I said: “NO” to smartwatches. Utterly disappointed with how LG Urbane and WearOS turned out over the years, I found myself drifting away from wearables until I came across MiBands (2, 3, 4 reviews). These relatively cheap trackers, with simple phone notifications and a battery lasting forever, were just perfect for me. Now, Huami strikes again (they are the company behind the Xiaomi MiBands) with Amazfit GTR. A serious sports tracker and a smartwatch hybrid.
Not a smartwatch
Amazfit GTR isn’t running WearOS, it’s not what I would consider a typical “smartwatch” despite the very watch-alike design. The one I got, comes with a beautiful 1.39″ AMOLED display wrapped in a brushed aluminium 47mm case. There is a 42mm version as well for those who have smaller wrists, and more female stylisation colour options.
Bear in mind the size of the watch (47mm vs 42 mm) will determine the battery life as the bigger Amazfit GTR comes with a bigger screen but also a bigger battery.
The “smartwatch” come with 2 buttons (power – top, function|customisable – bottom) and my version with a leather alike strap infused with a black, soft silicone inside.
This is a thing of beauty, much brighter than my LG Urbane, encased in the plain but elegant bezel. Both, 47 mm and 42 mm versions come with the same pixel density, so you don’t miss out on resolution by picking the smaller version.
Ignore the battery warnings and crank up the display to the max, set the timeout to 10-15 seconds and enjoy the “smartwatch”.
I told you to ignore the battery warnings because Amazfit GTR comes with excellent battery life. I’m not even joking! It’s been 10 days, 3h of GPS workouts, display set at 100% and 10-sec timeout, the heart sensor measures my pulse every 1-2 min, and the sleep in monitored at the most power-hungry setting and I’m only down to 50%.
This is spectacular. If you used MiBands – it’s that good.
So why this isn’t a smartwatch?
Amazfit GTR has a soul of a sports tracker and looks of a smartwatch. I can’t call it so however as it lacks voice assistants, there are no options to reply to messages and notifications.
For the most part, this is a passive screen to receive a notification and act on it on your phone. And that’s OK. I never really used the voice commands from my LG Urbane, and replying to any messages from a smartwatch is an insane activity if your phone is around.
I’m happy that Amazfit GTR filled the gap between the short-lived smartwatches and rather not interactive smart bands. It’s a perfect fit.
More than just a tracker
Amazfit GTR is a premium sports tracker. It provides you with an ultimate tracking experience that no smart band or smartwatch I have seen can match.
This is the most accurate and most reliable HR sensor I had the pleasure to use to date. Yes, there is a “but”: as long as you will strap it in the right spot. It takes a couple of tries before you know where on your wrist it should be wrapped around, but once Amazfit GTR is in position, it won’t skip a beat.
The accuracy of this sensor is impressive. I was getting results within 1-2 beats over 1h long workouts compared to my trusty Sigma Rox10 with a chest strap.
The sports tracker (unlike Mibands) stays where you placed it even during more active workouts.
Just don’t get discouraged. If your heart rate reads 70-80 after a warm-up – you need to reposition the tracker.
I hope you are an active person, otherwise, you are going to miss the awesome list of activities that you can track with this tracker:
- Running (outdoor/indoor)
- Cycling (outdoor/indoor)
- Swimming (outdoor/pool)
- Skiing/Elliptical trainer
- General Excercise
I only miss stuff available on my Google Fit apps: the ability to track and count press-ups, sit-ups, and squats.
However you exercise, you can find a way to track it!
To my surprise, GPS tracking isn’t as battery draining as I would assume. Amazfit GTR is at 50% and still tells me that I could track my workouts with GPS enabled for 24h.
Accuracy of the workouts is good although I had a 3km run which had been underreported by 70m. I needed to run a little further to “complete” the 3km tracked.
The cycling accuracy so far has been excellent with Amazfit reporting 200m short over 32km cycle tracked with a combination of GPS and wheel circumference (read a very accurate reading). That’s more than acceptable!
I hope the bigger discrepancy had been caused by a poor GPS fix.
Previously, I could check the time, distance and a couple of averages, or when it comes to Google Fit, I could check a whole lot of nothing on my watch, with Amazfit GTR I actually can see almost every metric of my workouts including graphs.
The level of detail is Amazefit! Even weather app comes with sun information and an interactive graph!
For the most part, I don’t even have to check my phone again
What’s amazeballs about it?
The Amazfit GTR tries so hard to free you from your phone. It’s designed to encourage active sports life and leaving the social media behind. The watch comes with almost everything an active person would like to have. There is the battery, that will last you through a marathon (tracked GPS), there is a screen bright enough to show you the stats while you are out and about on a sunny day and there is an array of data that is simply accessible from the Amazfitr GTR itself.
Any other tracker or even a smartwatch would need you to bring your phone to check your hearth graph for the last workout or pie chart of your intensity training. With Amazfit GTR all that info is available on your wrist, at your fingertips.
Where it falls short
The Amazfit app feels inferior to MiFit app. It’s odd, as it’s a basically a carbon copy of the MiFit. The app is serviceable but lacks Google Fit integration (MiFit comes with Google Fit – do they have licencing issues for not Xiaomi brands?) but it makes up for it supporting Strava (Google Fit was always about steps and active minutes where Strava is about using GPS so it makes sense, I guess?
The biggest let down is lack of music storage. I wanted to ditch my phone entirely and run freely through the local woods listening to the best tunes, but that’s not going to happen unless you are willing to leave your headphones behind. To add the insult to injury, you can’t change tracks when the workout is in progress. Not without 3rd party tools.
It’s the biggest omission as the built-in GPS was the biggest selling point apart from the battery life.
Amazfit GTR may seem expensive for a sports tracker (about $140), but if you consider the smartwatch prices, the $140 price point is a bargain. After all, you are getting an incredibly durable wearable with over 20-day battery life, and bells and whistles that many other brands are missing.
I’m done testing my 47 mm Amazfit, time to retire MiBand4 and make space for the GTR on my wrist! Let me know what would you think about it in this Reddit thread.