Amazfit Bip review - what can this ~$70 device can bring to a very competitive smartwatch market

I try to get out of the comfort zone from time to time and review a different type of device here on MiniPCDB.
This time happens to be a smartwatch - and one of the most interesting ones currently available for that matter.

A few words about Xiaomi

One of the key phrases you often see in talks related to Xiaomi is "disruptive innovation" - they tend to enter a market by launching a product that's slightly better priced than the existing products on that market, in both price and features.
A textbook example for this is their presence on the air purifiers market : when they decided to launch a product on that market a decent air purifier used to cost around $500. They funded a startup, with a field expert, and the result exceeded all expectations : Mi Air Purifier 2 was launched at around $100, so 1/5 of the cost the other devices had - and within two months Xiaomi was the largest manufacturer on the air purifiers market.
So, just two months from zero to the number one spot.Impressive, right?
One other thing that works well for Xiaomi is their ever-evolving ecosystem - a Xiaomi device tends to play well with other Xiaomi devices, so once you buy one you are more likely to buy another - for instance, you can control the Xiaomi Smart Home appliances with the Xiaomi Smartwatch 2.
Some experts are criticizing the apparent lack of focus Xiaomi shows - they sell smartwatches, phones, rice cookers, electric bikes and ... towels. That means they have their fingers in almost every pie out there - and it seems to work well for them.

On the smartwatch market Xiaomi is currently surpassed just by Apple, and it's ahead many of the brands you might associate more with smartwatches, like Samsung, Huawei, Fitbit or Sony.
One interesting side effect is the fact that Google recently began restructuring their Android Wear OS, promising not just a re-branding to "Wear OS", but also changes that would get the operating system relevant again on the market share - neither Apple (obviously) nor Xiaomi use Android Wear and they top the charts, so they must do something right :-)

Just a teaser image to keep you interested - the long introduction keeps on going for a while :-)

About my watches

I remember vividly my first watch and how excited I was about it. I was in first grade and my father decided I was old enough to take care of one - I was checking the time every twenty seconds, wore it on both hands, checked the time regularly on national radio to set my watch back to the exact time... great times.
Years passed and at the end of the '90s I was the proud owner of an Casio calculator watch, one that I used through high-school until the digits and letters on the keys simply disappeared - and I used it much after that, as I knew where every key did and it made the device look even cooler.

But in the past 5 years or so I haven't used a watch at all. When the battery died out on the watch I used then I simply stopped using it - I always said that I will get it replaced but never felt the need to do so.
I mean, what's the point in carrying a watch around when you always have the smartphone with you, that give you the time of the day whenever you need it?

When Apple decided to enter the smartwatch market I did catch their presentation and laughed my ass of when they announced the battery life - who wants to charge yet another device every single day?
But it did get me curious about the convenience features a smartwatch has when it comes to notifications and as a companion for sports/fitness activities. None of them trumps the annoyance of having to charge the watch daily, so I hoped the technology will improve over time to get more battery life.
A decent battery life for a watch, in my opinion, is one week. I can live with having to charge the watch every Sunday, but I can live without a smartwatch if I have to do it every day.
And, long story short, thanks to my friends at GearBest I now am able to play with a smartwatch that has all bells and whistles the top smartwatches have, costs around $60 and promises over 30 days of battery life.
Sounds to good to be true? That's what I thought at first, too. Read the below review to find out how Huami Amazfit Bip surpassed my expectations and got me to keep it on the wrist almost 24/7 after 5+ years in which I was watch-free.

Amazfit Bip full specs

  • Display: 1.28 inch, 176 x 176 pixels
  • Display type: Transflective LCD
  • Display protection: 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • GPS: Sony 28nm, GPS + Glonass Dual mode positioning
  • Bluetooth version: 4.0 BLE
  • Operating system: Proprietary
  • Sensors: PPG heart rate, triaxial acceleration, geomagnetic, barometric pressure
  • IP Rating: IP68; Waterproof and Dustproof
  • Body materials: Polycarbonate
  • Strap: Silicone, 11 + 8.5cm length, 2cm width
  • Battery: 200mAh*, lithium polymer
  • Weight: 18g (body only), 32g (body+strap)
  • Compatible with: devices that support BT4.0 and run Android 4.4 (or newer) or iOS 9.0
* - all specs you find online mention 190mAh, but the device I have clearly states 200mAh, right on the box.

