Established in 2015, Amazfit may not be a well known brand in the West but in China and many parts of Asia, it is well respected company that produces smart watches and fitness bands for the budget conscious. Of late, the company has greatly expanded its line of fitness related products to include products like sports earbuds, smart treadmills and smart body scales. The Amazfit Band 5 is a simple looking fitness tracker with a very generic design similar to many that have come before it. However, for a device that costs under $40, it punches way above its weight.
Health and Fitness Tracking
First off, for a budget device, the Amazfit Band 5 has most of the features that one is looking for in a fitness tracker. It has an always-on heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, pedometer and multisport tracking. In addition. It supports a wide range of activities including running, cycling and swimming. The band will keep track and display other helpful fitness information such as distance walked, calories burned, sleep quality, stress level and total fitness level.
For the last item, the band uses a science backed health score that measures the heart health impact of physical activities called PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence). By using a numeric score, it becomes easier for one to keep track of one’s fitness level factoring one’s sex, age and resting/maximum heart rate. In other words, the required physical activity to increase one’s PAI score is uniquely tailored for every individual. I had a fun time and felt motivated to increase and then maintain my PAI score. The PAI score is measured over the preceding 7 days so you can afford to miss a couple of days and try to make up for it over the next few days.
The Amazfit Band 5 has added blood oxygen level measurement as a new feature. Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) has gained prominence of late due to the Covid19 pandemic. One of deadly symptoms of the infection is a drastic drop of blood oxygen level. With this band, you can measure your blood oxygen level with just a press of a button.
In order to make the most of the band’s health and fitness tracking features, installing the accompanying Zepp app is a must. The Zepp app is similar to Google Fit. It measures, records and displays your sleep score, heart rate chart, stress chart, PAI chart, activity records, etc. However, if you prefer to stick to Google Fit, there is an option to link Zepp to Google Fit and have all your fitness data shared. If you own any of the other Amazfit fitness products such as the smart body scale for example, that data will also be captured by the Zepp app and shared with Google Fit should you choose. Personally, I find the Zepp app quite complete and useful but it is good to have the option to use Google FIt if I choose.
Like most fitness trackers nowadays, the Amazfit Band 5 also comes with quite a few smart watch features. It can display notifications, the weather, alerts and calls. I find this useful in environments that are noisy and I can’t hear my phone ringing in my pocket. It is also great being able to quickly glance incoming messages without taking my phone out. I can also reject a call from the band if I choose.
For music lovers, you can see which track is playing, play, pause, adjust the volume and skip tracks on the band. Other useful features include using the band as a remote shutter controller for your phone camera, silent alarm and to trigger an alarm on your phone in case you misplace it.
There is one other feature that the Amazfit Band 5 has that is not found on many other fitness tracker and that is support for Amazon’s Alexa. Just turn on Alexa and speak your command. Alexa doesn’t verbally reply on the band but it does display the reply in text format. Using the band, I could trigger my Alexa routines and control my home’s smart devices. Also using Alexa, I have even more control over my music playback using Spotify.
Battery is rated for 15 days but with 24 hour heart rate monitor turned on, I’m getting about a weeks’ use at most. However charging is quick and it comes with a magnetic charging cable.
What Could have been Better
While there is a lot that I liked about the Amazfit Band 5 after more than 1 month of constant use, I did find a few issues with it. My biggest issue is with the Alexa feature. It worked reasonably well for the first couple of weeks. It understood me most of the time and perhaps a little worse compared to my Echo devices. Not a big deal since the band doesn’t have high quality mics like an Echo. However, there are times that I get network error. Initially, it goes away with a couple of extra tries. But eventually, the error became permanent. I tried looking for a solution online but nothing worked. I even tried a hardware factory reset and paired it to a different phone. This is a big disappointment for me because it is one of the primary reason why I picked the Amazfit Band 5 over all the others.
The SpO2 measurement has to be manually triggered. There is no option to set a schedule or take 24 hr measurements like heart rate. I am not sure what the impact is on battery life but this is a feature available on other trackers like the Huawei Watch Fit for example. Since this is not a hardware issue, perhaps it will be added on via a software update.
The Amazfit Band 5 has no built-in GPS or on-board storage for music. This means it has to rely on your smartphone. This is not an issue if you carry your phone with you on your workout sessions. But it also means that when not paired to a phone, its capabilities are severely limited. However, adding GPS and storage will significantly raise the cost and it is an acceptable compromise in my opinion.
The full color AMOLED display looks great but only indoors. Outdoors, it can get quite difficult to see the display under bright sunlight. I must say it still looks tons better than the monochrome OLED display on the Fitbits. I could partially solve this problem by using a watch face design that has high contrast but it is a pity that I have to limit my choice of watch faces. The band can store up to 3 watch faces internally that you can switch between. Also, the display does not have an always-on option. You either need to raise your wrist or tap on the bottom of the display to turn it on.
The Zepp app allows you to download and sync different watch face designs. Different designs have different set of stats displayed. You can keep it simple and just show the time or you can have almost everything on display including date, daily steps, heart rate, PAI score, etc. What you cannot do is pick and customize which stats you want displayed. At this moment, there is also no option to design your own watch face.
Summary and Conclusion
While the Amazfit Band 5 may not win any prizes in the looks department, it checks most of the boxes in what most people look for in a fitness tracker. The only major missing item I would say is the lack of built-in GPS so that it can work independently from your phone. Compared to a similar product from a well-known brand like the Fitbit Charge 4 that costs 3 times more for example, you are getting a fantastic bang for your buck.
Or course there are some missing features but none of them are really that critical. It works perfectly well as a fitness tracker to help you track your fitness and work towards a healthier lifestyle, and that is what is important.
For me, most of the issues I faced with the product are mostly software. Hopefully, Amazfit will eventually fix these problems with a software update.
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