With the City2Surf just around the corner, my training is getting serious. What better time to test out a new smart/fitness watch and see if it has what it takes to be my running watch of choice. Which watch? The Amazfit Stratos.
When I talked to Amazfit, they were only too happy to send over their premium multisport GPS smartwatch, the Stratos, for review. They seemed pretty confident that the watch has what it takes to be my new favourite fitness/smart watch. I have to admit that I was pretty excited – in the pictures the Stratos looked great and the list of features was impressive. But now that I have had it on my wrist for a couple of weeks, how does it stack up?
Amazfit Stratos First Impressions
My first impressions of this new smartwatch were extremely positive. Upon opening the box I was face-to-face with a great-looking watch. I immediately loved the look of the round face – it just seems that much more grown up than a square face. The three dials on the side add to the classic watch styling, making the Amazfit Stratos a watch that I can confidently wear with a business shirt.
The rubber band is obviously fitness-focussed, but it doesn’t scream fitness tracker the way some of these things can. Overall I find the appearance of the watch to be subtly stylish. It doesn’t demand attention, but it is nice to look at, and that’s just the way I like it. The watch face is fairly large (which is great for viewing), but even on my reasonably slim wrists it sits perfectly. It definitely doesn’t feel cumbersome during day-to-day use.
Amazfit Stratos Setup
The Amazfit Stratos was easy to setup and start using. It involves downloading the app to a smartphone, setting up a profile and connecting to the watch. It took me a couple of goes to connect the watch to the phone via Bluetooth, but it turned out that it was an operator error (i.e. I was doing something stupid). Once I had overcome my own incompetence, the new device paired like a charm. It has done so ever since – every time I have tried to connect the Amazfit Stratos to my mobile phone, it has paired quickly and on the first attempt.
Features? There Are Many!
One of the first things that I noticed about the Amazfit Stratos was the relative complexity of the device. As I began scrolling through the menus, it became apparent that the Stratos is a fitness-focussed smartwatch with a huge capacity for data gathering and tracking. As anyone who has read my Tanita RD-953 Body Composition Monitor review would know, I highly value the ability to collect and analyse data about my fitness. Despite the complexity of the device, it doesn’t take long to get used to the interface. Within a few days I was easily able to navigate my way around the Stratos.
There are thirteen main screens on the Amazfit Stratos, each with at least one layer into which you can drill down. They include a Daily Overview, Activities, Sports, the watch face, Weather Forecast, Alarm, Heart Rate, Music, Compass, Stopwatch, Sleep, Training Centre, and Timer. You can customise the order in which these screens appear, so that you can access the ones you use most quickly.
Did someone say customisation?
In fact, customisation is a big drawcard of the Amazfit Stratos. The makers of this watch have certainly realised that different people have different needs and likes, and so many of the important facets of this watch are customizable. There’s the superficial customisation for the style-conscious in the watch face. There are fourteen options to choose from, including digital and analogue designs. I like the Everest design, which is the default option. It provides the key information that I want (time, date, remaining battery and steps taken) in an easy-to-read format that looks great! You also have the option of uploading a picture for your watch face, which can then be used as a custom background for certain watch faces.
Beyond the superficial there is the ability to customize key features of the watch to truly suit your needs. The brightness of the screen can be altered, as can the strength of the notification vibrations. Daily step and exercise targets can be modified, weather reports personalised, multiple alarms set for different days of the week… the list goes on. Heartrate monitoring can be continuous or user-initiated, and that result can then be further analysed. I don’t think I’ve completely covered all of the customisation yet – I’ll cover everything else in the detailed review in a few weeks.
Know Your Run
The primary reason that I was interested in the Amazfit Stratos was its run-tracking capability. The Stratos promised key features that any runner would covet in their fitness watch, so the arrival of this beauty was very exciting for me indeed! With the City2Surf just weeks away, any advantage that I can gain during my training is a good thing.
The Amazfit Stratos uses onboard GPS tracking and sensors to return huge amounts of information from each run. You can track distance, pace, speed (average and best), heart rate, cadence, stride, altitude, calories and the overall training effect. The Stratos also measures maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) and recommends the recovery time after each workout.
This is a huge amount of information, and exactly the type of data that I have craved from my fitness watch. Best of all, it is all easily accessible from the watch, and easy to read and understand thanks to the large screen of the Amazfit Stratos. I love not having to sync data to my phone before I can analyse it properly. Handy graphs for heart rate, pace, performance condition, cadence, altitude and gradient changes all provide great insight into the details of the run.
I have used the Stratos during a couple of runs already. One was a quick three kilometre run, and the other eight kilometres.
During the three kilometre run I tend to push as hard as I can towards the end on the run, on a gentle downward slope. I have always been curious about how fast I run down that slope – now finally I know! According to the Amazfit Stratos my max speed was 20.22 km – not too shabby, but you know I’ll be trying to beat it now that I have a benchmark.
All Kinds of Fitness Tracking
The Amazfit Stratos isn’t just limited to run tracking. It also has options for tracking walks, cycling, pool swimming, open water swimming, indoor running, climbing, soccer… the list goes on. All up it has options for 13 different activities. The 5 ATM water resistance rating is one I plan to put to good use over summer.
Other Great Things
There will be a detailed review in a few weeks’ time, once I have had a chance to fully put the Amazfit Stratos through its paces. In that review I will talk about these features in greater detail. But for now it’s worth listing all of the great things about this watch. It has an always-on LCD screen (which uses some kind of technical wizardry to be able to be seen without a backlight), 4GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, and on-board music storage. That’s a whole lot of features for a multisport smartwatch that can be purchased for as little as $259 AUD (plus delivery).
Anything not so great?
No product is perfect, so what isn’t great about the Stratos?
The Amazfit Stratos doesn’t have some of the features of other premium smartwatches. Most noticeably, it doesn’t include NFC or Spotify integration. The lack of NFC is completely inconsequential to me – I already have NFC capability on my mobile phone that I never use. To purchase a smartwatch that does have NFC capability, you are going to have to hand over a whole lot more than $259, so I’m more than happy to live without it. I much prefer the inclusion of GPS, which is frankly amazing for that price!
The lack of Spotify integration is more problematic. It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased music (funnily enough, about as long as Spotify has been a thing…), so I don’t actually own many songs. I would love to be able to use my Spotify Premium account with this smartwatch to download songs for offline use.
Finally, you may have read some articles that mention a “flat tyre” design. This refers to the small section at the bottom of the watch face that is reserved for sensors (it can be seen in the picture above). It makes the screen not-entirely-round. To be honest, this has not bothered me one little bit. My brain does not even register it during day-to-day use. It’s certainly not something that would convince me not to buy this brilliant watch.
As mentioned above, I have only had the Amazfit Stratos for a short amount of time. I will compile a detailed review of the product after I have thoroughly put it through its paces. My initial impressions are extremely positive – I’m very impressed with how much technology has been packed into such a budget-friendly device. For runners, or anyone looking for that extra bit of support during their exercise, the Amazfit Stratos is a pretty compelling option!
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 use of the Amazfit Stratos. For further information, please read my disclosure statement.