Amazfit Pace review: Doesn't look pretty but it gets the job done
- Dim display
- No swim modes
It’s cheaper than the competition, yes, and it includes a lot of the same functionality features to boot. Unfortunately, the execution just doesn’t land with the same impact here.
Price$ 139.00 (AUD)
When it comes to fitness and wearable brands, Amazfit don’t exactly have the same kind of cache that companies like Fitbit or Garmin. They don’t even have the kind of reputation that primarily-tech companies like Apple and Samsung do in that space. Especially not in Australia.
Co-produced by wearables manufacturer Huami and Chinese megabrand Xiaomi, Amazfit aren’t active within the local market at the moment. However, with the company’s Blip watch turning heads overseas (courtesy of a 45-day battery life) and importing as popular a practice as it is, we decided to check out the company’s flagship Amazfit Pace smartwatch and see if the hardware lived up the hype.
Display Size: 1.34-inch
Display Type: Always-on transflective color LCD capacitive touchscreen
Display Resolution: 320 x 300 pixels
Touch Sensitive: Yes
Heart-Rate Monitor: Yes
Processor: Dual-core, 1.2GHz
OS: Proprietary OS
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE
Battery: 280mAh, 5 days
Color: Black and Red
In terms of design, there’s not a whole lot to write home about with the Amazfit Pace. It’s an otherwise pretty conventional-looking sports smartwatch with a colorful palette, a circular touch-sensitive display and a rubberized watch-band.
There’s only one color on offer here - so your mileage may vary. All things considered, the circular Pace probably reminds me most of Motorola’s Moto 360 Sport - though it feels both slimmer and lighter than that. The ceramic bezel also adds a nice bit of flair and flourish not really present in Moto’s own wearable.
The Pace charges via a USB-powered cradle charger and runs on Xiaomi’s own proprietary OS. The bad news here is that you can’t really synchronize or export the fitness tracking data the Pace collects to any other platforms (like Fitbit or Samsung Health) and you can currently only pair the smartwatch with an Android phone (running Android 4.4 and above).
That said, Huami do say that iOS support is due to come later down the line.
The good news, though, is that as far as these things go, Amazfit’s own app is surprisingly good. Xiaomi’s Mi Fitness app is also supported, but we stuck with the former during our time with the wearable. It feels nice to navigate and all the bells and whistles you’d expect out of a device - which, in turn, are often where you intuitively expect them to be.
Once paired with your smartphone, the Pace can feed you notifications, stream music to a pair of wireless headphones over Bluetooth and see incoming calls and unlock your phone using the wearable. In terms of tracking, it boasts dedicated profiles for running, walking cycling and cross country activities. Unfortunately, there’s no swimming or weight-lifting/workout routines. You also can’t fully-answer calls using the watch, as there’s no microphone on the Pace itself.
In terms of mobile payments, the Amazfit Pace only supports Alipay - which I was surprised to find is actually available in Australia. However, from what we can tell, support for it is pretty scattershot. It’s not nearly on the same level of market penetration as things like Apple, Samsung or even Fitbit Pay.
Another drawback here is that there's not really any form of app store here. There's not a lot of customizability and you're more or less stuck with the out-of-box experience and the watchfaces included therein.
For the most part, the Amazfit Pace mostly delivers on its promises.
In terms of battery life, I wouldn’t say we got to five days with 100% consistency. However, our experiences with the smartwatch definitely saw it go toe-to-toe with and sit in the same ballpark as the Fitbit Ionic. Helpfully, the Pace shows you an estimate how many hours and minutes of usage you've got left in addition to the usual percentage indicators.
Unfortunately, this battery life does come at a cost. The biggest weakness of the Pace proves itself to be the display. Amazfit claim the Pace has an always-on display that automatically adjust the brightness in order to suit the environment around it. Unfortunately, in practice, the Pace looks really dim in even the darkest situations. This made for a distinctly inferior experience, even when doing basic stuff. I much preferred the display on my usual Fitbit Ionic and the new Versa.
In addition, navigating the on-device OS also proved a bit troublesome and confusing. A stark comparison to the Fitbit Ionic’s relatively streamlined menus, it felt like I was often sliding through every other screen on the way to the one I actually wanted.
The GPS on the Amazfit Pace is another key point-of-weakness for the device. It works - but that functionality is often infrequent, and noticeably more-so than it is with my Fitbit Ionic. I’d make it almost ten minutes into my nightly run before it would successfully connect where my Fitbit would usually do the trick instantly or - at most - within no more than a handful of minutes.
Like the Fitbit Ionic and Samsung Gear Sport, the Amazfit Pace also boasts IP67 waterproofing - which is good - and music streaming over Bluetooth - which is better. The key detail here is the price. The Pace is significantly cheaper than the competition - which is probably going to be the thing that’ll either make or break you on purchasing it.
The Bottom Line
There are definitely things about the Amazfit Pace I like. I dig the companion app. I like the battery life and water resistance. I’m even a big fan of the always-on display, even if it is frustratingly dim at-times. Across the board, the experience of regularly using this smartwatch was filled with too many caveats and imperfections for me readily recommend it.
It’s cheaper than the competition, yes, and it includes a lot of the same functionality features to boot. Unfortunately, the execution just doesn’t land with the same impact here. It’s cheap and it’ll get the job done - which will thrill a certain demographic. However, it feels like many more will want to stick to paying a little extra to have that job done right.
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