Amazfit GTR 3 Review: Classy fitness watch with impressive features
Amazfit has been one of the top players in the midrange fitness watch category in India over the past few years. They have also been at the forefront of improving the battery life of these watches and setting new benchmarks. Among the multiple models they sell here, the GTR series has been one of their best. The first Amazfit GTR watch raised the bar for design and battery backup in this segment by several notches. And the company continues to add newer features in the subsequent releases. Today, we review a third generation watch from the GTR series, the Amazfit GTR 3. The company launched two models in the series this time from day one, and the GTR 3 plays second fiddle to the GTR 3 Pro. The latter boasts of a slightly bigger dial and a couple of extra features, but most of the key features are present in the former too. Time to figure out if the Amazfit GTR 3 is a worthy fitness companion for you.
Elegant design, good build, comfortable around the wrist
Style has never been an issue with GTR watches and the GTR 3 is no different. However, this time the design is almost identical to the GTR 2e, except for one feature. One of the two physical buttons has a crown that doubles up as a scroll wheel in menus and watch UI. I don't have a huge problem with the company retaining the design as it is quite elegant and still among the best in fitness watches south of Rs. 15,000. The watch has a circular dial with narrow bezels and a curved glass that almost blends into the edges. You get hour markers along the periphery that go well with several analog watch faces, and certain dark faces make the watch look bezel-less. The stainless steel body that was used in the GTR 2 has been replaced with an aluminium alloy, thanks to which, the watch just weighs 32gm (without straps) without compromising on the build quality or finish. However, you do not get faux leather straps on the GTR 3 as was the case with two of its predecessors. The bundled straps are made of silicone and have a standard 22mm width. So, you can replace them with leather ones or any third party straps of the same width. The watch is extremely comfortable to wear for long hours, and the default straps have a wavy pattern underneath that facilitates better airflow and minimizes sweating or skin irritation.
Excellent AMOLED display with a good collection of watch-faces
Display has been one of the standout features of the previous GTR watches and you get an equally impressive and sharp 1.39-inch circular AMOLED display with a resolution of 454x454 pixels and 326ppi pixel density. The touchscreen is protected against scratches and smudges by a tempered glass and an anti-fingerprint coating, respectively. The screen remained scratch-free after a month of usage, and I didn't need to wipe it frequently either. The screen has auto as well as manual brightness controls, and the former does work well. The display is easily legible outdoors under bright sunlight as long as the brightness is closer to maximum. When indoors, the screen is bright enough even at half of that. You can turn it on by flicking your wrist or by pressing one of the physical buttons. There are two sensitivity settings for the flicking gesture - Standard and Sensitive; ideally use the latter. Flick-to-wake can be turned off before going to sleep or scheduled to stay off between specific hours daily. Always On display is also available but it does impact the battery significantly. I prefer to keep it off and use the flick gesture instead when checking the watch. I am not a big fan of wasting battery, however minimal, by having the screen on all the time when I am not looking at it. Watch-face collection for Amazfit GTR 3 is quite good. The watch comes preloaded with a handful of faces, some of which can be customized to display different information like steps count, calories burned, heart rate, weather etc. Further, you get 100+ watch-faces in the Zepp app, of which over a dozen are animated and some are customizable too. The animated watch-faces look really cool but reduce battery reserves by 20-25%. Despite adding a dozen different faces on the watch it did not run out of slots, which is good.
Simple user interface, improved and more intuitive companion app
You need to download the Zepp app and sync the watch with it over Bluetooth. The syncing process is smooth. While you can access several features of the GTR 3 from the watch itself, certain watch settings, fitness goals, activity reports and addition of new watch faces are accessible only from the app. Notably, the companion app has always been feature rich, but a UI refresh was due for a while now. The company has finally pulled the trigger on it. The new interface feels cleaner and a lot more intuitive. With related settings grouped together, things get easier. All key fitness cards can be found on the home screen and can be listed in an order you deem right. They display information about your heart rate, stress and blood oxygen levels, steps and calories count, sleep data and some more. The Health tab lets you set fitness goals and presents your workout data. The Profile tab gives you access to certain watch settings and lets you add personal information. The watch UI has also received a facelift. It is mainly cosmetic with lively colors and nifty animations. In terms of functionality, it is not exactly different from its previous iteration, which is a good thing as it was uncluttered and easy to use. Swiping down on the home screen shows the watch settings, swiping up gives you access to notifications, and left or right swipes can be used to cycle through various widgets like daily goals progress, heart rate, weather, sleep data and more. Pressing the top physical button brings up shortcuts for all the watch functions and also acts as a home button from any other screen. As I mentioned earlier, the crown can be used to scroll through menus without obstructing the screen. But 90% of the time, you will use the touchscreen itself to scroll. The other button gives you access to all workout modes.
