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(Pocket-lint) - In the quest to absolutely dominate the affordable end of the smartwatch market, Huami has pushed out the Amazfit GTS 2e as a cheaper alternative to its GTS 2 smartwatch.

Sitting in-between the GTS 2 Mini and the GTS 2, the 2e gives you largely the same experience that you'll get from the GTS 2 and that includes a similar square design. Its price drop does see some features sacrificed, but it does add something new you won't find on the pricier member of the GTS family - a temperature sensor.

Much like Fitbit and Huawei's smartwatches that sit around this price point, the GTS 2e's Zepp Health aims to offer a mix of smartwatch staples like notifications support, with 24/7 fitness tracking and sports tracking too.

So could you save yourself some money and still pick up a great connected watch in the form of the GTS 2e?

Design & Display

  • Dimensions: 42.8 x 35.6 x 9.8mm / Weight: 25g (without strap)
  • 1.65-inch display, 348 x 442 resolution
  • Size options: 42mm only
  • 5ATM waterproofing

The GTS 2e comes available in three different looks compared to the GTS 2, with the option of black (as tested), rose gold or silver colour cases. That's complemented by the choice of interchangeable 20mm silicone strap - available in black, green or purple.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 10

The 2e features a 2.5D curved surface with a borderless design - as opposed to a 3D one. That essentially means you're getting a slightly less curved design. Ultimately though, there's very little discernible difference between the GTS 2 and this 2e model on that front.

It's still a square kind of display, which measures the same as the GTS 2 - just with a 42mm-only case size option and a slightly thicker frame. That case is made from the same aluminium alloy with plastic on the rear and as a package it's waterproof up to 50 metres. That means it's safe to keep it on when you're swimming or jumping into the shower.

Put side-by-side with the GTS 2 and it's really a case of playing spot the difference. Huami has kept things largely the same in the screen department, so it's a 1.65-inch AMOLED panel with the same 348 x 442 resolution. It's bright, vibrant, the colours look great and the viewing angles are strong too. You're essentially missing out on the ODLC coating that gives that screen some extra added protection, but on the whole, this is a high quality screen for the price.

There is a bezel to contend with, but when it's paired up with a complimentary watch face, it's one that doesn't stand out. There is also an always-on mode option, though that does come at the expense of battery life.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 5

When you're not swiping and tapping away at the touchscreen display, there's a solitary physical button - a single tap will wake up the display, while a double-tap will push you into the main menu screen. It twists as well, though it hasn't been put to any good use - a shame as it would be nice to use it to scroll through screens. 

Bottom line: the 2e is pretty much exactly like living with the GTS 2. Except with some change in your wallet. It's a nice sized smartwatch with a good quality screen and a comfortable strap that's suitable for wearing all day long.

Software & Performance

  • Customizable watch faces
  • Works with Android and iOS

Huami uses its own in-house built operating system that does play nice with Google Android and Apple iOS devices, though it doesn't go into specifics on the kind of processor tech that's powering performance.

The on-watch software experience is a pretty straightforward one. Swiping in different directions from the main watch screen will get you to shortcut cards, widgets, quick settings and your stream of notifications. 

That solitary button gets you into the main app screen and can offer quicker access to the sports tracking features as well. You can't download apps, but there's some useful third-party app support like Google Fit, Strava and Relive when paired with an Android phone.

There are watch faces here too - with a bunch pre loaded and more available in the Store, which is found inside of the Zepp companion phone app. There's a nice mix of analogue and digital face options, many which let you add widgets to show-off your fitness stats.

Performance-wise, there isn't any horrible screen lag to worry about and features don't stutter to open too. Whatever Huami has got packed in here works well based on our experience.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 18

Away from the watch, everything is setup through the Zepp companion app. All of the Amazfit watches have the option to get paired up using a QR code, which makes that setup nice and straightforward. There's usually a little software update to negotiate as well.

It pays to spend some time in the app to get a better sense not only of what this watch is capable of, but also see what can be enabled and disabled. There may well be some features you can live with day-to-day that will make it kinder on the battery life too.

Sports & Fitness Tracking

  • GPS and GLONASS satellite systems
  • Built-in heart rate monitor (HRM)
  • Automatic exercise recognition
  • Blood oxygen measure (SpO2)
  • Temperature readings
  • 24/7 fitness tracking

In terms of fitness tracking everything you can do on the GTS 2, you can do on the GTS 2e too. In fact, you're actually getting one additional sensor to put to use here as well - for temperature.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 20

Let's start with a summary of the sensors and hardware front. You can track outdoor activities with GPS. There's Huami's latest BioTracker 2 PPG sensor, which unlocks continuous heart rate monitoring and tracking during exercise. That also enables SpO2 measurements as well for blood oxygen. 

All the key motion sensors are on board too, including that temperature sensor. We've seen Fitbit add the ability to measure body temperature in its Sense smartwatch and it looks like Huami is following suit to give its watches more of a health monitoring feel.

Like Fitbit's watches, the GTS 2e wants to be your 24/7 fitness tracker, letting you keep tracking daily step counts, monitor sleep, and it also makes use of its PAI Health Assessment system that's designed to help make sure you get your heart pumping harder on a regular basis

As a fitness tracker, that's where the GTS 2e does some of its best work. Daily step counts in our testing were generally within 500 steps of a Garmin fitness tracker, and the inactivity alerts have the desired effect of nudging you to keep moving during the day. Whether you use the dedicated activity widget or show-off stats on your watch face, it's nice and easy to keep track of progress. 

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e software photo 3

When it's time to go to sleep, you'll get a breakdown of sleep stages including REM sleep, and receive a sleep score. Up against a Fitbit Sense in our testing and the 2e generally posted very similar times for sleep duration and offered similar breakdown of sleep stages. 

