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Amazfit GTS 3 Review: Old Wine in a New Bottle


There’s plenty of choice if you are looking for a smartwatch for fitness tracking priced at or below Rs. 15,000. While most smartwatches and fitness trackers at this price level won’t offer Google’s Wear OS ecosystem, you can find products that deliver a lot of value in terms of hardware, features, and more importantly, battery life.

With that in mind, Amazfit’s GTS 3 is a very capable fitness tracker. There’s a new display, new software, a refreshed design, and a digital crown for navigation, but all of these seem to have come at a cost. The tiny jump in battery capacity means that this model is positioned below the GTR 3 and GTR 3 Pro. The GTS 3 also lacks Bluetooth calling and internal storage, which were available on the GTS 2 (Review). Considering these minor updates and the missing features, should you choose the Amazfit GTS 3, or are there better fitness trackers at this price?

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The Amazfit GTS 3 features a 42mm watch case that’s made of aluminium alloy

 

Amazfit GTS 3 price in India

The Amazfit GTS 3 is priced at Rs. 13,999 in India. It’s available in a single version, and has no user-accessible internal storage. There are three finishes to choose from: Graphite Black, Ivory White, and Terra Rosa. I received a Terra Rosa GTS 3 unit for review. It comes with a silicon strap and a magnetic charging base in the box.

Amazfit GTS 3 design and specifications

The Amazfit GTS 3 looks very similar to the GTS 2. The single pusher on the right side of the GTS 2 has now been upgraded to a navigation crown, which can be used as a home button when pressed and released quickly, and shows you a list of apps with a second press. Its primary purpose is to let you scroll through lists and pages, and it generates haptic feedback as you do that. Long-pressing the crown lets you access any function of your choosing. I set it to pull up Amazon Alexa’s voice interface.

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The navigation crown provides haptic feedback while scrolling through lists

 

The navigation crown works much like the one on Apple Watches, but it’s not as refined from a software perspective. Twisting the crown with the watch unlocked results in haptic feedback with the linear vibration motor, but this feels more like vibrations than mechanical clicks. Scrolling feels responsive, but the crown is very sensitive, which makes it a bit annoying to scroll to an exact item in a list or a page in an app. There’s always a bit of adjustment required to reach a spot. Since the UI does not have a selection system or a highlight to show selected items in a list or in an app, you have to take your finger off the crown and tap on the display to select something, which I found counterintuitive. After a few days of use, I ended up using the touchscreen display for navigation most of the time, as all apps and functions work well with gestures. You will only really need the navigation crown to access the list of apps when you are at the watch face.

The Amazfit GTS 3 features a 1.75-inch OLED display with a resolution of 390×450 pixels. It has a slim bezel all around. The front glass is tempered for protection and also has an anti-fingerprint coating, which worked well throughout the review period.

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The smartwatch comes with a silicon strap which is quite comfortable

 

The 42mm watch case is rectangular with rounded corners and is made of aluminium alloy. At just 24.4g (without straps) it feels very light and almost like a smart band. The device is water-resistant up to 5ATM, so you will be able to take it for a swim. There is no speaker but you do get a mic that can be used for voice commands for the built-in voice assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.

The bottom of the case is made of plastic and has the sensors for heart rate and SpO2 tracking. Above and below them are two metal contacts that connect to the magnetic charging base. The watch comes with a silicon strap that can be attached and removed easily with quick-release pins. The strap feels soft and has a classic pin buckle that remained secure and never came off accidentally during the review period. I had no trouble wearing the GTS 3 all day and even sleeping while wearing it.

The Amazfit GTS 3 communicates with its phone app, called Zepp, via Bluetooth. The watch does not have built-in Wi-Fi so it cannot directly connect to the Internet. There’s no local storage like on the GTS 2, so storing music on the watch is not possible. Because of its slim overall design (8.8mm thick), Amazfit engineers only managed to squeeze in a 250mAh battery. This is still a minor upgrade over the 246mAh battery on the GTS 2, but it’s only close to half the capacities that the GTR 3 and the GTR 3 Pro models have.

Amazfit GTS 3 software

Amazfit, with its new GTS 3 and GTR 3 models, has upgraded to a new software platform called Zepp OS. This is a custom operating system and communicates with the Zepp app on an Android or iOS smartphone. I tested the GTS 3 with a Google Pixel 4a, and right off the bat, I noticed that I was not able to receive any app notifications. The solution was to turn off battery optimisations for the Zepp companion app. This basically makes the Zepp app remain in memory and run in the background indefinitely (good or bad, you decide). Post this, I had to select all the apps I wanted to receive notifications from, and then I was good to go.

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The bottom of the case is made of plastic and has two metal contacts for charging in addition to the health tracking sensors

 

The UI is quite basic, and navigating through it on the GTS 3 is fairly easy to understand. From the watch face, you can swipe right to open Shortcut Cards, swipe left to access preselected widgets (which Amazfit calls Quick Access Apps), swipe up to see your notifications, and swipe down to access important settings. There are buttons here to let you quickly toggle DND and Theatre modes, adjust the display brightness, and more.

The Shortcut Cards section is a customisable list of apps that show relevant information and actions. I could interact with these, for example to take a quick heart rate reading or glance through a weather forecast. A tap on each one will open its respective app. The Quick Access Apps (or widgets) on the other hand relay information from the built-in apps in a visually appealing way. Indeed, both these sections ended up showing the same information in different ways, so choosing which way to go from the watch face is mainly about how you like to view such information.

There are plenty of built-in apps, and Amazfit has an App Store in the Zepp companion app that lets you download some additional mini apps. These range from extremely useful, such as the Watch Storage Space app, to something as useless as the Brush Teeth app that tells you how to brush your teeth. The apps in this mini store don’t come from third-party developers, so they all look consistent and stick to the overall design and theme of the Zepp OS interface.

