Xiaomi was always releasing products ranging from decent to great. The last couple of years, the Chinese company clearly aims to customers of both Europe and US, so is now even more careful when Western world usage is concerned. By teaming up with Huami (the second biggest wearables manufacturer in the world) the Xiaomi Amazfit Pace smartwatch ends up to be a both very capable and affordable proposal, clearly aiming for fitness tracking purposes.
Packaging – Specifications
Packaging is typical for a smartwatch. The Amazfit is adequately protected and is showcased from the see-through plastic cover at the front. Inside you will find the micro-USB charging cable and the charging dock/adaptor for the magnetic charging.
Specifications are certainly above average. At the price point of a branded single fitness tracker with a very small screen, the Amazfit offers a generous 1.34inch rounded display. As expected, there is also a GPS a gyroscope and a heart rate sensor.
The internals feature a dual core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of ROM size being up to par with the majority of smartwatches currently on sale (excluding of course the higher end ones).
The OS is based on Android, but is not implementing any Android Wear version.
Build Quality – Display
You definitely get more than what you paid for with the Amazfit smartwatch. The watch case’s top bezel is made of a polished dark ceramic that is supposed to be scratch resistant to a great level. Don’t expect a zephyr glass protection at this price point though. The design is really good with smooth rounded edges and a generous size that fits to big wrists as well. There is only one physical button at the top right position to wake up the device. Its 54g weight is not noticeable by your hand wrist and a 24/7 usage/wear is hassle free.
The silicon based 22mm wrist band of our version was dual colored in black (front) and orange (back) suited both for casual and sports wear. You can switch to a wrist band of your liking by replacing it with any 22mm wrist band you want.
A dust and water protection is also included with an IP67 rating which means that you can wear it in a pool or when showering.
The display is the stand out point of the Amazfit. Unfortunately it is not an AMOLED one, but its high brightness combined with the screen’s special coating make it useable at all sun light scenarios. Initial firmware versions had only automatic screen brightness, but the latest ones allow you to select through various steps with an off option included as well. Still, the auto brightness options appears to be the best choice. Its resolution (320×300) is good enough for showing both sharp text and pleasing graphics (charts and icons).
The screen is always on ,but dimmed, and upon wrist movement the screen’s brightness turns on (sometimes it takes more than one effort to do so).
Software – Battery Life
The Amazfit’s large screen is capable of showing all desired information so a constant connection to a smartphone is not mandatory. The user interface is basic but in a good way. It is just not polished as Samsung’s Gear or Apple’s Watch series.
Browsing through the menus requires pressing the hardware button to wake up and unlock the device and afterwards swipe to access all tabs/functions. A double tap to wake/unlock would be nice but pressing the hardware button is not a deal breaker even though it is not the better way to access your smartwatch while running.
Besides normal use (no fitness mode, just tracking steps, heart rate, sleep, weather and app sync) there are sport options to select from. These include run, walk, run indoor, bike, bike indoor, climb, trail run and elliptical. The majority of the aforementioned were added later with a software upgrade so make sure you upgrade your device immediately.
Measurements for each mode are fairly accurate and I can only speak for heart rate (compared to a dedicated device), steps and bike mode.
GPS works well but it takes at least a minute to lock properly.
All activities and measurements can be uploaded to the smartphone application (both for Android and iOS devices) that has a way more polished design compared to Amazfit’s on-screen display. The pairing uses the BT protocol and through your account, all results can be uploaded to more than one devices.
You will also find a compass (works well) and a basic music player. For the later, you simply connect the Amazfit to your computer using the micro-USB cable and you just copy your music files to the internal storage (~2.2GB available). After that you only have to pair your BT earphones with the Amazfit and you are ready to go. No need to carry your phone with you to listen to music while exercising.
Although you are able to upload faceplates of your own, you will find more than twenty available for you to select from. They vary from casual/everyday ones to dedicated for fitness tracking. The included options should be enough for the majority of owners.
Battery life is also great, considering the display is always on. With normal use (no activity/sport selected) the battery life will get you up to four or five days before the need for re-charging. With that you get steps, heart rate, and sleep measurements and also weather updates and notifications from your smartphone (calls, messages, Skype, Facebook etc.). Using an activity mode will drain the battery faster but you can rest assured that it will last the day no matter what.
Battery charging through the magnetic dock will take more than two hours for a complete charge of the 280mAh battery.
You can’t go wrong with the Xiaomi (Huami) Amazfit smartwatch. Its build quality, design, features, performance and battery life usually belong to a price point several times bigger than the one you will pay for. You will be able to find it online at a price ranging from 100-140$ which makes it a very tough one to beat.
We would like an OLED display, but that would lead to an increased price not necessarily desired from Xiaomi.
At the end, the Xiaomi Amazfit Pace is the only capable and affordable smartwatch currently available. There are some minor omissions (LCD display), but are easily justified by the price and the overall performance.
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