The wearable market knows no crisis: the pandemic has not left a mark, indeed, if possible, it has accelerated the growth process of the entire sector destined to double its value in the space of four years. And to try to give new impetus to smartwatches – the true Achilles heel of a thriving industry – manufacturers are trying to focus not so much on the single product, but on a 360-degree ecosystem capable of offering the best possible user experience. .
Among the proposals there is also that of Amazfit, which with the Bip S smartwatch and the true wireless PowerBuds earphones wants to provide a real environment made up of tools dedicated to monitoring physical activity. Not only that, of course, since the watch also integrates notification functions and the headphones have been designed to listen to our favorite music even when we are comfortably seated on the sofa.
- AMAZFIT BIP S
- AMAZFIT POWERBUDS
- HOW DO THEY GO TOGETHER
- CONCLUSIONS AND PRICES
- case: polycarbonate
- available colors: rock white, carbon black, orange red, hot pink
- button: 316L stainless steel
- strap: silicone with anti-dirt treatment, 20mm
- dimensions: 42×35,3×11,4mm
- 31 grams with strap
- 19 grams only case
- display: 1.28 "transflective color 176×176 pixel, always-on
- GPS: Integrated with Sony 28nm chip
- connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- heart rate sensor: Huami BioTracker PPG integrated
- water resistance: up to 5 ATM (HERE our guide on the subject)
- Huami-PAI for health assessment (impact of physical activity on the heart)
- 11 sport modes: outdoor running, indoor running, cycling, outdoor cycling, freestyle, walking, public swimming, pool, elliptical, yoga, rope jumping
- notifications, alarm clock, weather forecast, music control
- support for more than 40 customizable dials (to which the world of modding is added …)
- battery: 190mAh with autonomy up to 40 days (22 hours with GPS always active)
- compatibility: Android, iOS
Are you more looking for the flaws or merits of this smartwatch? Do you want to read the criticisms or strengths first? Like in the best game books (joking, of course), the choice is yours. My advice is to take a look at both endings.
- Final 1: rejected
- Final 2: passed
Amazfit Bip S is cheap, and it shows. The heart rate sensor is integrated, but when compared to a blood pressure machine the number of beats detected is in excess. Of course, it is not a medical device, but it risks becoming unreliable. And sleep tracking is not always accurate, tending to underestimate its duration.
I also encountered problems with the touch display, which often does not interpret the command well, for example confusing a swipe down with one to the left. Thus we risk finding ourselves in a submenu when our intention was instead another. Transflective display that reads well in all light conditions and saves battery, but it certainly cannot be compared to an LCD panel: you can see the difference. What you don't see are the fonts, too small to be legible without straining your eyes, and emoji support is also missing. The smartwatch can be used to take a quick look at notifications, but this cannot be expected to replace the smartphone.
Speaking of notifications, it's easy to lose them as they can't be sorted by application – email, SMS, Whatsapp and so on. If you want to read them, you have to scroll down with your finger until you find what interests you. Slide, then, they said: the only way is to use the touch, obstructing a large part of the display. So what is the side crown for? Certainly not to scroll down or up, a function not available despite the fact that the crown itself is "physically" able to rotate. It can only be pressed, allowing for example to activate the lighting, access the menu and manage training sessions.
And it is precisely during workouts that you can have problems wearing Bip S: it happened to me that the strap did not allow the skin to breathe well, causing annoying irritation. Either you take it off frequently, or you change your strap by buying a perforated one like this one (there are many on the net):
Another problem I encountered concerns the glass that protects the display: on the unit in my possession it is as if it had not been glued properly. In fact, in the upper left corner it presents a sort of halo, as if it had been slightly detached / unglued. Defect that is noticeable only under certain light conditions and paying particular attention, but there is. It doesn't solve this problem, but a subtle scratch protection may be recommended to avoid other types of damage.
- In summary: plasticky, hard to read, confusing in the management of notifications
Compared to the original Bip that we reviewed at the beginning of 2018 there is little to add, but you know: it is the details that make the difference. Not the aesthetic ones, since the smartwatch has kept the design, size and weight unchanged, but rather the user experience, with the excellent support provided by the Amazfit app available for both Android and iOS (I used an iPhone 11) and the interface finally all in Italian.
Amazfit Bip S is very light – just 31 grams, strap included -, the 1.28 "transflective color display can be read perfectly in any light condition, and above all the battery lasts a lot: the house talks about an autonomy capable of touching the 40 days, and even with the GPS active – another gem of the smartwatch thinking about the price range to which it belongs – you forget to have to charge it. Let's say that with a mixed use GPS on / off, on average I recharged it every 10 -15 days. And that's a big plus point for the device. Sure, the transflective (color) display won't be the best – a little retro, let's say – but it helps maximize battery life.
To monitor physical activity there is everything you need, at least for an "average" user: the watch case also includes a heart rate sensor, now larger than what we found on the first generation. In practice, with the heart rate monitor, GPS, 11 pre-loaded sport modes and the absence of low battery anxiety, Amazfit Bip S proved to be a perfect walking training companion. The measurements are quite accurate, especially the count of steps and km traveled (nice the small map that shows the route taken), and I especially appreciated the fact that the smartwatch automatically recognizes the performance of a physical activity without having to necessarily activate it manually.
The results can also be consulted on the screen, including the map, but the size of the display and, above all, the characters used do not always facilitate their complete (and correct) understanding. Therefore, it is better to take the smartphone in hand, open the companion app and view the summary of the statistics detected by the sensors.
