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Amazfit Stratos Review – Fit Wearable & Premium Smartwatch

Huami's fitness wearable very nearly ticks all of the smartwatch boxes.

Xiaomi-owned Huami has a new wearable on the market that pushes up against the limits of what a fitness-dedicated wearable can be to nearly the point of being a full-blown Wear OS smartwatch. Dubbed the Amazfit Stratos, the sports watch also falls in at the low-end of the price spectrum for its features at just $199. For anything less than what's on offer here, it could easily be dismissed as too expensive. However, this is one watch that can do nearly everything and comes in a form factor that's nearly as eye-catching as it is practical. Between the chosen build materials and the clever use of buttons for a more classical watch appearance and experience, there's simply a lot there to love. That's true whether a prospective buyer is in the market for something to suit fitness needs or just something that's aesthetically appealing without breaking the bank.

Specs

In terms of specifications, the Amazfit Stratos is driven by a proprietary operating system that would be easy enough to mistake for Wear OS. That's driven along by a dual-core 1.2GHz SoC backed by 4GB of storage. There's only 512MB of RAM but that doesn't seem to cause any problems for this particular wearable. That's powered by a 290mAH non-removable battery rated up to 5 days regular usage or 11 days of "basic" usage. Connection happens over low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 or Wi-Fi and it's marketed as being compatible with any device that supports that Bluetooth Protocol and runs either Android 4.4 or iOS 9, at a minimum, should work. An optical heart rate sensor is part of the package, as are GPS and GLONASS for positioning and a barometer for elevation.

Meanwhile, a light sensor at the front helps the always-on transflective LCD touch-enabled screen maintain a proper brightness. The Gorilla glass display itself measures 1.34-inches and has a respectable resolution of 320 x 300. That screen is packed into a Zirconia Ceramic watch bezel, while glass-reinforced polycarbonates are used elsewhere in the casing. The accompanying physical buttons are equally impressive, being constructed of stainless steel. Despite those materials, the watch actually weighs in at just 70g, and the entire device is also extremely water resistant. In fact, it's been granted a 5 ATM rating. That should keep it safely operating at around 164 feet – 50 meters – underwater or at pressures of around 80 PSI. So this is definitely a watch to consider for swimming activities.

In the Box

The contents of the box are, as might be expected, rather spartan. The watch itself is, of course, included alongside a 22mm silicone strap with dash style adjustment holes to accent the rectangular buckle and silicone free loop. That's a quick-release style strap, as well. Moving that out of the way, new owners are greeted with a short but helpful user's manual and the charging dock. There's no wall adapter included with this package, so buyers will need to either find one that's rated appropriately – at 5V/0.3A maximum – or use a USB port on a computer to power it up. However, there is a charging cable that's built directly onto the charging dock at around 2-feet in length. The watch face itself is protected through shipping by a thin film which mimics the default watch face. That will need to be peeled away before use.

Hardware and Aesthetics

The overall design of the Amazfit Stratos seems to ooze "premium," despite the use of a silicone watch band. Small details such as a ceramic screen bezel and steel buttons, accent a hard hard plastic casing that has a decidedly carbon-fiber look. That casing is a bit on the thick side but that's not necessarily a matter of design. In fact, it's fairly common in modern smartwatches that pack in as many features as this one has. The strap itself is, of course, of the quick-release variety. So that can easily be swapped to improve things further. That's necessarily all for show either. The aesthetic appeal is matched by, as mentioned above, substantial waterproofing and the use of display materials which should make this watch very durable. So it both looks and feels like it can take a beating, and that's a good thing since its a sports wearable, first and foremost.

However, everything isn't perfect and one of the few areas where this watch doesn't shine is also a matter of design. Namely, the display itself has a somewhat inconsistent brightness and can get washed out by its own backlight. In some circumstances having the backlight turned off can provide better color distinction than with it turned on, but that isn't always the case. Choosing to leave it off entirely to save battery means that under even moderate sunlight the display is nearly indiscernible. Auto-brightness helps considerably but is also inconsistent in a completely different way. With that feature turned on, the colors and brightness don't always appear the same, even under unchanging light situations. That latter problem seems to be something that can be solved with a software update in the future. However, there are no guarantees on that front and it's worth noting. With that said, it didn't become a major issue during our test, either. Instead, it simply stood out as something that took away from the overall premium design here.

Software

As mentioned above, this wearable comes with a proprietary software installed under everything, rather than Google's Wear OS. While that means it won't be able to run apps from the Play Store, it absolutely does not mean the Amazfit Stratos is overly limited. Setting aside its fitness-specific software for a moment, this smartwatch does connect to a smartphone and, as a result, does offer push notification functionality. That's available for pretty much any application the wearer chooses and each app can be turned off or on for those. Moreover, it will play music directly from the watch to Bluetooth headphones. Users just need to navigate to the Bluetooth settings and link up to a headset to make that happen and music can be directly loaded from a smartphone. Navigating those menus, in the meantime, is very akin to navigating Wear OS. That means it's intuitive and similar to Android itself. Swiping down will access settings related items, swiping up takes the wearer to notifications. Swiping left will clear those while swiping either direction or pressing the top or bottom physical button will navigate between the onboard apps on the main screen.

