Other watch-faces can be found in the Zepp Health app.
Also to be found is a setting that allows you to keep the screen on at all times. This transitions between the fully featured watch-face and one with limited info.
For the always-on option, you’ll need to choose between a “follow watch face” style or choose a design on the style selection page. Another decision you’ll need to make is whether to keep the always-on option active around the clock, during certain hours or to enable the Smart option – which tweaks the setting for you. All of this works very well, and it is good that Zepp Health provides so many options.
The screen is very responsive. Swiping up, down, left and right takes you through the various menu selections.
Two physical buttons
Another way of navigating the display is via the physical buttons. There are two of them on the right-hand side. I noticed that button scrolling is much more tactile than on the predecessor generation.
Pressing the top crown works to open the list of apps and as a back button. You can actually turn it like a real crown and it will scroll through the menu. The button underneath takes a flat square shape rather than a protruding round shape of its predecessor. This is used as a shortcut. By default it launches the exercise screen.
This is a beautiful watch – probably more suited for men then women
The actual build of the device is aluminium alloy. Underneath is a high-gloss sprayed PC bottom shell. All of this is pretty water tight. In fact, the watch has a 5 ATM rating which means you can bathe, swim and do more with it without any worries. It will be fine down to depths of 50 meters.
The whole thing feels slick and lightweight on your wrist. But with dimensions of 46 x 46 x 10.6 mm, the GTR 4 is probably more suited for men. Having said that, its weigh comes in at only 34 grams. Nevertheless, for those with smaller wrist we suggest going for the GTS 4 which has smaller dimensions. Or perhaps the GTS 4 Mini.
As far as colour options, you get a choice between Superspeed Black (paired with a Fluoroelastomer strap), Vintage Brown Leather (Leather strap) and Racetrack Grey (Nylon strap). As can be seen from images in this article, I have the Vintage Brown edition.
One negative is that Zepp Health packs only one strap in the box. The watch can be attached to a range of other bands, and I would have liked from the get go to have the option to swap the leather strap for a silicone one when exercising. The leather one is nice, though, and has a protective leather underneath which is useful to repel sweat.
Sensors, battery life
Zepp Health has also made some improvements under the hood. These make the watch a much more serious sports tracking device.
The actual list of sensors remain the same. But the GTR 4 gets Huami’s latest BioTracker 4.0 PPG optical sensor. This ensures better accuracy and around the clock SpO2 tracking. Zepp Health says the tech is enhanced to 2LED and gathers a third more data than the previous generation. The heart rate tracking algorithm has also been enhanced to further reduce signal interference caused by arm movement. As shown in a later part of this interview, the better accuracy is clear to see.
To my surprise, I found the GTR 4 also connects to external heart rate monitors via Bluetooth. Which is actually a pretty big deal. You have to go to the Stratos line to find an Amazfit watch with support for external heart rate monitors. And the last timepiece from that range dropped back in August 2019, so is quite dated.
Another improvement is to do with the GPS technology. At launch this supports five satellite systems, but this will be increased to six via a future firmware update. The tech features a dual-band circularly-polarised GPS antenna technology for quicker and more accurate satellite positioning. To preserve battery life, you also have a few options as to which satellite configuration to use. In this review I used the highest accuracy setting.
Decent battery life
On that topic, the Amazfit GTR 4 packs a 475mAh battery. This is good for up to two weeks in normal mode and 24 days with limited functionality. Accuracy GPS mode will run for 25 hours. Mind you, these figures do fall slightly if you switch on all-day stress tracking, all-day blood oxygen monitoring and a few other options.
But as long as you don’t choose the always-on display, you should be good for at least a week or slightly more between charges. Which is excellent as compared to much of the competition. Particularly if you take into consideration the specs of the GTR 4.
Technical specifications recap
Aluminum alloy middle frame + high-gloss sprayed PC bottom shell
46 x 46 x 10.6 mm
AMOLED with Tempered glass + anti-fingerprint coating + anti-glare bezel
466 x 466, 326 ppi
BioTracker 4.0 PPG, accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, barometer, ambient light sensor
Dual-band & 6 satellite positioning systems
14 days of battery life in normal mode and 24 days with limited functionality. Accuracy GPS mode 25 hours.
