Reflections: Amazfit Bip S and GTS

Introduction

The relatively unknown Huami is the Xiaomi subsidiary behind the Amazfit brand of wearables. In the span of only a few years, the Amazfit brand has grown from relative obscurity to being one of the better known names in wearables.

This probably has a lot to do with how Amazfit products have been undercutting others in pricing, while providing a solid feature set that rivals the competition.

Their first real breakthrough has been in the form of the diminutive Amazfit Bip. The Bip pretty much provided users with a long-runtime, GPS-equipped fitness tracker for a very low price.

Which brings us to a few years after that, with the more modern siblings of the Bip: The upgraded Bip S and the more upmarket GTS.

Let’s see if these “second-Gen” Amazfit products are worth looking at, and if the brand has any future ahead of it.

Especially with the successor of both (the Bip U Pro and GTS 2) having just been launched in China a few weeks back.

The Amazfit Bip S

Like the Bip before it, the plasticky Bip S feels more like a toy than a “serious” piece of fitness electronics. As we sift through the specs, however, it becomes clear that this “toy” does indeed pack some serious muscle.

  • 1.28″, 176×176 pixel color transflective screen, Always-On Display, 64 RBG color gamut, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3
  • Amazfit OS
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Heart Rate Sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor
  • Bluetooth 5.0/BLE, Compatible with Android 5.0+ and iOS 10.0+
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • 200mAh battery (15-day battery life quoted)
  • Non-magnetic Pogo-pin charging
  • 20mm quick-release silicone strap
  • 42 x 35.3 x 11.4 mm
  • 31 grams
  • MYR250 (~USD60) average price

Yes, you read that right. With other smartwatches quoting battery life in days, the Bip S (similar to the Bip) does so in weeks.

Similarly, was the almost unbelievable price point. At which you can normally only expect to get a basic fitness band with.

But, clearly, some sacrifices would have to be made to get it to this almost impossible price point, as we can see later on.

But first, let’s check out it’s more upscale brethren, the GTS.

The Amazfit GTS

Trading the very utilitarian transreflective screen of the Bip S with a stunning AMOLED one, and the fully plastic body with one with a bit more metal has really made clear the “upmarket” intentions of the GTS. The sleeker design and matte black paint also does help here somewhat.

Spec-wise, the GTS does not disappoint either.

  • 1.65″ AMOLED, resolution 348 x 442, 341ppi, 100% NTSC, always-on display, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3.
  • Amazfit OS
  • 5ATM water resistance
  • PPG Bio-Tracking Optical Heart Rate sensor, 6-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor, air pressure sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Bluetooth 5.0/BLE, Compatible with Android 5.0+ and iOS 10.0+
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • 220mAh battery (14-day battery life quoted)
  • Magnetic Pogo-Pin Charging
  • 20mm quick-release silicone strap
  • 43.25 x 36.25 x 9.4mm
  • 28 grams
  • MYR450 (~USD110) average price

A slight bump in the price tag accompanies the “upgrades” on the GTS. Which includes a better charging interface and a bevy of additional sensors. All with only a bit of quoted battery life drop.

But again, there are never free lunches in this world. Things aren’t always as rosy as a spec sheet alone would suggest, as we will soon find out.

Before we dive into the doom and gloom, however, let’s see what these two did RIGHT… and then we’ll see what they did WRONG.

Pros

Battery Life

For one, it’s pretty hard to argue that having battery life that are quoted in weeks rather than days is a huge boon in itself. That said, both the Bip S and the GTS fare more humbly in real life use.

The Bip S is able to stretch to about 8-9 days under normal loads with light GPS usage and constant heart monitoring, which is still very good.

The GTS fares a bit worse here, lasting more like 4-5 days under the same loads with the always-on-display turned on. With it turned off, it stays on for a bit longer (6-7 days).

Value for Money

A fully featured, GPS-equipped fitness tracker for USD60 and USD100 respectively are already noteworthy when the competition normally hovers more around the USD150-200 mark.

Add the fact that they also both record data for all sorts of fitness activities AND work with the ever-popular Strava, well, it’s pretty clear that you get a great deal for the money.

Third-party Software and Accessories

Owing to the large userbase, posaibly due to their attractive pricing; both devices are supported by a bevy of 3rd party companion software. The best one out of these has got to be Notify & Fitness, which extends the feature set of both devices even further.

Also, user-made watchfaces for both are readily available and are relatively easy to load up. Multiple third-party apps available to achieve just this.

Similarly, external “cases” and screen protectors readily exist for both (unlike for some more “niche” devices). The fact that they both use standard 20mm watch straps also mean that changing straps are a simple and inexpensive affair.

Cons

GPS Accuracy

Let’s be completely frank here: both watches are not really up to the kind of GPS accuracy you’ll get from a Garmin or a Suunto GPS-equipped fitness tracker.

Fortunately, the Bip S is at least serviceable in this regard, as long as you’re diligent at keeping its A-GPS data relatively updated from your paired smartphone.

The GTS, on the other hand, is simply atrocious at GPS accuracy at anything lower than 90% battery – even with A-GPS kept up-to-date.

Amazfit OS and Zepp

The proprietary software that runs both the Amazfits are – putting it lightly – clunky, not entirely smooth and not quite “smart” (in the sense that you’re not able to install any “apps” on it).

In a world of high-definition GUIs, velvety transitions and Ai-powered “auto-everything”, the Amazfit OS feels like it came from another era altogether.

For example, auto-workout pause/resume, step-sensing and sleep-sensing has been relatively suspect on both models. And the data collected can also be a bit… off.

Similarly not up to par is the Zepp (formerly known as Amazfit) app. While it does largely do what it’s supposed to, it more often than not fails spontaneously at things like relaying notifications from the phone to your Bip S/GTS. Or upgrading the firmware of either trackers. Or pushing your latest exercise data onto Strava.

It is a source of solace that third-party options do exist in terms of companion software (as can be seen from Pros above), but nobody should have to rely on external software to simply get things working “as intended”.

Non-Standardized Chargers

While this is not a specific knock on Amazfit, as most wearable companies are pretty guilty of this as well (Fitbit and Garmin being two of the most glaring offenders), but it would have been pretty nice if both the Bip S AND the GTS were to share the same nice magnetic charging mechanism that the GTS comes with.

Or you know, have multiple charging “heads” that you can hook up to a Type-C or something? Rather than having to pack up multiple types of cabled chargers every time you need to bring both Amazfits along on a trip.

Or better still, give both wireless charging capabilities.

Conclusion

It’s probably pretty clear by this point that both the Amazfit Bip S and GTS clearly are representative of what Amazfit has been so far: A very well priced alternative to the rest, but only if you don’t mind the consessions that had to be made to get there.

Granted, they have been steadily improving, and we can only expect better from the upcoming generation of Amazfit devices on the horizon.

That is, if they also manage to fix the rather glaring issues on the software side of things.

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