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The watch does have a bit of internal storage, but it’s not accessible to the user

 

The Storage Space app let me know that I had about 3GB of internal storage, of which I had used about 784MB after two weeks. It’s a bit odd that Amazfit does not let users do anything with the other 2GB of local storage, such as storing music.

The watch has two voice assistants. There’s one that is developed by Amazfit and the other which is by Amazon. Amazfit’s own voice assistant works offline (and is even called Offline Voice Control) but is very limited in terms of capabilities and requires very specific commands. Most of the time it opened the wrong app because it could not understand my commands correctly. In contrast, Amazon’s Alexa is a lot smarter, but needs to be connected to the internet to operate.

Positives aside, there are a few things that I did not like about the Amazfit GTS 3. The built-in watch faces (and those from the Zepp store) do show complications (data from apps) and even let you customise what data you want to see in them. However, tapping on these complications will not take you to their respective apps. Clearing notifications from the notifications tray is not a good experience. Instead of being able to simply swipe away a particular notification, I had to open each one, tap on a delete button (located at the end of the message), and then swipe right to get back to the notifications tray. This has to be done for each notification individually. Notifications from some apps such as WhatsApp do not show up with an icon, so it’s hard to tell which app or service they came from.

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The Amazfit GTS 3’s Zepp OS interface is fairly basic and easy to understand

 

There are other basic UI flaws too, like the inability to quickly access tools or apps that are active in the background. For example, if I start the stopwatch and then view a notification or open another app, I have to come back to the watch face, press the crown to show the app drawer, scroll down to the stopwatch app, open it, and then hit stop. A similar problem occurs when a workout is active – all other functions of the watch remain blocked (save for the drop-down notifications shade and music controls). You have to finish a workout in order to access other functions or tools. While this doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of an intense workout session, I could not access the watch during my daily walk or while jogging, forcing me to pull out my phone.

Amazfit GTS 3 performance and battery life

The whole OS appears to run smoothly, which makes it quite responsive, whether you are interacting with it using the navigation crown or the touchscreen. The AMOLED display got quite bright even in direct sunlight, and the black background that’s all over the UI helps text and graphics stand out.

If you do buy an Amazfit GTS 3, do remember to update it to the latest software version (7.23.5.2 at the time of this review), which ran smoothly and was mostly bug-free, compared to the experience I had with the software that it came with out of the box.

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Sleep tracking on the Amazfit GTS 3 was far from accurate

 

Most of the fitness tracking features were quite accurate, save for sleep tracking. The SpO2 reading was spot on when compared that of to a blood oximeter, and the watch was also quite quick to take measurements and display a reading. Heart rate readings were also quite accurate. There’s a nice One-tap Measuring feature that conducts a number of tests in one go. This takes about 45 seconds, so you will have to remain motionless for that long.

As for workouts, step tracking was impressively accurate. I counted 1,000 steps manually during my daily walk and the watch showed exactly 1,000 steps. This was with 2D tracking switched on; there’s also a 3D tracking mode that takes elevation into account. GPS tracking was also almost perfect, even though my route had a lot of trees and plenty of buildings.

While most of the tracking features were on point, sleep tracking was not. There are a couple of ground rules you need to keep in mind when reading sleep data. Daytime naps of less than 20 minutes do not get recorded. Sleep time between 10:00pm and 8:00am will only be counted as night sleep, including short naps.

I wore the watch to bed for a few nights and found that it was inaccurate for the most part, except for instances when I woke up during the night, which it detected accurately. The GTS 3 for some reason decided that I was in a light sleep state from 9:00pm to when I actually called it a day and shut my eyes at 12:30am. It even marked me as awake for a good 45 minutes before deep sleep and REM sleep began. My best guess is that it assumed that I was asleep when lying relatively motionless while watching movies. Regardless, it was still inaccurate.

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Notifications from some apps such as WhatsApp do not show up with an icon

 

As for the Amazfit GTS 3’s 250mAh battery, I tested this in two ways. With the Always-On Display (AOD) enabled plus regular heart rate, blood O2, and stress monitoring, all notifications switched on, and sleep monitoring with theatre mode turned on at night, this device lasted 3 days on a single charge. With no auto monitoring of any sort turned on, AOD switched off, and with all notifications enabled, a full charge stretched for about 5 days. While these numbers do sound impressive compared to an Apple Watch or a WearOS device which would have to be charged every night, Amazfit’s GTR 3 (which is priced the same as the GTS 3) and GTR 3 Pro (priced higher) have much bigger batteries and should last a lot longer. As for charging, the watch touched 53 percent in 30 minutes and took about 1 hour and 19 minutes to get to 100 percent, which is not bad.

Verdict

The Amazfit GTS 3 is a minor update over the GTS 2 (Review), and is fine if you are in the market for a slim smartwatch that weighs only as much as a fitness band. Zepp OS is a smooth and fluid experience (with a few bugs), but the digital crown is very limited in terms of function. Fitness and health tracking is quite good save for sleep tracking, which was just not up to the mark. There’s no local storage (for music files or Bluetooth calling like on the GTS 2, which some might find to be a deal breaker. In short, if you own a GTS 2 (which currently retails at Rs. 11,999) there is no reason to upgrade to the GTS 3.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly smartwatch, there are several options to choose from at this price level. There’s Amazfit’s GTR 3, which offers a bigger battery and the same set of features at the same price. If you are looking for storage and a bigger battery, there’s the OnePlus Watch (Review) at Rs. 14,999. And if Wear OS is on your mind, then the Oppo Watch (41mm) (Rs. 14,999) might not be a bad idea.




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