Yes (The maximum storage space for music is 2.3GB – 270-470 MP3 songs)
WLAN 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 & BLE
Amazfit GTR 4 review: General activity & health monitoring
- Covers all the basics & more
- Around the clock SpO2 tracking
- Revamped app is more intuitive
You get the typical fitness and health tracking smarts on the GTR 4, so no change there as compared to the predecessor generation. There’s no point in delving too much into the various functionality in this review. But rest assured that its all there.
What surprised me is that the app is more user friendly and informative than before. Having said that, it has been a few months since I’ve last opened it. But Zepp Health has obviously been working on improving the smartphone software.
Everything is clearly labeled and shown in a tile-like format. Click on a individual tile and the app will transition into a more detailed page for that particular metric. All of this is very intuitive, clearly labeled and the various colours help bring the stats and charts to life. Also nice are all the explanations and tips that are sprinkled throught the app.
Wide encompassing health data
A new option that you have now which was not available on the GTR 3 is the ability to track blood oxygen around the clock. This is courtesy of the latest generation Huami Biotracker PPG. Not only that, but you can trust the heart rate readings more due to the better accuracy.
For example, my resting heart rate values were within 2-3 bpm (beats per minute) as compared to the Garmin on my other wrist. All the other general activity and welness stats were also similar.
The sleep statistics, in particular, are very detailed. I liked the new insights such as a Regularity Score in addition to your Sleep Score. It looks at when you went to sleep and woke up over the past week and lets you know how in sync this was. The higher regularity, the better.
Plus you get some more advanced metrics. This includes Breath Rate and Breathing Quality (during sleep), PAI score (personal physiological activity indicator based on heart rate), around the clock stress, high and low heart rate alerts and low blood oxgyen alerts.
Nap tracking needs to be upgraded
Worthy of a special mention is nap tracking. Garmin does not have this but the Amazfit GTR 4 does. I found that this captured all my naps that lasted at least 20 minutes (which is the minimum time necessary for the functionality to kick in).
But a negative was that if I took my watch off and left in on the desk, it would confuse this with a nap. So as long as you keep the watch on your wrist the sleep data will be good. But if you take the watch off it might register that time as sleep. Unfortunately, while you can edit nightly sleep data, there is no option to edit nap data. Hopefully this is something Zepp Health will address soon via a firmware update.
It is not a big problem, but it is an annoyance. As mentioned, most people will keep the watch on at all times – unless they are charging it.
Amazfit GTR 4 review: Sports tracking
- Dual-band sattelite connectivity works well
- Heart rate sensor is accurate during exercise
- Can connect to external heart rate sensor via Bluetooth
- 150 sports modes
- Only a few advanced performance metrics
That’s all well and good, but bigger changes from the previous generation lie beyond the general heath tracking metrics. For starters, the number of sports modes has been increased to over 150, and eight of these come with auto-workout recognition (outdoor & indoor walking, running, treadmill, elliptical, cycling, rowing machine and pool swimming). There are new Track Run and Golf Swing modes.
An interesting addition is strength exercise recognition. GTR 4 can recognise the movements and count the reps of 15 strength training exercise and keep tab on rest time between sets. Zepp Health plans to increase the number to 25 soon. For now, this includes exercises such as Knee-touch sit-ups, Dumbbell flys, Burpees, Deadlift, Push-up, Shoulder press and Pull ups. After the workout, the Zepp App shows the muscle groups that you exercised. It is a nice edition that you can experiment with. I found that it didn’t work 100% of the time so the functionality feels more like work in progress than the finished thing.
Beyond exercise recognition, the more important news is that GTR 4 is a much more serious sports tracking watch than its predecessor. This is because of two upgrades. Better sattelite connectivity, coupled with better heart rate tracking which includes to ability to connect to external heart rate monitors.
