Amazfit Bip review: Why can’t more smartwatches be like the Amazfit Bip?

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The Good The Amazfit Bip is a complete fitness smartwatch that's a remarkable bargain. It has an always-on display, weeks-long battery life, plus extras like heart rate, GPS and water resistance. Works with Android and iOS. Gets notifications.

The Bad Plastic design and limited watch faces aren't as flashy as premium smartwatches. Mi Fit app isn't as refined as Fitbit for fitness or health tracking. No installable apps. Onboard features like stopwatch/timer can't run in background.

The Bottom Line The Amazfit Bip is affordable, has fantastic battery life, and is the best low-key casual smartwatch around. It's a fine replacement for your old-school Pebble, minus the apps.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Battery 9
  • Performance 7
  • Software 7
  • Features 8

I've come to a realization about wearable tech: more smartwatches need to be a bit more like the Amazfit Bip. As in: easy, cheap, and with excellent battery life. 

After spending a few weeks living with the Amazfit Bip smartwatch, I'm still struck by how great this thing is, given its rock-bottom price: $80. In the UK it can be had for £70, or AU$99 in Australia, and it's often on sale for a bit less in all three locales. This is a watch that crept out of nowhere, surfaced through online sales: it's made by Huami, a company that also makes all of Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi's wearable devices, like the Mi Band 2. Huami's own wearable brand is Amazfit, and the company's low-priced Amazfit Bip is widely available to US customers on Amazon. By great, I mean fine and basic and functional. And, maybe, for some, that's what matters most.

"What's the catch?" you're thinking. Because there's no way this budget smartwatch can be as good as the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch Series 1, which cost more than two and three times as much, respectively. And, yes, the Amazfit software is a bit rough around the edges, and syncing with Android phones and iPhones ($400 at Amazon) can sometimes be frustrating. But, this is the truest spiritual follow-up to the old Pebble 2 watch that exists. Fitbit may own Pebble's sofware, but Amazfit owns the Pebble hardware feel.

Xiaomi Huami AMAZFIT Bip

Always-on screen. Just like Pebble -- and no one else, really.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In terms of basic convenience, the Amazfit Bip actually surpasses some important basic aspects of those models. It's got an always-on display that's easy to read in direct sunlight, and its battery can go for weeks between charges. (Yes, you read that correctly.) And yet it still packs heart rate tracking, GPS and basic notifications from your phone. It's water resistant, too.  

Other Bip devotees at CNET have been wearing the watch even longer than I have: Rick Broida has been singing its praises for months, and now Jeff Bakalar, who sits across from me at the office, is a convert. (Jeff bought a Fitbit Versa, hated it, returned it, bought a Bip, and has been thrilled.)

So, no, the Amazfit Bip isn't as slick or as polished as the Versa or the Apple Watch ($169 at Best Buy). But if you're looking for a full-on smartwatch for less than the cost of most basic fitness trackers, the Amazfit Bip delivers. At $80 or less, it's an easy choice for the best smartwatch bargain out there.

Xiaomi Huami AMAZFIT Bip

Apple Watch Series 3 in steel (left), Amazfit Bip (center), Fitbit Versa (right)

Sarah Tew/CNET

Marathon battery life: Think weeks, not days

After coming from most everyday smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa, the Bip's battery life is stunning: think weeks, not days. Its display is always-on, like the Pebble watch ($70 at eBay). I've gotten to around two weeks on a single charge with always-on heart rate and a bunch of notifications, and a watch face that updates the seconds, so it's always in motion. You could do even better by adjusting heart-rate ping in settings, or changing watch faces. Amazfit promises 45 days (yes, you read that right) of battery if you don't keep heart rate always-on.

Honestly, the battery life's already so long that I keep forgetting where the charger is. The Bip uses a weird proprietary charger like all wearables do. The Amazfit Bip charger's cradle design is big but similar to the Fitbit Versa charger design.

But I love that I can wander around and not worry that my watch's battery is about to die.

Xiaomi Huami AMAZFIT Bip

Say goodbye to this charger, because you're not going to see it again for a few weeks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The always-on display has already spoiled me

Much like the old Pebble watches, the Amazfit Bip uses a transflective color display that's like an old color Game Boy (before the backlit ones). It gets better the more direct light is on it. In bright sun, it's wonderful. In dimmer light, it's a little tougher to read, but there is a backlight that kicks in when you raise the watch up or press the side button.

Having an always-on display, of course, means I'm not doing some weird wrist-raise or tap to see what the time is or how many steps I've walked.

Now playing: Watch this: The Amazfit Bip is a steal at $70

Small, but studded with specs

It's rated as water resistant (IP68), which is shower-friendly but technically not swim-friendly. But I've used it in the pool for hours and it was fine (your mileage may vary). It has heart-rate tracking. It can get phone notifications. It has onboard GPS.

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