The Amazfit GTS smart watch has a high resolution AMOLED always-on display, heart rate and sleep monitoring, and built in GPS tracking with 12 activity types. All contained in a thin 50m waterproof aluminium body with up to 14 days of battery life.
For around £110 or $140 it sounds good value. But it’s considerably more expensive than the still popular Amazfit Bip I reviewed a while back, and it’s not far off the price of comparable offerings from big names like Garmin.
Let’s find out if it’s any good.
In the box, you get the watch itself with the strap already installed, a proprietary magnetic charging cable, and an instruction manual.
It’s difficult not to compare its design to an Apple Watch, it looks very similar but with a basic central button on the side, rather than the off center Apple Watch digital crown. It’s well made with a Gorilla glass touch screen, aluminium surround and what feels like a hard plastic bottom housing the heart rate sensor.
The included black strap is made from relatively thin silicone with a standard buckle, but you can get replacement 20mm straps fairly cheaply off Amazon or eBay. Changing the strap is straightforward and tool-free, you just use your fingernail to release the catch.
The watch is a little thicker and heavier than the Bip at 11mm including the heart rate monitor bump and weighs 39g with the strap. But it’s still slightly lighter and thinner than an Apple Watch Series 4.
It’s worth noting that there are two versions of the Amazfit GTS. I have the international version that doesn’t have NFC for contactless payments but there’s also a Chinese version that does.
You’ll need to download the accompanying Amazfit fit app from Google Play or the Apple App store. The instruction manual has a QR code you can scan to take you straight to the app’s download page, but this gave a page not found which wasn’t a great start. After manually downloading and launching the Amazfit Watch app, you’ll be prompted to sign in.
Turning the watch on for the first time with the side button, prompted a factory reset which seemed a little strange. After the reset, you’re ready to app with the watch. Tap the “plus” icon and choose the Amazfit GTS from the Watches sub-menu. Hold the phone over the watch’s QR code and accept the pairing request. Let the app download any updates to the watch, which takes 5 minutes or so.
Charging the 220mAh lithium-ion polymer battery takes around two hours from flat. The charging cable has a magnetic receptacle that will only snap into place one way around.
Most of the configuration for the watch is done through the Amazfit app. Tap on the Profile tab and then Amazfit GTS under My devices. You’ll see the current charge status.
I quite like the default watch face, but you have a wide range of watch faces to change it to. Just tap on the watch face you like and let it sync across.
You can turn on incoming call alerts which will display the name of any known contacts if you have that setting turned on. You can’t answer phone calls, you can only reject them if you’re busy, but it’s still useful seeing who’s calling you.
You can set alarms from the app – the watch will vibrate when the alarm goes off.
Under App alerts you can control what notifications you’ll get. I have WhatsApp turned on. For some reason, you’ll need to go into More | Incoming SMS to turn on notifications for SMS messages. You can’t respond to any messages.
Find watch will vibrate your watch if it’s in Bluetooth range.
Activity heart rate sharing will let compatible devices use the watch’s heart rate monitor as an external sensor. For example, if you wanted to run with the iSmoothrun app on your phone, you can search for external sensors and tap on the Amazfit GTS. You will need to start an activity on the watch for the heart rate to get updated.
You also need to confirm which wrist you have your watch on and you can configure when “lift wrist to view info” is active. If you’re going to wear the watch for sleep tracking, I’d change this to daytime hours only.
Heart rate detection method can be set to “Automatic heart rate detection & sleep assistant” for the most accurate continuous heart rate monitoring 24 hours a day, at the expense of battery life. I leave the detection frequency at a minute and turn activity detection on.
Display settings lets you choose your watch pages. You can rearrange their order and hide pages you don’t want to see.
The Vibration setting lets you configure custom vibration alerts that you can set for varying notifications. Tap on the plus button and then tap the watch icon to define your own alert.
Here’s also where you configure your location for the weather forecast.
If we go back you can also set your steps goal under My goals | Activity goal and under Add accounts you can connect to Strava so theoretically you can sync your activities across.
However although I could easily connect my Strava account, the app instantly forgot the setting which meant this feature didn’t work. I did contact support, but two weeks on there’s still no fix.