Dual-band satellite system
The watch packs, what Zepp Health refers to as, an Industry-first “Dual-band Circularly-polarized GPS Antenna Six Satellite Positioning Systems”. This is state of the art tech – similar to what can be found in high-end Garmin watches and the recently launched Apple Watch Ultra. We’ve done a separate article explaining how the tech works.
Essentially, the chip inside GTR 4 can calculate position, velocity and time by receiving signals broadcast from multiple navigation satellite systems. So instead of just GPS, it can use a combination of different signals. The result of this is that establishing a satellite connection is much quicker than before, and tracking is more accurate.
I compared several runs to the Garmin Forerunner 955 on my other wrist. Establishing a connection is definitely quicker than on the previous generation. Sometimes it was as fast as the Garmin, at other times it lagged a few seconds behind.
As far as accuracy, the jump in performance is even more evident. On multiple runs, the Amazfit and Garmin agreed on the numbers. Small differences (up to 10 meters per kilometer) can arise on certain terrains (heavily wooded areas, around high-rise buildings), but the accuracy really is impressive.
Shown below is an example of a recent run in a heavily wooded area. It was tracked as 7.79km by the Amazfit (pic on the left) and 7.86km by the Garmin (pic on the right). My other runs were also in sync, sometimes displaying the exact same figures as the Garmin Forrunner 955.
Upgraded heart rate sensor
The same is the case with the heart rate sensor. On multiple runs, the average heart rate was within 1-2 bpm as compared to the Garmin. This also applies to the maximum heart rate during exercise. All of this means that can use the watch now with confidence that it will track your heart rate with great accuracy.
Here’s an illustration of heart rate for the above run. The Amazfit clocked me at a 134 bpm average for the 8K run and a maximum of 154 bpm (pic on the left). The figures on the Garmin were 135 bpm and 154 bpm respectively (pic on the right).
And if you still don’t trust it, well there’s now the ability to connect the Amazfit to an external heart rate chest strap. Yes, you read that correctly. It has been a few years since we saw the last Amazfit watch with this ability. You have to go back to 2019 and the Stratos 3. It could, very well, be the case that the GT line will now replace the Stratos range.
It is a simple job connecting to a heart rate chest strap. Simply add it in the settings as one of the external devices. If it is on an you are starting a run, the watch will automatically connect to it. You can read more about the functionality on this link. This is an exciting development and something that was sorely missing from this line of watches.
During an exercise you have a live sports broadcast. So for a run, each kilometre you’ll get a voice on the speaker telling you how fast you are going, how far you’ve run, your heart rate etc. To avoid bothering other runners on the track, you might want to wear headphones. Or switch off the functionality. But it does work well.
One area where the GT line has room for improvement is in the advanced performance stats. These pretty much end with Vo2Max and Training Load. Now that the device tracks heart rate and position with great accuracy, it feels like this should be next on the list of improvements. It is probably the one remaining thing that separates it from high-end sports watches.
But you do get the basics as shown in the screenshots below. All of this is shown via colourful charts, as well.
As far as Vo2Max, it was about 8 points below Garmin’s estimate. But this was only after 3 runs. For such metrics to be accurate a watch typically needs at least a month of training.
Amazfit GTR 4 review: Smart functionality
- Built-in storage for music
- Wider selection of apps
- Lots of watch faces
The duo comes with over 200 watch faces. About 30 of these are animated. However, you may want to aim for the plain ones as they will not consume too much battery power. As mentioned above, you also have a few always-on options.
A nice touch are what Apple calls complications. Click on any field that shows on the watch-face and it will take you through to a detailed page on that screen item. For example, if you tap on the weather, it takes you to the weather page. Tap step count and it takes you to step details page, etc. This works well as the display is very touch responsive. Complications are not available on the always-on watch-face only on the regular watch-face.
Other than that, you get the standard stuff as far as smart functionality. Bluetooth calling comes as part of the package, along with Amazon Voice Assistant. Other smart functionality includes SMS and app notifications (including support for very long notifications), reminders, Find my Phone, alarm clock, to-do list and much more. All of this works through Shortcut Cards.
