Late last year, Amazfit wowed us with the announcement of their Amazfit Pace GPS smartwatch. On paper, the watch offered features only the likes of premium fitness devices would offer; GPS, wrist based HR monitor, on board storage for music and an astounding 35 hours of continuous usage with GPS.
All for the low price of about $128 after 20% discount. I had to check our this bargain for myself so I pre-ordered a unit last year.After a few weeks with the Amazfit Pace GPS smart watch, here’s what I have to say.
Amazfit Pace GPS Smartwatch In Short
- All day activity tracker. Records steps, calories and sleep
- Always on transflective color LCD touch screen
- GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth and Wifi enabled
- Wrist based heart rate with all day activity tracking
- Vibration enabled for alarms and smart notifications
- Touchscreen colour display
- Compass, stopwatch, alarm and weather widgets
- Running focused sports profiles (Added Bike, Bike Indoor, and Run Indoor on 4th March 2017)
- Changeable quick release wrist bands and watch faces
- IP67 certified
- Customisable vibration levels
- Smart notifications
- Syncs workout to Strava
- Workouts available for review on device
- Competitively priced
- Activity progress updates periodically
- Slow GPS acquisition speed. Inconsistent distance tracked
- Running focused sports profiles only
- Lack of native app for all day activity stats
- Workout display has limited customisation
- Display is dim under low light conditions
- No metric measurements, only imperial (Metric now enabled on 4th March 2017)
- Battery life of about 10 hours with GPS and wrist based HR, estimated
- Strava workout syncing issues
- No 3rd party apps
- No 3rd party Bluetooth fitness devices compatibility (Such as HR monitors)
LOOK AND FEEL
The Amazfit Pace has a shiny bezel encircling the display. The strap has a quick release fitting pin which should make for ease of changing the straps and customisation. Amazfit doesn’t sell official straps but it shouldn’t be hard to find 3rd party vendors doing so.The touchscreen enabled screen performed superbly under bright daylight but struggles under low light conditions. Unfortunately the user is unable to tweak that.
The back of the display houses the optical heart rate sensors (OHRs) and charging pins. These are really small OHRs compared to what I’ve seen on other units.
The watch has only 1 button on the top right hand corner which serves to wake the watch from locked mode or to put it back to lock mode. Users can also set the Amazfit Pace to unlock by screen touch instead of hassling with the single button.The battery duration can be a bit contentious. Amazfit claims that it can perform up to 35 hours with GPS and HR monitoring on. That’s not the case for my unit which I purchased off the shelf. I would say 10-11 hours at best with GPS and HR monitoring turned on based on extrapolation; a 30 minutes outdoor run I did used up 5% worth of battery.As for 5 days worth of regular watch usage on a single charge, I managed 4. Two day’s worth of use with a single 35 minutes outdoor GPS run session and wrist based heart rate run session burned up half the battery life. I’m pretty sure you won’t have to charge the Amazfit Pace smart watch every day.
This is a decently beautiful looking device which feels robust in built.
FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION
On board GPS & GLONASS
The watch is running focused with available sports profiles ranging from walking and running to trail runs and indoor runs. At present there are no profiles for cycling, swimming, gym and so on.
First up, GPS and GLONASS. You won’t be able to choose between either of the global navigation systems, both are turned on by default. During my use of the Amazfit Pace, I found GPS acquisition speed to be exceedingly slow.
In total, I clocked 3 outdoor runs with the watch and I’ve never gotten GPS signal on the first try. Not once. I found this perplexing since I did 2 runs in the open Mac Ritchie reservoir; no tall buildings whatsoever and I made sure to stand in the clearing and not under foliage.
Distance tracked is comparable (when it works) versus that recorded by a Forerunner 735XT. These are the distances tracked based on the 3 outdoor runs I did. I checked for firmware updates before my runs. Only the first run was acceptable by my standards.
- Run 1: FR735XT recorded 5.3km, Amazfit Pace recorded 3.24 miles (5.21km)
- Run 2: FR735XT recorded 4.84km, Amazfit Pace recorded 2.57 miles (4.14km)
- Run 3: FR735XT recorded 5.97km, Amazfit Pace recorded 2.95 miles (4.75km)
Workout stats are synced and recorded to Strava app as the Amazfit companion app does not have the capability to hold such data. Users can choose between 4 or 6 stats display during workouts. The list of stats is fixed so there are no customisation of any sort.
There are also multiple running focused settings such as HR, pace, target distance and lap alerts.
Completed workouts are slow to sync and may not appear immediately in Strava. This can be frustrating if you’re looking to review the details quickly after workouts. I’ve given up on accessing the data immediately after a workout and usually try again the following day where I’ve had better luck.
Also, none of my workouts synced successfully in its entirety to Strava. For example only about 10 minutes out of 30 minutes of training would be synced. The remainder of the workout will not be captured even though I could view the details right on the Amazfit Pace watch. None of my 3 outdoor runs appeared in its entirety in Strava.
