Amazfit T-Rex first look: Huami’s new smartwatch does its best Garmin impression

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Huami has built its brand on budget smartwatches, and it’s paying off: it’s now sold over 100 million smart wearables and counting.

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It’s kicking off 2020 with two new smartwatches, the most interesting of which is the Amazfit T-Rex. Like its prehistoric namesake, this thing is big, sturdy and ready to take a beating.

It’s also very rugged; if the Bip series is Huami imitating the Apple Watch, the T-Rex sees the company doing its best Garmin impression.

Huami boasts that the T-Rex comes with “military-grade” (MIL-STD-810G) durability, which will not only let it withstand a few hard knocks, but more extreme climates too.

The smartwatch is heat resistant to 70 degrees Celsius and can withstand temperatures as low at 40 degrees. It’s also water resistant to 50 meters.

And yeah, to put it nicely, it’s not one of the nicest smartwatches we’ve tried on. Huami has never wowed us with design (again, see the Bip) and the T-Rex feels quite cheap, down to the silicone strap which felt quite uncomfortable when we demoed it.

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And that’s because it is cheap: the T-Rex is going on sale for $139.90, which undercuts a large swathe of the sports watch competition. This is how Huami has carved out a nice little spot for itself in the wearables market – that, and a little help from Amazon – and it’s not going to stop a good thing.

But it’s a game of trade-offs, as the watch can also get 20 days of battery life from a single charge, says Huami – 66 days if you switch it to the basic mode. That’s giving Garmin a run for its money; the Fenix 6 lasts around two weeks when GPS is being used.

And like the Fenix 6 there’s built-in GPS and GLONASS on the T-Rex, along with the obligatory optical heart rate sensor on the back. The watch also boasts 14 sports modes that run the gamut from swimming to skiing.

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The 1.3-inch AMOLED display also seems plenty sharp, at least during our brief stint with the watch, but we did notice the interface was laggy when we were zipping through apps and settings.

When it comes to wearables, Huami’s philosophy has always been quantity over quality, and once again it’s throwing in the kitchen sink. There’s even a compass, a la the Apple Watch Series 5, but the software is far less polished. Again, trade-offs.

Initial verdict

Weird name aside, the T-Rex is Huami doing what it does best: offering a competitive spec sheet for a cut price. We’re not wowed by the overall look and feel, but while Huami may have cut corners in the design, it’s not held back on the number of features.

However, past experiences with its watches give us reason to be skeptical that this Amazfit can truly go toe-to-toe with Garmin – but we’ll be happy to be proven wrong, come the full review.

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