Unboxing (finally)

That was a very long introduction, am I right? Let's get down to business now.
Amazfit Bip arrives in a simple white box not much different in size from a normal watch. On top it has just the Amazfit logo; the bottom of the box is a bit more revealing - that's how I found out that my watch has a color named Kokoda Green and it's SKU is UYG4023RT.
The battery capacity is a mystery (200 mAh instead of the 190 mAh every site I checked mentions), but perhaps there's a hardware revision : mine has a 2018.01 production date.

Inside the package there's exactly what you could expect : a neatly packed Amazfit Bip, a charging dock which you'll use maybe 10 times a year and the user manual.

Amazfit Bip unboxing Amazfit Bip unboxing - watch Amazfit Bip unboxing - charger

Quick look at the device

The device itself looks great - most people think it looks a bit too much like the Apple Watch, but I don't share that opinion. It's a squared watch, so looks like all other squared watches.
If anything, the Amazfit Bip looks like a Pebble successor.
Made out of durable material named Makrolon, which is a medical-grade thermoplastic, the Bip is both lightweight and good looking. I thought it would take some time to get used to wearing a watch on my wrist again, but at 31 grams I barely know it's there.
Some naysayers complain about the lack of metal or other expensive materials - using Makrolon kept the device cost-effective while not sacrificing it's looks, so I'm OK with it.

The display is using something called Transflective Display Technology, which is the key to the huge autonomy the Bip has - basically the device uses a very low amount of power to display the time and whatever else you have on the watchface when you are not actively using it.
When used outdoors or in a well illuminated room the watch needs no backlight at all, saving quite a bit of power. Of course, you can press the button or move your wrist (if you program it like so) and the screen will be backlit so you can use it in pitch black rooms, if needed.
This energy efficient display might not impress people that are used with LCD or OLED screens, but for a wearable device it's ideal - on a watch I rather have a few extra hours of GPS than prettier colors.

The black silicone strap that comes with the watch is soft to the touch and it can be replaced if needed.

Believe it or not, this is taken 24 hours before the glove picture, same spot - winter decided to come back overnight

Amazfit Bip first use

You could use the Amazfit Bip right away. Since it has a battery life of 30 to 45 days, and I couldn't wait that much with the review, I decided to start with a full tank of gas so I charged the battery to 100% before the first use.

The device connects to your phone using the "Mi Fit" app, which you can find in the Apple or Google Play Stores - or you could just scan the QR code from the user manual.
Now all that remains to be done is to pair the phone and the watch, by selecting Profile > Add device > Watch > Amazfit Bip and then follow the instructions - easy as pie.

The watch will be most of the time in the default "locked" mode, which shows the watch face you've chosen and updates regularly. During this mode any touch of the screen is simply ignored.
To enter the "active" mode simply press the button briefly, and the screen will be backlit and a short animation will let you know that the mode changed.
You can access the watch features using basic swipe actions:

  • - from top to bottom - to access the Smart DND (Do Not Disturb) options (and also to get a glimpse of the actual battery level percentage). Smart DND has three options: Off, On and 'Smart', the latter detects when you fall asleep and stops notifications - works like a charm.
  • - from bottom to top - to access the notifications. While on a specific notification swipe left to get to the "delete" button for that particular notification. You can also delete all of them using the "Clear" button that appears after the last notification.
  • - to the left - this is to switch between the main menus
  • - to the right - nothing at this time.

Amazfit Bip does not use Wear OS, but the UI is simple and friendly. Ignore the hand. And the English translation

The main menus with the current firmware : Status, Activity, Weather , Alarm, Timer, Compass, Settings. Most of them have sub-menus, when you want to get back to the upper level menu just click on the hardware button.

  • - Status - this one just contains the basic info that you would also see in some of the watchfaces : steps, heart rate, distance, calorie burn and the number of inactivity sessions. I'd see this as something that can be displayed after a right swipe.
  • - Activity - this is to access the activities : Outdoor Running, Treadmill, Cycling, Walking, Activity history (see below), and Activity Settings.
  • - Weather - this shows the current weather details and a summary for the next days (location is configured from the Mi Fit app)
  • - Alarm - allows you to set 3 alarms each day
  • - Timer - two options: Stopwatch and Countdown, pretty much self-explanatory.
  • - Compass - also self-explanatory.
  • - Settings - change the watch face, button long press action, screen brightness (5 levels), About menu (firmware version and Bluetooth address) and Factory Reset. There's no visual indicator that you can access the last two, you just have to swipe up once after you get to "Settings".

