I had always been unconvinced by the need for smart watches. I must admit to being tempted by a Pebble, but the recent Android-powered smart watches didn’t seem to have any particular raison d’etre. However, I have been wanting to take up running for a while and having a watch with a GPS tracker would be easier than strapping a phone to my arm every time I go out. I didn’t want to spend too much which ruled out a Garmin. In the end I saw a deal for the Amazfit Bip for $52.99 (currently just over £40). The Bip not only has GPS functionality but also has a heart rate monitor and a promise of 30 day battery life. Is it too good to be true?
I must admit to being very pleasantly surprised by the Bip. It has to be said that the display is pretty basic, but in a retro way I quite like this. There are thousands of alternative watch faces available, currently I have mine set to be like the pause screen in GoldenEye 007:
The activity tracking is limited to walking, outdoor running, treadmill running and cycling. This isn’t ideal for me as I do a lot of HIIT training that would be useful to track, but the run tracking works pretty well. If you install the Notify & Fitness app and pay a small amount in in-app purchases, you can sync activities straight to Strava. The GPS tracking is not perfect but it performs similarly to my phone. The Bip also tracks the number of steps you take each day.
The Notify & Fitness app also lets you customise notifications that get synced to the watch. After a few months of use I can now see why someone would want a smart watch. I can check who is calling me, emails, WhatsApp and football scores just by checking my wrist! There is no capability to respond to messages on the watch but I can’t see a situation where I might want to do that (I appreciate others might want to). I setup FotMob to notify me of goals for my favourite teams and my wrist now buzzes whenever someone scores. It’s also worth noting that you can set quiet times so that you don’t receive notifications overnight, for example.
The Bip offers sleep tracking but I do find this hit and miss – sometimes it will say I’ve had a bad night when I feel good, and vice versa, but it generally gets the start and end times right. I wouldn’t say it is worth buying just for this functionality.
As far as battery life goes I am pleased to say that it last a long time – I can easily go several weeks without charging it. Charging only takes a few hours too. Using GPS or excessive heart rate monitoring will reduce the battery life but it will still offer much better battery life than say an Apple Watch or the equivalent Android.
Having been unsure about owning a smart watch initially, I am now won over by the Bip and am very pleased with it – it’s definitely good value for money and I would highly recommend it.