For fitness software, this watch is loaded with more than 12 activities – including running, walking, cycling, pool swimming, open water swimming, indoor running, indoor cycling, elliptical training, climbing, trail running, triathlon, skiing, tennis, and soccer. The last three of those were added via an update just after we received the watch, which means that even more activities could be added later. The tracking for each of those activities is, meanwhile, customized to suit the activity. For example, training with running allows for course importing and course recording based on GPS. It also allows a variety of settings for laps, guidance, and more, all while recording steps, distance, height fluctuations, running cadence, and a ton of other metrics. There's also an on-watch daily overview for getting a handle on steps taken on a daily and weekly basis, with charts to track everything. A training center is among the applications pre-installed too. That is specifically designed to help get run distances up and times down, with various run lengths available. Timers, alarms, and a stopwatch function, on the other hand, allow for a more old-school approach. A full weekly weather report, based on location, is available to ensure that users are ready for the run conditions.

Continuing in the vein of healthy living, Huami's Amazfit Stratos includes a sleep tracker with all of the bells and whistles included in virtually every software installation included with the watch. Heart rate monitoring is charted out over time to give a more realistic heart health overview. Of course, the functionality of this smartwatch doesn't even begin to stop there and there are really too many features to be listed in a single review. A full manual of photos would be required to cover it all. In the shortest terms, each of the features included on this smartwatch has a series of its own secondary screens full of information and options. Tapping the screen or the middle physical button will go further in-depth into the software to provide a more detailed insight and deeper settings. Finally, the included app is required to connect to the watch but provides a basic overview of functionality and settings. Most of the system-level settings can be adjusted there as well. Having said that, everything else is available to adjust and access directly on the watch. The application almost feels like an afterthought, although that isn't at all a bad thing.

Special Features

For a watch that is ultimately geared toward fitness enthusiasts, there are actually quite a few interesting features to explore with the Amazfit Stratos. Not least of all is the fact that the watch faces are as much about style as functionality. There are also around 14 faces available, as of this writing, and users can place their own photo or image in the background as well. That actually seems to be the only setting or watch function that the application is needed to adjust, however. Everything else exists and is available on the watch itself, which gives the impression that Huami put a massive amount of effort into optimization and usability.

The GPS/GLONASS functions included in this smartwatch also deserve their very own explanation. Ordinarily, when these are included in a smartwatch, they are tied to a rudimentary piece of watch software or the data needs to be interacted with on the watch. With the Amazfit Stratos, this watch will actually map out a run in real-time as it's underway. Beyond that, it ties directly into a high-accuracy compass widget. When tapping on that widget, the watch will provide the wearer with their current longitude and latitude, elevation, and Air Pressure rating. While some other watches will provide similar data, that information would come in handy even without a smartphone connected. Coupled with a map, the in-depth data means that getting lost shouldn't be a problem. Tied in with the activities menu, it means an easy route to follow in similar situations. However, what the features really show is how much thought was put into each applet on this smartwatch. It combines an MP3 player, compass, activity tracker, and much more into a single piece of hardware that barely needs a smartphone to function at all.

Battery Life

The battery on this watch is rated at 5 to 11 days, depending on usage. It goes without saying that there are probably use cases that will drain it a bit faster than that. Bearing that in mind, it did seem as though it would last a minimum of four and a half days during our test. That's despite our nearly-constant tinkering and playing with various functions and settings throughout the test period. More importantly, that's despite leaving all of the battery-hungry features, such as GPS, turned on. Conversely, charging is relatively quick, owing to its tiny battery size. It might have been faster if a chipset with fast charging capabilities been used but, as it stands, that takes around two and a half hours.

The Good

5 ATM water resistance

GPS, GLONASS, and accurate compass built-in

A plethora of software for tracking more than 12 activities, plus sleep tracking

VO2Max and heart rate monitoring are included

Long battery life and quick charging

Smart notification features

Phone-free music

Nearly every functionality is on the watch instead of in an app

The Bad

No Android means less customization and a slight dependence on Amazfit App

Dark areas of the screen look almost washed out with the backlight turned on

Screen brightness is inconsistent

The design is a bit thick but build materials provide a premium look

Wrap Up

In terms of being a fitness wearable, there's really nothing to complain about for the price tag. Huami's Amazfit Stratos will track a ridiculous number of metrics and provide all of that the watch screen instead of needing to use the app. Of course, that means there's a learning curve to navigating and some time will be needed to discover the full breadth of the features. The wide range of those covers plenty that would suit somebody who's into just about any kind of sport or outdoor activity, even if they aren't big on fitness tracking. At the same time, the premium design and generally well-made software bring uses that are well within a whispering distance of being a full-blown smartwatch. In fact, there's very little except by way of personalization options and the ability to take phone calls that keep it outside of that category. Taken in combination, it would be difficult not to recommend this wearable to just about anybody who wants a new smartwatch that leans toward the fitness side of things.

Buy The Amazfit Stratos

The post Amazfit Stratos Review – Fit Wearable & Premium Smartwatch appeared first on AndroidHeadlines.com |.


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