Amazfit GTS 2 Mini full review
Amazfit is on something of a charge at the moment, with an ever-expanding lineup of activity trackers and smartwatches arriving with price tags that should cause bigger brands concern. Hot on the heels of the Amazfit GTS 2 comes the GTS 2 Mini, which begs the question, "does size really does matter?"
Design & build
If you’re in the market for a smartwatch that isn’t some honking great Victorian train station clock lashed to your wrist, then this could be the one. Amazfit has come up with a slimline, lightweight chassis that not only looks elegant but will go just as well with a suit whether it’s for business or the track.
Compared to the 42mm casing of the GTS 2, the Mini moves down to a 40mm rectangular frame that houses a 1.55in 354 x 306 AMOLED display. The upper part of the 8.95mm thick body is a sort of gun-metal grey aluminium with a smartly bevelled edge where it joins the display. Turning it over reveals a black plastic underside that houses the optical heart monitor. At this price point, the choice of materials is perfectly acceptable and helps keep the weight down to a feathery 19.5g.
The display claims a maximum brightness of 450nits, which I found to be more than enough in bright sunshine, offering up text that was easily readable, even for my tired old eyes; something that couldn’t easily be said for the otherwise impressive Amazfit Band 5 I reviewed recently.
On the right flank of the Mini is the solitary physical control, a crown that acts as a push-button for navigating back and forth between options. Sadly, unlike on the Apple Watch, you can’t rotate the crown to scroll the onscreen data. Amazfit rates the GTS 2 Mini as waterproof up to 5ATM (or 50 metres), and while I didn’t take the smartwatch for a dip, it did stand up to some outrageously wet Cornish weather without complaint.
I have the black version for this review, but you can also get the GTS 2 Mini in pink or a rather fetching green. The silicon straps can also be easily swapped out for other 20mm options if you prefer to make the aesthetic more your own.
Features and tracking
For such a compact device, the GTS 2 Mini offers quite a decent array of tracking. Alongside the heart-rate monitor, there’s also sleep, stress, SpO2, breathing, menstrual cycle, steps and over 70 different activity modes.
Heart monitoring defaults to always-on, measuring your BPM every few minutes or so, and seemed reasonably accurate compared to other tracking devices I’ve used. You can also trigger a manual measurement so you can tell how fast or slow your heart is pumping at any given time. Sleep is also a standard feature that automatically monitors your patterns to give you an idea of how well you slept as well as for how long.
The data for both of these tracking features are synced to the Zepp app on your smartphone so you can build up a picture of your health over days, weeks and months. Of course, these are all guides rather than precise measurements, so don’t solely rely on them if you think you may have issues with your heart or fitness. Instead, pop along to your GP and bring the results with you as helpful additional data.
Steps again are tracked automatically and, as far as I can tell without getting out my old metre stick, pretty accurate. You don’t get altitude recordings on the app, so there are no bonus points for taking the stairs, but as a gauge of your daily wanderings it’s very helpful.
Sports or fitness activities have dedicated trackers, which cover everything from running to yoga. Admittedly, most measure the same metrics, but there are additional features for runners such as stride frequency and pace (aided by the onboard GPS sensor). You can also fine-tune alerts so that you’re warned if you drop below a certain pace or go above a BPM rating. The GTS 2 Mini can also connect to Google Fit, Strava and Relive apps if you want to make the data part of already existing accounts you use.
The only real drawback with the fitness tracking is that it doesn’t automatically sense that you’re engaged in a session, meaning you have to manually start the workout tracking yourself. Sure, you can make this part of your training time, but it’s all too easy to forget and find that you’re just racking up steps rather than accurate activity tracking.
Monitoring your stress, SpO2, breathing, and menstrual cycle also require manual operation, although stress and SpO2 can be enabled for continuous tracking throughout the day (former) or when you’re sleeping (latter), so long as you’re happy to have your battery life reduced.
All of these metrics are stored on the Zepp app, which also employs a fitness overview called PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) that calculates your score by taking into consideration factors like weight, sex and resting/active heart rates. The goal is to achieve a rolling seven-day score of 100, which can be quite a challenge if you spend as much time as I do sat in a chair typing. The developers of the scheme say that keeping a 100 score can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by an average of 25%, so well worth the effort.
