The new Amazfit Bip U Pro is the company’s latest budget smartwatch, with a super-charged spec sheet and super-affordable price.
The follow-up to the Bip S costs just £59.99 and is available in the US and Europe. There’s also a standard Bip U, which offers the same build without GPS and Alexa, for just $59 in the US (not yet available widely elsewhere).
It’s marketed as ‘your first step into smart fitness’, which gives you a fair idea of the target audience. Amazfit believes this will be your first smartwatch, and perhaps your first wearable.
Alternatives are Amazfit’s own excellent GTS 2 Mini, which offers a better screen and slightly more premium build at £79.99. After that you’ll need to look to the Huawei Watch GT 2e.
It’s an excellent package for such a low cost, but do those hifalutin features deliver?
Amazfit Bip U Pro review – design and build
The Amazfit Bip U comes with a number of features that, on paper, defy its price point.
A vivid 1.43-inch HD colour screen, 5ATM water resistance with swim tracking, 24/7 HR monitoring and even a blood oxygen monitor.
The Bip U Pro promises 60 dedicated sports modes, along with sleep, stress and blood oxygen monitoring and a custom health evaluation system based upon a number of biometric recordings.
Beyond the fitness realm, there’s an excellent 9-day battery life and some decent smartphone connectivity options.
If the feature list disregards the price tag, the design and build doesn’t. The silicone strap with plastic fastening is flimsy and doesn’t feel like it will hold up to abuse. The strap can also get really clammy.
The plastic body construction has large bezels surrounding the 1.43-inch display and there’s a Digital Crown-style button on the right side. It twizzles, but that doesn’t carry any functionality.
At just 31g, you can easily forget you’re wearing this device. But the design lacks an identity and, overall, looks like an Apple Watch knock-off though, so be ready to field the “oh is that an Apple Watch?”. The Bip U Pro comes in black, pink and a rather fetching green.
The digital TFT display has a 302 x 302 resolution, is coated by Gorilla Glass 3 and, like the Bip U, drops the transflective display we saw on the Bip S series. It’s a big boost in quality, but clearly it’s weaker than the punchy AMOLED found on the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini.
The touch response is decent, but it can seem a little fiddly at times given the lack of room to operate.
You can also freshen up the look and feel of the watch face from within the watch or download loads of others from the companion Zeep app. It’s also possible to create a personalised face using your own photos.
Amazfit Bip U Pro review – activity and sport tracking
Amazfit smartwatches are geared towards activity and fitness tracking, and the Bip U and Bip U Pro have a wide set of features.
Step tracking is handled with aplomb and accuracy was indistinguishable from rivals.
Your activity tracking feeds into the physiological activity indicator, which encourages you to hit a PAI score of 100 each week through heart rate-based training.
As you get fitter, it’ll be harder to earn points and you’ll need to train harder to keep your score over 100. It’s a good, generic system for beginners, albeit not as motivating as the Apple Watch activity rings.
Of course, the 5ATM water resistance makes swim tracking possible at depths of up to 50m. It feels like Casio had this figured out 30 years ago with £20 digital watches, so we won’t go overboard on the praise here.
Naturally, you’ll also get sleep tracking here, which delves into sleep stages, total sleep and time awake. It will also track naps.
We found the overall total sleep was within ten minutes and registered deep sleep time within 6 minutes, when comparing with the Whoop Strap 3.0. But against the gold standard sleep tracking of Fitbit and Withings we did find it tended to over-estimate sleep.
You can also turn on advanced sleep tracking, which will impact battery life. You’ll get a sleep score out of 100. Over time, you’ll begin to see trends in sleep duration, time to fall asleep and average deep sleep performance, and whether you’re trending up or down.
However, if you don’t want to be disturbed all night, you’re going to have to turn off the motion-based screen wake, which comes in so handy during the day. I almost blinded my wife a couple of times just by turning over in the night. Turning on Do Not Disturb does not prevent the screen waking when the watch detects motion. Annoying.
It’s a good sleep tracking performance, and while we’d urge those looking to make meaningful change to consider Fitbit or Withings, this is superb performance and data for the price.
There’s also menstrual cycle tracking, which estimates the next fertile period and estimated ovulation date based upon the information you register. It’s good to see this feature become as much of a staple as step tracking on these devices.
Hold down the crown and you enter workout mode. You can select from over 60 sports modes, from all of the conventional options, to dance, cricket, equestrian and curling. Yes, curling. Amazfit is nothing if not inclusive.
After selecting the activity, you can hit start. GPS will be automatically be registered if you’re outdoors and we found no issue with its accuracy or performance.
While heart rate detection is within a good margin of a high-end fitness tracker like Whoop, the estimated calorie burn can be significantly off for certain activities.
In a 55-minute light yoga session, it estimated a whopping calorie burn of 415kcal. The Whoop, meanwhile, went conservative with 134 calories – which is much more realistic.
There’s no real explanation for this anomaly considering both devices registered the average and max HR within a few of beats. It seems the disparity may be due to the how the individual Amazfit sport modes calculate the data. We’ve requested an answer from Amazfit.
I tried again using the Outdoor Cycling mode on the watch, using the Polar H-10 chest strap and Polar Beat app, as well as the wrist-based Whoop.
