It’s true that wearables are a dime a dozen these days. That’s no surprise — enterprises of all sizes are eager to cash in on a burgeoning market that could be worth an estimated $25 billion by 2019, as some analysts predict. Apple has signaled its intentions with the eponymous Apple Watch, Samsung has done the same with the Gear S2, and Fossil has made obvious overtures with the Founder. Now Xiaomi, a Beijing-based phone maker of considerable stature, has a new smartwatch: the Amazfit.
The Amazfit, which is manufactured by Huami, Xiaomi’s ecosystem partner responsible for the Mi Band, leans decidedly toward the affordable end of the smartwatch spectrum. That’s certainly not a particularly meaningful distinction in a market filled with luxury gadgets like the $1,500 Tag Heuer Connected and the $995 Movado Bold Motion. But the Amazfit won’t break the bank for the hardware it has got on offer: a ceramic, scratch- and water-resistant IP67 certified body that supports standard 22 mm bands. In terms of silicon, it packs a 1.34-inch display with a resolution of 300 x 300 pixels, plus an unspecified 1.2GHz dual-core processor paired with 512MB. Rounding out things is 4GB of internal storage and a 200mAh battery.
The Amazfit also houses a myriad of activity-tracking sensors and software, as you might expect. Inside, you’ll find a Bluetooth 4.0 LE and Wi-Fi radios, the “world’s first” 28 nm GPS, a heart rate sensor, and NFC. It doesn’t run Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch operating system, but instead pairs with the Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app on Android and iOS in order to deliver much the same functionality — namely, mirroring incoming social media messages, texts, calls, and reminders. And the AmazFit will support AliPay, retail giant Alibaba’s mobile payments platform, when it hits store shelves.
All that tech may sound like a massive power suck, but Xiaomi begs to differ. The firm estimates the Amazfit can last about five days on a charge, or about 35 hours with the GPS sensor enabled. Disable all but the pedometer, and the company says you can eke 11 or so days out of the thing, making it useful for weeklong camping trips in the wilderness, no doubt.
The Amazfit first went on sale in China on August 31, but is set to make its U.S. debut on November 22. The watch will retail for $129
The Amazfit isn’t Xiaomi’s first rodeo in the wearables market. The company launched its smartwatch division two years ago with the Mi Band, and has since invested earnestly with efforts like the cute, kid-focused $50 Mi Bunny. The Amazfit, in terms of price and specifications, slots comfortably in the company’s top tier, and it holds its own against the competition. A comparable Android Wear watch, the Sony SmartWatch 3, retails for $140. Cheaper options like the $100 Asus Zenwatch, meanwhile, omit components like GPS.
Xiaomi’s rapid-fire approach to the wearables market has paid dividends. In the first quarter of this year, it shipped 3.7 million smartwatches and fitness trackers, representing growth in the company’s wearables business of 41.8 percent year over year. That has helped cement the company’s second-place position in the market: as of March of this year, it commanded a 19-percent share behind Fitbit’s 24.5 percent.
Article originally published in August 2016. Updated on 11-17-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news that the Amazfit will go on sale in the U.S. on November 22.