This year there is a Pro variant of the round GTR watch, which is what we’ve had on on our wrist for a while. There are a few differences between the vanilla and the Pro model, which we will dig into in a few minutes, but first a quick overview of the watch itself.
The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is designed with a classic look in mind, so one of the options is to have a brown leather strap (which we do). The other version comes with a fluoroelastomer strap, which is more resistant to wear and tear.
Which one you want depends on what you plan to use the watch for. It’s great for passive health tracking and expanding the functions of your phone, but it also has extensive exercise tracking features. The strap has a quick release mechanism, so it doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.
Design and build
We certainly wouldn’t recommend swimming with the leather strap or even sweating a lot and neither does Amazfit itself. It’s not the best quality leather we’ve seen, though it’s soft and comfortable to wear. And as we mentioned already, it’s easy enough to replace with any other standard strap.
The 22mm straps can be easily swapped out
The body of the watch itself is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. At 32g (wihtout the strap) you barely feel it on your hand. The design is quite understated, so you can easily transform it with one of the 150+ watch faces. Besides different looks, these have different functions too, but we’ll get to that.
The important thing to note for now is that the circular display is 1.45” in diameter, up from 1.39” on the GTR 2. The bezels were slimmed down, so it’s not a large watch, though there are no size options so Amazfit aimed for an average size.
Even though there are both a microphone and a loudspeaker on board, the watch is water resistant up to 5 ATM, meaning it is suitable to take swimming in the pool. It even offers some cool new features for that.
Display and controls
The 1.45” display is an AMOLED with a higher refresh rate than before – the 2nd generation watches ran at 30Hz, while the GTR 3 Pro display goes above 50Hz (though we don’t have an exact number).
The display supports Always On Display and each watch face comes with two designs – a beautiful, elaborate design for when the display is active and stripped down view for the AOD mode. The latter sticks to black backgrounds and thicker solid lines to make it both power efficient and legible.
Watch faces and their AOD versions
There is a Raise To Wake function, but we left it off since the AOD watch faces show the time (and possibly the date and other data, depending on which face you pick), which is mostly what we want to see at a glance. Plus, since they all look different, this is enough to customize the look of the watch. You can have an analog face with thick arms, a digital face, some are pretty minimalist, others show more info. Also, if you like the active watch face, but don’t care for its AOD look, you have a few pre-installed AOD faces to fall back on.
One of the default watch faces • A fallback AOD watch face
You can control the display brightness or enable auto brightness. The watch can hit 1,000 nits, so it’s legible even under bright sunlight. You can control how long the display stays on after waking and when the Always On function is active (you can set to to turn off during the night or have it enabled constantly).
There are a lot of options for how the watch shows information that you can tweak from the watch itself or using the companion Zepp app. We mentioned the Raise To Wake option, there is a separate option that wakes the display when a new notification comes in. We enabled that as otherwise you have to hit a button to wake the watch by hitting the button or relying on the RTW option. You can also set whether the watch should vibrate and/or chime for new notifications. Vibrate yes, chime no is our preference. We mostly mention this as each of these toggles and tweaks affects battery life.
Display settings • Always On mode can be put on a schedule • Raise to wake settings
Then we get to the two buttons. The top one is actually a crown, which spins around to scroll through menu and text. The large display fits plenty of text and with scrolling we’ve had no problems reading whole emails on the watch. As long as there are no images, since those aren’t displayed, neither for email nor messaging apps.
One complaint we have here is that while you can scroll through the menus with the crown, there is no way to activate a menu option. Pressing the crown always brings you back to the homescreen and if you’re already there, it opens the menu instead. We would have loved to see a way to operate the phone with the hardware controls only – this would be handy for when your fingers are wet or when you are wearing gloves.
Anyway, the bottom button is used as a shortcut to your most commonly used feature. You can set one for short and one for long press, long pressing the crown can also trigger a feature. This includes one of the health tracking features, Amazon Alexa, voice memo, camera remote, etc.
