Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: The T-Rex is a great affordable smartwatch that gets the basics right. The rugged design makes it resistant to the elements, there's built-in GPS, excellent battery life, and four buttons on the sides for navigating the interface. Combine that with a big screen that's great for outdoor use and a low price tag and you get incredible value.
20-day battery life
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Huami is no stranger to the wearable segment. The Chinese manufacturer has been making wearables for Xiaomi from the very beginning, and with tens of millions of Mi Bands sold around the world, Huami is one of the largest players in this category. It branched out four years ago to sell products directly to customers under the Amazfit label, consistently rolling out wearables that offer great value.
In 2020, Amazfit is getting into new categories, including true wireless earbuds and a foldable treadmill, but the brand's primary focus continues to be smartwatches. In this area, the brand is rolling out the T-Rex, its first rugged smartwatch. Like other Amazfit smartwatches, the T-Rex is aimed at the value segment — retailing for $140 — and it comes with a host of exciting features, like built-in GPS, MIL-STD 810G rating, 50-meter water resistance, and much more.
The T-Rex debuted earlier this year and went on sale in the U.S. a few weeks ago. Here's what you need to know about Amazfit's latest smartwatch, and why it is an easy recommendation if you're looking for a rugged wearable for under $150.
Amazfit T-Rex What I like
Two things stand out as soon as you start using the T-Rex: first, it looks considerably bigger than other smartwatches thanks to the generous bezels around the screen and the aggressive styling. Second, it doesn't weigh as much as you'd expect, with the smartwatch coming in at 56g. The latter is because of the fact that the T-Rex features a plastic chassis, and that goes a long way in making sure the smartwatch isn't too heavy on your wrist.
There are four textured buttons on the smartwatch that let you control various features and navigate the interface. You'll find the Up and Down buttons on the left, and the Select and Back buttons to the right. The buttons themselves don't have great tactile feedback, but they're a viable alternative to using the touchscreen — particularly when you're in the middle of a workout or need to interact with the watch while wearing gloves.
The T-Rex has a large 1.3-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 360 x 360, and there's an oleophobic coating as well as a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 to give it added protection. The screen itself is vibrant and gets sufficiently bright for outdoor use, and there's an always-on mode if you want the screen enabled throughout the day.
The included silicone band is decent enough, and while the smartwatch itself doesn't weigh a lot, the design is rather bulky thanks to the bezels. If you're into that aesthetic, the T-Rex has a lot to offer. You'll be able to pick up the T-Rex in five color options — Gun Grey, Army Green, Rock Black, Came Green, and Khaki — and the Camo Green option, in particular, looks great. That variant also comes with a TPU band instead of the usual silicone option.
The smartwatch is designed to weather the elements: with a MIL-STD 810G rating and 50-meter water resistance, it is great for outdoor use. The MIL-STD 810G rating means it can withstand extreme heat, cold, humidity, and other environmental conditions. Basically, this smartwatch endures the harshest weather conditions.
On the connectivity front, the T-Rex offers a GPS and GLONASS module with a dual-satellite positioning system, and the smartwatch pairs with your phone over Bluetooth 5.0. It automatically recognizes 14 forms of workouts and starts tracking them, including walking, hiking, using an elliptical machine, running on the treadmill or outdoors, indoor and outdoor cycling, swimming, and skiing.
The smartwatch uses Huami's own chip for measuring heart rate, and it does an accurate job. You can set the frequency interval, and you also get activity alerts reminding you to move every hour. The GPS is also accurate for outdoor runs, and in general you're getting a lot of value for what you end up paying for the T-Rex.
As for the software, you get the usual call and notification alerts, and you can also set up weather alerts on the smartwatch. The T-Rex works over Android as well as iOS, and the interface itself is barebones. You get to scroll through the widgets with a swipe left gesture from the home screen, and a swipe down from the top lets you access commonly used settings.
