By Calvin Jones

When you think about wearable tech, you immediately think of the Apple Watch, Google’s Wear OS devices like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and of course the practically ubiquitous Fitbit (now owned by Google). Fitness bands and Smartwatches are booming, and with some of the newer devices on the market, the distinction between the two is blurring.

The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is one such device. With very strong fitness and health tracking credentials, this new flagship watch offers capable smartwatch functionality.

While it lacks some key elements you’ll find with likes of the latest Apple Watch or Wear OS devices (like built-in wifi/cellular connectivity, NFC payments and the availability of third-party apps), it blows the sector leaders out of the water for battery life, and still delivers an impressive suite of features that offer more than enough for most users.

Amazfit is a brand owned by Huami, which is a sub-brand of Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone company. It has earned a solid reputation for good value fitness trackers over recent years, and with its new GTR 3 and GTR3 Pro line, is moving closer to the premium smartwatch space.

So how well does its latest flagship smartwatch stack up?

Well, I’ve had a GTR 3 Pro on my wrist for a few weeks now, so let’s find out….

Amazfit GTR 3 Pro Smartwatch Reviewed

Build Quality and Design

The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is a beautifully made piece of technology. When you open the swanky looking box you’re greeted by a sleek 46mm classic round watch made of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy in a matt grey finish. My review unit came with a dark-grey fluoro-elastomer/silicone strap, but you can also opt for a brown leather strap if you prefer, or swap it out for any standard 22mm strap you like.

At 46mm this is a big watch, but thanks to its sleek, lightweight design (it weighs just 32g) it doesn’t feel overly bulky, or seem too big on your wrist (well, on my wrist, at least). What grabs your attention immediately, however, is the huge 1.45” Ultra HD Amoled display, which manages to look impressive even before you switch it on.

Amazfit GTR 3 Pro Smartwatch Reviewed

The watch has two buttons on one side of the case, The top button is also a rotatable crown that allows you to scroll through menus and adjust levels like brightness and volume without swiping the screen. You can wear the watch on either wrist, and can adjust its orientation in the app to suit.

The design of the GTR 3 Pro is classic, yet contemporary. It’s more sleek and elegant than sporty and is a watch that will be equally at home in the gym, in the office or on a night at the opera.

It lacks the military-grade ratings of its rugged stablemate the Amazfit T-Rex, yet still feels solid and robust. The watch is waterproof to 5 atmospheres (or 50m to you and me), so you can safely wear it in the shower, the pool or for your outdoor swim, where it will merrily track your swimming activity using one of its bewildering array of more than 150 sports modes.

Display

Star of the show here is undoubtedly the stunning AMOLED display. At 1.45” it’s one of the largest available on a smartwatch today, and with a 480×480 resolution, a pixel density of 331ppi and a max brightness of up to 1,000 nits it’s bright, vibrant and simply gorgeous to look at. Thanks to that brightness, it’s also easy to see outdoors, even in bright sunlight.

The display is smooth and responsive when scrolling through menus and swiping around the touch interface. If you don’t like the default watch face, or simply fancy a change, you can select from eight pre-installed watch faces, or pick from a library of more than 150 (and counting) custom watch faces, all with matching always-on-displays, available via the ZEPP app.

You’ll find everything from understated chic to full-on every-metric-under-the-sun options in there, and yes, you can upload your own photos to create a totally personal watch face if you want to.

Thanks to that AMOLED panel, you can enable the always-on display to see the time at a glance, set raise-to-wake options, define the time the display stays on for once active and a range of other customisations to make the display behave the way you want it to.

Interface

The interface is intuitive and easy to get to grips with. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen will show you notifications from your smartphone (you can choose which apps send notifications to the watch via the app), although these are read-only (at the moment you can’t respond to notifications via your watch).

Swiping down from the top brings you to a control panel offering quick access to common features like a Torch, Do not disturb, Theatre Mode, Brightness, Settings, etc. — like almost every screen, menu or list on the watch, this shortcut screen is fully customisable either on the watch itself or via the Zepp app, so you can decide what you want where and in what order.