I thought it could be error on my part so I created another Strava account and had the same issue repeated. I’ve since dropped a ticket request to Amazfit and am awaiting their reply.
In short, this shouldn’t have happened.
Completed workouts can also be viewed on the Pace watch itself. It’s pretty impressive that Amazfit has managed to squeeze all the workout details to be displayed on the watch itself.
One thing to note. Upon cessation of workout, if you leave the Amazfit Pace in the paused state without stopping, the time continues to run in the background.
Wrist Based Heart Rate
As for HR monitoring performance. It was fine when it worked and dismal when it didn’t. There was one workout I had when my HR didn’t register until some time into my workout, so I was flat lining for 5-7 minutes.There were also those times when HR monitoring worked like a charm when compared against that of a chest worn HR strap. This is by visual comparison during the workout. I was unable to export the heart rate data for a graph comparison because my workouts never synced in its entirety.Besides HR measurement during workouts, the watch can also track continuous all day HR and have it plotted nicely in a graph to be displayed right on the watch.
All day activity tracking and Amazfit app
I hope you’re ready for this. Despite being an all day activity tracker that records your step count, sleep data and so on, it’s appalling that the Amazfit GPS watch doesn’t have a native app that syncs and logs all these data!You heard me right. Runs will be synced to Strava provided you have a Strava account. As for all day activity data, zilch!
You can only view the immediate stats for the day or the week before it gets written over by new data.There’s an Amazfit Watch mobile app which allows the user to tweak settings such as watch face, notifications and so on but that’s about it.
A check on the App Store revealed that Amazfit’s other products such as the Arc or Moonbeam actually have the mobile apps which are capable of storing all day activity tracking data.
I found this disturbing since the Amazfit Pace’s hardware is pretty decent and there’s perpetually a 20% discount off the web store, making this device a potent competitor versus other products. It could have been phenomenal.
Storage for Music
The Amazfit syncs easily to Bluetooth headphones. Press the home button and swipe down to access Bluetooth features. I was able the pair my Jaybirds on my first try.
The on board storage allows users to upload and store music for playback. My unit had 2.21 GB left even though I started with 4GB. Presumably whatever’s taken up went to the operating system (OS).The Pace GPS smartwatch cannot be used to control music playback on connected mobile devices. It can only play music which is stored on device.
Another issue is the lack of a playlist feature. So it will be a challenge looking for that particular song to kick up your run pace. Naturally there’s no Google Play, Apple Music nor Spotify support.
The Pace watch can receive smart notifications from connected mobile devices. Unfortunately the messages can’t be expanded. What Amazfit does offer here is to allow users to tweak the mobile apps that can send notifications to the watch.
Stop Watch and Alarm
There’s a stop watch and alarm if you scroll right to the end f the list of functions. There’s also an electronic compass here. Though I can’t quite fathom how a non-outdoor type watch with no map display could benefit from having a compass.
There’s a weather widget that can display the weather forecast when location is enabled and the watch is connected to the Amazfit app.
Changeable Watch Faces
There are more than 10 changeable watch faces on last count and I did notice new additions within the Amazfit mobile app. There’s no access to 3rd party apps or watch faces so users will have to make do with this.
Amazfit Pace in a nutshell
The Pace GPS smartwatch shipped with great potential only to be let down by poor software implementation. While hardware has it’s place in wearable trackers. That alone will not determine the success nor a positive user experience. Otherwise the company that fits the most features in a wearable would sell the most devices; which is never the case!
The alarming lack of a native app for consolidation of all day activity tracking data dealt a killer blow to what could’ve been an amazing device.My own poor experience with Strava synchronisation left little to be desired. I appreciated the music, the decent HR monitoring but even that couldn’t undo the poor user experience I had with Amazfit Pace.
You don’t get a second chance at making first impressions. Future software updates may improve the usability of the Amazfit Pace but I’ve written off this GPS smart watch from my list for now.
In a few months, NB RunIQ, Huawei Watch 2, and Misfit Vapor along with more Android Wear 2.0 hardware will be released. If you’re willing to wait it out, these will have identical specs, if not superior, to the Amazfit Pace and will come with all the bells and whistles courtesy of Android Wear 2.0
I did try to return the Amazfit Pace watch but 2 emails to support plus a ticket submission later, I’m exactly where I started. With a competitively priced watch with sub-par performance I wanted to get rid of and no way to do it.
Perhaps the issue may lie with the unit I hold but this unit I reviewed came directly from Amazfit as part of a pre-order purchase. I’ll leave it as that. In a nutshell. Great hardware burdened by software support.
You can purchase the Amazfit Pace at $159 from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount, great return policy, and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return your purchase helps to offset the costs associated with the running of this site. Thanks for reading!