The AMOLED display protected by Gorilla glass is by far the most impressive feature of the watch. Its 341 PPI screen looks as sharp and clear as that of an Apple Watch Series 4 costing over three times the price. It has an anti-fingerprint coating and feels very smooth to the touch.
Depending on your watch face, it can look like the display extends all the way to the soft rounded edges of the screen, but there is in fact an approximately 4mm bezel. The screen measures 40mm by 35mm with the display occupying roughly 33mm by 26mm.
Long pressing the screen lets you quickly change watch faces. You can tap on the edit icon to configure a watch face. You can customise the various modules by tapping on them and scrolling through the available options. These can display live info like heart rate or steps, or they can just be shortcuts to some of the watch functions like Music that I’ll cover shortly.
Different watch faces have different widgets that can be customised but it is impressive the amount of customisation that’s available.
Swiping left and right switches between steps and heart rate. The side button will always take you back to the home page.
Swiping down from the home page confirms pairing to your smartphone and battery remaining, in the top left in a very small font.
The central icons turn torch mode on and off which is just a white screen; and controls Do not disturb mode, the auto brightness setting, and screen lock. Swipe up or press the side button to return to the home page.
Swiping up from the home page you can access the various screens you chose earlier in Display settings. These will vary depending on what you have configured, but I’ll cover some of the interesting ones. Swiping right goes back.
In Settings you can choose your watch faces from the ones that come with the watch or any you’ve synced across from the app.
You can configure the screen time-out under Screen auto-off.
Press and hold configures what a long press of the side button activates. By default it starts a workout, but you can change that here to your preferred function.
Raising your wrist or tapping the screen activates the screen. By default it’s blank when not woken up, but you can turn Always on display to have the time displayed throughout the day. Make sure you have the latest firmware to see this feature. This will reduce battery life, but it’s a feature only introduced to the Apple Watch in its current Series 5 version.
Music will let you control anything currently playing on your phone or through any Bluetooth headphones connected to your phone. Music and podcasts could be controlled off my iPhone. You can pause and play music, skip tracks and adjust the volume, which is all very convenient. If you use this a lot it might be more useful to set a long press of the side button to take you straight to this page. Or at least have a shortcut configured on your watch face.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work with the YouTube app but it worked with most other apps I tried including Spotify and Amazon Music and the native Music and Podcasts apps on iOS.
Notifications flash up on the screen, but to access them after that you need to go the Notifications screen. You can swipe left to delete a notifications or scroll to the bottom to delete them all.
Under More there’s a compass and you can scroll down for an Air pressure gauge and an Altimeter. There’s also a stopwatch and a countdown timer.
The latest update brought a new PAI or Personal Activity Intelligence function. Basically one number that indicates your activity level based on heart rate rather than steps. You’re meant to strive for 100 PAI points a day. I haven’t used this enough yet to determine if it provides valuable data or not.
You can’t access sleep stats from the watch, you need to use the accompanying app.
I’ll cover workouts and activities and sleep shortly. You can press the side button to return to the home screen, or swipe right.
The Amazfit Bip seems to last forever between charges but I wasn’t sure how the GTS would fare with it’s significantly upgraded screen. Amazfit quote 14 days of daily use with heart rate and sleep monitoring on and three 30 minutes GPS workouts a week.
It’s hard to explicitly test this since it depends so much on how you use your watch, but I’ve had everything on including the always on display. I’ve worn it 24 hours a day for sleep monitoring too, and I’ve done long bike rides and runs with GPS on. I’ve only charged it a couple of times in the last two weeks. And it wasn’t even empty when I did. That is to say, battery life is still very good. I’m not sure it’s quite 2 weeks and it’s not as long as the almost 1 month of the Amazfit Bip but it’s considerably more than most smart watches I’ve tried. I have to charge my Apple Watch every day!
The Amazfit GTS makes a pretty good watch if you’re interested in sleep monitoring. It’s lightweight so isn’t too noticeable on your wrist and all you need to do is wear the watch to bed. It will automatically determine when you go to sleep, and will monitor how well you slept. It’s best to turn on Sleep assistant for more accurate results, under heart rate detection method in the Amazfit App as already discussed.