Swiping left and right from the watch face will cycle through the various Quick Access apps and a Summary Page giving you a handy scrollable list of your key health metrics. Default quick access apps are Activity, Heart Rate, Weather, PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence — a handy personal index to track your activity levels) and music control (either music stored on the watch, or controlling music playback on your phone).

You can, of course, add and remove apps from this list and change their order to configure the quick apps any way you like. You can also customise the summary page to show the key metrics you’re most interested in, in any order you want.

By default, the top button either wakes the display to show the watch face or, if the display is already active, takes you into the app menu, where you can either swipe through the options or rotate the crown to scroll up or down through the app list.

The crown works really well, but one downside is that you can’t then click the button to select an option, you have to tap on the screen. It would be much more intuitive if clicking the crown activated the selected option. At the moment clicking the crown from within a list or menu takes you back to the watch face, but perhaps this feature is something that could be added in a future firmware update.

The bottom button, by default, takes you to the workout menu (you can configure it to do anything else in the settings), where you can select from one of the 150+ workout modes you’d like to track. Like pretty much everything else on this watch, you can customise the items and order in all of these menus/lists to suit your personal needs.

Voice Assistance

Long-pressing the top button activates the Alexa assistant (again this is customisable). You have to link the Zepp app to your Amazon account for this to work, and your watch must be connected to your smartphone. When not connected to your phone, the watch also has a built-in offline voice assistant that lets you perform basic functions like start a workout, open an app or control your music. To activate it you simply rotate your wrist back and forth.

While the watch has both a microphone and speaker on board (and can be used to make and answer phone calls via Bluetooth “on the wrist”), unfortunately, there is no text-to-speech functionality — so Alexa and the offline voice assistant will not give you a voice response… it’s just text on the screen.

Functionality

The Amazfit GTR 3, GTR 3 Pro and GTS3 are the first Amazfit watches to run the new ZeppOS, an in-house smartwatch OS that pairs with the Zepp app on your smartphone to offer a host of fitness tracking, health and smartwatch features. And they have a LOT of built-in features.

Sensors and connectivity

The feature list of the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is impressive. It can track a range of health metrics using its proprietary BioTracker™ 3.0 sensor array, featuring 6 photodiodes and 2 LEDs, and has a battery of activity monitoring sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, barometric sensor, ambient light sensor, temperature sensor and support for 5 different positioning systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BDS and QZSS).

The watch connects to your smartphone and pairs with the Zepp app via a rock-solid Bluetooth 5 connection and also supports 2.4GHz WiFi but, and it’s a big but, the WiFi is only used for rapid transfer of files to the watch… it doesn’t give the watch independent access to WiFi/Internet… which seems a bit of a missed opportunity.

Health Tracking and Sleep

I’m not a big fitness/workout person. I get my exercise mainly through walking while out doing other things… mostly wildlife watching and birding. So my main interest in a wearable device is keeping track of general health metrics like heart rate, general activity/step counts, and other key health indicators.

The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro covers all the bases, monitoring heart rate, activity levels, blood oxygen saturation, temperature (skin temperature where the watch is, which varies, and is different to core temperature, but can provide a useful baseline), breathing rate, stress level, and when enabled, it can track your sleep duration, quality and even monitor your breathing quality during sleep.

You can check each of these metrics on-demand via the watch interface, or set them up to monitor continuously in the background (although your battery life will take a hit with background monitoring of everything enabled).

Another handy feature is the One Press Monitoring option, where the watch takes a snapshot of four key health metrics simultaneously. A single tap gives you readings of your heart rate, blood oxygen level, stress level and breathing rate within 45 seconds.

Sleep tracking is pretty comprehensive — breaking down your sleep patterns into light, REM, deep sleep and awake times, showing where your sleep patterns fall outside recommended tolerances, and in the app letting you track your sleep quality over time.

It even recommends ways you can improve your sleep and can monitor sleep breathing quality and highlight potential issues (although this feature is still flagged as Beta in the app). You get a simple breakdown on the watch of your last night’s sleep, with a much more detailed analysis available via the app.

Learning more about my sleep has been one of the most interesting aspects of wearing this smartwatch.

Fitness and Workout Modes

Amazfit are best known for their fitness trackers, so it’s no surprise to find that their flagship GTR 3 Pro is replete with fitness tracking functionality.