You can configure the action for long pressing each button plus short pressing the lower button
Alexa functions as usual – you can ask it a question or tell it to turn on the lights if you have smart home gadgets (more on that later). There is also an offline voice assistant. This one can be used even when the watch isn’t connected to your phone (Alexa needs access to the Internet) and can be used by privacy-conscious folks too.
You can open a specific app (e.g. the heart rate monitor), start a work out, change skip to the next song, adjust the screen brightness, start a timer and so on. There is a lot you can get done while your hands are occupied.
The offline voice assistant can handle a variety of actions
To enable that there are three separate settings for when the watch listens for voice input. You can have it listen while the screen is on or only during the first 5 seconds after waking or set it to listen after you raise your wrist (we disabled all of those). You can set one of the buttons to trigger the offline assistant as well. English, Spanish and Chinese are supported, German should be too, though we didn’t see it with the version of the software we had available for testing.
Finally, the watch can be worn on your left or your right hand. It’s almost perfectly symmetrical, the only difference is whether the crown will be on the upper or lower side.
The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro features the latest BioTracker 3.0 sensor (as do the non-Pro and the GTS watches). Version 3.0 features two LEDs and six photodiodes, allowing it to collect data faster and do it more accurately to boot.
Configuring the health tracking features
Detecting the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) now only takes 15 seconds, making the new generation nearly twice as fast as the watches from last year. The new watch can also track your breathing rate, something that many smart watches and bands overlook.
Naturally, the watch can also track your heart rate – this and SpO2 tracking can be enabled 24/7. There are other options, including breathing quality while you sleep. Note that this significantly decreases battery life.
Heart rate • Blood Oxygen • Stress
Speaking of sleep tracking, the watch divides it into stages – light sleep, deep sleep and REM, plus marking periods when you were awake. It can also handle daytime naps. In the morning you will receive a Sleep score based on how long you slept, if you went to bed late or woke up early, how much time you spent in each sleep stage and so on.
Sleep stages • Comparison to a typical sleep • Logging additional info
The app will also help you get better sleeping habits. For example, it will tell you if you went to bed later than usual. Also, in the morning you can log what you were doing before falling asleep (using your phone, drinking, reading, etc.) and how you felt when you woke up. Armed with a log of this, you can figure out what makes you wake up so tired.
Amazfit focused on simplifying the user experience. This is where the PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) score comes in. It keeps track of various metrics over the last 7 days, your physical characteristics (age, resting and maximum heart rate, how your body responds to exercise, etc.) and crunches them down to a single number – maintain a score of 100 PAI or higher and you are all good.
PAI combines a lot of data into a single number
If you want a reading for the current moment, you don’t have to run heart rate, SpO2 and other tools separately – the One Tap measurement tool will run a quick 45 second check up and show you all the relevant numbers: heart rate, blood oxygen, breathing rate and stress.
The watch also tracks your skin temperature, but that doesn’t show up in the One Tap tool. Still, you can see a chart of your skin temperature for the last few hours.
Another helpful tool can help women keep track of their periods and includes predictions for the next period, the next fertile window and ovulation day.
All of the health sensors come into play when you exercise. The data they record can be synced with Apple Health (if you are an iPhone user), Google Fit (for Android users), as well as third-party apps like Strava, Relive and RunKeeper.
The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro can track over 150 sports modes and can automatically recognize 8 modes so that you don’t have to manually start the tracking for them. An in-house algorithm has been developed to track maximum oxygen intake (VO2 Max), the training load and effectiveness as well as how long it takes your body to recover afterwards.
This will help you keep track of your progress as well another feature – Virtual Pacer. This allows you to race against your past self when you go on a run, with an intuitive display showing your average pace and whether you are ahead or behind compared to your previous run.
Interestingly, the BioTracker 3.0 sensor can work in the water too, so that the watch can measure your heart rate while you’re in the pool. This is great for those who prefer swimming over running.
