At an event at the IFA 2019 in Berlin, Huami launched its new smartwatch: the Amazfit GTS. It looks a lot like the Apple Watch Series 4, but there is some cool tech in here for the price. I've been wearing it for a couple of weeks. Here is my full review.
- ✓Good AMOLED display
- ✓Long battery life
- ✓Lightweight and well-made
- ✕Software is limited
- ✕Heart rate monitor is jumpy
A familiar design at a low price
The Amazfit GTS comes straight in at the top of Huami's 'fashion' line of smartwatches. The GTS comes in six different colors: Desert Gold, Lava Grey, Steel Blue, Obsidian Black, Vermillion Orange and Rose Pink. Each color variant comes with its own matching strap. Unlike some other smartwatch manufacturers, Huami has gone for a single size for the housing with the GTS.
It will be available at the end of September for a price of €129.99 in Europe. Huami now sells its wearable products in more than 60 countries, so keep an eye out for it in your region. For the build-quality a feature set on offer here, you can't argue with the price.
Lightweight but well-made
From a distance, you'd be excused for mistaking the GTS for an Apple Watch Series 4. The design inspiration is clear, but the Amazfit watch does not feel like Apple's wearable. As soon as you pick it up, it is immediately noticeable just how light it is. The watch weighs 24.8g without the strap. Huami Founder, Chairman and CEO, was keen to point out that this is 17.5 percent lighter than the 44mm Apple Watch Series 4. The smartwatch is also 12.1 percent thinner than Apple Watch Series 4.
Despite the affordable price tag, the GTS does not feel too cheap or 'budget'. The body is made of metal and polymer, and it feels pretty solid. The back of the watch face is quite coarse and feels more economical, but not when you are wearing the watch. The strap is made of silicone and is comfortable enough.
The single button on the side shows some of that cost-cutting that has taken place to get the GTS down to the price point it is being sold at. It feels tough enough when clicked, but it rotates like a crown - don't be expecting to be doing any scrolling through the menus with it though.
In terms of sensors, the GTS has an accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic, air pressure, ambient light and Huami's BioTracker PPG for measuring heart rate. There's also built-in GPS, which will delight runners, and NFC. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0. It is waterproof up to 5 ATM. There's also a vibration motor in there too. It's not the best, but it gets the job done.
A high resolution AMOLED
Huami, which has been providing wearable hardware for Xiaomi such as the Mi Band fitness trackers, has placed a strong emphasis on the display with the GTS. It's a 1.65-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 348 x 442 pixels (340PPI). The Huami boss also called out Samsung as well as Apple during the launch event, announcing that the GTS has the highest resolution currently available on the market. The glass itself is Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and it curves at the edges to meet the housing. You already know where you have seen this before.
The display itself is quite pleasant, and the colors pop. I had no problems in a wide range of conditions , such as outside in bright sunlight, or when exercising outdoors or in the office. There are a total of six display areas on the watch face, five of which are customizable. Only the top left area with the time is displayed has to stay where it is. You can also customize the entire watch face as one, switching between several presents. You can also download new watch faces. All of this customization is done via the Amazfit app. It looks deep, at first, but the changes are not significant. The default watch face and layout is just fine though.
Overall, the display is one of the highlights of the Huami Amazfit GTS, and the touch response is also good. For the price you are paying here, you really will have no complaints.
24-hour, uninterrupted heart-rate minitoring
The BioTracker PPG heart rate sensor is Huami's answer to the growing need for this kind of health-focused technology. Rather than go down the ECG route rivals such as Apple and Withings have done, Huami is adopting a more long-term monitoring approach. The BioTracker measures your heart rate constantly, providing 24-hour, uninterrupted readings. Of course, this data has to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially on affordable devices such as the Amazfit GTS, but fair play to the brand for trying something different. We've said it before and we will continue to stress it, do not entertain the idea that a smartwatch can replace a real doctor or professionally taken heart reading - we are nowhere near there yet.
For fitness fanatics, there are 12 sports modes covering both indoor and outdoor activities. Some of these designed for the gym. Huami makes a range of proper sports watches, though, and most consumers would not go for the GTS if they were serious about tracking their exercise accurately. Still, it's nice to have it in there. There's also sleep monitoring. All of the basic functions you'd expect a modern smartwatch to have are here.
The sports modes worked well during my testing period. I was particularly impressed with the GPS for outdoor running. It connects quickly and tracks accurately. I've tested dedicated running watches that cost around the same as this that do not perform as well as the GTS for this function.
The heart rate monitor, on the other hand, is less successful. During my testing period, it tended to jump around a lot, often measuring my resting heart rate in the low 70 bpm range and then suddenly jumping to 90 bpm out of nowhere. There were also periods during running where my heartrate remained unchanged for up to a minute despite increasing or decreasing physical intensity. It feels like the watch is trying to catch up to the body at times.
You'll have to compromise on software
The Huami Amazfit GTS runs a proprietary operating system that is built to link your smartwatch with the app on your smartphone. The software running on the watch is very basic , and most of the customization and more complicated actions are done via the Amazfit app. The software is probably the biggest downside of a more affordable wearable device such as this. You'll have to go without an app store too, of course. Compared to Apple's watchOS or even Google's Wear OS, this is a very basic software package.
10 days battery from a single charge
The Huami Amazfit GTS is fitted with a 220mAh battery. The company said that you can get 46 days worth of juice out of it in basic watch mode, which is with everything turned off and just using it as a digital watch, checking the time an average of 100 times per day. With GPS permanently tuned on, Huami said it will last 25 hours. With everyday usage, it can last 10 days on a single charge, apparently. These numbers held up well during my testing period. As always with smartwatches, objectively measuring overall battery life is very difficult, but I did not find myself reaching for the charger more often than I felt was reasonable. When I did need to recharge it, the battery went from 10 to 100 percent is just under two hours.
The Huami Amazfit GTS is certainly an interest new wearable, and there's more to like than just the very competitive price. The watch recently won the IFA Product Technical Innovation Award 2019, and you can see why. The build quality and AMOLED display are excellent, and for sports tracking with GPS I would be more than happy using the GTS as a fitness tracker. The biggest downside is the software, which is not as refined as Apple's or even Wear OS. If you just want the functionality that comes with the GTS out of the box though, your money would be well spent here.