Budget tech often comes with unfortunate sacrifices, like lackluster displays, slower processors, or perhaps barely enough storage to get by. But occasionally, a budget product manages to punch above its weight. The Amazfit GTR 3 (available at Amazon for $179.99) does just that by offering an excellent display, impressive multi-day battery, and a surprising amount of features like health tracking and Alexa, at an impressively low price. You'll miss out on a more eye-catching design, third-party apps, and better integration with your phone's OS, but those are mostly negligible for all but the heaviest app users and fashionistas.
About the Amazfit GTR 3
- Display: 1.39-inch AMOLED display with a 454 x 454 resolution
- Processor: Not listed
- Operating system: Zepp
- Navigation: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BDS, QZSS
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 BLE
- Sensors: BioTracker 3.0 PPG, SpO2, accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic, barometric pressure, ambient light
- Dust/Water resistance: 5 ATM
- Audio: Microphone/Speaker
- Battery: 450 mAh
- Memory and storage: Not listed
- Platform support: iOS and Android
What we like
Big, gorgeous screen
The GTR 3 has a 1.39-inch round AMOLED display that's both colorful and vibrant, even in direct sunlight. It's easy to see the time, your notifications, or your workout stats at a glance, even in the middle of a workout session.
The face of the watch looks pretty big, even when compared to the larger 45mm Apple Watch Series 7, but that’s mostly due to the bezel around the display, which has little ticks to indicate the time (when used with analog watch faces). The actual display, which is slightly larger than the screen on the Galaxy Watch 4, works great for checking your messages, but it would’ve been nice to see Amazfit swap the bezel for a little extra display.
There's even an always-on option if you like to peek at the time a lot. In this mode, your watch face will display a trimmed down, mostly black version of your current watch face until you start interacting with it again. If you’ve used a recent Apple Watch or a Galaxy Watch, it functions pretty much the same way here. Do note, though, that keeping the display in this mode will eat into the GTR 3's multi-day battery. You'll still likely get at least a few days out of a single charge, but you'll get less than if the display turned off when not in use.
Stellar battery life
Most smartwatches we've tested, including the Apple Watch Series 7 and the Galaxy Watch 4, require a recharge every day or so. Amazfit boasts a battery life of up to 21 days with typical usage and 10 days with heavy usage.
After about a day of use, including setup, updating the watch's OS, workout and GPS tracking, notification management, voice assistant testing, and even eight hours of sleep tracking, the GTR 3 still had 84% left. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 7, had about 51 percent battery left after the same amount of time.
Beyond being able to last longer on a single charge, the GTR 3's outstanding battery life offers the subtle relief of being able to go to bed at night without fretting that your watch won't have enough juice to run your alarm the next morning, or that it might die on you while you're out on a run.
It's a great value
Amazfit's GTR 3 is cheaper than most smartwatches at $180. That's despite having a vibrant OLED display, longer battery life than most of the competition, and some shockingly good fitness tracking capabilities.
For $100 more, you could get an Apple Watch SE, which would offer a broader ecosystem of apps, a nicer overall design, NFC payments, and turn-by-turn navigation on your wrist. You could also snag a Fitbit Versa for the same $180, but you'll only be gaining a few extra third-party apps like Spotify.
That ignores everything the GTR 3 manages to do for such a low price. Like the Apple Watch, it's capable of tracking several different kinds of workouts, including walking and running, cycling (indoor and outdoor), strength training, swimming, hiking, yoga, and—puzzlingly—esports, which monitors your heart rate and stress levels as you play. You can also summon Alexa to answer questions you'd usually run to your browser for, set multiple timers (and even name them), and there's even an offline voice assistant for when Alexa's unavailable.
As I noted above, you'll also get a much better battery life with the GTR 3 than the Apple Watch SE, and likely at least a bit more than Fitbit's Versa. You may not get a fully-featured smartwatch that perfectly integrates with your phone, but it nearly gets there, all while lasting longer on a single charge than most other watches you can get.
What we don't like
Software could use some refinement
Although the GTR 3 is mostly an impressive accomplishment in packing premium features into a budget design, something had to give. Primarily, its software lacks the polish of Apple's, Samsung's, and even Fitbit's offerings.
