(Pocket-lint) - Huami has been turning out various smartwatches that sit under its Amazfit brand, with the square-shape GTS 2 sitting at the top of its fashion watch category.
That GTS family also includes the cheaper GTS 2e and the GTS 2 Mini. If you want the best in terms of features and a stylish design then the GTS 2 is the one to look at.
Along with making some welcome changes in the design department, the GTS 2 also performs more like a smartwatch than the original GTS did, bringing smart assistants and a music player into the mix. But that's also seen the price creep up, so does it warrant its worth?
Design & Display
- Display: 1.65-inch, 348 x 442 resolution
- Measures 42.8 x 35.6 x 9.7mm
- Size options: 42mm only
- 5ATM waterproofing
That doesn't mean you don't get an attractive smartwatch for your money, though. There are notable improvements with the materials used and the design of the display that gives the GTS 2 a more stylish look compared to its predecessor.
You're getting a 42mm watch case with a matte titanium alloy used around the display, with plastic on the back where the sensors and charging points lie. That's paired up with a removable 20mm silicone strap.
There's the pick of black, grey or gold looks, which does mean you have fewer colour options to pick from than the first GTS, but you do still have that option to switch up things in the strap department if you prefer to go for an overall more formal watch look.
What has really elevated the look of the GTS 2 is its display, which is made from 3D curved glass that creates a more unified look with the watch case. Overall it just makes it feel like a much nicer watch to wear.
That screen measures in with the same 1.65-inches and offers the same resolution as the GTS and, again, it's a really good quality display. It's nice and responsive to swipes and taps, isn't a fingerprint magnet, and offers great sharpness and colours. The viewing angles are strong too, plus there's an always-on display mode option if you want that screen on full-time.
Away from using the touchscreen, there's a solitary button that sits closer to the watch body to help create that more streamlined look. As a package it's got the same 5ATM water resistant rating, which means it's safe to swim and shower with it (as that rating is good for 50 metres depth).
While the first GTS definitely had a more sporty look and feel to it, that curved screen and titanium addition certainly makes the GTS 2 a more attractive proposition. It's no Apple Watch, but it's certainly a step in the right direction for the GTS range.
Software & Performance
- Customizable watch faces
- Works with Android and iOS
Once again, Huami is using its own operating system to run the software and doesn't divulge details of the processor or components. The performance is satisfying on the whole, whether that's getting around menu screens or putting its key features to work.
The software experience hasn't dramatically changed over the first GTS. The selection of customisable watch faces have certainly been better optimised for that curved display and getting to menu screens or your notifications are done in the same manner. There's widgets to show off elements like your daily activity stats and weather forecasts.
Huami's smartwatches are generally very easy to get to grips with and that doesn't really change with the GTS 2.
When you need to sync your data or tinker with settings you can't access on the watch, you'll now have to head to the Zepp companion app, which is a rebranded Amazfit app. Huami now owns Zepp, the sports tech brand that made its name using sports tracking sensors for baseball and golf.
Getting setup is pretty straightforward, especially if you take the QR code scanning route to pairing it with your phone. We used it with Oppo and Realme Android phones and didn't have issues with syncing or pairing. While it's a device you can use with iPhone too, pairing with an Android device will give you the optimal experience.
The two most important area of the app is the main Homepage where you can delve deeper into your health, fitness and exercise stats. The dedicated devices page is where you can adjust settings, such as notification support, set health monitoring modes, and get hold of more watch faces.
Sports & Fitness Tracking
- GPS and Glonass satellite systems
- Automatic exercise recognition
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- 24/7 fitness tracking
- Blood oxygen read
Like the GTS, the GTS 2 is well equipped as far as tracking your health, fitness and exercise. It has added a new improved heart rate sensor - BioTracker 2 PPG - and ramped up the number of sports with exercise recognition support also in tow.
On the sensor count, there's GPS and GLONASS to accurately track outdoor activities, and the same motion sensors as included in the GTS. Huami's new sensor can read blood oxygen (SpO2) levels - but that blood oxygen sensor, much like the one on Huawei, Garmin, Fitbit and Apple's smartwatches, is not designed for medical purposes.
That sensor delivers resting heart rate, continuous monitoring, and heart rate during exercise. It also powers its PAI Health Assessment, which shifts the emphasis on raising your heart rate regularly as opposed to focusing on nailing your daily step counts.
