Why I Wear This $220 Smartwatch After Testing Garmin and Apple Watches

4 minutes, 52 seconds Read


Amazfit Balance

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Amazfit Balance The smartwatch is available now for $219.
  • It features a sleek and stylish design with a bright AMOLED display, accurate GPS and a list of health-tracking features.
  • Just be prepared for the data-heavy companion app, which will take some getting used to.

As a reviewer of wearables here at ZDNET, I’ve jumped at the chance to test flagship smartwatches from Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Koros and more. Since I was trying something new at the end of 2023, the latest Amazfit Balance Special Edition The watches caught my eye, especially at their starting price of $220.

Also: My favorite hybrid smartwatch just got smarter and its battery life is still incredible

Over the years I’ve tested several Amazfit watches and been impressed with the hardware and software experience I got for the money — so much so that I bought myself a Woodland model from the Balance series.

After a month of use, the Amazfit Balance stays on my wrist and meets the needs of a casual athlete like me. In fact, it even beats my Apple Watch in some cases, like importing interval workouts from my phone. Here’s why the latest smartwatch is worth considering.

Check it out on Amazon

As for fit and finish, the Amazfit Balance is just 10.6mm thick and weighs just over 40g (including a strap), so it fits seamlessly on my wrist and under my winter long-sleeve shirt. Sleeping with the watch wasn’t a problem either, and it managed to get worn out in the rainy Pacific Northwest thanks to a 5 ATM water-resistant rating.

In my tests with two other, more expensive watches, overall heart rate readings were mostly the same, although there were moments when the Amazfit would drop 5 to 8 beats per minute. Again, this is a $200 wearable that competes with those that cost two to three times as much.

amazfit-balance2

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

GPS tracking was about the same as measured with a $1,000 Garmin watch, even in areas that were heavily forested and included peaks and valleys. I also tested the Amazfit Balance sleep tracking while wearing my Aura Ring, and changes in sleep stage, heart rate, respiratory rate, and other metrics were similar.

Also: The new Oura Ring feature measures your ability to recover from stress

Capturing data on Amazon Fit is extensive, as you’ll quickly discover in the Zepp smartphone app. The Zepp app has evolved over the years, but not necessarily for the better, as it requires a large number of taps to explore all your data, set up your Amazfit experience, and gain specific insights about your workout. I love tinkering with all the data, but navigating the user interface won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

For example, to sync your watch in the app, you must tap the Profile tab, scroll down to find watch settings, and then scroll through another list to find sync options. This level of customization for your personal needs makes the watch feel like a much more expensive wearable than it is, but the experience can also be terrifying. Thankfully, once you’ve set everything up for the first time, the main app experience revolves around just the Home, Sleep, and Workout tabs.

Also: This sports watch has a ChatGPT-like running coach. Here’s how it works

The Amazfit Balance supports Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant, has a speaker and mic so you can use it for calls connected to your phone via Bluetooth, and even record voice memos while you’re working (if you’ve got the guts.) I Note that offline music is supported but only if you upload MP3 files. On-device streaming services are not supported.

amazfit-balance5

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

This is the first Amazfit watch powered by Zepp OS 3.0, and with this new version of the watch software, there are more than 150 downloadable apps in the store, you can connect to external workout devices (power meter and heart rate belt), sensor capabilities are improved, and Developers have more ways to optimize the clock for users

Zep Experience is not fully supported in the US; You cannot use Zepp Pay for NFC payments. There are new subscription-based services available called Zepp Aura and Zepp Fitness that can make the overall experience a bit confusing, with partial access to features included for free and advanced functionality only available when you pay for it. For what it’s worth, I didn’t test any of the subscription services and the watch was still adequate for my lifestyle needs.

Finally, the Amazfit Balance is advertised to last up to 14 days between charges, dropping to just five days when the always-on display is enabled. With my two to three runs a week and daily use — with the always-on display disabled — I only had to charge the watch every 7 to 8 days, which was great.

ZDNET’s buying advice

If you’re looking for an affordable smartwatch that lasts more than a week with heavy use, has a bright AMOLED display, is sleek and slim, measures all the essential health and wellness metrics, and even lets you handle phone calls from your wrist, then Amazfit Balance One to get. The companion app will take some getting used to, especially at first, but the watch more than makes up for it.

One last tip: the watch uses a standard 22mm band, so you can find hundreds of other band options on Amazon to match your style.





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