To begin with, I wasn’t too much of a runner, and preferred mild jogs or a racquet sport. But after beginning to use and review smartwatches made for running, I’m slowly beginning to convert, thanks especially to the kind of data such dedicated smartwatches provide users. The first few times, I actually had to look up what ‘cadence’ meant. (Basically the number of steps you take a minute).
The latest such smartwatch to come my way is Huami’s Amazfit Pace GPS Running Watch, making its purpose clear with the name itself. It costs a fraction of the price that the big guns in the space command. Top-notch running smartwatches are mostly reserved for those very serious about their fitness and the marathon enthusiasts and the likes. How does the Amazfit Pace keep up?
First, kudos to the company for getting the design right. Perfectly circular, the Pace looks excellent on one’s wrist. From the side, the assembly that holds the sensors and the screen looks like a tiny little flying saucer and it’s held in place by a comfortable silicone strap that looks and feels very durable. The screen is ringed by a dull, glossy grey bezel that catches the light in an attractive, yet under-stated manner. The back of the watch houses a heart rate sensor and four contact points for charging and file transfer.
The watch has a large LCD touchscreen, with a flattened-out bottom display, making the bottom look hemispherical. There’s a single button on the top right to power up the watch and wake it up. The Amazfit app, available on the Play Store and App store, allows users to choose from over 21 preset watch faces, most of them quite eye-catching and offering quite a bit of information. The app is quite simple and basic and lets you access additional information. But the watch itself displays enough and more information — sleep, during workouts, heart rate, and even heart rate analysis.
The heart rate analysis bit was a personal favourite. After your heart rate is measured, you can touch “analyse”, following which you’re asked a couple of questions on what your activity status is and how your current mood is. Based on this, it tells you whether your heartbeat is normal. Of course, this isn’t meant to be used for diagnostic purposes.
The steps counted seemed on point, and I tested this against other smartwatches and activity trackers. Light step or relaxed walking about at home or office wasn’t measured sometimes, however. Sleep was measured basically, with deep sleep and light sleep being recorded and displayed on the watch face itself. The watch face can hold a number of useful widgets, which can be selected using the app, such as heart rate, weekly weather forecast, stopwatch, timer, alarm, compass, etc, making the need to reach for your phone much less.
The fact that the Amazfit Pace can function as a standalone music player is definitely a plus at this price, and puts it in the league of more expensive such products from the likes of Garmin and Fitbit. This negates the need for a phone to keep you entertained when you’re out for a run. Just carry a Bluetooth headset and you are well sorted.
A left swipe from the watch face will take you to a menu that lists different kinds of exercise such as outdoor and indoor running, biking, trail running, walking, and even climbing and elliptical. I mostly used outdoor running and walking, and the amount of information that was shown to me on the watch itself kept me checking the Pace even in the middle of my jogs or walks. The session begins as soon as you select the exercise option and data such as steps, distance covered, time taken, cadence (remember what this is?), speed, heart rate, calories burnt, is shown to you. Swiping right will take you to a GPS route display and an option to play music from within the workout screen itself, so you don’t have to exit or pause the session. A nice touch.
You can set a threshold heart rate limit, beyond which the watch will buzz to tell you to slow down or take it easy. You can also set pace alerts, target time, target distance, etc, using the settings option.
The Amazfit Pace also makes for a good smartwatch, with incoming call and message alerts, alarm, stopwatch, and other such bells and whistles. It is water and dust resistant, can even connect by itself to a WiFi network on entering the password on the app, and has 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB internal storage to ensure it runs smooth and allows enough space for music. However, I experienced certain lags when swiping on the watch screen.
Battery life is all right, with it lasting me three days, runs included. It takes well over two hours to charge via a laptop. The charger cradle’s plastic quality isn’t the best, though. The screen can take a tad long to wake up when you twist your wrist to do so, and I had to do this rather forcefully a couple of times to get the watch to light up. There’s also a slight lag when the button is pressed to awaken it, at times.
All in all, the Amazfit Pace is a welcome addition to this growing segment and is bound to create a flutter among its competitors.
Price: ₹13,444 online
Pros: Looks great, plethora of features, lots of information displayed on the watch face itself, great price
Cons: Lag in waking it up, basic-looking app, some lags when using it