- Feature packed
- Built in GPS
- Built in music storage
- Great price
- Build and OS quality
- Battery life
- Detailed analytics
- No Spotify
- No NFC
Just over a month ago I wrote about my first impressions of the Amazfit Stratos. It is fair to say I was impressed with what I saw. But how does the Stratos stack up, now that I have given it a full workout?
Disclosure – Amazfit provided Blog Of Dad with the Amazfit Stratos free of charge, for the purpose of review. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with the Amazfit Stratos. For further information, please read my disclosure statement.
Style – Amazfit Stratos
I know it seems a bit shallow to start this review with style. After all, with a multisport fitness watch, the primary thing you want it to do is track exercise.
BUT… The thing about a smart/fitness watch is that it is going to be sitting there, on show, on your wrist every day. It should look good, it needs to look good and the Amazfit Stratos certainly does look good.
For starters, with its round face and three buttons, it looks like a watch. It certainly doesn’t scream fitness tracker like some of the square designs do.
The face of the Amazfit Stratos is quite large (1.34″ display), and the polished ceramic bezel and bulky body serve as a constant reminder that the watch is on my wrist. But even on my reasonably slim wrist, the Stratos sits comfortably and looks good. The Stratos blends in nicely with my business shirts and suits, but it is equally at home amongst my casual weekend clothes and workout gear.
The watch face is customisable. There is a wide selection of digital and analogue-inspired choices, some of which can be further customised to include your own photos. Operating system updates occasionally bring new watch faces. While I sometimes play around with the faces, my favourite is still the default Everest face. It is subtle, and close to what you would expect to see on a traditional watch.
One thing that may bug some users is the flat tyre design. This refers to the small section of screen at the bottom of the watch face that has been assigned to housing sensors. I have seen this criticised over and over again on Android-based smartwatch reviews, but I can honestly say that in my day-to-day use of the Stratos over the past couple of months it has not bothered me one bit. The simple fact is that I just don’t notice it.
Always-on transflective colour LCD touch screen
The Amazfit Stratos is packed full of clever tricks, and one of the smartest is in the lighting of the display. Somehow, the geniuses at Amazfit have engineered a screen that can be seen (in well-lit spaces) without the use of the backlight. They call it an “always-on transflective colour LCD touch screen”, and it has to be seen to be believed. It means that if you really want your Stratos to blend into the background, you can turn the brightness down to zero and still use your watch – no giveaway flash of backlighting every time you glance at your arm. It’s brilliant!
It’s great that the Stratos looks good, but my primary reason for requesting one for review was to test it out as a serious sports tracker. Specifically, I needed a capable fitness-oriented watch to track my training for the 14km City2Surf race.
The Amazfit Stratos grabbed my attention with its impressive technical specifications including GPS + GLONASS and heart rate sensor, and promises of detailed sports tracking. It’s fair to say that the watch has delivered everything that it promised.
Run tracking is wonderfully detailed, with information such as: total distance, total time, moving time, pause time, average pace, best pace, average cadence, max cadence, average stride length, average speed, max speed, altitude, calories, average heart rate, maximum heart rate, minimum heart rate, and training effect all available to analyse post-run. Even better, that data is all accessible right from your wrist, meaning you don’t need to dive into the mobile app to find your results.
I love data – the more the better. I appreciate being able to see all the different aspects of my run broken down, because it enables me to identify areas and targets for improvement.
The data seems to be accurate. I’m no expert on this matter and I certainly don’t have the means to test it scientifically, but I can say that it seems fairly consistent with my expectations. As much of this data is based on the information supplied by the on-board GPS, I take this as an indication that the GPS capability of the Stratos is pretty good.
The biggest challenge that I have thrown at the GPS so far was the City2Surf. Prior to the race I had read that GPS tracking is problematic during the race, due to the high number of GPS-enabled devices in close proximity to each other. I was told to expect inaccuracies of up to a kilometre!
The Stratos did remarkably well. It recorded my total kilometres as 14.29km. That makes sense, especially given my profound inability to stick to the racing line on the day. Over a 14km race, the extra meters that I undoubtedly ran would have added up. Even if I didn’t run the entire extra 300 metres, the result is close enough for me to be satisfied.
One of my favourite things about the Amazfit Stratos during exercise is the coaching notifications. These flash up on the screen (with an accompanying vibration) to inform you about key factors like pace and fatigue. I have found these invaluable in my training, as they help me to maintain a steady pace.
The Amazfit Stratos is not a one-trick pony. It offers tracking for a wide range of outdoor and indoor activities, including: running, walking, cycling, swimming, elliptical, treadmill, spin bike, mountaineering, trail running, triathlon, skiing, tennis and soccer. I’ll be taking advantage of the water activity tracking as soon as it is warm enough to do so. The Stratos is 5 ATM certified.
The Amazfit Stratos is a good-looking watch with detailed exercise tracking, but it is also packed full of functions to make it useful in an everyday way. It has a whopping 13 screens (these can be switched off or reordered to suit your needs) that serve a variety of uses. I’ll cover my favourite screens below:
This screen provides a snapshot into your day’s activity and sleep. As with many of the screens on the Amazfit Stratos, you can dive deep into your data from here. Clicking the screen brings up a breakdown of movement by the hour, total number of steps, calories consumed per hour, total and deep sleep breakdown, heart rate (average, maximum, resting and minimum), plus access to a week’s worth of historic data.
Flicking to the left brings up the Weekly Report. This provides a wealth of graphs that present an easy-to-understand overview of the week. Key data includes: time in activities, total number of steps, total workout times, calories consumed, and sleep score (with details about quality). As with the daily report, historic data can also be accessed, so you can easily get an understanding of changes over time.
