It’s not easy to make an excellent smartwatch. It’s difficult to maintain old aesthetics while providing current functions and keeping the whole thing usable.
Recently, we’ve witnessed an increase in the number of gadgets aiming for the middle ground between simple but long-lasting smart wristbands and more complicated but always low on battery smart watches.
They want to give you the best of both worlds, and the Xiaomi Amazfit Bip could be the most intriguing device they’ve ever released.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of having and utilizing a lengthy list of smart wearables, culminating in my acquisition of the Samsung Gear S3 last year.
And as we learn more about the Amazfit Bip, I’ll do my best to explain why my Samsung wristwatch has been collecting dust since I received the small Bip.
Amazfit Bip specifications.
- Plastic frame, Gorilla Glass 3 front + AF coating, soft rubber 20mm strap; body weight is 18g, strap weight is 32g.
- Display: 1.28 inches, 176 pixels, 2.5D glass, transflective color display
- Dual-mode positioning via GPS and GLONASS
- Non-removable 190mAh battery
The operating system is proprietary and doesn’t work with third-party apps. It works with Android 4.4 and up and iOS 8 and up.
A Mediatek processor, a PPG heart rate sensor, a triaxial acceleration sensor, a geomagnetic sensor, and a barometric pressure sensor are all inside.
Let’s start with the hardware. The polycarbonate body has a good feel to it, but its lightness doesn’t immediately reassure you.
I did discover that it can withstand a battering and still look nicer than a metal watch, such as my old Huawei Watch or the Samsung Gear S3, which were both more prone to denting.
Plus, you can acquire cheap plastic snap-on covers to protect the Bip for a low enough overall weight that it won’t affect you. You can get them in a variety of colors as an extra bonus, so you can change things up whenever you want.
The Bip’s front is made up of a single piece of 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3. In well over a month of regular wear, I have yet to detect a single scratch or damage on it after well over a month of regular wear.
In some ways, it may fare better than the mineral glass seen on some hybrid watches, such as Fossil’s budget collection.
Bip is amazing from every perspective.
Sleep tracking is a major aspect of smart wearables, and I’m happy to say that you can easily sleep with the Bip. It has a very low profile and fits perfectly on the wrist. My Gear S3, on the other hand, is not only weighty and metal, but it’s also twice as thick. It’s definitely not something you want to take to bed with you.
The Bip’s strap is also quite silky and pleasant to the touch. Surprisingly, it’s even better than the Gear S3 and the one I had on my Huawei Watch. And, like those two, it’s a standard (20mm) strap that you can easily change if necessary.
The 1.28-inch LCD has to be the Amazfit Bip’s focal point. Its appearance and form remind me a lot of my first smartwatch, the Sony Ericsson LiveView MN800.It was much thicker and bigger than most of its contemporaries, yet it was also shockingly useful and advanced for its day.
It was in color, and despite the fact that it only featured a touch-sensitive frame rather than a touchscreen, it supported third-party apps and had a surprising number of them. I actually kept it till its out-of-date Android companion app became useless. However, it continues to function. Sorry for getting off track there.
Another, possibly more true comparison to make is between the Bip and Pebble watch lines. The Bip doesn’t have as many buttons or as much functionality as the Bip, but the “secret sauce” of the display technology is extremely comparable.
The Bip has a 176 x 176 pixel LCD with a limited color space. It is, however, based on transfective technology, similar to Nokia phones from a decade ago.
The most noteworthy advantage of this method is its energy efficiency. The Bip’s display module is extremely power-efficient and literally sips energy. Because the display is the most power-hungry component in most modern technology, it’s no surprise that the Bip can get 45 days out of a single charge of its 190 mAh battery.
Despite its OLED display and 380 mAh battery, the Samsung Gear S3 only lasts 4 days with minimum use. Light is also a favorite of transflective panels. The Bip thrives in the open air. In fact, the more light you can shine on it, the easier it becomes to read. In today’s tech world, it’s a little weird.
It’s a little darker indoors than most people would prefer, but there’s a blue backlight to help with nighttime operation. The intensity can be adjusted in the settings, and the Bip can even identify a hand-raising signal and switch it on automatically. The detection is extremely accurate.