The watch features improved satellite positioning hardware – in addition to GPS and GLONASS, it also uses Galileo, BeiDo and QNSS satellites. This improves the cold start time (by 20%) and position accuracy (by 40%). You will feel this the most when there isn’t a clear view of the sky (because of tall buildings or trees).
However, there are no navigation tools on board. We weren’t expecting Google Maps or anything, but other GPS-enabled watches allow you to set up waypoints so that you know where you’re going on a long hike. They just show an arrow and distance to your next location, but that’s better than nothing. Perhaps something like this can be built using Zepp OS’s new app framework.
As it is, you only get a digital compass to guide you. There is also a barometer on board, which can issue a warning of a sharp change in weather. It also estimates the altitude above sea level and plots it on the screen, so that you can keep an eye on elevation gain. Since barometers aren’t all that accurate for altitude measurements, the watch briefly turns on the GPS to calibrate the barometer when you start.
Another tool shows you sunrise and sunset times, the phase of the moon and information about the tide (if you’re near the sea).
Connectivity and smartwatch features
The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro offers the usual smartwatch features. It can show the text of an incoming SMS as well as notifications from select apps. Smart bands can do this too, but the large screen fits quite a bit of text.
Configuring which notifications show up on the watch
For example, Gmail seems to send over the whole body of the email and that was easy enough to read. In no small part thanks to the new crown, which allowed for easy, accurate scrolling without touching the screen.
Unfortunately, there is no way to answer incoming text or IM messages – no keyboard, no speech-to-text, not even preset responses (e.g. “ok”, “yes”, etc.). This limits how much you can do with just the watch, at least as far as texting is concerned. Also, images from email and IM apps are not shown, even if they appear in the notification.
Allowing the watch to act as a hands-free speaker • Adding contacts to the watch’s phonebook
The watch can also work as a hands-free speaker. You can even start a call by going in the Phone app – there’s a small keypad you can use to dial, as well as a list of recent and favorite contacts, which you can add from the phone app.
The watch has some neat organizational tools too. For example, we were able to sync it with our Google Calendar, so we had the schedule for important events accessible on our wrist. I would have been even better if we could sync a to-do list (e.g. Google Keep), but even just the calendar is a big boon over, say, a Mi Band.
The watch can sync with Google Calendar, but you can also manually add events
The watch’s microphone can also be used to take a voice memo, something that can be trigger with the press of a key or using the offline digital assistant. Amazon Alexa is also on board, which is one way to control smart devices at home. The other option is the Home Connect app. Unfortunately, there’s no support for Mi Home gadgets yet.
The GTR 3 Pro has 2.3 GB of available storage on board. From the phone app you can transfer audio files to listen to – songs, but also podcasts and audiobooks. We think the latter two are a better option, since the process is manual. There is no way to sync your weekly Spotify playlist or anything similar, not unless you do it by hand. But throwing one or two podcast files is easy enough to do.
Transferring audio files over to the watch happens over Wi-Fi
Note that the GTR 2 also had storage for audio, 3GB. We suspect both have 4GB of actual memory, the difference comes from how much the system takes up (and Zepp OS is more advanced than the previous software). Anyway, the watch has Wi-Fi connectivity on board, which is only used to speed up the transfer of audio tracks (which would take too long over Bluetooth).
You can use the Zepp app on your phone to load new watch faces. There are plenty to choose from, some imitate classic watches, others look decidedly digital. Amazfit will soon release a tool that will let you make your own watch face and share it with others.
Many watch faces to choose from
Something to note about the watch faces is that there are several major categories. There are pretty basic ones, but there are also ones with an animated background. More useful are the customizable ones, which feature one or several widgets – this can be used to display your heart rate, steps taken today, weather forecast and so on, you can tweak the watch face to show the most important info at a glance. Some even let you change the look, e.g. offering several options for the hour markers. The customized look and widgets don’t carry over to the Always On Design of the watch face, unfortunately.
The definition of a smartwatch is a little elusive, but without installable apps a watch can’t be all that smart, can it? The new Zepp OS, which makes its debut on the GTR 3 duo and the GTS 3 does support apps, though, so there’s no argument here.
