Amazfit is not a household name, but the company has quietly established itself as one of the best (and most productive) budget smartwatch manufacturers nearby. Now Amazfit is back with the third update of its GTR / GTS series of smartwatches as well as a more advanced “premium” version called the GTR 3 Pro.
Last year’s GTR 2 and GTS 2 were already impressive for their $ 180 ($ 244) price, because both offered advanced health features that you would typically find on flagship smartwatches that cost hundreds more. The GTR 3 and GTS 3 retain these features along with some hardware upgrades and also improve on one of the biggest weaknesses of Amazfit’s entire platform: its Zepp app. The only bummer is that it looks like some features – like the speaker, Bluetooth calling and built-in music storage – have been moved over to the $ US230 ($ 312) GTR 3 Pro.
This time, all three watches have a six-photodiode PPG sensor that measures heart rate, oxygen saturation in the blood, stress levels (via heart rate variation) and breathing. There is an option on the watch to take all four measurements at once. Amazfit has also reduced the time it takes to get an SpO2 reading down to 15 seconds. Another new health feature is period tracking, which includes cycle and fertile window predictions. Runners now also have the option to use a “virtual pacer” to track training as well as analyze progress and recovery. Finally, Amazfit has expanded its third-party integrations to Apple Health, Google Fit, Strava, Relieve, Runkeeper, and TrainingPeaks.
The watch now includes “shortcut cards”, which are effectively widgets that you can swipe left or right for faster access to frequently used apps. Like last year’s watches, they also have an offline assistant and Alexa. It also includes 150+ clock faces, including some with fun animations, and the ability to upload photos as a custom dial. Amazfit has also expanded typical features such as reminders to drink water or get up, calendar events, to-do lists, weather forecasts and Bluetooth camera remote control.
None of these features are brand new in the wearables space, but it’s rare to see them on watches under $ US250 ($ 339). The most important things still missing in Amazfit’s watches are mobile connectivity and contactless payments. That said, dropping NFC is no wonder for a budget smartwatch, and you just will not find a mobile connection for under US $ 280 ($ 380) (which is what the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 LTE version costs).
The main difference between Amazfit’s three new watches is design. The GTR Pro 3 has a 1.45-inch AMOLED Ultra HD display with 331 ppi and a 70.6% screen-to-body ratio. It also has a 450 mAh battery with an estimated 12 days of battery life with typical use and 2.3 GB of storage. The GTR 3 is slightly smaller with a 1.39-inch screen with 326 ppi and a 66% screen-to-body ratio. It also has the same battery, but is rated for 21 days of typical use. Meanwhile, the GTS 3 has a 1.75-inch square screen and a 250 mAh battery, though it is also rated for 12 days. Both round watches weigh 32 grams, while the GTS 3 is slightly lighter at 24.4 grams. No matter how you cut it, they are pretty light watches with good screens and lethal battery life.
I’ve had some time to play with the GTR 3 Pro, and so far it’s a promising smartwatch. It still has some of Amazfit’s quirks, like a messy menu, but many other grips seem to have been addressed since last year. The materials do not feel as chintzy as they did on the GTR 2, and the screen itself seems to belong to a more expensive smartwatch. I’ve had this thing on for about a week, done about 90 minutes of GPS training and still have 29% battery. (However, I did not always turn on the display all the time.) Connecting and using Alexa was easy, the animated dials I have tried look beautiful, and the widgets have improved the user interface. That largest improvement, however, has been the Zepp app. I’ve been using a beta version for the past week and the interface has been overtaken to be more intuitive in an instant. Metrics are displayed in a more natural way, and there are not quite as many errors with error translations – although I would argue that there are still too many setting menus. But even if it’s not perfect, it’s a big step up from how the app looked just a few months ago.
The GTR 3 and GTR 3 Pro are available from the US Amazfit store starting today for $ 180 ($ 244) and $ US230 ($ 312), respectively. Amazfit did not specify a specific US launch date for the GTS 3, but says it will be available soon.
Editor’s note: Release dates in this article are based in the US but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.