A design that mimics traditional watch design
The best battery life on any smartwatch that won't die soon
The software integration needs work and watchface options are limited
Every consumer electronics device comes with its own share of fanfare. But, none got the attention that smartwatches received. Amplified by the launch of Apple Watch in 2015, the segment was set to put mini computers on our wrist. In reality, they never even delivered on their primary purpose – to tell time. Apple has sold millions of wearables, but those numbers pale in comparison to iPhones sold every year. However, wearables are not a failure and there are brands like Huami that are giving a new life to the segment. Its newest product in India – the Amazfit Verge Lite – wants to be a smarter watch than a smartwatch.
Smartwatches never took off in the same way as smartphones because of three simple reasons. They had to convince a young generation that prefers a naked wrist. Since I got my first phone with always on display, I stopped wearing a wrist watch. The second reason is huge entry price, and third being their tethered nature. With Amazfit Verge Lite, Huami is trying to tackle at least two of those issues. I’ve spent the last 10 days wearing the new smarwatch, and here’s my Huami Amazfit Verge Lite review.
Amazfit Verge Lite design and display
One of the biggest caveats of smartwatches is their design. When you imagine a wristwatch, the immediate shape that comes to mind is that of a circle. For the Amazfit Verge Lite, Huami went with a circular watch face. On the wrist, it looks like any other mechanical watch. It’s big, bulky and muscular in appearance. One colleague asked me if it was a Casio G-Shock. That’s a big complement and it is due to that huge core design. The entire watch is built using polycarbonate material and not premium aluminum or ceramic.
It does not feel cheap, but it doesn’t feel premium either. At Rs 6,999, I do think Huami has found a good balance. The face of the device is home to a 1.3-inch circular AMOLED display which results in dial diameter of 43mm. It seems to be sourced from the same vendor as other Amazfit wearables. The display is bright and easy to view in bright conditions. I used it with auto-brightness for the past 10 days and I had no issue. It displays text, numbers and charts with good clarity. However, the number of watchfaces available is limited. Though, you can add custom watchfaces the process is tricky.
There is a single button at the side of the device named as Home. On our white review unit, the text was not immediately visible. The button, as the name gives away, takes you to the home screen. You can also use it to activate or deactivate the display. There is a heart-rate sensor under the core, which is surrounded by all the regulatory trademarks and registrations. The Verge Lite also comes with replaceable wristband. The ones supplied with the product are made from silicone and polycarbonate for comfortable wearing over a long duration.
One of the major promises of a smartwatch like Amazfit Verge Lite is to track your activities. It can track your workout such as outdoor running, walking, outdoor cycling, treadmill, indoor cycling, elliptical trainer or any other form of exercise. I found it the most accurate for tracking your outdoor run. Since it has GPS built-in, the watch not only tracks your run but also maps it. At the end of the run, the smartwatch shows duration, distance, pace, heart rate, cadence, stride length and calories burned. As someone who runs only while testing wearables, this is a lot of data to consume.
I do find this data useful, but the accuracy is purely subjective at this moment. For instance, I once tried the same route for outdoor run with a borrowed Fitbit Charge 3. The heart-rate measured on that tracker was different. I even consulted a doctor who thought that there is a small margin of error with the optical sensor on the wearable. During this entire review process, Amazfit Verge Lite kept telling me that my resting heart rate is under 60 beats per minute. According to the tracker, this is low and the average value should vary between 60 and 80 BPM.
There are also few false positives that I think Huami should try and fix with future updates. On one day, when I went for a walk, the tracker recorded it as a run. Similarly, it recorded an outdoor run as a walk. The occurrences of these errors were few but they should be fixed. The option to set alert for breaching a heart-rate threshold is nice. I also liked the alert for being idle, which made me get up and move around. This is one of the cheapest ways to be careful of your health without stressing too much about it.
What about Sleep tracking?
While Apple Watch does not track sleep, the Amazfit Verge Lite does. In order to track sleep, you need to go to bed wearing the smartwatch. My friends said that it would be a constant presence that affects your sleep. I hardly ever felt like wearing an additional fitness tracker. So, the bulkiness of the smartwatch became a non-issue. It tracks sleep with near perfect accuracy and breaks the data into deep sleep and light sleep. It does not track REM sleep, which is a good thing, considering the wearables are not accurate. Alongside the data, the tracker also offers sleep quality analysis and comparison with other users. It also offers those standard recommendations to go to bed early.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Amazfit Verge Lite supports Bluetooth 5.0 LE for connectivity. It can be paired with both Android as well as iOS. It also comes with built-in GPS for mapping your outdoor activity. The smartwatch can be paired to these platforms using Xiaomi’s Mi Fit or Amazfit apps. You cannot pair the wearable to both the applications at the same time. It offers reliable connection with the smartphone but sync can be really slow.
Every time you open the app, it waits to sync the data. In case of A-GPS data sync, the wait can be annoyingly long. It also takes considerably longer to fetch or send data between devices. For instance, if you want to change the watchface then you need to select one from the list, download and then sync. The last part is something that would test your patience if you have seen or used an Apple Watch before.
It makes you overlook some of its issues by offering a marathon grade battery life. Huami claims 20 days battery life, and I must say it would get very close to that mark. I charged the device when it reached my desk last week. Since then the battery has dropped to only 50 percent. This drain is despite me using activity tracking with GPS and continuous heart-rate monitoring. Huami has put a good 390mAh battery inside that bulky design and it is a very smart trade-off.
Verdict: Should you buy the Amazfit Verge Lite?
The Amazfit Verge Lite is neither the greatest smartwatch nor the most disappointing one. Instead, it is one that aims to find the sweet spot between those two. As I said at the beginning, it aims to fix two pain points. At Rs 6,999, it is cheaper than smartwatches that don’t deliver even half good experience. It also has a design that would appeal to young audience, who want a cool device. The Verge Lite is tethered to a smartphone and that link can be really slow.
It is an issue that does not have an immediate fix. There are also not a lot of watchface choices. The process of adding a custom watch face is not as easy as Amazfit Verge or Stratos variants. Whether you should buy will depends on what you need from your wearable. If you want a step up from Xiaomi Mi Band then this a great option. Else, you will need to look for more expensive devices in this segment.