Ameya DalviJun 12, 2020 11:51:09 IST
Editor's note: This review was originally published on 6 May 2020. It is being republished now as the smartwatch has been launched in the market today (12 June).
Price: Rs 9,999
Not too long ago, we reviewed a couple of Huami fitness watches targeted at different audiences. While the Amazfit GTR was better suited for those looking for a formal and classy design, the Amazfit GTS (review) would have grabbed the attention of those seeking an affordable Apple Watch alternative. The new Amazfit T-Rex is for those who crave for a rugged watch, especially those who loved G-Shock or aspired to own one. It’s time to look at it a little more closely.
A rugged design with a dozen military certifications
The T-Rex has a round dial and a body that’s built like a tank; thankfully, it doesn’t weigh as much as one. The design is heavily inspired by the good old G-Shock watches, and it doesn’t just look like one, it’s expected to be as tough too. Amazfit has opted for a dozen MIL-STD 810G–2014 military grade certifications that include heat resistance up to 70 degrees Celsius and cold resistance up to –40 degrees Celsius. It can also survive extreme humidity and saline environments for days. Despite all that, the company has managed to keep its weight under 60 grams.
The body is made of a special polymer that can withstand a fair amount of impact and has four metal buttons for toggling the screen and to help interact with the UI. The screen is also responsive to touch input.
The silicone strap feels a bit too soft and elastic but is extremely comfortable to wear for long hours and doesn’t cause sweating or skin irritation. The watch is a good 13.5 mm thick and may look a bit too bulky if you have thin or skinny wrists.
Sharp AMOLED display
The Amazfit T-Rex has a sharp 1.3-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 360x360 pixels. Colours pop out well too. The touchscreen is responsive and protected against scratches by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and the anti-fingerprint coating makes it pretty much smudge-free. Like most Amazfit watches, the screen has auto as well as manual brightness controls, and the screen is perfectly legible outdoors, even under bright sunlight.
To turn the display on, you just need to flick your wrist or simply press one of the buttons. There are two sensitivity settings for flicking the screen on — Normal and Sensitive. I prefer the Normal setting as the Sensitive option is a bit too sensitive for my liking, and turns the screen on with the slightest of wrist movement, even when you don’t intend to.
The frequently lit screen can be an irritation to you as well as the people around in dimly lit or dark environments, and it also drains the battery faster. The app lets you turn off the ‘lift wrist to view info’ feature altogether or during your sleep hours if you intend to wear the watch to bed to track your sleep patterns.
Easy to use once you are done syncing
Before you start using the watch, you need to download the Amazfit app, add your device there, and sync it over Bluetooth. It takes a bit of time initially, and you may encounter an update as well that takes its own sweet time to install. It is bound to test your patience, but once it is set up, things work fine. You can control certain aspects of the watch like screen brightness and activity selection from the watch screen itself, but still a lot of settings need to be accessed from the Amazfit app. I’m still waiting for Huami to provide more settings in the watch itself without having to go to the app.
The app lets you download and change watch faces, set your fitness goals, track your progress, manage alerts and notifications, and more. You get alerts on the watch screen when you reach your fitness goals for the day, but again, they don’t stay there long enough to savour your achievement. It also prompts you to take a quick walk when you are stationary for too long.
The watch UI is very simple. All you need to do is swipe up or down on the screen for watch settings or to look at your heart rate and cardio progress for the day. You can access fitness activities and other options by swiping left and check notifications by swiping right.
A handful of useful features and performance is good
Technically speaking, like most Amazfit products, the T-Rex is more of a fitness tracker with a handful of smartwatch functions thrown in. You can answer or reject calls from the watch screen and can also read your SMS.
But you cannot reply to the message from the watch. You can opt to receive notifications from other apps too, along with event reminders and weather updates. That’s pretty much it as a smartwatch. The fitness options are a lot more extensive.
The company claims that the T-Rex is fitted with a high-end Sony GPS chip with increased signal efficiency for more precise tracking of your jogs and swims using a dual-satellite positioning system. It did work well outdoors, but frankly, I couldn’t spot any noticeable improvement in performance over the Amazfit GTR. Not that it was bad in the GTR to begin with. The outdoor tracking is pretty much on the money, but indoor tracking is still a bit iffy.