I measured sleep with my Apple Watch Series 4 via the Autosleep app since there’s not native sleep app, the Sleep Cycle app on my iPhone rested on my bedside table and the Amazfit GTS.
Results varied by were generally in line with each other. I haven’t found any sleep monitoring solutions that reliably measure awake time – for me at least. And I don’t put an awful lot of trust into how these apps determine light and deep sleep and whether it really matters anyway.
But they’re handy for checking how much sleep you got, and the Amazfit GTS is a good solution for sleep tracking, if that’s something you’re after in a smart watch.
The Bip was a competent smart watch with great battery life but it wasn’t a great GPS watch. There were only a few activities you could track, heart rate monitoring wasn’t particularly accurate and most annoyingly it was difficult exporting your activities to platforms like Strava,
The GTS offers 12 activity types that you can choose from including swimming, now that the watch is fully waterproof. By default to start a workout you long press the side button. Depending on your activity type you’ll get varying pages you can scroll through during the activity. The time is still displayed in a small font in the top right, but you can’t access any other functions of the watch while the activity is in progress. So for example, you can’t control your music during a run. You long press the side button to end the workout.
I was encouraged to see Strava syncing is now available in the Amazfit app. But as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get this to work, on iOS at least. I had to turn to the third party AmazTools app which does support syncing to Strava and exporting in various file formats. But sometimes activities don’t sync across from the watch to this app so it’s still a frustrating experience actually getting activities off the watch.
I tested out the heart rate monitor against the reliable Wahoo TickrX external heart rate strap paired to my Apple Watch Series 4 for running and a Garmin Edge 1000 for cycling. I used the DC Rainmaker Analysis tool to compare the results.
For running it took almost 20 minutes for the watch to start capturing meaningful data and it did then follow the general trend of the external heart rate strap. Although there were still lots of random variations and spikes and it’s not capturing heart rate every second like the chest strap.
It did a worse job of capturing a mountain bike ride. There were periods of the ride where the watch and heart rate strap tracked for a bit, but they were few and far between.
Results from wrist based heart rate monitors do vary with different people, so you may have better results. I always made sure the strap was a tight fit on my wrist and I even purchased a velcro strap for the GTS, for an even better fit, which did improve accuracy a little. But overall I would have trouble recommending this watch if accurate heart rate data is important to you. And unfortunately, unlike some models in Amazfit’s range like the Stratos 3 and Verge 2, you can’t just pair an external heart rate strap if you do want reliable data. It’s worth pointing out that the Apple Watch which is far more expensive and is meant to have one of the best wrist based HR monitors available, often isn’t perfect itself.
Continuous heart rate monitoring seemed to work ok and it’s nice to get an indication of your resting heart rate, usually a good indicator of your current fitness level. There’s no capability to measure ECG like on the Apple Watch.
The good news is that if you’re not too concerned with heart rate, the GPS track was pretty close to the Garmin and Apple Watch. GPS does take a little time to get a lock, but you can still start the activity and the watch will vibrate when it locks onto the satellites, usually within a minute. And since GPS is built into the watch you can leave your phone behind.
And step tracking, now a pretty mature technology appeared in line with an Apple Watch and a smartphone.
As a smartwatch the Amazfit GTS does a good job. At first glance it’s very difficult to tell apart from an Apple Watch costing far more. And when the display lights up it’s hard not be be wowed. And there’s a huge range of watch faces which are easy to configure to your tastes.
If you’re mainly using the watch as a smartwatch and for step tracking, I think you’d be more than happy with it. Glancing down at your wrist to see a notification, or who’s calling you is very handy. As is quickly seeing what the weather’s doing or controlling your music with your phone still in your pocket.
If you’re buying it as a GPS watch for running or cycling, it works fine for tracking GPS but heart rate monitoring wasn’t reliable, for me at least. And I really hope they sort out easily syncing to Strava or other ways to export your activities.
Which brings me to the price. If you’re mainly after a good looking smartwatch with excellent battery life, the price tag is competitive, especially when you consider the display.
If you’re after a watch for tracking your workouts, with some smartwatch functionality there are similar priced options from Garmin and others that would most likely be a better option. For example the Garmin Forerunner 35 albeit with a non-touch monochrome LCD screen.
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