For a 25-minute, 4.5 mile cycle the Bip U Pro estimated 286 calories, compared to the stingy Whoop (250kcal). Much closer. However, the most-accurate Polar H-10 chest-strap measured 394 calories.
For a newcomer to smart fitness tracking, trusting this calorie burn could present a false sense of accomplishment or even an undercount, if you’re managing calories in/out as part of your fitness and weight loss efforts.
We’d happily recommend this as a fitness tracker for those starting their smart fitness journey, but it’s not quite up to scratch as a dedicated sports watch, if you’re seeking pinpoint accurate next-gen stats.
Heart rate, stress and blood oxygen tracking
The Bip U Pro offers near-continuous heart rate tracking during everyday life. You can pick from a number of intervals, from every minute to every half an hour. The last measurement will sit on the homescreen depending on the watch face used. You can also manually measure your heartrate at any time too. It takes around 10 seconds.
Resting heart rate, when measured, was more or less in line with the optical heart-rate sensor on the Whoop Strap 3.0.
Occasionally, it ticked a beat-per-minute or two lower. The same applies for the Polar H-10 hardware, when it comes to resting heart-rate. Quite impressive for a device costing $69.99.
At more intensive exercise, things go downhill quickly. Our cycle comparison against the H-10 chest strap saw a difference in average HR of 10bpm for the session. The Amazfit averaged 136bpm while the chest strap recorded 150bpm. It makes the data less useful for proper analysis or HR zone training – but as this is clearly aimed at casual users, it’s still interesting data for showing how hard you worked.
The ability to measure blood oxygen level is newsworthy. Those suffering from Covid-19 have experienced dangerously-low blood oxygen levels. Like respiration rate and HRV with other trackers, your blood oxygen level can be a vital indicator of your overall wellness.
The oxygen saturation level is measured manually and takes around a minute. After measuring, you’ll be informed if your SpO2 drops below the optimum level. Be sure to follow the on-screen instructions to the letter to ensure an accurate reading.
The stress tracking feature works similarly. It’s measured manually (all day monitoring can be enabled to the detriment of battery life) and pairs with the on-board breathing exercises you can take if high stress is registered. Haptic feedback and visual cues guide your inhales and exhales.
Watch UI and experience
This is a well-thought-out interface that is highly customisable and intuitive. Raise your wrist and you’ll see the watch face pop up.
Swiping left and right from the watch face takes you through commonly-used features (Activity Goal progress, HR, SpO2, stress, PAI progress, weather, music controls, Alexa). A swipe down summons quick settings, a swipe up shows smartphone notifications.
Press the crown for a list of features. Hold it to enter workout mode. The touchscreen is used to confirm selections. Pretty standard stuff, but it’s also pleasing to see an interface get out of its own way.
You can get dozens of watch faces to keep the look and feel fresh, four live on the watch and the rest can be synced via the Zepp app.
They’re well suited to the different use cases. The activity-themed face shows your HR graph, PAI progress and activity rings, for example. Many can be edited directly from the watch face.
The HR curve graph can be replaced with daily steps, for example.
Amazfit Bip U Pro review – smartwatch features
Alexa integration is a key upgrade over the Bip U watch (GPS is the other). There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or LTE, so voice commands are sent via your phone. You access Alexa with a swipe right from the homescreen and don’t have to use the wake word. Of course, that means there’s a microphone on board, which picks up your voice without any trouble.
When this feature works, it’s handy. However, too often we received a “network busy try again later” message. We’ve asked Amazfit to offer some feedback on this.
If you’re playing music via your connected phone, you can control it from a dedicated screen. However, there’s no option to transfer music to the watch for offline playback, no option to add music apps, or to connect Bluetooth headphones. You’ll have to look to the Amazfit GTS/GTR 2 for this, at double the price – and in our testing found the experience to be really clunky. Best avoided.
Smartphone notifications like incoming calls or WhatsApp/Messenger can be turned on via the app, which offers options depending on the apps you have installed.
You can’t act upon the notifications, but they are handy and help you keep the phone lodged in the pocket.
Notifications are generally easy to read and clear, but there are a couple of annoying quirks: they can’t display emoji though and apostrophes have an unwarranted space after them, which looks a bit untidy.
Amazfit Bip U Pro review – Battery life and charging
Overall, we were really impressed with the battery life offered by the Bip U Pro. The 9-day pledge was accurate with some limited use of GPS for running and cycling and heart rate monitoring set to every five minutes. We kept the screen brightness relatively low throughout.
If you turn on some of the advanced features, you will quickly
Charging comes via two magnetic pins that click satisfyingly to the rear of the watch. From 13% charge, we got back to 99% in around 85 minutes. Not the fastest charging in the world, for sure, but we’re more forgiving based on how long the battery lasts.
Amazfit Bip U Pro
The Amazfit Bip U Pro is a great-value budget smartwatch/fitness tracker with some tolerable flaws. A good pick if you’re upgrading from a basic fitness tracker or making your first step into wearables. The smartwatch and fitness features work well, the display is nice and the battery life is excellent.
- Great value
- Price-defying feature set
- Excellent battery life
- On-board GPS
- Notifications sometimes squiffy
- Alexa is hit and miss
- Design feels cheap