Broad feature set, reliable fitness tracking courtesy of newer sensors
The Amazfit GTR 3 may look identical to its predecessor, but it has a brand new BioTracker PPG 3.0 biometric sensor that can monitor heart rate, blood oxygen, stress levels and sleep. Among other things, the results are visible in the speed of SpO2 measurements that now take 15 to 30 seconds as compared to 45+ seconds in GTR 2. Further, in 45 seconds this watch can measure and display four health parameters with a single tap -- heart rate, oxygen level, stress level and breath rate; quite handy, that. Menstrual tracking is also available. This watch can track over 150 different activities and sports that include walking, running, cycling, swimming (watch is 5ATM water resistant), strength training and its derivatives. Outdoor activity tracking is on the money, thanks to the built-in GPS module. Indoor tracking could have been a little better, especially the steps counter that is a little on the conservative side and reports fewer steps than actual. It doesn't report false steps though. Another thing that needs a fix is auto-detection of workouts. While it is meant to detect eight workouts automatically, it just didn't work during indoor or outdoor walks. Sleep tracking functions well and the overall sleep duration seemed correct for me. It tracks the quantum of light sleep, deep sleep, REM and awake time and gives you a sleep score based on quality and quantity of sleep. SpO2 levels and breathing quality can be tracked too. And, breakdown of sleep stages can be seen on the watch. More detailed analysis can be found in the Zepp app, along with daily, weekly and monthly breakdown of various fitness activities you indulge in. It also displays a weekly PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) score, that hints at how physically active you have been during that period. Your goal is to score 100 points each week. This watch has more workout related fun features for you to explore.
Limited smart features for now, but there is hope
Amazfit GTR 3 is a fitness watch and not an out and out smartwatch, and as expected, there are only a handful of usual smart features. It lets you reject or silence calls from the watch screen, but unlike GTR 2 or 3 Pro, you cannot answer calls from the watch. Nor is there internal storage for music like those two. You can choose to receive notifications from almost all apps on your phone, along with event reminders and weather updates. The screen is large enough to read the messages clearly, but you cannot reply back from the watch. The GTR 3 is compliant with Alexa and also supports offline voice commands. While the implementation of Alexa is still elementary unlike in Amazon devices, offline voice commands feature is pretty erratic and doesn't work as intended. When I would ask it to start a particular feature, it would either return a blank or start something else. Such comedy of errors continued throughout the duration of my testing till it stopped being funny. On the bright side, there may be something good in store for the Zepp OS that this watch runs. The company has supposedly opened up the platform to third party app developers to have more apps on the platform going forward. It is still very early days but something to look forward to for sure.
Excellent battery backup close to three weeks
The GTR series is known for its excellent battery backup and the GTR 3 continues the tradition. On paper, the battery capacity has been reduced a bit from 471mAh to 450mAh but the company claims that the watch can stay powered for up to 21 days under typical usage scenario. That is a full week longer than the GTR 2. During my testing with sleep monitoring on for 5 days (without SpO2 tracking), heart rate monitoring at one minute intervals, all-day stress monitoring set to five minutes, two hours of GPS usage per week, a couple of (four-in-one) one tap measurements daily, the battery lasted a little over 18 days. Use of the default animated watch face throughout the test period dropped it to 14 days. With a lighter load, non-animated watch face and frequency of heart rate monitoring set to five minutes, the GTR 3 should be able to reach the advertised 21 days mark. These are excellent battery backup figures, with hardly any of its competitors breaching the 14 days mark. The only two watches I have tested to date that do better in the battery department are the first Amazfit GTR and GTR 2e, both going past three weeks each. The bundled magnetic charging base can charge the GTR 3 in under two hours.
A worthy successor to the Amazfit GTR 2
The Amazfit GTR 3 can be purchased for Rs. 13,999 in India with a one year warranty. For that price, you get a good looking fitness watch with an excellent AMOLED display, built-in GPS, wide variety of fitness tracking, 5ATM water resistance and an excellent battery backup. The watch may have a thousand bucks higher price-tag as compared to the GTR 2 despite lacking a couple of features like a built-in speaker and internal storage, but the newer sensors alone are worth the small premium. More than the GTR 2, the GTR 2e's value proposition may be hard to beat. Priced at Rs. 9,999 and often available for a couple of thousands lower in sales, the GTR 2e looks identical to the GTR 3, has most of its features and offers an even better battery backup of up to 24 days. You will have to make do with the older UI and generation-old sensors though. At that price, not many would complain. If paying a little extra for the upgrades is not an issue, the Amazfit GTR 3 is a great all-round fitness watch under Rs. 15,000, even better than the OnePlus Watch.