Of course, there’s the basic always on step and calorie counting common to all fitness trackers, but the GTR 3 Pro offers detailed tracking of a mind-boggling array of workout types spanning the main categories of Running & Walking, Cycling, Swimming, Outdoor Workouts, Indoor Sports, Dance, Combat Sports, Ball Sports, Water Sports, Winter Sports, Leisure Sports, Board & Card Games and Others.

Quite why you’d want to monitor a game of bridge or darts is beyond me… but with more than 150 recognised activities to choose from, chances are that whatever you want to track, is going to be in there.

You can start and stop each workout manually on the watch, or, for eight key workout types, you can set the watch to automatically recognise and track the activity. I have mine set to automatically track walking and cycling, and it works well, although the watch has tracked the occasional short car journey as an outdoor cycle, so it’s not infallible.

When tracking a walk or cycle, the watch does an admirable job of recording the GPS tracking, heart rate, speed, intensity of exercise and lots of other useful workout-specific information too.

App store, yes 3rd party apps… not quite yet

Zepp OS is very new, and while it offers an app store, at the moment there are just a few home-developed apps in there you can choose to add to the watch (SOS Flashlight, Teeth-brushing Guide or Pregnancy Assistant anyone?). Whether third-party developers will embrace the Zepp App Store remains to be seen, but the potential is there, which has to be a good thing.

A limiting factor in terms of installing apps, if they become available, may be storage. With just 2.3GB of free storage onboard, that doesn’t leave much room for additional apps, especially if you intend to store music files on the watch for listening during workouts.

Battery Life

Battery life is an area where Amazfit devices often excel, and while the manufacturers claims can be on the ambitious side, and reflect having most of the features that make the watch worth having disabled, by and large, the battery life on the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is very good.

Amazfit claims 12 days of battery life during typical usage, which is impressive given the big, bright OLED screen and raft of features. In reality though, unless you disable most of the features, a more realistic guide is the 6-days Amazfit quotes for “heavy usage”. That’s basically what I’ve been getting with most functionality enabled. If you track a lot of workouts with GPS that could drop more — but then that’s to be expected.

Essentially it means I’m charging the watch roughly once a week with moderate to heavy usage. I usually stick it on charge when I’m sitting at my desk when it reaches 12% or so, and it takes about an hour and a half to reach 100%. An Apple or Samsung smartwatch would need charging every day, maybe two at a push.

Overall the battery life on the GRT 3 Pro is excellent — especially given the scope of functionality it offers, and how streamlined and lightweight the watch is.

Overall User Experience

My experience using the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro has been overwhelmingly positive.

It looks and feels great on the wrist, it helps me track key health metrics easily, gives me a fascinating insight into the quality of my sleep, and allows me to track everything I need seamlessly. Charging once a week is hardly a chore, and is quick and painless..

For all of its outstanding feature set, one of the most satisfying parts of wearing the GTR 3 Pro for me has been simply having a watch on my wrist again. For someone who’s grown used to checking their phone to tell the time, it’s incredibly refreshing.

On the downside, there have been a couple of quirks with the OS: a few spontaneous restarts and the occasional dropping out of tracking a workout for no apparent reason. But Zepp OS is new, and I’ve received three system updates to the watch during the few weeks I’ve been using it, so it looks like Amazfit isn’t slow at sending out updates as it irons out the glitches.

It would also be good to have the option of more 3rd party app integration via the Zepp OS App Store, and the lack of NFC payments is a shame, although not critical, as I tend to always have my phone with me for that.

Overall I’d highly recommend the GTR 3 Pro. It’s a smartwatch with excellent fitness tracking and health monitoring capabilities, combines great looks with a feature set that can give top brands a run for their money in most areas, and offers better battery life at a lower price.

Check out the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro on the Amazfit UK website, or pick yours up on Amazon here. RRP GB£179 c. €215

About the Author

Calvin Jones is an author and online content specialist based in West Cork Ireland. Alongside his writing projects, he runs Ireland’s Wildlife, helps small business clients improve their websites and reviews the latest tech gadgets.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerCJ

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/CalvinJones

 

 


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