The other daily data you can track is resting heart rate, though in our testing it posted around 5bpm higher readings compared to a Garmin fitness tracker or a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor. Huami's heart rate powered PAI assessment system actually seems like a more valuable feature than step tracking, though it currently doesn't feel fully integrated enough into the fitness tracking experience.

Other features include stress monitoring, which is powered by heart rate variability measurements and the SpO2 measurements, which can be a hit and miss with delivering those readings at the first attempt. The readings did generally fall in line with a pulse oximeter we compared it against.

As for the new temperature sensor, it doesn't really feel like a fully formulated feature as things stand. You can't take single measurements and it doesn't track temperature during the night like Fitbit's smartwatch. The temperature readings also seemed way off from an accuracy point of view as well. So, um, this exclusive feature might as well have been missed off the features list.

When you turn to sports tracking, there's quite an extensive range of modes - including core sports like running (indoor and outdoor), pool and open water swimming, and activities like parkour, skiing, roller skating, and rock climbing. Those more niche sports offer the basics in terms of metrics, letting you track duration and heart rate.

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Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 4

For outdoor runs, we found that the GPS tracking held up fine for 20-30 minute runs, but as soon as we ran longer than that, the distance differences with a Garmin running watch grew. Heart rate accuracy wasn't great either, delivering higher average and maximum heart rate readings with the latter being as much as 10bpm over a Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor. 

As we said, this is one to grab for fitness tracking on a more casual basis. If that's your goal and this is your kind of budget, however, then it's a good enough match.

Smartwatch Features

  • Offline voice assistant
  • View notifications
  • Take phone calls over Bluetooth

Huami has sought to offer a much richer smartwatch experience than its previous watches with its GTS 2 range. That doesn't change with the GTS 2e either. Though there's some newer features that have been sacrificed that may or may not be deal-breakers for some.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 6

In terms of what you do get, you can view notifications from native and third-party apps, control music playing on your phone, view weather reports when paired to your phone, and set reminders and alarms.

There's also the new offline voice assistant, which works without a data connection, letting you control and launch watch features like workout tracking, open apps, or turn on modes like do not disturb.

What doesn't make the cut from the GTS 2 is the built-in music player, a speaker, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Those features all come hand in hand and unless you own a lot of your own music that's piled onto your phone it's likely a feature you're not going to feel like you're missing out on. That missing speaker also means you miss out on the ability to take calls over Bluetooth.

As a smartwatch, there's some good and some things that need improving. Music controls work well and features like weather forecasts and setting up reminders are nice to use. The offline voice assistant works reliably too and is particularly useful for adjusting settings. 

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 13

Notification support does ensure that notifications do arrive on the watch in a swift fashion. Although you can't respond or interact with them. Also, it struggles to deal with multiple notifications that come in from a single app. So a flurry of WhatsApp updates will just be displayed as an update that you have a message from the service. The core features work fine enough, but notification support in general on Amazfit watches needs to improve.

Battery life

  • Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode
  • Up to 24 days in basic watch mode
  • 7 days in heavy usage
  • 246mAh battery

With some features sacrificed, Huami is able to promise improved battery performance whether you use the full gamut of features or live a more restricted smartwatch life.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 11

The 2e includes the same battery capacity battery as the GTS 2, promising up to 14 days in smartwatch mode (up a full week over the GTS 2). In basic watch mode, that's up again - from 20 days to 24 days. With heavy usage, Huami says you'll get a full seven days.

That heavy usage number is based on having continuous heart rate monitoring enabled and exercising three times a week, using GPS for 20 minutes. We'd say our time with it veered towards the heavy side. We kept heart rate monitoring on continuously, enabled the more battery sapping advanced sleep monitoring and used the GPS on a regular basis. We didn't use the screen in always-on mode.

Under such use the daily drop-off was about 10 per cent, but it does seem to drain overnight if you have those richer sleep tracking features in use. At a push you'll get a week out of it, which isn't too bad going.

In terms of GPS battery performance, a 30-40 minute run knocked the battery by around five per cent, which is not a bad showing either, but shows that GPS is best used for short amounts of time to get that week's worth of battery life.

Pocket-lintAmazfit GTS 2e review photo 15

If you scale things back and ditch the more advanced health and fitness tracking features and don't have a huge amount of apps firing notifications, you'll likely get closer to those double digit days of battery longevity.

When you do hit zero, there's the same charging cradle as the one bundled with the GTS 2, which takes two hours to charge the watch back to 100 per cent. There's no fast-charging tech here, so if you're hoping you can give it a quick top up, then you're out of luck.

Verdict

The GTS 2e offers a lot of what's good about the GTS 2 for less money. It's an attractive square smartwatch that feels well-built, packs a great screen, and offers week-long battery life.

Features-wise, it's going to appeal to anyone who likes the idea of having reliable fitness tracking features packed inside of a tidy watch design. It's easy to use and its smartwatch features work well enough. The offline voice assistant is a nice bonus as well.

Keep your expectations with sports tracking in check though as what is on board here is definitely for the casual user. Especially if you go the distance or rely on supreme heart rate accuracy. There's competition to consider, too, such as the Huawei Watch GT2e, or paying a little extra again for a Fitbit Versa 2.

Also consider

Pocket-lintAlternatives photo 1

Fitbit Versa 2

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This watch will get you apps, payments, music features, and some of the best health and fitness tracking features available.

Pocket-lintAlternatives photo 2

Huawei Watch GT 2e

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If you want a watch that's better built for tracking outdoor and indoor exercise and can deliver weeks of battery life, the Huawei is one to look at instead.

Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 3 March 2021.