There's no 90 sports modes, which is significantly up from the 12 included on the GTS. That includes core sports like running, cycling and swimming (pool and open water), along with tracking support for skiing and climbing.
In terms of that tracking performance indoors and outdoors, accuracy definitely feels better suited to someone who has a more casual approach to fitness. Accuracy for things like GPS and heart rate feel better suited to steady paced workouts. As soon as you up the intensity, whether that's running or riding for longer distances, those key sensors do have a tendency to falter. Heart rate testing against a Garmin HRM Pro heart rate chest strap monitor showed that the GTS 2's sensor struggles to handle the sudden spikes and drops in heart rate with high intensity training.
It definitely does a better impression as a daily fitness tracker if you care mainly about steps, continuous heart rate monitoring and tracking sleep. Daily step counts were in the ballpark of the step counts we tracked on a Fitbit Sense and you'll still get those inactivity alerts buzzing you to keep moving during the day.
For sleep, the GTS 2 posted similar sleep duration periods as the Sense and similar breakdowns of sleep stages, including REM sleep. There's some nice additional insights and tips to improve sleep quality and is definitely one of the GTS 2's strengths.
- View notifications
- Built-in music player
- Offline voice assistant
- Microphone and speaker
- Phone calls over Bluetooth
The GTS was pretty light on smartwatch features, so thankfully that's changed with the GTS 2.
You still have notifications that are still not actionable while multiple notifications from the same app can still bunch up as was the case on the GTS. There's also weather forecasts, the ability to set alarms and access to music controls, with the latter accessible during workouts.
Huami has added in a microphone and speaker, which brings a collection of new features into the mix. It means you can now take phone calls when connected to your phone via Bluetooth. More interestingly is the introduction of a smart assistant that works without a data connection.
The new offline voice assistant will give you control of core watch features like turning settings on and off or to start a workout. The commands supported are all listed on the watch and the assistant can be woken up in a variety of ways including turning it on as soon as you raise your wrist. It's an assistant that works well and is responsive to commands, making it a useful feature to have when you've got your hands full.
The other big feature is the built-in music player, giving you 3GB of storage to fit in roughly 300-600 songs. To get that music onto the watch, you'll need to sync it over from the Zepp companion app. Currently, it only supports music you own and doesn't work with any music streaming services. If you own a lot of music and it's already piled onto your phone, then you'll no doubt appreciate its inclusion as a feature. Hopefully though, Huami will add some streaming service support as well to make it even more useful.
- Up to 20 days in basic watch mode
- Up to 7 days in smartwatch mode
- 3.5 days in heavy usage
Huami has included a bigger 246mAh battery on the GTS 2, which is capable of giving you around a week of use in typical scenarios - and up to 20 days when you disable features like Bluetooth and heart rate monitoring. If you put features into play like the always-on display mode, that battery is likely to drop to around three days or so.
Based on our experience, you can get that week of use, but if you're making use of all of those new features, it's more likely to be a few days shorter than that. Features like continuous heart rate monitoring, advanced sleep monitoring, keeping the screen bright and having a steady stream of notifications, will see it fall short of that seven days. If you're willing to compromise on what features are enabled, you can go further.
GPS tracking battery life is an impressive 25 hours, which betters a lot of more expensive GPS-packing smartwatches and sports watches. Putting that GPS to good use doesn't horribly drain the battery either.
When you do hit zero there's an identical charger to the one used on the GTS to get things powered back up. It takes 2.5 hours to get to 100 per cent, though, which certainly doesn't make it the snappiest of chargers.
While the first GTS offered great value for money at a price point where it stood up well against the competition, the GTS 2 is promising to be a better smartwatch - but a pricier one too.
It certainly steps things up in the looks department, while features such as the offline voice assistant is a great new addition. However, the music player is going to have limited appeal until it can partner up with some streaming services. And while fitness tracking is once again solid, you won't get high-end accuracy for tracking sports and active heart rate.
All in all, the GTS 2 is a transformation for the series - and a decent one at that. But at the now elevated price point you'll be able to find a more complete smartwatch experience elsewhere, which is why the original GTS scored better than this follow-up.
Fitbit Versa 2
While not its latest product, this watch offers richer music and notification features, plus all the great fitness tracking and health features you would expect from a Fitbit watch.
Huawei Watch GT 2e
Huawei offers a step up in sports tracking features and is capable of giving you weeks of battery life with its full gamut of features in play.