This screen provides an overview of your most recent activity. Tapping on this screen accesses Sports History, where you can find details such as total distance travelled, number of activities, total calories consumed and training load. A swipe to the left accesses your V02Max score. I’m not going to pretend that I know what this means, but I’m pretty happy that mine is listed as “excellent”.
Swiping back to the previous screen allows you to access detailed data about previous workouts. The amount of data in these reports is immense (see Exercise above). A swipe to the left from here shows the GPS data, although it isn’t overlayed on a map. For that, you need to use the Amazfit app on your smartphone.
This screen is where you select your current activity. Your two favourites appear at the top, while tapping on the “more” button provides access to the complete range. The top of the screen provides insight into remaining battery and time/distance remaining while in GPS mode. This is handy information to have as it’s extremely frustrating to run out of battery half way through an activity.
Once you select an activity, the Stratos starts searching for GPS. I always wait until the watch has made the connection before beginning my run. It is usually a very quick process.
If you scroll down on this screen, you can also access interval training. I’ll admit that I haven’t tried this yet, as I only just discovered it. Did I mention that the Stratos is a wealth of functionality? Amazing things are buried deep within.
If you scroll down further, you can access the settings screen. Here you can set training targets, alerts, more settings (including virtual rabbit…), course import (via smartphone upload) and accessories (for configuring things like Bluetooth headphones).
This is the main screen on the Amazfit Stratos. It is the screen that the Stratos returns to whenever it locks.
From the watch face, a swipe down accesses the current temperature and some key settings. These settings include silent mode, airplane mode and brightness. I find this screen very handy, as I often like to switch to airplane mode. The ability to completely turn of all transmission from my watch is something I value highly.
There is a settings cog here as well. This is the main place for making on-watch adjustments to settings, including changing watch faces.
Returning to the watch face, a swipe up accesses messages. These are sent to the Amazfit Stratos from your smartphone, when the two are connected via Bluetooth. You can select which apps are able to send messages to the Stratos from the mobile app.
The Amazfit Stratos uses your Bluetooth connection to provide a five day weather forecast. The forecast can be personalised down to individual suburbs. Clicking on each day accesses more detail.
The alarm probably isn’t the first thing you think about when purchasing a fitness watch, but it might quickly become one of your favourite functions. The Stratos alarms have completely replaced my old smartphone alarms. The reason is that they are silent. Instead of a sound, I am now woken by the gentle buzzing on my arm. This is great, because it doesn’t wake Emma.
The worst thing about this type of alarm is that it can be too easy to snooze. More than once (usually on particularly cold winter days) I have pressed the snooze button rather than get up.
Other screens include Continuous heart Rate, Music, Compass, Stopwatch, Sleep, Training, and Timer. I have used most of these screens with varying consistency since I have had the Stratos, but they are not as important to me as the ones mentioned in detail.
The Amazfit Stratos website states a battery life of 5 days regular use or 11 days basic use. In my experience I tend to go around four or five days between charges.
That is extraordinary! When you consider all that the Stratos has to offer, that amount of time between charges is quite something. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the display is always on. As mentioned earlier, the Stratos owes some of that impressive battery life to the clever transflective screen that uses ambient light to illuminate the display.
Charging is straightforward – plug the Stratos into the included charger (no need to remove the watch from the band) and plug the charger into a USB port. The only small issue that I have had is that sometimes the watch can be tricky to click into place. Some pressure is required to ensure the watch begins charging.
The Amazfit Stratos boasts Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi. These are used for updates, notifications, syncing data and connecting accessories such as headphones.
The Bluetooth connection to my Android mobile phone was simple to set up and syncing has worked consistently. I have not had any issues with connecting the two throughout my time with the Stratos, and data appears to transfer between the two quickly.
To be honest, I’m not sure what the Wi-Fi connection does. I’m sure the information is available somewhere, but I haven’t felt the need to look it up because I’ve never had an issue with how anything functions. Wi-Fi is set up through the mobile app.
One of the big selling points of the Amazfit Stratos is the on-board music storage. With a total of 4GB storage (including space dedicated to the operating system), there is plenty of room to store a workout playlist or two. The Stratos paired effortlessly with my Beoplay E8 earbuds, which allows me to run unencumbered by my smartphone, if I please.
The downside of this setup is the lack of Spotify support. It has been a long time since I have purchased music, thanks to the convenience and quality of the Spotify Premium experience, so it’s a shame that I cannot enjoy that with the Stratos. I had to search my hard drive for purchased tracks to transfer over to the Stratos.
That being said, the transfer process was as easy as plugging any USB device into my computer. The PC recognised that Stratos as an external drive and allowed me to search its files and transfer over some songs. My E8s have connected without issue, every time that I have paired them with the Amazfit Stratos.
The one piece of technology missing from the Stratos, that is offered by some competitors, is NFC. That doesn’t bother me but it may be a factor for some. Obviously, to include such technology would increase the price of the device, so I can only assume that Amazfit felt that NFC was not essential. I tend to agree.
I have outlined my philosophy when spending money in a previous post. Basically, I believe that there is a sweet spot where quality meets price. Usually that means spending a little extra to purchase a product that is of high quality.
At a RRP of just $229.99 USD (correct at time of writing), the Amazfit Stratos is an exception to that rule. It is one of the cheaper fitness/smart watch options, yet it is packed with a stack of features that make it a compelling choice. The Stratos also feels well built. It’s operating system works without fuss and the fitness tracking appears accurate. The Amazfit Stratos is not perfect, but with it’s budget-friendly price and great features, it’s hard to pass.