It took me a long time to get interested in wearable devices, but OPPO finally got me on board when I got to review the OPPO Watch last summer. I've reviewed a couple of other smartwatches since then, and when Amazfit announced the new GTS 2e and GTR 2e at this year's CES, I was quite interested. I've heard about Amazfit quite a few times, but never got to try its devices, so this was exciting.
The company makes a whole lot of smartwatches, but it also makes other health-related devices, like scales, sports equipment, and even some earbuds. Getting acquainted with its ecosystem was one of the challenges of this review, specifically the Zepp app that's used to sync data from the watch to the phone.
Amazfit sent me two devices, the GTS 2e and GTR 2e, which are nearly identical aside from the shape and battery life. I decided to review the GTS 2e first, partly because it's the one I set up first in my unboxing video. I'll also be reviewing the GTR 2e, though.
|Body||42.8×35.6×9.7mm, 24.7g (without the strap)|
|Material||Aluminum frame, plastic back, tempered glass display cover|
|Strap||Silicone, user-replaceable, 20mm|
|Display||1.65-inch AMOLED, 442x348|
246mAh; up to 7 days heavy usage, 14 days typical usage, 24 days basic usage
Design and display
The design is one of the qualities that's easiest to appreciate in a smartwatch, and that's because, in that sense, they're just like regular watches. They're fashion pieces, so it's always good when they look nice. And I have to say, I quite like the look of the GTS 2e. The ever-so-slightly curved glass is elegant and smooth to the touch, making it very pleasant to use.
The dark grey metal frame looks great with the matte finish, and the way the side button fits into the body helps things come together much better. There's only one button on the watch, and it's on the right side by default, though you can change that.
The underside of the watch is made of plastic and houses all the health sensors, as you'd expect. There's also a small microphone hole on the backplate, but there's no speaker, so you can't take calls with it, though you can reject them from the watch. The microphone is here to use with the offline voice assistant, which can be used to start workouts, open apps, or change certain system settings.
The strap also has a nice feel to it as it's pretty soft to the touch and fairly malleable. If you don't like the color, there are two other options out of the box - Moss Green has a dark green strap and the casing is a lighter shade of gray, and Lilac Purple has a gold casing with a light purple strap. One benefit of this watch is that you can easily change the straps, so you can just buy anything else you prefer, as long as it uses a 20mm fit.
Like most smartwatches, the GTS 2e has an AMOLED display, and it looks great. AMOLED panels don't have any backlight since the pixels are self-emissive, so colors look vivid and blacks are truly black, which means that you can barely tell where the display ends and the bezel begins. The colors do look great on this watch, and with a resolution of 442x348, it's more than sharp enough for reading just about anything. It also supports automatic brightness, so it's always easy to see.
There's also support for an always-on display, of course, which will usually follow the watch face you set. They're pretty simple and just show the time, though, so there's nothing very fancy going on with them. I've said before that I don't personally care about this feature, and of course it will come at a cost in battery life, but it's here if you want it. The always-on display isn't very bright, though.
The Amazfit GTS 2e runs the company's own custom OS, and it has most of the features you'd expect. You have customizable watch faces, with a few choices out of the box and a few dozens more available through the Zepp app on your phone. Many of the watch faces can also be customized by changing the data they show, such as heart rate, weather, battery level, and so on. Like many other platforms, you can swipe down from the home screen to see a quick settings panel, swipe up to see notifications, and sideways to scroll through widgets as well as the shortcuts page.
Pressing the side button once opens the menu, and pressing it twice can be set as a shortcut for any of the apps on the watch. The menu has the following apps:
- Activity goal
- Heart Rate
- Music (only controls media playback from your phone)
- Widgets (Compass, Barometric Altimeter, Timer, Count down, Find Mobile)
Most of these apps can have quick access widgets that are accessed by swiping sideways from the watch face, and some of them can also have cards on a shortcut cards page. Swiping right from the watch face takes you to the shortcut page, which has a summary of information from different apps, including heart rate, weather, PAI, and more with links to the full apps. Alternatively, you can swipe left to see widgets that are essentially the full version of the respective app, but accessible directly from the watch face. You can also keep swiping either way to see all the widgets or the shortcut page. Both types of shortcuts can have their use, but they end up feeling a bit redundant when they're accessed in pretty much the same way. Also, if you've played music recently on your phone, the shortcut page will sometimes refresh to add a music card at the top, even if you're not playing music anymore, which is annoying. You can't make it so that the Music card stops showing up, either.
Notifications are one of the key features of smartwatches for me, and the implementation here is good. Calls, SMS, and app notifications can all be shown on the watch, and by default, app notifications are all turned off, which I like. I only allow a handful of apps to notify me on the watch, so it's easier to enable the ones I really need than to disable the ones that annoy me. You can't interact with notifications aside from dismissing them, but that's pretty common for most smartwatches that don't run Wear OS. Also, the watch clips words at the end of a line instead of keeping them intact when viewing a notification. These are minor issues, though.
