Xiaomi wearables are exclusively made by Huami. Huami has made the Fitness Band 1, 1s and 2 for Xiaomi in the past. Amazfit Pace is a Smartwatch from Huami, made for Xiaomi. This fitness smartwatch is running on a forked version of Android, has inbuilt GPS and internal storage, with Bluetooth connectivity. All this priced at $99 officially. The Amazfit pace is not available in India yet and you might be spending a little more than $99, depending upon where you are getting it from. Is this Smartwatch worth the price? Let’s check it out in this review.
If you are in a hurry, here is a summary
|Value for money||Clunky firmware|
|Stylish design||Rudimentary companion app|
|Looks like a conventional watch||Not Android Wear|
|Excellent display under all light conditions||Not available in India, officially. So no warranty.|
|3-5 days battery life (3 days max with the new update)||Limited fitness activities|
|Inbuilt GPS, Memory and Bluetooth||Proprietary charging dock|
The Xiaomi Amazfit Pace looks like a regular watch. It is slim and lightweight. The underbelly is made of porcelain. The top glass is surrounded by a chrome finished metal. It has heart rate sensor at the bottom and a single button on the side. It has a very sport look, thanks to its high quality rubber strap. It comes in two colors: Red with black accent and Black with red accents. The straps can be easily swapped to any other style of your liking, from any watch shop nearby. It is IP67 dust and water-resistant. You can take a shower with it, but don’t swim with it. The design is gorgeous and it is love at first sight for me. I totally love the way it looks and fits on my hand.
The display is 1.34 trans-reflective LCD display with a 320 x 300 resolution. The trans-reflective technology is something new and I have not seen it in any other device. It has amazing black levels and the letters are clearly visible under all light conditions. Direct sunlight readability is out of the charts. Also it has back-lights, which come up with an arm twist gesture or tap-to-wake on the display. It is not the brightest of the watch displays, but then it serves the purpose: visible under all light conditions.
Amazfit Pace will track your steps, distance and calories. It can also track activities on demand like run, walk, indoor run and trail run. (Update: Bike, Indoor Bike activity added) For each of the activity you can choose what the watch will show you, while you are at it. I regularly use the run activity and when I start the activity the GPS tracker starts detecting for GPS signal. It takes more than 45 seconds to lock on to a GPS signal. Then you can start your activity. The band must be worn very tightly while in an activity as the heart rate sensor is a continuous sensor and it needs to be close to your skin.
Distance is measured only in miles, which is a problem for me, as I am used to KM and not miles. There is an option to change to metrics, but it does not work. (Update: Metric / Imperial unit conversion works )
The tracking accuracy is perfect. A voice gives you a status after every single mile, if Bluetooth headset is connected, but in Chinese only. For indoor run on a treadmill, the distance is calculated by the steps. It is just 80-85% accurate. But I run outdoors a lot, so GPS accuracy satisfies me. After the activity, the watch shows you summary statistics. Once you are within the range of the paired mobile, it syncs the A-GPS data to the app. But the data is sync to an app called Strava, through Amazfit app. Only activities are tracked by this app. Your regular everyday steps and sleep is not seen in any app. This data is visible only on the watch. That is a huge disadvantage. The watch does not sync with Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app. Mi Fit app has the capability to keep track of steps and sleep. I am not sure, if this will change in the future, but for now you will have to live with in-device data, Amazfit and Strava.
Heart rate monitor
Heart-rate Monitor data is also available only on the device. But when you are running or walking, the activity includes heart rate data. Heart rate is monitored continuously during activity. While regular wear, if heart-rate is set to continuous tracking, battery will drain faster. Also you will need a pro account with Strava for heart-rate analysis. During the activity, the heart rate is monitored and if the heart rate is beyond a certain limit, the watch alerts you to slow down. The accuracy is not perfect, but it is a quantifiable measure for workouts.
The mobile has 4 GB of inbuilt memory and of that around 2 GB is used by the system. You get a little over 2 GB to store music. The music player is basic with minimal controls. When connected to bluetooth earphone, the music can be played wirelessly. The quality of the sound is good with a decent pair of earphones.
The watch can show you notifications from any app. This can be controlled from the Amazfit app. The notification can be dismissed. Certain applications like messenger or email gets a few controls like reply, delete, etc… Reply never works and the mobile crashes to restart. It is a software bug and I hope it will be cleared with firmware updates. The notification vibration intensity can be controlled. You get notified for incoming calls with name of the caller displayed on the watch. (Update: Flight mode added)
The companion app is Amazfit app, which can be downloaded from the app store. Pairing the app with the watch is very simple and fast. Once paired, the app can be used to sync data from watch, customize the appearance of the watch face, control notifications and to set up fitness profile. The watch face can be changed, but Amazfit app has a limited set of watch face presets. (Update: more watch faces are availabe and watch faces can now be customized) But with what is available, the designs are attractive. The app has limited features and it depends on Strava application for activity tracking. It does not sync with any other fitness application of platform. More than a companion app, the Amazfit app is just an agent app with a limited set of rudimentary features.
For a smartwatch, the Amazfit has an amazing battery life. If I go on a 30 minute activity everyday, the battery lasts for 3 days. If I am using the watch just as a smartwatch, then it lasts for 5 days on a single charge. If the battery is really low, notifications and other smart features are disabled and the watch starts acting like a watch. Charging takes more than an hour from USB port. But it is faster (30 min) if connected to a basic wall charger. The dock is non-magnetic proprietary clip.
Officially the watch is priced at $99. But as it is not available in India officially, importing and duties can increase the cost by upto $140. Even for $140 there is no watch available in India with inbuilt storage, Bluetooth and GPS. The design is stylish and Huami has paid utmost attention to detail while crafting this device. But the same cannot be said for the app. App integration has to be improved. It is a good smartwatch and a fairly accurate fitness tracker. If you are walking, biking, jogging or running on treadmill and you want to leave your mobile behind while on the field, the Amazfit pace is the perfect solution that $99 can buy. I wish Xiaomi bring the Amazfit pace to India without any further delay.
Make sure you select the English version and not the Chinese version.
(Updated 04 March 2017, after a firmware update was received)
A new feature called the Training center has been added. Users can select their target and the watch will draw out a plan of training for them. They can choose to run 5K, 10k, 21K or 42K as target and the app will give you a training schedule. Also the watch face can now be customized. I tried it, but was unable to get it through. After the latest update 1.3.2b, the battery life has reduced. Now I get a max of 3 days on a single charge.
(Updated 12 June 2017, after update 1.3.2b was updated and used for about a month)