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Hands-on with the Amazfit GTR 2
Hands-on with the Amazfit GTR 2 (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Who is the Amazfit GTR 2 for?

  • If you're in the market for a smartwatch long battery life and requires infrequent recharges, the GTR 2 continues the legacy the original GTR created for one of the longest enduring running time on a single charge
  • The round and deep black anodized aluminum design of the GTR 2 is elegant enough to pass for a dress watch, while sporty enough to wear in your exercise regimes - and is for those who wants a watch that can pull off both looks
  • The updated Amazfit UI is smoother, slicker and works more like full fledged smartwatch UIs like Apple Watch or Android Wear including an improved always-on display

Amazfit is one of the most exciting smartwatch makers in the market because they are consistently making good design choices in their products. After reviewing the first GTR, we deemed it as one of the best watches among smartwatches. From the polished stainless steel case, scratch-resistant ceramic bezel, 70+ day battery life, and silicone-lined leather strap - it gets so many things right as a timepiece.

Will the GTR 2 out do its predecessor? We went hands-on to find out:


Hello Curved Glass, Goodbye Ceramic Bezels

The first obvious difference when looking at the GTR 2 is its new face. Gone are the ceramic bezel, and in its place is a curved glass marked with second markers. At first look, I thought the screen of the GTR 2 has been enlarged compared to the GTR, but it turned out to be an illusion as both contain the same 1.39" AMOLED display. The deep blacks on the GTR 2 display makes it look bigger than it actually is, which results in a more seamless look when compared to the GTR.

The new design also aimed for a smoother transition between the watch glass and the case by taking out the bezel layer, almost wrapping the face over the edge of the case, adding to the bezel-less minimalist look.


Lighter, Slimmer Watch Case

The watch case of the GTR 2 is comparatively thinner than the 47 mm GTR, which translates to the rest of the design: thinner buttons and even thinner lugs, making the GTR 2 look dressier than its predecessor.

However in terms of functionality, the GTR 2 is actually more suited for sports as the slimmed down case also takes off 12% of its original weight - even with its larger battery.


Always-on Display and Updated UI

The GTR 2 UI is an obvious improvement over the original GTR, with a design language that's more mature. There's a noticeable boost in the responsiveness and smoothness of the animations - which while being pleasing on the eye, I suspect is also the cause for the significant drop in battery life compared to its predecessor. Don't get me wrong, a 14/38 days battery life is nothing to be ashamed of for a smartwatch - but it's just not the insane 24/74 days battery life I was getting with the first GTR.


The always-on display for the GTR 2 is another improvement. While the GTR had quite rudimentary fixed digital/analogue always-on designs, the GTR 2 has always-on designs that evolves with the watch face design, and has the smooth morphing animation that we're used to seeing on full-fledged smartwatches like Apple Watch or Android Wear.

Overall the GTR 2 UI is a shift towards the full-fledged smartwatch - while still retaining enough simplicity to have a huge lead in battery life that Amazfit is known for.


Second Generation BioTracker Sensor - Advanced Health Monitor

For those who actively utilizes smartwatches as their health monitor - beyond the simple step-counter, the GTR 2 is packed with an extensive sensor that tracks not only heart rate, but also blood-oxygen levels. This makes the GTR 2 an extra relevant tool during the pandemic, as some health professionals are using blood-oxygen level as one of the early signs of respiratory abnormality.


Should I Upgrade my GTR?

After spending a few days with the GTR 2, my initial impression is that this is quite a different watch from the GTR. Perhaps it's because I'm reviewing the aluminum edition, the hardware is closer to the first generation of GTS that I reviewed previously in how light weight it is, and leans towards an active sports smartwatch rather than a dress smartwatch.

If you just want a smartwatch that can be proudly displayed as a dress watch and want that superior battery life that only needs charging a handful of times per year - the GTR is still an unbeatable timepiece.

But if you have or want to have a more active lifestyle, and want an instrument that can help with monitoring your overall health, the GTR 2's lightweight, advanced set of sensors offer a fuller experience as a health monitor than its predecessor.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move and is on a mission to explore ways to make his overhaul flights more enjoyable. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.