The Bip also includes a heart rate monitor as well as GPS monitoring for workouts. However, don’t anticipate genuine navigation or other advanced tracking features from the latter. It is currently used solely to improve distance measurements. This is a big problem because it should be easy for it to keep a record of where it has been on a route in the past.
Technically, you can extract such data using third-party tools and then try to decipher it for yourself. Keep in mind that the GPS is only engaged when you start an activity from the Bip.
The Bip can currently track walking, running, treadmill exercise, and cycling. The wearable is only rated for light splashes and up to 30 minutes in pretty shallow water, so no swimming. The watch’s battery lasts roughly 22 hours when used in workout tracking mode.
The heartrate sensor, on the other hand, may be set to take periodic readings throughout the day and night and provide an average heart rate to go along with the steps, distance, and estimated calories burned that the watch already measures.
The Bip may not have GPS capability, but it does have a compass. There’s also a weather feature and a timer. The latter, of course, obtains its data from the phone’s Mi Fit app.
There’s also an alarm feature, which works exactly like it did on the Mi Band, and it’s one of the things I found myself using the most on my Bip, alongside checking alerts and call reminders.
The reason for this is that the Bip can only vibrate and makes no sound. As I previously stated, I have no issue sleeping with it on, and I’ve discovered that wrist vibrations are very good at waking me up in the morning.
Furthermore, the Bip’s alarm is unrelated to the clock or the alarm on the connected phone. That means you can set your watch to vibrate in the morning without waking up your significant other or anyone else sleeping in the same room.
There are only a few disadvantages to the Bip that I’ve discovered. The first is that you can’t change the length of notification pop-ups on the watch, and the default option is far too short.
Also, unlike the Huawei Watch or Gear S3, when you raise your wrist late in the hopes of receiving a notification, it does not flash up. After that, hit the lone button on the Bip’s side, which functions as a type of unlock and enables the touchscreen to display the notification.
Then begin swiping your way up the list. Notification stacking is another glaring oversight. The fact that you can’t answer a call from the watch is also annoying.
Because the Bip lacks a microphone and speaker, the only alternatives when a call comes in are to ignore it or hang up. It’s one of the things I miss about it.On a more positive note, thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology, the call notice arrives almost instantaneously.
Finally, the Bip comes with only a limited number of customization options out of the box. There are a few pre-installed watch faces, but no third-party app support, as previously stated. Fortunately, there is a very active community of developers who work on the Bip. This has made the user experience much better if you have an Android phone.
To begin with, there are at least a few open-source watch companion apps available. I can personally recommend Gadgetbridge if you find the Mi Fit a little too hefty, or simply don’t want to go through the effort of registering a Mi account just to use the Bip.
It has a lot more features, is much more consistent in terms of keeping a connection and syncing data, and uses a lot less power than Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app.
It’s merely a short step from acquiring fresh watch faces on the Bip once you’ve signed up for Gadgetbridge. Although they are not officially supported, you may easily download custom watch faces from https://amazfitwatchfaces.com/or one of the many Android apps available on the Play Store.
There’s a lot to choose from, and it’s always changing. Once you’ve received the package, all you have to do is open it in a file manager and Gadgetbridge will take care of the rest. The personalized watchface will appear in the settings after a brief flashing process. The only snag is that you can only have one custom design loaded at a time for now.
Once you’ve mastered all of that, it’s only a matter of time before you can start designing your own personalized watch faces. On Wear OS, Tizen, or watchOS, this method is far from simple.
Because the Bip’s watch faces are handled so simply, you can make one yourself with some fonts, photos, and a rudimentary understanding of JSON. In reality, more and more tools to ease the task, such as this one, are continually appearing, making the procedure even simpler. There are also a variety of dials and watch styles to pick from.
A Tasker plugin is even available for the Bip. With a little effort, you can unlock a surprising amount of extra functionality yourself. By mapping the Bip’s button to that action, I was even able to address my in-car call answering issues.
The Amazfit Bip is now available for roughly $65, but it must be sent from China, so import costs will add to the price. In the Amazfit US store, the official MSRP is $99. Given what it offers, that’s still a good price.
It’s not a particularly formal watch, and it’s not overflowing with features. It does, however, make it almost as easy as possible to wear on a daily basis, with little fuss and a lot of reliability.