Huami Amazfit GTS review: The Apple Watch clone you may not want

By: |
New Delhi | November 20, 2019 3:58 PM

Huami's Amazfit GTS plans to give the premium feel of an Apple Watch for less than Rs 10,000. But, is its design enticing enough to justify the performance of the smartwatch?

Amazfit GTS is such a good Apple Watch knockoff available for far less money.

While Apple still continues to dominate the smartwatch market globally, other brands have attempted to make strides, even if it comes at the expense of imitation. One such attempt is the recently launched Amazfit GTS by Huami, which is a blatant clone of the Apple Watch that can deceive eyes, if not observed keenly. The Huami Amazfit GTS is a budget smartwatch that borrows its design from the Apple Watch but has its own software running underneath. Available at Rs 9,999, the Amazfit GTS tries to break into a wearable category that is majorly crowded with fitness bands.

I have been using the Amazfit GTS for quite some time. Initially, I was unsure about the performance of the smartwatch since I was wooed by the design. Why would I not be? Regardless of the criticism that Apple Watch has received over time for its design, it has come to be a benchmark in the wearable industry for its distinctive design. The latest example of why Apple Watch has become a baseline for smartwatches is the Amazfit GTS.

At first sight, I could not tell the Amazfit GTS and Apple Watch apart in a rough sight. Of course, the difference began to appear when I scrutinised the Amazfit GTS. The fascia has a display with reasonably thick bezels, bleeding through edges, along with a 2.5D upward contour. The smartwatch is petite in size, which I find quite comfortable. Even at its budget pricing, the Amazfit GTS gives away a premium texture in three colours – Desert Gold, Obsidian Black, and Lava Grey. I got the Obsidian Black variant that has a good blend of glossy and matte black finishes.

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One thing that is distinguishably new is the crown, which for some reason is a toned-down clone of the one on Apple Watch. It’s tactile and can be clicked or long-pressed to trigger functions on the smartwatch. However, there is no function assigned to the rotation of the button. The 20mm strap is made of silicone and comes in a corresponding colour of the smartwatch’s dial. But people with broad wrists will find the strap a little too small. The strap is also smooth on the skin – it did not scuff, cause bruises, or entangle wrist hair – which is why the smartwatch is nearly suitable to wear during sleep.

Amazfit GTS has a 1.65-inch AMOLED display with a resolution 348×442 pixels and a pixel density of 340ppi, which makes it quite vivid and sharp. The brightness level of the display is quite high – I never had a problem with reading text on the screen under bright sunlight. The brightness can be set to automatic to allow the smartwatch to adjust it according to the ambience. Since I use the ambient display on my regular smartwatch, I was glad to find it on the Amazfit GTS. You can customise how you want the ambient display to look in the watch’s settings. There is a host of watch faces available for the Amazfit GTS that can be synchronised with the app. Only a few watch faces are stored on the smartwatch storage. Raise to wake option is also available on the Amazfit GTS.

A watch is not smart if the software powering it is not on the par. Amazfit GTS runs the company’s proprietary OS under the hood that is responsible for all the functions, from measuring heart rate to counting the steps you have walked. Setting up the Amazfit GTS with a phone is simple – I had to scan the QR code on the watch using the Amazfit app to pair it with a phone. I paired the smartwatch with a Galaxy Note 10+ and iPhone 11.

While the initial setup was buttery smooth, the subsequent procedure to ensure the watch is in perfect synchronisation is pesky. The first time the smartwatch is paired, there is an update waiting to be downloaded and installed. It was tiring for me to wait for more than 15 minutes for the downloaded update to be transferred to the smartwatch over Bluetooth. Not only the update, but a feature as simple as transferring a watch face also takes ages to synchronise.

After I was done with the setup, I began exploring the options on the smartwatch. You have all the health-related features, such as the heart rate measurement app, steps counter, and more. Navigation on the smartwatch is easy, although it’s not the fastest. The scope of swipes in each direction is limited – I felt a couple of extra options could have been given to ease up on the not-so-favourable navigation. There is a swipe-down drawer on the smartwatch as well, but it has just four toggles. Normally, the drawer is where the notifications reside – something I missed on the Amazfit GTS.

Talking about the notifications, it’s an area that needs some urgent and robust improvement. No matter what phone the watch is paired with, notifications never show up automatically. There’s a separate section for notifications that can be found in the menu. If there’s an email, a WhatsApp message, a text message, or anything else for that matter, the watch may have mirrored the notifications without alerting me, either by flashing the display or by vibration. Since the crown button is configurable, I assigned the long-press to open the notification list to take a peek, but it’s not convenient at all. The music app on the smartwatch seems half-baked and lacks important elements such as a playback control on the screen or in the swipe-down drawer.

Amazfit GTS works satisfactorily when it comes to tracking activities such as running, walking, jogging, cycling. Huami says it can also track climbing and swimming activities, but I couldn’t test them due to my lack of necessary skills. It’s also water-resistant up to 50 metres, so I didn’t have to worry about wearing it when my wrist is sweating or under the shower. All the data collected during the activities is stored on the smartwatch, but not synced with the app immediately. Only after I opened the Amazfit app, the data is received on the device and logs are created. The app creates a graph of these activities against different times during the day, besides days and months to offer a comparative analysis. It will also remind me to stand up after a stipulated duration for which I have been sitting. But it’s not accurate and comes across as uncaring.

Since I wanted a better understanding of my health data, I wanted to sync the Amazfit data with my Google Fit or Samsung Health apps. I simply could not, even with third-party premium apps. It is crucial for wearable makers to support cross-synchronisation of data on Android. This is not the case on iPhone, though – Apple’s Health app can be paired with Amazfit app for data synchronisation and it’s accurate. The Health app analyses the data to tell me the optimal levels of a physical or mental activity that I should be following instead of my otherwise routine.

Amazfit GTS packs a 220mAh battery that is claimed to last up to 14 days on a single charge. In my usage, the Amazfit GTS managed to last for about 5-6 days on a single charge. I pretty much used every feature on the smartwatch, including wearing it while sleeping. The battery life on the Amazfit is still impressive despite falling short on the claims.

Should you buy the Huami Amazfit GTS?

The Huami Amazfit GTS is a good choice if you are not looking for a heavy-duty smartwatch. It is an Apple Watch clone with just the frills – if that’s what you want, a Rs 10k smartwatch is a decent deal. If you are someone looking for productivity out of the smartwatch, such as stringent measurement of health activities, I will suggest you skip the Amazfit GTS and rather go with the Honor Band 5, which is significantly cheaper. You can also try the Mi Band 4 that was recently launched for fitness purposes.

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