You can reply to texts/sms with predefined sentences. For more customization you can use Tasker. This allows you to reply with your voice transcribed as a text response.
Amazon Alexa works well with one caveat. It needs the smartphone app to be open at the same time in order to work. Which kind of defeats the purpose. Ideally, you want Amazon Alexa that works untethered from a smartphone.
Beyond that there’s a growing selection of apps that you can install. In fact, Zepp Health has recently hosted a hackathon to encourage more developers to get in on the fun. Of course, there are not nearly as many apps as Apple Health and WearOS, but the number is increasing.
Probably the most important change to do with smart functionality is the inclusion of on-board storage for music. The maximum storage space for this is 2.3GB which should be enough for between 270 and 470 MP3.
Music transfer is quite simple which is a good thing. It is done through the Zepp Health app. Simply navigate to the page that allows you to add the songs, upload the MP3 file and let the watch sync. While the transfer is being done the watch will temporarily act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It takes about a minute or two to transfer a song. What I liked about this is the implementation of the music transfer is easier than with most other brands. Plus you don’t need any subscriptions. Simply upload MP3s from your personal collection.
Finally, the Zepp OS 2.0 also comes with some upgrades. The UI has received some minor improvements which make for a better experience.
Also, users can now select one of two app menu layout styles – hexagon and classic. The first shows all the app icons in the Apple Watch format. The second uses the traditional scrolling list of apps that can be found on other Amazfit watches. I prefer to use the latter option as it has the benefit of displaying the name of the app next to the icon.
Amazfit GTR 4 review: The verdict
The improvements in the Amazfit GT line with each passing year are clear to see. But it feels like this generation has made a bigger leap than most of the other ones. Both the software and hardware work really well which makes for a solid package.
Heart rate monitoring accuracy during workouts is much improved thanks to the BioTracker 4.0 PPG. The sensor collects 33% more data than before. Plus you get the option to link to an external heart rate chest strap via Bluetooth. This is something that has only been available on Amazfit Stratos watches so far.
You also get significant improvements in satellite connectivity. The dual-band tech ensures you secure a signal quickly and it offers much better accuracy and consistent mapping of outdoor exercise. These changes combine to make the Amazfit ecosystem much more accurate.
But it doesn’t end there. This generation also comes with built-in storage for music, all day SpO2 and a larger display as compared to the GTR 3. And you still get the comprehensive features of the previous generations, including excellent battery life.
On the negative side, nap tracking works well but if you take the watch off it might register that time as a nap. Also, I would love to see some more advanced performance metrics such as recovery info based on heart rate variability.
Amazfit GTR 4
Overall I was very impressed with the watch. I love most features on the GTR 4 – from watch faces, the plethora of customisation options and Zеpp OS 2.0, to the more accurate fitness and location sensors. The device has narrowed the gap quite a bit on high-end sports watches.
With a price of around $200 the timepiece offers great value for money (check price on Amazon). If you are serious about your athletic pursuits and have a GTR 3 it may be worth upgrading. Less so, though, if you have GTR 3 Pro. If you don’t have either of these, don’t think about it – go for the GTR 4.
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7 thoughts on “Amazfit GTR 4 review: improvements across the board make this a great fitness watch”
Can you connect your headset with this smartwatch directly ?
Yes, it works directly with headphones via Bluetooth.
is there a basic Voice Recorder App for saving conference meetings etc ?
Are there at least 2 independent Countdown Timers for timing race start countdowns ?
Are all data from the GPS trail & Health data saved in the Watch memory so at end of a week it can all be uploaded to a PC or other device ?
I would like to see an emergency call app – I am 81 yrs old and sometimes I fall –and cannot get up for a while>>> one button on the watch to activate an emergency would be nice if they could ZEPP that in 🙂
The Apple Watch is a good option for that sort of thing.
How does the heart rate sensor on the watch compare with a chest strap?
It’s pretty good – much better than the last generation.