Another noteworthy feature of the watch isn't listed on the menu, but it's an offline voice assistant. It's used to change some system settings, start workouts, or play music, but the way it's activated makes it more trouble than it's worth to me. If you head into the settings, you can activate three different ways to use the assistant - have it activated for 5 seconds after the screen turns on, for 5 seconds after turning your wrist, or have it always on while the screen is on. Personally, I prefer the second option since it's the most intentional, but I wish I could just press and hold the side button to avoid accidental activations. Also, I have to wonder how many people will find this more useful than something like Alexa integration, which Amazfit offers on the much cheaper Bip U smartwatch.
Aside from the general software features, there's of course the health tracking. The GTS 2e supports just over 90 sports tracking modes (I counted manually, there's 92), plus automatic workout detection for some kinds of workouts, and it has all-day heart rate monitoring, stress monitoring, sleep tracking, a thermometer, and SpO2 measurements.
Amazfit also has a cool feature called personal activity intelligence (PAI), which is a pretty interesting tool to see your overall fitness state. You earn points from performing different kinds of exercises, though Amazfit says exercise data isn't taken into account by itself, and the ultimate goal is to keep an overall score of 100, which takes into account data from the last seven days. The closest equivalent I can think of is the heart points in Google Fit, but points in PAI are harder to earn, and it gets harder the more you get used to exercising, so the 100-point goal feels like a lofty ambition. I think that's good, though, it gives me more motivation to work harder, and it contributes to overall better health. The concept of PAI was invented by Norwegian researcher Ulrik Wisløff, and it's not exclusive to Amazfit by any means, but it's cool to have it so easily accessible and tied directly to your daily activity.
I also want to briefly touch on the thermometer, mostly because it feels kind of worthless. Being on your wrist and so easily affected by the temperature around you, it's almost never accurate. During the day, it almost always shows my temperature to be around 26°C (the human body temperature should usually be around 36°C to 37°C). The temperature information doesn't even sync to the app on the phone. The temperature sensor is the only thing the GTS 2e has over the regular GTS 2, but it adds nothing. If the goal with the 2e was to cut costs, this was certainly an unnecessary addition.
The watch has a few customization options and settings for some things I'm not used to seeing. One thing that's noteworthy is that you can change whether you want to have the physical button on the left or right side of the watch, which basically rotates the interface 180 degrees. That's something that could definitely make things more usable if you don't like the usual layout. On that note, the side button has a shortcut for double-pressing, which you can set to almost any of the apps on the watch.
Health tracking and the Zepp app
Amazfit watches connect with the Zepp app - formerly Amazfit - for Android or iOS, and this serves as the hub for all your health data. It's built to store data from the entire Amazfit ecosystem, as well as some manual data for things like circumference measurements of your chest, calves, and so on. You can build a pretty complete picture of your overall fitness and health status if you have the tools to measure all the data, but that also makes the Zepp app feel a bit too complicated in my opinion.
You start with the home screen, which isn't too far off from similar health apps, but the cards seen here are dynamic, and you can't customize them yourself. What you see on this home page is based on what's been updated more recently, so things like heart rate, stress, and sleep will almost always be here, but other things won't be as easily accessible. Because the app can store so many types of data, this approach makes sense to avoid cluttering the interface too much, but it's not perfect and it can definitely feel a bit overwhelming for first-timers. For example, I wish the card at the end of the list - which has quick shortcuts to pretty much all types of data you can register - was customizable, so even if something doesn't get updated as often, I could choose what I want to find more easily. The full list is still accessible in the top right corner of the screen, so the card itself should be customizable.
There are also some problems with some of the health tracking features of the app and the watch, though some have already been fixed or improved through updates during my review. For example, in the heart rate history, it's common for a resting heart rate to not be determined, and sometimes data would be missing in a few gaps, even if the watch itself appeared to show data for the whole day. This is one of the things that was improved, though it's still not perfect. What hasn't been improved all that much is the stress monitoring. To be fair, the app does warn me that I need to be still for stress monitoring to work properly, but the gaps in data are so big throughout the day that it doesn't really feel like it's doing its job. It's only ever consistent when I'm sleeping.
Speaking of which, sleep tracking is also here and works pretty well, complete with a scoring system and individual indicators to let you know what you need to improve. You can also log information about what you did before sleeping and your mood in the morning, so you can more clearly see the relationship between those things and your sleep quality. Not all types of data are enabled by default, though. For example, the sleep breathing monitor needs to be enabled in the device settings (more on that later), and REM sleep is only available if you enable the sleep assistant feature, also in the device settings. Both of these increase the power consumption, however.
