Apple Watch, while not an Android thing, is a success by any measure. One problem users consistently run into, though, is battery life. For the most part, you're going to need to charge most smartwatches every day. That's without features like an always-on display, which is something Android Wear users and others take for granted. And for the features you do get from Apple, you pay a premium because Apple Watch is a premium product and is priced like one.
Now, what if I told you about a smartwatch right out of the Apple design playbook, that could get 45 days of battery life? What if I told you it also had GPS and GLONASS, IP68 dust and water resistance, a barometer, compass, 3-axis accelerometer, and 190mAh battery? What if it could also track activity such as running, walking, and cycling? How about the ability to analyze your sleep? What if it also tossed in an optical heart rate system as well. And what if it were priced at about $79 or so on Amazon?
Meet the Amazfit Bip
Built by Xiaomi, the Amazfit Bip has been called the Chinese Pebble — after one of the first smartwatches to hit the market — and it's now coming to the U.S. with support for both iOS and Android.
I've been using an Amzfit Bip for a few weeks and, while you do get what you pay for, it offers a lot of technology in a low-cost package and has some features Apple hasn't gotten around to adding just yet.
There is a 1.28-inch always-on display with a resolution of 176 x 176. While the body is made of lightweight plastic the screen is made of Gorilla Glass 3. It's also nice that it uses standard 20mm lugs, so swapping out bands is simple.
The Bip connects via Bluetooth 4.0 allowing you to receive calls, texts, emails, and other notifications. These are all one way, though. If you need more, you'll need to look elsewhere.
All about the basics
There are a ton of different watch faces included and a growing collection online that are pretty simple to get on the device. Some nice and useful, others... just bizarre. And there's no way to tweak colors or complications.
Fitness capabilities check all the boxes, including step counts and workout routines. It's all synced back to the Mi app on your iPhone or Android Phone, but can also be synced to Google Fit.
There are also apps on the watch for weather, timer, stopwatch, and alarm, but there's no app store and no ecosystem for adding anything else.
The Chinese Pebble
Ever since the good folks at Fitbit bought and then promptly killed the Pebble, there's been a void in the market for a simple, fitness-focused smartwatch that was more than a tracker but cost less than an Apple Watch.
If you can live with its limitations, or just want the battery life an always-on display, then the Amzfit Bip might just fill that void for you.