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This Apple Watch copycat is surprisingly good for just $18

Back in stock, lower price. The ID205 offers notifications, fitness tracking, heart-rate monitoring and more.

letsfit-id205-watch

The ID205 looks a bit like the Apple Watch, but costs significantly less.

Rick Broida/CNET

How good can a supercheap smartwatch possibly be? Turns out, surprisingly good, if you keep your expectations in check. See, these wearables claim to be jacks of all trades -- fitness tracking, heart-rate monitoring and so on -- but often prove to be masters of none. And that's OK, provided they're effective at some things, which many are. For example, maybe you just want a watch that looks decent, tells time (duh), controls music playback on your phone and notifies you of things like calls, appointments and text messages.

Here's one such option: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon seller Yogo Direct has the Arbily ID205 smartwatch for $18.45. That's after applying promo code 55TW7J6F, which works with either the black or blue color. Note that if you see a different seller listed, the code won't work. This is the lowest price I've seen yet, though only by about 50 cents.

A quick note about nomenclature: The ID205 is the manufacturer's name for this watch, but it's sold under a number of different brand and model names. Here it's Arbily; in the past I've seen it branded BingoFit, Eden and MoreFit. That's standard practice these days with a lot of China-made products. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just a potential source of confusion.

The ID205 looks a lot like the Amazfit Bip, which in turn resembles the Apple Watch. It's rectangular, with a square embedded 1.3-inch display and a fair amount of plastic bezel surrounding it. It's not an always-on display like the Bip's, but it's also much brighter and sharper. Thankfully, it's also readable outdoors, unlike some of the cheapies I've tried.

letsfit-id205-amazfit-bip-apple-watch-series-3

From left to right: The ID205, Amazfit Bip and Apple Watch Series 3.

Rick Broida/CNET

The ID205 employs a touchscreen, along with a function button on either side. The left one immediately engages your preferred fitness activity; the right one is a Back button. Other options are all just a swipe away from the watch face, of which there are four to choose from.

Here's what I liked about the ID205:

  • Display: Big and bright, and reasonably visible outdoors.
  • Battery life: Plan on about a week, depending on how you use it.
  • Notifications: For me this is the essential feature in any smartwatch, and the ID205 does a decent job with them. You can toggle notifications for about a dozen individual apps (though Slack isn't among them).
  • Simplicity: The watch itself is easy to use, as is the VeryFitPro companion app. (That app can share data with Apple Health and Strava.)
  • Miscellaneous: It has handy features including basic music controls, a breathing exercise, a stopwatch, low-power and do-not-disturb modes and even a flashlight function.

Here's what I didn't like:

  • Look and feel: Like the Bip, the ID205 looks like a cheap, plastic watch. (Which, let's be honest, it is.)
  • No built-in GPS: Instead, it pulls data from your phone. 
  • Only four watch faces: These are functional but a little meh; the one pictured up top is the snazziest.
  • Not fully waterproof: Although the watch promises to withstand sweat and rain, it's not fully waterproof, meaning it doesn't belong in the shower or pool. That's in direct contradiction to the main product description, which says "waterproof."

Another important consideration: How good could an $18 smartwatch possibly be at heart-rate monitoring? I did a quick, highly unscientific test: One after the other, I measured my resting heart rate using the ID205, Amazfit Bip and Apple Watch. To my surprise, all three were within a beat or two of each other (63 beats per minute on average, if you're curious). But I wasn't able to conduct any exercise tests, and here results can definitely vary, especially as a watch moves on your wrist and encounters sweat.

Bottom line: If you buy this expecting an Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch or the like, you're going to be disappointed. But if you want basic smartwatch features, solid battery life and an incredibly low price, there's a good chance you'll like this very much.

Your thoughts? If you ordered one of these last time out, hit the comments and let your fellow cheapskates know how it's going!

Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new price and availability. Removed expired bonus deal.

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