One thing I was pretty happy to see in the app is that it can sync with Google Fit, which is my default platform for fitness tracking, but this has its problems, too. My heart rate history and sleep information does sync, but my workouts don't. Weirdly enough, a bunch of walks show up as workouts on Google Fit, synced from Zepp, even though they're not actual workouts in the Zepp app.
The other big aspect of the Zepp app is managing your connections to Amazfit devices, and you can use the app to change a lot of settings for the watch here. This includes downloading watch faces, changing the location for the weather information, setting alarms, changing notification settings, and a lot more. But once again, there are some weird decisions here. Some of the settings here are duplicated from the watch, but others are only available in the app, and some are only on the watch, even when many settings are clearly related to each other.
For example, if you want to change which side you want the physical button to be on (by rotating the interface), you have to use the watch, but if you want to choose which wrist you're wearing the watch on, it has to be on the phone. Neither one has both settings. Similarly, the watch itself lets you change the "quick access" apps - the panels that live to the right side of the watch face - but if you want to change the shortcuts on the shortcut page (on the left of the watch face), you have to do it in the app.
I've already mentioned a few complaints with the software, but I'll add a couple more. The weather app on the watch gets data from the phone through the Zepp app, but the app only syncs said data when I open it. It's not that the app isn't running, notifications still come through, but the weather data won't sync. On another note, when I check my exercise records for the past seven days, the graph on top only shows my mileage, so if you have registered workouts that aren't measurable in distance, they just aren't represented on the graph (though they're still visible under it). You can't change it to just display calories burned or workout times, for instance, though the graph will change units if you change the filter to only show workouts that don't have distance associated with them. It's just not intuitive.
At this point, I've written a ton of complaints with this device and app because I feel I need to mention these issues, but the truth is most of them are small things, they're just weird decisions or minor software bugs. I think these things can be improved with updates if Amazfit is listening, and I'm hoping they do get better. I don't think the current state of the software is enough to say this is a bad product, but it does make it harder to recommend.
Performance and battery life
There's not really a lot to say in terms of performance with a lot of smartwatches that are more fitness-oriented, and the specs on this watch are a mystery because it runs a pretty simple operating system. In that sense, this is most comparable to something like the Honor Watch ES I reviewed a while back, but I have to say I prefer the experience on this one for the most part. The overall experience feels a bit smoother and I prefer navigating this interface to Huawei's LiteOS. Aside from that, the best I can say is I haven't had any issues, which is all I can ask for with this kind of product.
As for battery life, the Amazfit GTS 2e is pretty fantastic in my opinion. Amazfit gives you three types of estimates - 24 days for basic usage, 14 days for typical usage, and seven days for heavy usage. Those numbers seem to overshoot a bit, and with a full charge, I've managed to get six days out of it both times. I did enable a few health tracking options that aren't enabled out of the box, though. For one of the charges I went through, I had increased the heart rate monitoring frequency to five minutes, enabled stress monitoring, and sleep breathing monitoring, which is a beta feature. For the second charge, I changed the heart rate detection frequency back to 10 minutes, but enabled the sleep assistant to get more detailed data, such as detecting REM sleep. I also do a few workout sessions per week, usually lasting around 40 minutes, which increases battery usage.
Again, this draws comparisons to the Honor Watch ES, which had a similar form factor and lasted me five days, with roughly the same feature set as far as health 24/7 health monitoring goes. An extra day is still an improvement, and you can tweak a lot of these features to save battery by reducing how often it checks your heart rate, disabling the advanced sleep monitoring, or just not enabling things like sleep breathing monitoring.
I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for this watch. I love the design here, and the fluidity of the experience in general makes it so that I often find myself just swiping through the quick access apps as a sort of fidget toy. It just feels nice to use and look at, and it's certainly a device I wouldn't mind keeping on my wrist permanently.
On top of that, the battery life is great, even if a bit below what I expected based on the promotional materials, and it has all the features I need a smartwatch to have. That said, as I've mentioned before, I do like the ability to respond to notifications, which I can't do here, so that will always be a problem for me personally, but I think most users won't consider that essential.
However, it's impossible for me to overlook all the little frustrations I've had with the watch and the Zepp app. It took me a while to get familiar with the app because of the way everything is presented and settings are split between the watch and the app. And it bothered me quite a bit that weather data doesn't sync continuously in the background, especially when I wanted to have a weather complication on my watch face.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for most will be the way some health data isn't recorded properly, particularly stress levels throughout the day. The fact that syncing with Google Fit doesn't record all my workouts might also be a problem. Those are real issues with features that are at the core of what this product is meant to do, and they're potentially the biggest detractor for those looking to buy a smartwatch.
I would be lying if I said I didn't like my time with the Amazfit GTS 2e, but if you want it right now, you need to be aware of its problems and be okay with them. If you're interested in it, you can buy the Amazfit GTS 2e for $139.99 in the U.S., or get it straight from Amazfit for €129.90 in Europe. Alternatively, you can check out my review of the Honor Watch ES to see if that's a better fit for you.
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