Software and interface
There are a number of watch faces you can download for the Mini, many of which are editable; meaning you can decide whether one section displays your heart's BPM, steps or other metrics. Adding a new fascia is handled by the accompanying Zepp app on your phone, but you can switch between four download faces on the Mini itself. There are over 50 watch-faces available, with 30 or so supporting the Always-On feature that shows the current time, date and step counts without the need to wake the screen.
To find other functions, it’s the classic case of swiping left for accessing the music/podcast controls, weather and PAI score, right for various health measurements, up for notifications and down for quick settings.
Thankfully the left and right menu wrap-around, so if you keep going you’ll end up back at the beginning. If you want to quickly jump to a section, clicking the physical crown button opens a menu from which you can select any function. You can also rearrange the order of the swipe menu via the Zepp app.
While all of this is straightforward, it’s a little clunky in operation. Tapping to select options needs to be firm, as I often found a gentle first touch didn’t register. There’s also a lack of expected options that would be very useful. Once you start an exercise session, for example, there are no on-screen buttons to stop the tracking. Instead, you need to press and hold the crown, which makes sense when you know it, but can be mystifying when you first try to close off a session.
Notifications are also frustrating, in that I found WhatsApp messages would appear with the text showing (great) but if another message came in before I cleared the first then I’d only see a notification saying that I had multiple messages. Going to the Notification screen would show them, but that feels an unnecessary extra step. There’s also no way to reply via the GTS 2 Mini, as the notifications are just alerts and not interactive.
It’s not that the interface is bad, it’s more a case of not having the same smoothness or convenience of the Apple Watch. This is more obvious when it comes to the app store... as there isn’t one. All the functionality comes with the device and you can’t add anything after the fact. So, you’re stuck with the proprietary music, weather, messaging and other apps. There are some useful ones though, such as setting alarms, timers and the Pomodoro countdown, helps you focus on work, and I use a lot on other devices.
So long as you’re happy to work within the limitations of the Amazfit provision of features, then there are plenty of useful features on offer, but if you want apps from a variety of providers then you may want to look elsewhere.
Battery and charging
Battery life is very good, with an average of 7-10 days when using constant heart rate tracking for and advanced sleep monitoring. You can extend these further by turning off features, with Amazfit claiming a maximum of 21 days between charges. I think seven days is plenty for a smartwatch, especially from such a dinky one. Charging back up to full power took around two hours with the provided charger, so even if you get caught out by forgetting to plug it in, you’ll be back in action within no time.
Price and availability
You’d expect a device like this, with its smartwatch-centric feature set, to tip the £100/$100 scales at least, especially when the larger Amazfit GTS 2 costs a princely £159/$179 for most of the same capabilities, but Amazfit has managed to keep the price down to £79/US$99/AU$140.
This makes the GTS 2 Mini a very tempting option for those who want a good-looking tracker with some additional bells and whistles. It also keeps the Mini away from the Apple Watch Series 3, which still costs £199/UA$199/AU$299, not to mention the recently launched Amazfit GTS 2e which you can pick up for £119/US$139.99/AU$205.
Amazfit is quickly becoming a brand that offers devices that punch well above their weight, and the GTS 2 Mini is another to add to the list. It’s got a smart, refined design, strong battery life, good activity tracking and a few notification and utility features that will prove genuinely useful.
Yes, the software could do with more attention, and ability to respond directly to messages would really help this device step up a level, but if you want an inexpensive fitness tracker with smartwatch aspirations that doesn't lose much of the full-fat GTS 2 experience, then at this price the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is hard to resist.
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini: Specs
- 1.55in 2.5D AMOLED display with 354 x 306 resolution
- Aluminium/Plastic body
- Metal Crown physical button
- Optical heart rate sensor
- Sleep tracking
- Blood Oxygen tracking
- Menstrual cycle tracking
- Stress tracking
- Bluetooth 5.0LE
- Water resistance to 5ATM
- 220 mAh battery
- Watch size: 41 x 36 x 9mm
- Strap size: 118 x 20 x 2.1mm
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