That starts with the setup process, which took over an hour in my testing. Once the watch had been unboxed and turned on, I had to scan a QR code that sent me to the App Store to download the Zepp app (formerly the Amazfit app). That part was pretty straightforward, but I then had to download an OS update that took over an hour and required that I keep the Zepp app in the foreground on my phone the entire time. That's a limitation of iOS, not Amazfit's hardware, but it's one of the sacrifices you make when going third-party.
Beyond that, its menus are more complicated than Apple's and Samsung's offerings, both in clutter and navigation. All the watch's settings are packed into just a few different pages, and their intent isn't always clear.
For instance, the Sort Apps page, which allows you to rearrange the display order of the apps on the watch, is split into two categories. There’s the main section (which doesn’t have a designated name) and the More section. The app itself doesn't make it clear how that split will work on the device, but once you check the GTR 3's display, you'll see that all the apps under “More" are essentially tucked into a folder that's separate from the rest of the list.
Some of its more competitive features, like automatic workout tracking, were unreliable, too. I took the GTR 3 on a bike ride along with the Apple Watch Series 7, and while the Series 7 managed to identify my bike ride, the GTR 3 either would've taken too long to do so or simply couldn't. The GTR 3 also clocked my max heart rate at about 20 bpm less than on the Series 7, but both had about the same average bpm.
Its design isn't very exciting
A smartwatch is as much a fashion statement as it is a functional piece of tech. Where Apple's and Samsung's offerings both stand out for eye-catching designs and a variety of bands to spruce things up, Amazfit's GTR 3 takes a different approach with an understated, plain-looking watch.
Its round display has a few notches to indicate the time, but they're only useful if you're using an analog watch face. Other than that, the chassis is a pretty nondescript piece of aluminum, with two buttons on the right-hand side that you can assign a bunch of different functions to. Out of the box, the top button, which also allows you to scroll through menus without touching your screen, opens your pinned apps list. The assigned function for the lower button opens a list of workouts you can start, but you can change it to another action that might suit your needs better if you'd like.
The band is pretty ordinary, too. It's a black silicone band with thin stripes etched into it. It fits comfortably and doesn't look bad, but again, it's just a little too plain to get excited about. That doesn't make the GTR 3 unappealing to look at, it just feels a bit uninspired. You also only have two band options to choose from: a black band that comes with the black model, or a goldish band that comes with the Moonlight Grey model.
Its watch face options fared a bit better. While you can't install third-party watch faces, Amazfit designed a bunch for you to choose from. Some of them, like the animated neon Lucky Cat, colorful and information-dense Time Light, and the classic Timer, look genuinely great, and I had a lot of fun trying out different faces. You'll have to scroll past a bunch of less pleasant faces to find the good ones, but the gems are worth it.
Weak app ecosystem
One of the benefits of going with a first-party smartwatch, like Samsung or Apple, is that it provides you access to an entire platform of apps that can expand the functionality of your watch. Since the GTR 3 runs Amazfit's OS, it doesn't have access to any other app stores, and its platform is pretty barren.
You can install other apps from Amazfit, like a water reminder app, a BMI calculator, a toothbrush timer, a pregnancy assistant, and an SOS flashlight (separate from the regular, pre-installed flashlight function). Other than that, though, you don't have a lot of options for new software.
Should you buy it?
Yes, it's an astonishingly good budget smartwatch
The Amazfit GTR 3 feels like an overachiever in the budget smartwatch department. It's hard to believe a $180 smartwatch can be this good! Its battery life can last days beyond what Apple's and Samsung's watches can, its display is just as good as more premium smartwatches, and it's all done while keeping the price under $200.
You'll have to accept some sacrifices, likeless refined software, fewer app choices, and an uninspired design, but none are so frustrating that they ruin the experience. Despite feeling a little rougher around the edges, the GTR 3 still manages to serve as a great display for notifications, and its workout tracking is reliable enough to keep you on your game.
If you're willing to forgo all the fit and finish that a premium smartwatch offers, Amazfit's GTR 3 features nearly all the key components of a good smartwatch while maintaining a surprisingly low price tag.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.