Activity history - this will show the info you would normally check out on the Mi Fit app, displaying the recent activities and for each you can further look at a nice graph and the key elements: duration, pace, heart rate, burned calories, step frequency, stride, uphill, downhill.

Activity Settings - some of these options deserve a little more attention than the watch menu seems to give them.

  • - Auto pause : this is very helpful during a work-out session, and something that many fitness devices lack. To manually pause an activity you have to long press the hardware button.
  • - Heart rate alert : this alerts you when the heart rate goes above a specific value.
  • - Pace alert : useful to keep the pace
  • - Distance alert : this gives you a confidence boost by vibrating each time you reach a certain target (like for each km).

Speaking about activities : you can choose a favorite one that can be started without swiping like crazy. So, assuming that you are a runner, you can go to Settings and configure the "Long press the button" setting to start that particular activity.

Worth noting: the watch can be used without the phone, as mentioned before even the activity details are ... well detailed right on the watch. You don't have to carry the device with you when you go for a jog ... unless you also want to listen to some music, that is. If you want to listen to some music over Bluetooth without the phone you will need to go for the Xiaomi Smartwatch 2.

The display looks great outdoor, even better without that hairy hand from the previous images

Amazfit Bip Software : Mi Fit

Let's get this out of the way : there is no App store, Amazfit Bip does not use Android Wear.
But the good news is that the Mi Fit app attempts (and for the most part, succeeds) to cover any possible use case. And, even better, there are a number of competing apps on Google Play Store that enhance the functionality of the Amazfit Bip device.i

Not enough exercise, not enough sleep, the smartwatch doesn't put it's owner in a good light, isn't it? Took a 1.36 km walk just for the review, reviewing stuff really takes a lot of energy :-) There are some watchfaces you could choose from and lots of options to test

If you like jogging or maybe just walking, Amazfit Bip is a great companion - only a handful of smartwatches allow you to use GPS for a whole day, you could run an marathon, and then take the long way home, too, with GPS on , and the battery will still allow the watch to keep going.
The Mi Fit app provides a surprisingly detailed report of your activity, covering things like the route's GPS, heart rate and pace. and helping you to improve your metrics and track this improvement over time.
You have to take the heart rate and steps counter' results with a grain of salt, as the sensors have their limitations. But the GPS data was very accurate in my tests.

The good news is that my current jogging standard is so low - a few more steps would improve my results tremendously :-)

Amazfit Bip Software : 3rd party apps

Some of the extra features you can enable with custom apps like "Tools & Amazfit" or "Notify & Fitness" or "Mi Bandage":

  • - export capabilities : you can export your activities to other services - like Strava. Most likely Mi Fit will allow this, too, at some point.
  • - integration with Tasker or Automate : this opens the door to many automation possibilities
  • - music controls : another very useful feature that Mi Fit currently lacks - you can set something like this : double click button for play/pause, triple for next track. You can also get the name of the song currently playing.
  • - notifications fine-grained control : maybe you don't want the watch to vibrate when your boss is sending you WhatsApp messages in the evening, but you do want all messages received from others (like your SO).
  • - Smart Home controls : toggle lights on/off, for instance

Amazfit Bip watchfaces

The watch comes with a few watchfaces that you could change from the Mi Fit app.
But there are hundreds more to choose from on a site named - it took me hours to select the ones I want to keep and test them in the following days.
There are 3rd party apps that help you install and even create your own watchface .

There are many watchfaces to choose from

Amazfit Bip review conclusions

Amazfit Bip is a great piece of technology - by far it's greatest selling point is the amazing battery life and the GPS accuracy is not far behind.
Between the Mi Fit app and the 3rd party ones from the Play Store there are many small things that can attract all sorts of potential buyers - and the price is almost too good to be true.
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, definitely - there too many things that recommend it and the difference between Bip and the (much) more expensive competitor devices is not worth your while, if you ask me.

If you have any question, just ask.

I'd like to thank GearBest for sending the review sample - if you also want one you can find it here for $77, and if you are lucky you could get the price down to $60 by using the coupon code GBanniversary088.
If you have a bigger budget (and hand), GearBest is also selling the newest Xiaomi smartwatch, with a few extra functions and better materials (while sacrificing the battery life) - and we have a coupon for this one also - AMA2HK.