It’s a custom platform that is also brand new, so there aren’t many apps to look at. The best one is Home Connect, which can control smart home devices from various brands (Bosch, Siemens, Neff and others, more info here). We were a bit surprise to see that there is no Mi Home app, however, considering how close the maker of Amazfit devices is to Xiaomi (hint: it makes the Mi Band). Mi Home can be controlled from Amazon Alexa, but we were hoping for deeper integration.
App store and the first apps for Zepp OS
The rest are pretty simple – a calculator, a BMI calculator, a tool to track your daily calorie intake, that kind of thing. There is also a Watch Storage Space app, which claims that 765MB are taken up by the system and there are 2,400MB or so left for us to use.
The app selection isn’t particularly exciting at the moment, but what’s more exciting is that there is app support in the first place – many so-called smartwatches lack this feature, so they have the functionality of a smart band (though with a watch form factor). It’s too early to tell what is possible with this app frame work. We wouldn’t hold our breath for Google Maps or WhatsApp, but we can think of several helpful tools that will make this watch even more useful.
For example, simple waypoint navigation should be possible. Also, we’d like an app that stores QR/barcodes for loyalty cards (there’s no NFC on board, so mobile payments are no-go).
The Amazfit GTR 3 Pro battery life is advertised as 12 days of regular use, 6 days of heavy usage. We guess we’re heavy users because in two weeks of using the watch we had to charge it twice. This is with no exercise tracking (don’t judge), but quite a bit of notifications as well as heart rate and SpO2 tracking every 5 minutes, plus sleep tracking (but without the breathing quality tracking during sleep). The Always On Display was set to be always active.
The new watch has a slightly improved charging system than before. It still uses a proprietary magnetic adapter, but it can now complete a full charge in 2 hours (down from 2.5 hours on the previous generation). That’s per the official specifications, anyway, in our experience it only took an hour to go from a flat battery to over 90%.
If you’re away from a charger and the battery is running low, you can switch on the Battery Saver Mode. Starting from a full battery, it extends the typical usage time from 12 days to 30 days. Still, if battery life is a huge concern, the vanilla GTR 3 advertises 21 days of regular usage without the power saver mode.
The number of settings and configurations possible on the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is a little intimidating at first, but in the end we were able to configure the watch to work just how we like it. And after the initial setup, operation is quite simple.
We appreciate that you can view the data collected by the watch on the watch itself. On previous generations you had to reach for the phone app for some stuff – sleep data, for example.
The rotating crown is a great addition, though it would have been a lot more useful if it could also activate menu items. Sometimes using the touchscreen is imprecise (e.g. when walking and not quite looking at the screen), but the crown and the haptic feedback make it easy to move from one item to the next.
Zepp OS is an exciting change. The first few apps are quite simple and there are only a few to choose from right now, but knowing how active the scene for custom watch faces on Huami-made devices is, we think that new apps will crop up soon.
The one downside seems to be the battery life – we never felt like we were pushing the watch to its limit and yet 12 days of battery life seem impossible, unless you disable most of the health tracking. The GTR 2 lasted noticeably longer when we reviewed it.
With its $230/€200 the GTR 3 Pro gets very close to Wear OS watches such as the new Galaxy Watch4, which can be had for €250. Even an Apple Watch isn’t out of reach, if you settle for an older model (the Series 3 is €220, the SE is €300). But as cool as Zepp OS is, it’s still much simpler than the Google and Apple OSes.
This leaves battery life as the key advantage that Amazfit holds. The GTR 3 Pro can last several days longer than those two. It’s certainly not a battery champ as the vanilla GTR 3 promises to last a more than week longer. But for some the better screen, the hands-free calling and music storage are worth the extra cost of the Pro model ($50/€50).
However, for others the two non-Pro watches are better value for the money. Unless doing calls through your watch is a must-have feature, we’d point you to the GTR 3 – it has similar looks and features, better battery and its price tag won’t make you wonder if you should be getting a Samsung or an Apple watch.