The interface itself is lag-free and doesn't throw up any issues in day-to-day use. You get a decent amount of customization, including a plethora of watch faces, and the companion Amazfit Watch app gives you an exhaustive list of options. The app offers a wealth of data and detailed workout statistics, you can set the sensitivity for the raise-to-wake screen setting, and configure just about every facet of the smartwatch.
Then there's the battery life. Amazfit quotes a 20-day battery life with "normal" use from the 390mAh battery that includes up to 150 message alerts, waking the screen up to 30 times, and 30-minute running sessions every alternate day. With GPS continually enabled, you'll get 20 hours of battery life. On the other end, if you disable Bluetooth connectivity to your phone and turn off heart rate monitoring, the T-Rex will last up to 66 days.
These claims hold up in real-world usage. I got well over two weeks' worth of use from the smartwatch, and in this regard the T-Rex is one of the best smartwatches in the market today. It's liberating to not have to charge a smartwatch nightly, and even with heavy use you should easily get a week's worth of usage out of the T-Rex without any issues.
Amazfit T-Rex What needs work
The main issue with the T-Rex is that there's no third-party app support. Because the smartwatch uses Huami's custom software, it doesn't hook into apps like Wear OS.
The smartwatch does a decent job mirroring notifications from your phone, but you're not going to be able to use Spotify or Uber directly on your wrist. It isn't too big a deal because the interface itself is responsive and you get a lot of useful features, but if you want third-party apps, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Then there's the fact that the build quality isn't on par with the rest of the field. The plastic design doesn't really hide the fact that this is a budget smartwatch.
Amazfit T-Rex Alternatives
There are a lot of options if you're looking for a rugged smartwatch. The $199 Garmin Instinct (opens in new tab) is the closest rival to the Amazfit T-Rex, with the smartwatch also offering built-in GPS, MIL-STD-810G rating, and battery life of up to 14 days. The Instinct also has a bulky design, but the main downside is that there's no color display.
If you want a rugged smartwatch with Wear OS, Casio has you covered with the $500 Pro Trek (opens in new tab). It costs over thrice as much as the T-Rex, and there's an innovative dual-screen mode where the smartwatch switches to a monochrome panel to save battery life. It has most of the same features as the T-Rex, and if you don't care about the cost, it is a great option to consider.
Finally, there's the $300 Galaxy Watch Active 2 (opens in new tab). It may not have a rugged design, but you do get a lot of smarts, 5ATM water resistance, MIL-STD-810G rating, and decent battery life.
Amazfit T-Rex Should you buy it?
The T-Rex is a full-fledged smartwatch that has a lot to offer. The interface is responsive, you get plenty of customization options, and it delivers in a lot of key areas. The MIL-STD-810G rating makes it reliable in harsh weather, there's built-in GPS, and you're getting excellent value.
There's also a large 1.3-inch AMOLED screen, 5ATM water resistance, and the automatic activity tracking works reliably. The T-Rex nails the basics, and it has enough differentiating features to hold its own in the rugged smartwatch segment. The physical buttons in particular come in handy when you want to navigate the interface while wearing gloves.
But what truly makes the T-Rex stand out is the battery life. You'll only have to charge this smartwatch a few times a month, and that immediately gives it an edge over its rivals. Combine that with the low price tag and you get a great option in this category for under $200.
4 out of 5
Who it's for
- You're looking for good value
- You want a MIL-STD-810G rating and 5ATM water resistance
- You want built-in GPS and multi-week battery life
- You want a large screen with physical buttons on the side
Who it's not for
- You're looking to use third-party apps
- You don't particularly like large watches
The best budget rugged smartwatch
The T-Rex is a great affordable smartwatch that gets the basics right. The rugged design makes it resistant to the elements, there's built-in GPS, excellent battery life, and four buttons on the sides for navigating the interface. Combine that with a big screen that's great for outdoor use and a low price tag and you get incredible value.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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