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Amazfit GTS is a premium built smartwatch that doesn't come with the premium price tag (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

It's as if a thought experiment took place deep in Huami's Amazfit office: "What if we made a watch with premium materials, resembling the form of the top selling Smartwatch in the world - but charging only one-third of its price, AND give it up to 12 days of battery life?"

I can't say that such a thought experiment ever took place, but the Amazfit GTS is all those things and more.

The first time I heard of Amazfit is when I heard of the Amazfit Bip: a sub-$100 Smartwatch that does most things that a smartwatch was supposed to do, but has a 45 day battery life. 45 days?! That piqued my interest.

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I generally stayed away from Smartwatches and the main reason is I did not want another tech that needed charging everyday, especially my watch. Watches should have batteries that last 2 years or more. This functional flaw is even more critical when it comes to looking for watches that suits travelling. I don't even want to think about having to charge my watch during a long haul flight.

The other thing that Amazfit is getting right is the price range. For my Smartwatch to cost as must as a mid-range Smartphone didn't make much sense to me. And for those who advocate the high degree of functionality of high-end smartwatches, I do not see the need to duplicate functionality on my wrist as what's in my pocket. Doubling up on functions plus another thing to recharge daily? Thanks but no thanks.

When I found out about the Amazfit GTS, I had to give it a serious look. I can see the effort that Huami is putting in to look for the perfect balance between price, functionality, battery life and build quality. I wanted to see if Amazfit smartwatches are the ones getting the formula right to make an excellent smartwatch that can pass as a daily and travel watch.

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GTS has a beautiful thin, aluminium case (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

Surprisingly premium build

For the Amazfit Bip, it had a quality plastic build - which is expected for a Smartwatch in the price range. But the Amazfit GTS steps it up by offering a machined aluminum case, as well as a curved glass screen and 42mm AMOLED display, which are specs that you would find in smartwatches three times its price.

When first picking up the GTS, the cold to the touch aluminum case is solid and assuring, and the display that can match Retina displays in terms of resolution and offers top-spec contrast ratio leaves nothing wanting.

The design of the back of Amazfit GTS (Much like the GTR that I also reviewed) is plastic - and as I mentioned in the GTR review, I actually prefer it to be so. It lightens the body, as well as being sweat proof, which is actually of make-or-break importance to me when looking at watches. No one is impressed with a watch that is cursed with sweat odors - no matter how fancy it is.

The case is also much thinner and lighter than expected, coming in at 3/8 inches thick and less than 25 grams in weight. This is especially impressive when considering the battery life - which is one of my crucial reasons to consider the GTS.

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GTS's AMOLED display enables an always-on mode (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

Battery that last a week easily, Magnetic charger

A Smartwatch that needs charging weekly is probably as frequent as I am willing to stretch my tolerance for watch charging. It's no 2 years like the old button batteries in conventional quartz watches, but it's infrequent enough not to interfere with my daily life or a business trip. The GTS's long battery life is most probably attributed to its lean custom operating system that has functions that's more than a sports band but less than your phone, which means it can use a power efficient CPU to run.

When it does come time for recharging, I highly appreciate the magnetic puck style charging system. Personally I am not a fan of clip style charging attachments that requires the alignment of the charging prongs using proprietary 'clips'. The Amazfit charging system magnetically attaches (Like the good'o Mag-safe charging ports) and will only attach in one direction, aligned by magnets. This kind of magnetic attachment again is normally found on more premium Smartwatches, and for me it takes out a lot of the pain of the whole recharging ritual.


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The custom watch face community for the Amazfit GTS is the most important unspoken reason to buy it (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

Large custom watch face community

Just as iOS and Android is nothing without app developers that continue to innovate and multiply the functionality of the Smartphone, a Smartwatch is nothing without a lively content developing community that continues to improve and churn out better looking watch faces.

This was the #1 reason that got me hooked onto the Amazfit GTR, as I found community generated watch faces that could not be matched with any rival watches. The same can be of the GTS.

Since most of the functions of the smartwatch actually do exist on your smartphone already, my argument for the relevance of the smartwatch is actually its looks. Having a good pool of custom watch faces mean that your watch will look the part whether you're using it for fitness tracking or to a business meeting. They are more fashion items than functional tools, which means whoever wins with aesthetics wins the game. From what I have seen, Amazfit is winning in this category with its premium build hardware, as well as a large and growing community of watch face designers.

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Any watch face at any time (Amazfit)

It's almost like the world of the Matrix: you load up what you need, when you need it. Classic watches with a ticking second hand? Sure. Complicated LCD watches that resembles the classic Casio and G-Shocks? No problem. A photo of your dog with the time superimposed on the corner? Why not? There is literally no limit to what the watch can look like, and will grow even as the user base for Amazfit watches continues to increase.

Who is the Amazfit GTS for?

The Amazfit GTS has multiple great design choices that rides on the strengths of wearables and minimizes its weaknesses. It's well-built, light and compact, has batteries that doesn't need charging even on the longest business trips, plus it can morph its looks according to the occasion. The Amazfit GTS is a great fit for business travelers who want a smartwatch that looks premium but won't cost nearly as much as a second phone.

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 Travellers.

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