Huami’s latest smartwatch in India is also its most exciting yet in the country. After launching the Amazfit Bip S and Amazfit T-Rex, the Xiaomi-backed smart wearable technology brand is launching the Amazfit Stratos 3 in the country today. This is the third smartwatch from the company in India this month. With these three models, Amazfit is covering the price segment of Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000 and attempts to strengthen its lead in the smartwatch segment. Also Read - Huami Amazfit Stratos 3 launched in India at Rs 13,999; check features, specifications
Amazfit Stratos 3 is not a new watch and it made its debut first in September last year. It was initially set to launch in India early this year but the company shelved those plans. Due to lockdown, Huami’s plans got further delayed. Now, that Amazfit Stratos 3 is here, we cannot forget the fact that it is ten months old. In technology speak, that’s a lot of time and reaches a territory where Stratos 4 might debut anytime. Regardless of the timing, Huami has a wearable that is interesting in its own merit. Also Read - NFC will soon let you wirelessly charge your earbuds and wearables, thanks to new WLC standard
I have reviewed a lot of wearables from Amazfit in the past year or so. The success of this brand in India can be owed to great design, competitive price and good list of features. However, Huami has to play by the same rules that others abide as well. This means, Huami Amazfit watches are not proper smartwatches. You cannot install third-party apps on them. It doesn’t always strike as a device bringing forth any innovation until you see the Amazfit Stratos 3. It miniaturized a feature seen on premium diver’s friendly fitness wearable. Does that make it a star in this universe of wearables launching left, right and center. Let’s find out in this review. Also Read - Garmin MARQ super-premium wearables launched in India; starts from Rs 1,41,990
Amazfit Stratos 3: Design and Display
A watch is an extremely personal device. No two people would have the same taste in terms of design. It is one of the reasons why traditionally watch industry tends to classify their products as casual, dive and dress watches. In the smartwatch world, however, the classification seems to be down to two categories: indoor and outdoor. An outdoor smartwatch, obviously, offers more features and is aimed at those serious about their fitness. An indoor smartwatch, on the other hand, is cheaper and does basic fitness tracking like steps and sleep.
Amazfit Stratos 3 falls in the outdoor smartwatch category. From the choice of strap material to the build quality of the case, Amazfit has done excellent work. But this notion of the watch being an outdoor fitness device is strongly demonstrated by the display. Amazfit knows a thing or two about display on a smartwatch. The Amazfit GTS has one of the best displays on a smartwatch right now. However, the Stratos 3 takes things to a whole new level with its transflective MIP display.
This is the same kind of display used by Garmin on some of its GPS watches. A transflective memory-in-pixel display is a LCD display but with an optical layer on top of it, that reflects and transmits light. In other words, the display gets brighter as soon as more natural light falls on it. The outdoor viewing on this watch is second to none. A smartwatch without an auto-brightness sensor would struggle to display content under direct sunlight. Amazfit Stratos 3 just enjoys being under such a situation.
To really understand this display, you should turn off the “wake screen on wrist raise” feature. With this turned off, the screen won’t show anything when you raise your wrist. However, under bright light, you can still see the content on the screen thanks to this transflective display. I have been talking to a few athletes who prefer such a display over LCD or OLED panels. Since it uses light to transmit on-screen content, the screen looks brighter depending on the amount of light falling on it. This is one trick that Amazfit Stratos 3 can boast of in the sub-Rs 15,000 price segment.
When you look past this display technology, there is a 1.34-inch circular display with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and has anti-fingerprint coating as well. There is no auto-brightness setting and display brightness goes from 0 to 4. I have been using it with the brightness set to 2 indoors. While the display is not super sharp or brightest, it works fine. There is not much of a trade-off here.
Since the target audience includes athletes, Huami has designed the watch to be navigated using the buttons rather than the touchscreen. There are two pushers on the right named “Select” and “Back”. Between these two pushers, there are two navigational buttons for vertical scrolling. You can access the entire interface of the watch without touching the screen. Huami wins brownie points for this clever hardware design. The case is made from 316L Stainless Steel and has a diameter of 48.6mm. It is large but on my medium-sized wrist, it did not appear to be huge.
The bottom case uses a reinforced plastic while the bezel is made from zirconia ceramic. At 13.4mm thick, the Stratos 3 has a strong presence on the wrist and makes people take note. It is also a bit difficult to slide it under the cuff of your shirt, if you are wearing one during this lockdown. Amazfit is using a 22mm silicone strap with the watch, which feels nice. However, I paired it with other 22mm straps at my disposal for even better comfort. The Amazfit Stratos 3 is a perfect mix of design and display ingenuity that will appeal to its target audience.