App that, among other things, I found exhaustive, clear and well done (in the meantime it has also changed its name, now it is Zepp): here we find all the connected Amazfit devices (the PowerBuds and Bip S, in my case), allowing us to have a complete view of our business. And it is precisely from the app that the parameters of the watch are set, from pairing to customizing the functions used daily.
- In summary: beautiful to look at, complete, with infinite battery, economical
CONCLUSION: to each his own final vision: as far as I'm concerned, analyzing design, hardware, software and functions from two opposing points of view – one that highlights the limits and defects, the other the merits – helped me to give a thoughtful and more reasoned opinion, giving each single detail its proper weight. At this price – 69 euros – you can also turn a blind eye to the limitations that the smartwatch has. It has flaws, of course, but it also offers many functions that we do not find on other products in the same market segment. It is aesthetically pleasing, has a super autonomy, GPS, PPG. It is difficult to expect more under these conditions.
- type: TWS
- noise reduction: dual microphone ENC
- controls: customizable touch (two or three touches) for calls, music and voice assistants (support for Google Assistant, Siri, XiaoAI)
- water and dust resistance: IP55
- accessories: removable circumaureal magnetic arches
- connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 LE
- heart rate sensor: integrated PPG. Voice notifications when heart rate exceeds the predefined alert value
- in-ear sensors: play / stop music when putting on / removing the earphones
- Thru mode: activated with two or three touches on the earphones for the transmission of ambient sound
- Motion Beat mode: increases the bass during exercise
- earphones: 55mAh (8h autonomy)
- case: 450mAh (16h autonomy, total 24h)
- 3h of playback with 15 minutes of charging (heart rate monitoring disabled)
- charging via USB-C
The real novelty are the Amazfit PowerBuds, Huami's first TWS earphones unveiled at the beginning of the year and arrived in Italy together with the Bip S smartwatch last spring. Another pair of wireless headphones? Yes, okay, but something special these earbuds have, which makes them a little different from what the competition offers on the market. We are talking about the integrated proprietary PPG sensor, through which it is possible to measure the heart rate in real time directly from the ear, without necessarily wearing any smartwatch or similar product. The detected data are then processed and displayed by the Amazfit app as soon as the connection between the two devices is made via Bluetooth.
There are five aspects that, in my opinion, make the PowerBuds worth considering:
- battery: autonomy is not a problem, and if it becomes there is always the charging case that guarantees another 16 hours of use, for a total of 24 hours. They never really run out, even with heart rate tracking turned on.
- comfort: I had no problem wearing them, they are very light and can be adjusted correctly by rotating them slightly until you find the point where they best fit the shape of the ear. However, the most demanding can take advantage of the supplied arches, discreetly housed inside the charging case. They attach magnetically: very easy to assemble / disassemble and super practical.
- functions: heartbeat detection is the icing on a cake that is already good in itself. You can also interact with the voice assistants of your smartphone, customize the double and triple taps on each of the two earphones, immerse yourself in your favorite music without distractions thanks to the ENC (electronic noise cancellation, with excellent results), activate or deactivate quickly Thru Mode to hear ambient noises and even automatically boost the bass during training to be even more focused on your exercises.
- audio quality: Motion beat mode is another aspect that most amazed me about these headphones. Yes, we are in the economic range, it should always be remembered: I am not making a comparison with premium products that also cost 4.5 times as much or more. In this segment (but not only) I believe that the PowerBuds have very few worthy competitors. The sound is clean, crystal clear – I only once did it croak more than it should, but this problem never occurred again – and this also applies to calls.
- price: 89 euros for this type of product are a great price. There are TWS earphones even cheaper, but I have never had the perception of an audio as good as with the PowerBuds, without forgetting the different features that these integrate within them. In other words: I think the quality-price ratio is really high.
An ecosystem, it was said at the beginning. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's deliberately provocative. Let's say that wearing Bip S and PowerBuds at the same time allows you to get the best of both devices which, through the Amazfit app, can be managed in an integrated way and, above all, ordered. And with a very low cost – 160 euros in all – you have access to fitness and audio functions, including the ability to control the music that the smartphone transmits to the earphones directly from the smartwatch.
This is certainly not a novelty in the mobile sector: Apple, Samsung and Huawei, for example, rely heavily on a "360 ° experience" by providing users with complete platforms that include perfectly interconnected products, functions and services. And Amazfit, in its small way, intends to move in the same direction. The result is obviously proportionate to the price at which its products are sold, but the solution proposed by Huami should be considered by those who have no particular needs and wish to complete their mobile equipment without emptying their wallet.
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We are faced with two products that do their job in an excellent way. The smartwatch improves the good that has already been seen on the predecessor Bip, without however distorting it. However, it is necessary to take into account some flaws from a constructive point of view and various limits in the functions offered, but at this price it is really difficult to find better in the smartwatch field. Well the transflective display – despite some criticism – which is perfectly visible in the sun, as well as the battery. On the other hand, the legibility of the characters on the screen and the proprietary software, just sufficient, are less good.
The PowerBuds headphones are the real surprise of the test, complete, well made and with the audio quality that in this price range is really difficult to find. If you have no particular pretensions, they are perfect both for sound insulation, both for listening to music, and for monitoring your heartbeat through the integrated sensor.
Obviously these two devices can also be used separately (depending on the needs …), but together they offer a plus that allowed me to fully enjoy the functionality of both. Just open the Amazfit app and you have everything at your fingertips.