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Amazfit GTR review: a VFM smartwatch with battery life for days

When it comes to smartwatches, the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch lineup are the usual recommendations that come to mind. Unfortunately, their higher price tags put them out of reach for a majority of users in India. Enter Huami. Better known as the company that provides wearable technology to Xiaomi (it makes Xiaomi’s popular Mi Band fitness trackers), Huami also has its own lineup of wearables under the Amazfit brand. Known for its stylish smartwatches that offer excellent value for money, the latest from the brand is the Amazfit GTR, which comes in two dial sizes to suit both men and women, and comes packed with several fitness features as well. I’ve been using the 42mm for the last couple of weeks, and here’s the lowdown.

Design

If you prefer a classic design for your smartwatch, you’ll like the Amazfit GTR. It features a round dial surrounded by a bezel with watch markings. The 42mm version comes in Starry Black, Cherry Blossom Pink, Moonlight White and Coral Red Hues, and in India, all these are available with silicone straps. My review unit was the Coral Red version, which gets its name from the red strap. The strap features a belt-loop style buckle, which certainly feels secure on the wrist, but isn’t as easy to fasten as the modern push button buckle which you’ll find on devices like the Mi Band. Additionally, while the straps can be easily interchanged, I couldn’t find any official straps available on Amazon, which makes it limiting as far as customisation goes.

The dial is a matte silver, while the top bezel is black. The body is made of aluminium, and is very lightweight and comfortable for all day usage. It’s also fairly slim at 9.2mm, and doesn’t stick out uncomfortably. There are two buttons on the right side – a power/ home button with a red base, and a quick start function button that can be customised to display your activity status, heart rate, workout, weather, notifications, alarms, etc. At the base of the watch, you’ll find the heart rate sensor and magnetic pins to connect the charging base.

The display measures 1.2-inches, and is an AMOLED panel with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels (326ppi pixel density). Being an AMOLED panel, you get inky black and punchy colours. It’s perfect for displaying various watch faces, and as an added advantage, you also get an always-on display option which is useful to check the time at a glance, but impacts the watch’s excellent battery life.

The Always On display with a digital watch face 

The display gets Gorilla Glass 3 for protection, and I didn’t notice any scratches at the end of my two week testing period. The outer bezel is quite scratch resistant too, and I noticed only one scratch that was caused by a particularly hard (accidental) bump against a wall. The display also gets an anti-fingerprint coating which is quite effective at keeping ugly smudges away from the screen. The entire body is water resistant up to 5 ATM, so you can wear it while swimming, showering, snorkelling or in rain and snow. Amazfit states its not suitable for diving and high speed watersports however.

Interface and usage experience

The Amazfit GTR is a cross-platform device, and is compatible with devices running Android 5.0 and iOS 10.0 and above. In order to set up the watch, you’ll need to download the Amazfit app. I was using the Mi Band 3 prior to this, and one neat feature of the Amazfit app is that you can sign in with your Xiaomi account, so all your collected data gets synced and carried over in the app. To customise your watch, you can choose from a bunch of watch faces, but this needs to be done from inside the app. Once you select a watch face, it needs to be downloaded and synced with the smartwatch. I would have preferred the option to browse and preview watch faces directly on the watch, since downloading and syncing a watch face from the app takes about a minute, and previously used watch faces need to be downloaded again if you want to switch back.

  

You can also set up alerts from the app, choosing to get alerts for incoming calls, SMS, alarms, events and notifications from the apps you specify. Thanks to the larger display, notifications can display more text, and you can also check your notification history, which is useful. However, I found that if I didn’t check or dismiss a particular notification, the same would always flash on top even if newer notifications came in. There’s also no ability to reply to notifications, either through smart replies or by voice, the latter because there’s no inbuilt microphone. Additionally, while apps like WhatsApp are specified in the notification, other apps like Slack just show up as ‘App’, so you have no way of knowing which app the notification is from. There’s no support for emojis either, so those show up as blank space.

Other features include find my phone/find my watch, idle alerts and the ability to control music playback on your phone.  The only downside here is that there’s no ability to download any additional apps, so the overall functionality is limited.

When it comes to heart rate, you can choose automatic heart rate detection, sleep assistant, both or choose to turn it off completely. You can also specify how often the watch should check your heart rate, and enable activity detection to improve accuracy during workouts. The watch will also send you alerts if it detects unusually high heart rates. In my experience, the watch recorded slightly elevated heart rates, even if I was sitting down.

If you want a lowdown of your sleep statistics, you can wear the Amazfit GTR to bed. I did try it a couple of times, but I found it uncomfortable to do so, with the metal clasp digging into my wrist.

As for the watch interface, if you don’t have always on display enabled, the screen turns on automatically when you lift your wrist, or alternatively, tap the screen or press any of the buttons. Swiping down from the top shows you quick settings to access the torch (lights up the screen with a white background), brightness, DND, power saving and screen lock. Swiping up from the bottom shows you the watch menu, where you can access most of the watch functions, plus settings. Swiping to the right or left brings up screens for your daily activity and heart rate. It’s a simple interface with easy to access menus, and I liked that there weren’t too many screens to complicate the experience. The touchscreen is also very responsive, so touches, swipes and taps are all easily registered.

I found the Amazfit GTR to be quite accurate when counting steps. The watch lets you track 12 types of workouts, including indoor/outdoor running, indoor/outdoor cycling, pool and open water swimming, walking, elliptical trainer, treadmill, exercise and more. You can start your workout directly from the watch, and thanks to the inbuilt GPS, you don’t need to carry your phone with you for outdoor exercise.

The Amazfit GTR’s mainstay is its battery life. While the 47mm variant promises 24 days of battery life, the 42mm version which I have claims 12 days of regular usage. This is due to the difference in battery capacities – 410mAh vs 195mAh. Amazfit says the 42mm variant can last up to 34 days with basic usage (turning off Bluetooth and heart rate) and 22 hours when the GPS is used continuously. In my experience, the watch lasted me about a week, which is still an excellent result. This was without GPS usage, but I had the watch connected to my phone the entire time for app and call notifications, and I had the heart rate set to measure automatically every 30 minutes. It’s so refreshing to use a smartwatch that doesn’t need to be charged daily, and I would recommend the GTR for this feature alone.

Verdict

At its asking price of Rs 9,999 for the 42mm variant (Rs 10,999 for the 47mm version) the Amazfit GTR is one of the most value for money smartwatches you can currently buy. It’s elegantly designed, features a simple user interface, plenty of workout modes, inbuilt GPS, and most important, offers amazing battery life. The inability to download additional apps and limited notification usage aside, the Amazfit GTR is a no-brainer if you want a feature packed smartwatch without spending a bomb.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works:

  • Classic design with two size choices
  • Excellent battery life
  • Simple, user friendly interface
  • Inbuilt GPS

What doesn’t:

  • Limited notification usage
  • Can’t download additional apps
  • Heart rate monitor isn’t very accurate
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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.