I’ve been pretty established in the Garmin ecosystem for quite some time and other than a short stint with an early Android Wear device a few years ago, I’ve been quite content with the basic smartwatch features of my fenix, Forerunner, and vivomove devices. However, when I stumbled upon the Amazfit Bip, an $80 smartwatch with activity tracking, GPS, and built-in optical heart rate, I thought I’d see how it stacked up against my other, higher prices, devices. Spoiler alert: it’s not that bad.
First Things First – Getting to the Data
As is the case with a lot of devices in this class, getting the activity data out of their system, in a format that can be used elsewhere, is not necessarily a trivial task. In this case, it’s not too bad but does, however, involve dealing with an extra app. First you install the “Mi Fit” app on your Android or iOS phone. This is a somewhat basic app that allows you to pair the Amazfit Bip to your phone, set up the basic options, and see your daily stats. As it turns out, you can also use it to begin an activity (walking/running/cycling) independently of your watch.
In order to export post-activity data, however, you’ll need an additional app. It appears that one of the most popular is the “Notify & Fitness for Amazfit” app published by OneZeroBit. Exporting to 3rd-party sites will cost you a couple of bucks, but if you need access to your activity data, it’s worth it.
This app provides a crapton of additional options for the watch and notifications, enhanced views for your activity, and, most importantly for the purpose of this comparison, the ability to export your activity to a variety of destinations and formats. Options to share on Facebook or Twitter as well as exports to Google Fit, Strava, RunKeeper, and others, are provided. I simply chose to export the TCX file to my Google Drive or Dropbox account.
Running vs. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music (6/23/2019)
I think this may be the most surprising result from this first test. With all the complaints folks are having with the GPS accuracy of high-end devices like the Forerunner 945 and Polar Vantage V, it’s interesting to see an $80 device record a pretty reason track. Even with the huge drop-out at about the halfway point, I was still somewhat surprised with the results.
Bringing the Amazfit Bip along on this run was sort of last-minute decision so I left the FR245M paired to the Polar OH1+ arm-based optical heart rate strap. As it turned out, the Amazfit Bip did a surprisingly good job compared to the Polar. Other than than those occasional spikes, there’s not too much to complain about.
Since the Amazfit Bip utilizes an altimeter/barometer for elevation data (the flatter plot, shown in purple) while the FR245M is based strictly on the GPS, there’s not really much point in a comparison, but here it is anyway. With the exception of crossing a bridge at about the halfway point, this route can’t get much flatter (basically at sea level) so it’s a little surprising the FR245M can be show those 25 and 50 foot peaks.
Cycling vs. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and Edge 530 (6/28/2019)
Using my GPS Analyzer tool with a reference track created using Google Maps, all three devices had almost identical average errors ranging from 5.11 to 5.15 meters. The Amazfit Bip, however, had the lowest standard deviation of 4.84 meters.
For this activity, I paired a Polar OH1+ to an Edge 530 and used the built-in optical on the FR245M and Amazfit Bip. The average heart rate for all three devices was pretty reasonable ranging from 126.5 bpm for the Edge530/Polar to 127.9 bpm for the FR245M. The Amazfit Bip was right there with the Polar at 126.7 bpm. The drop-outs (shown below in red), however, are a little odd. As you can see more clearly in the second graph, the drop-outs are spaced at exactly 60 second intervals so the watch is obviously taking a break from recording heart rate to do something else. As opposed to the previous activity, my phone was with me during this ride so my guess is that it’s checking in for possible on-screen notifications.
This route is along the barrier islands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks so it’s basically within a few feet of sea level for the entire ride. The Edge 530 stays between 3 and 6 feet while the FR245M (GPS-based altitude) is mostly flat at less than 1 foot but but has the occasional spike. The Amazfit Bip, however, recorded negative altitudes ranging from -1 to -7 feet and and is not displayed on the DCR Analyzer.
I’ll be doing more comparisons between the Amazfit Bip and other devices so drop back periodically for updates. Do you have any interesting experiences with an Amazfit Bip or have specific comparisons you’d like to see? Feel from to post your comments. Thanks for reading!
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