Speaking of tracking, the T-Rex can track 14 different kinds of exercises indoors and outdoors (two more than the GTR and GTS) that include walking, running, cycling, swimming and more. It now includes hiking and triathlon too. I don’t think I can tell you how well those two work as I didn’t go on a hike with this watch. And a Triathlon? I haven’t even dreamt about it yet.
Walking, running, cycling seems to work fine outdoors. The watch did not report false steps, which is another plus. If anything, the step counter is conservative and reports lesser steps and distance on a treadmill. The heart-rate monitor seems a bit sluggish at times though. It takes a few seconds to display the right heart rate. Eventually it gets it right, but that lag can get a little disconcerting.
Strangely, it also displays some heart-rate reading when you aren’t wearing the watch. And it keeps changing too, as if the pillow in the image below has a beating heart. Spooky! I’m not sure if it’s an issue with my unit, but I haven’t noticed such issues in previous Amazfit watches I have tested.
Heart rate monitor of Amazfit T-Rex
The Amazfit T-Rex is water resistant (rated to 50 m), so you can safely wear it in the swimming pool without a worry. Though the watch is water resistant, it tends to act funny under running water because the touchscreen reacts to water hitting it. It’s something for the company to look into as I have noticed something similar in the Amazfit GTS too.
The watch supports continuous heart-rate monitoring, but you can lower the frequency of monitoring if you wish to conserve battery life. However, it’s best to keep the Activity Detection setting switched on for the best of both worlds. When the watch detects some significant physical activity, it automatically increases the monitoring frequency for more accurate readings and analysis. After you are done with the workout, the frequency drops again to conserve battery.
There’s a sleep-tracking feature too to gauge your sleep patterns. However, the data is limited to just light sleep and deep sleep. There is still no REM sleep information that you generally get in several other fitness trackers. Also, this watch is a bit too bulky to wear to bed; it’s your choice.
All the fitness data is available in the app and it presents you with a daily, weekly and monthly breakdown of various fitness activities you indulged in during that period.
While the Amazfit T-Rex manages to do several things right, one thing missing here is an app ecosystem. Since Amazfit watches are not based on popular platforms like Wear OS or Tizen, you hardly have any additional apps that you can install on this device yet. You have to make do with what’s built into the watch for now. All you have for now is a collection of thirty watch faces for this smartwatch. But if your primary requirement is fitness activity tracking with built-in GPS, you are pretty much covered.
Great battery life
One thing I have come to expect from Huami watches is crazy battery life, and the T-Rex is no different. The company claims a battery life of 20 days on a single charge under Daily Use Mode, which the company defines as ‘Heart rate monitoring always on, sleep monitoring on, GPS turned on for 13 minutes a day, 150 messages pushed daily which activate screen, wrist raised 30 times which activate screen, five minutes of other operations’.
During actual testing with test conditions somewhat similar to the Daily Use Mode but with sleep monitoring turned on only for a couple of days (I don’t like wearing a watch to bed), the battery lasted 25 days on a single charge. Though it is marginally lower than what I could get out of Amazfit GTR, not having to charge your watch for over three weeks is blissful. The built-in 390 mAh battery takes about two hours to charge fully with the bundled magnetic 2-pin charger.
Price and verdict
The Huami Amazfit T-Rex will be priced at Rs 9,999 in India and carry a one-year warranty. The stocks are expected by the end of May or after the lockdown ends, whichever later. That is a good price for what it offers. You get a rugged watch with military-grade certifications, an excellent AMOLED display, built-in GPS, 50 metre water resistance, and fantastic battery life.
If you are looking for an out and out smartwatch using which you can access your contacts, make calls, or reply to messages, this is not the product for you. But if reliable fitness tracking at a good price is at the top of your priority list, and if you love G-Shock like design, you can’t go wrong with the Amazfit T-Rex.
Note: I was done testing this watch just days before the nationwide lockdown, in case you are wondering how I managed to pull off the outdoor activities for this review. As for the Triathlon… well, never mind.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.