Activity Tracking and Other Features
I want to admit that this is an area which I could not test extensively. This is also not my first time using the Amazfit Stratos 3. The company had shared the wearable with me in January. During that time, I was able to test some of its sports-centric fitness features. Due to the lockdown and downpour in Mumbai, I was limited to testing only a few features. I was supposed to give this device to a friend, who is a professional athlete, to understand his view on VO2 Max data and recovery time indicator. You are right to think that I could not do those testing with a professional.
Like the budget Amazfit Bip S, the Stratos 3 is excellent at tracking basic features like step count and calories burnt. I also found the sleep tracking data to be accurate but the watch itself was a bit cumbersome to wear at night. This has been a surprise to me since the Amazfit T-Rex, which has a rugged look, was comfortable enough to wear at night. I am a light sleeper and every time I stumbled because of this watch’s intricate design. Fortunately, the watch managed to record that as well and my deep sleep percentage was just too bad.
My friends in the medical profession tell me that this sleep data is a good indicator but should not be taken as a clinical data. It is also the reason why Apple is yet to introduce sleep tracking and Amazfit limits the data to light and deep sleep. It is even more difficult for sensors used on these watches to measure REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. On the physical activity front, I managed to go for an outdoor run with this watch and it did track the run precisely and the GPS was able to display the map instantaneously. It can track other fitness activities like elliptical, skiing, football, triathlon, swimming, multi-sport among others.
Amazfit claims 80 professional sports modes and firstbeat professional sports analysis. If you are getting started as an athlete, this smartwatch will be a good fitness device to track all of your activity. The data provided afterwards to improve your efficiency and reduce the risk of injury is commendable. There is also a bio-tracker heart rate sensor that monitors your heart rate for 24 hours of the day in both smart and ultra endurance mode. Amazfit has a huge product portfolio in the wearable segment. The Stratos 3 is not only aimed at professional athletes but also shows its ability to challenge itself.
Battery Life and User Interface
When it comes to interface, we are not only talking about the UI on the watch but also the one on the app. The app is similar to the one we used with Amazfit T-Rex but the interface of the watch is different. You might be wondering why Amazfit is calling this a dual OS smartwatch. Well, the answer is that it has two different systems, which are being sold as operating systems. I would differ from that language. It is more like there is a main system and a sub-system in this watch. The main system is called Smart mode while the sub-system is called ultra endurance mode.
The Smart mode has a much more customizable interface where you can change layout of data shown on the watch. If you enable Ultra endurance mode, these options are both limited and restricted to one prescribed by the manufacturer. The Smart mode comes with a rated battery life of 7 days while the ultra endurance mode pushed that to 14 days. Amazfit has reached this number with factory default settings where heart rate monitoring is always on, you receive 150 messages, raise your wrist 30 times to see time, engage in 30 minutes of outdoor activity and 5 minutes of other operations.
This battery life claim is not far-fetched and most of us would get slightly longer endurance due to reduced movement and physical activity. I have more than 50 percent juice left and will easily surpass the 7 days claim in the smart mode. The charging happens using a magnetic charging stand that connects via a 4-pin pogo connection. The watch connects to an Android or iOS device using Bluetooth 4.2 or Bluetooth LE 5.0. The app has a standard interface with data such as step count, calories burnt and sleep shown at the front page. That data is followed by heart rate, sleep score and exercise record.
If Apple has the cleanest interface then Amazfit and Huawei come close second with their UI. When you click on the connected watch, Amazfit Stratos 3 in this case, it shows additional data such as watch face being used, time since the device was charged and options to control the notifications setting. I also got three software updates as soon as I unboxed this watch. Thankfully, it has WiFi built-in and updates get downloaded easily but the process is rather slow. The Amazfit OS powering this fitness wearable is not groundbreaking but gets the job done.
Amazfit Stratos 3: Should you buy?
Amazfit Stratos 3 is one of the most ambitious smart wearable from Huami. This is not the device where it is playing safe. By using a transflective memory-in-pixel display, it is showing that it knows what athletes and sports enthusiasts want from their fitness watch. It is doing that without increasing the cost to the end consumer in a big way. At Rs 13,999, it costs just Rs 4,000 more than Amazfit T-Rex. On the other hand, it is also tweaking the user interface to appeal to these athletes. The emphasis is on use of GPS on a constant basis that has not much impact on the battery life.
The build quality of Amazfit Stratos 3 is as good as those other watches from the company. It is, in fact, better in some areas like appearance while lacking in terms of wearability during sleep. There is also Huami’s proprietary PPG bio-tracking heart sensor and 2GB of onboard storage to listen to music via Bluetooth earbuds. It will be an understatement to say that it checks a lot of boxes. There are tons of features and one clear advantage in the form of display. If you are an athlete starting to track your activity then this is a good option before you switch to Garmin or Polar. For others, I would recommend looking at options like Amazfit GTS, Amazfit T-Rex and Huawei Watch GT 2e.