The Apple Watch has fantastic health-tracking features and is one of the best smartwatches you can buy. It does come at a price, and if you want the Series 4 (which is the latest model), it will cost you at least $400 -- although you can currently find the aluminum version a little cheaper on Amazon, or the Series 3 for just over .
There are less expensive alternatives from brands like Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung that, like the Apple Watch, can track workouts and get notifications. But even these non-Apple wearables can still be too expensive for many people's budgets. What if you could get a lot of what the Apple Watch offers at a much lower price?
One of the cheapest Apple Watch alternatives is the $80 Amazfit Bip. Unlike the Apple Watch, which is tied solely to iOS, the Bip is compatible with both Android and iOS. Out of all the other wearables available today, the Bip's ridiculously cheap price and track record of charming many a CNET editor put it in a strong position for a comparison against Apple's flagship.
Check out the video above for my full thoughts on how the Apple Watch Series 4 compares to the Amazfit Bip.
Apple Watch vs. Amazfit Bip
||Apple Watch Series 4||Amazfit Bip|
|Screen||40 or 44mm OLED Retina display with Force Touch||32.5mm LCD display (plus bezel)|
|Heart rate and GPS||Yes||Yes|
|Water resistance||Up to 50m||IP68|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, ECG, ambient light||Accelerometer, barometer, compass|
|Display glass||Ion-X or Sapphire Crystal||Gorilla Glass|
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Apple Watch wins at design, Bip wins at faces
When it comes to design, there's no contest: the Apple Watch is a premium smartwatch and it looks much more elegant on the wrist than the Bip. Different metal finishes and easy-to-swap bands allow you to really make it your own.
But the Amazfit Bip is no slouch when it comes to customization. Apart from choosing one of four colors, there's also a huge variety of third-party watch faces available (unlike the Apple Watch, although more first-party faces are coming in WatchOS 6). The Bip also has an always-on watch face, which I love.
The Bip ships with a watch strap that was way too long for my small wrist so I had to change it out to a shorter strap that I bought separately. I appreciate how the Apple Watch came with two different strap lengths.
Overall the Bip doesn't feel as nice as the Apple Watch on the wrist and it does feel a little plasticky with the strap that comes in the box. But it stood up to several of my sweaty workouts, bumps and scratches just fine.
Fitness and health tracking is basic but good on the Bip
Keeping an eye on your health and fitness goals is a big reason to get a smartwatch. If you are a runner, cyclist or outdoor walking enthusiast, there's not much you'll miss out on if you choose the Bip over the Apple Watch because both have GPS and do a great job at tracking outdoor workouts.
If your workouts are a little more complex (think sports like pilates, yoga, swimming) I'd suggest the Apple Watch. The Bip is limited to just four activity types while the Apple Watch has 12, including an "other" category for everything else.
I also love the ring-based system on the Apple Watch that motivates you to close rings for exercise, stand hours and move (or calorie burn) each day. The Bip doesn't really have a similar feature. You just see a calorie and step count on the screen.
Also, there are a lot of things the Amazfit Bip lacks compared to the new Apple Watch: an ECG or electrocardiogram app, high and low heart rate detection, plus fall detection. But if you don't want or need any of those features and are happy with a standard heart-rate tracker for workouts, the Amazfit Bip should meet your needs just fine.
Smartwatch features are stronger on the Apple Watch
Both watches let you get notifications from your phone. I like the more granular way of getting notifications in the Apple Watch app as it's a bit more comprehensive than what the Bip offers in the Mi Fit app. Replying to notifications is only possible on the Apple Watch and I like the choices you get including canned responses or having Siri dictate.
Music storage is only on the Apple Watch, but there is a way to get music control on the Bip using third-party apps like Amaztools on iOS or Tools and Amazfit for Android (at your own risk).
When it comes to software, WatchOS is much more robust than the Bip. It's a fully fledged smartwatch experience that offers lots of first-party apps that can do everything: From the excellent Activity app, to viewing and sending messages, to paying with your watch with Apple Pay. And it's fast.
The Bip's first-party apps are simple by comparison: Maybe that's not a bad thing if you crave a straightforward experience. But it's not overly fast in terms of responsiveness, and I could tell when the watch would often take a split second to catch up to my swipes and selections. The Bip offers Alipay for mobile payments but only works with cards issued in China.
Making and taking calls over LTE when you're away from your phone is only available on the Apple Watch, although it does cost an extra $100 for the cellular Watch version. You'll also have to pay extra each month on your cellular bill.
Battery life is Bip all day, every day
The Bip slays the Apple Watch in terms of battery life. You'll get 30 days from the Bip before you need to charge it again, whereas the Apple Watch lasts around a day and a half. If you use the Apple Watch for LTE calls away from your iPhone or to stream music while on a run, expect the battery to really take a beating.
If you use a third-party watch face on the Bip that involves movement (like a second hand), the battery generally doesn't last as long.
For a cheap smartwatch, the Amazfit Bip is incredibly good and really does give the Apple Watch a run for its money. As long as you're aware of exactly what features you get, the Bip is a great, affordable alternative.
Note that the Apple Watch Series 5 may be announced later this year and WatchOS 6 will bring additional features to existing Apple Watches, but for now, the Series 4 is the top model in the lineup. If you have your heart set on a cheaper Apple Watch, don't forget to look at the older generations, like the Series 1 and the Series 3.