“From GPS performance to multisport fitness tracking, the $160 Amazfit Verge never ceased to amaze us.”
- Built-in GPS
- Vibrant AMOLED display
- Alexa support
- Step tracking often inaccurate
- Mobile app needs work
- Not waterproof
Xiaomi-backed smartwatch maker Huami has a cult following on Amazon thanks to its super cheap, feature-filled lineup of Amazfit fitness watches. Joining the Amazfit Bip and the GTS in the company’s repertoire of fitness watches is the Verge, an affordable $160 GPS watch that targets people who are active. Low price is often equated with low quality, but does the low price of the Verge translate into poor performance? We ran with the watch, hiked with the watch, and wore it 24/7 to find out.
The Amazfit Verge feels good on your wrist thanks to its comfortable, lightweight design. The Verge impressed us with its comfort, but its material choices were disappointing. Unlike other watches that sport a durable stainless steel bezel and reinforced polymer casing, the Verge is plastic through and through, with a plastic casing and a plastic bezel. The bezel is raised which helps protect the display from scratching, but it is not very rugged. The watch is also not waterproof. It can stand some light exposure to rain, but don’t swim, shower, or get it soaking wet.
The Verge measures 43 mm across the face and is 12.6 mm high, so it’s a bit clunky-looking. Honestly, it looks more playful than professional. I didn’t mind wearing it to the gym, but I took it off before I went to any meetings. The biggest selling feature of the Amazfit Verge is the 1.39-inch, 360 x 360 pixel AMOLED display. The display is bright and the colors just pop off the screen. The display is as nice as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 or the Fitbit Versa 2. Like most AMOLED displays, it is easy to read both outside in the sun and inside under artificial lighting.
Simple interface with not-so-obvious settings
If you know your way around fitness watches, you’ll have no problem navigating the relatively simplistic interface of the Amazfit Verge. If this is your first watch, be prepared to fire up your computer and download the online manual. The Amazfit Verge combines a touchscreen interface with a single button that is used to unlock the watch, go back to the watch face, and initiate Alexa.
The user interface is intuitive because it is simple. You have a customizable watch face, two widgets and several apps that let you explore your health, view your activities, and more. With just a few swipes, you can access most of the major features of the watch.
Not everything is self explanatory, though. There is a nice health overview screen with steps, stairs, and more, but it is difficult to access. By default, it is buried inside the health app and only accessible after you tap and swipe several times. You can configure the watch to display this information as one of the two available widgets, but you cannot change the widgets using your watch. You have to connect the watch to the phone and make the changes using the mobile app.
I’d love to see this information accessible from the watch face right from the start. I’d also love to see more than two widgets. Competing watches from Garmin and Suunto provide a wide variety of widgets for health, weather, music controls, and more.
Health and fitness tracking surpassed expectation
I didn’t have high expectations for the Verge given its low price tag, but I was pleasantly surprised by the watch’s performance. The watch supports up to 12 different sports including running, climbing, cycling, walking, tennis, elliptical, skiing, soccer, and more.
Activity tracking was spot on with heart rate, pace, and cadence comparable to my Suunto and Garmin watches. The automatic activity detection was also effective at detecting a walk or hike when I forgot to track it manually.
Despite my overwhelmingly positive experience, there were a few foibles. Step tracking was consistently 2,000 to 4,000 steps lower than my other watches. I’m not sure what caused this anomaly but it was disappointing to reach my 10,000 step goal on my other watches and not on the Verge.
My watch also arrived with continuous heart rate monitoring and auto-syncing disabled, so my first impressions of the watch weren’t great. I couldn’t view any heart rate trends and had to open the app to sync the workout and wellness data. After a frustrating few days, I poked around the software settings and discovered how to turn on these features. Folks who are not familiar with fitness watches may not take the time to find these settings and could be frustrated by these perceived limitations.
Sleep Tracking needs improvement
Amazfit keeps it simple with basic sleep tracking that detects deep sleep, light sleep, and awake time but not REM sleep. Deep sleep was accurate compared to Fitbit and Garmin, but Amazfit’s calculation of light sleep was not as accurate. Garmin and Fitbit both break light sleep down into REM and light sleep, while Amazfit lumps the two together.
Amazfit reports twice as much light sleep as competing watches.
As a result, Amazfit reports twice as much light sleep as competing watches. The Amazfit watch also struggled to tell the difference between sleep and laying still in bed. I sometimes read for 20 minutes before going to sleep and Amazfit counted my reading time as sleep time.
On the plus side, the Verge does provide a nightly sleep score that gauges the quality of your sleep and provides suggestions to improve your sleep. Recently, I’ve been getting only 6 hours of sleep which is well under the recommend seven to nine hours. The Amazfit software not only noticed that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, but it also picked up on my habit of going to bed too late.
Accurate GPS with breadcrumb maps
Similar to its fitness tracking, the GPS performance on the Amazfit Verge was surprisingly good. Like most GPS watches, the first GPS connection in an area took a few minutes, but subsequent connections only took a minute or so. The GPS tracking and elevation profiles were accurate enough for most purposes and compared favorably to my Garmin and Suunto watches. There were a few instances when the Amazfit distance differed from my Garmin watch, but the differences were usually less than 0.5 miles.
There is no standalone navigation on the Verge that lets you plot a path to a point of interest, but there is breadcrumb navigation that displays your path as you run or hike. There is also a compass if you only need to find your bearings.
The Amazfit Verge connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth LE and sends along notifications from your phone. The watch chimes when a notification is received so you hardly ever miss an incoming alert.
Thanks to the AMOLED display, the entire content of the notification is easy to read. On the iPhone, you are limited to notifications, but Android owners have the ability to answer phone calls directly on the watch. Phone calls work in a pinch — the speaker is loud, but the microphone is a bit tinny to the person on the other end of the line.
Adequate battery life, but no power-saving modes
The Amazfit Verge holds its own in the battery department. The watch averages three to four days on a full charge, just short of the promised five days. I pushed the watch to its limit with continuous heart rate tracking enabled, all alerts turned on, and GPS tracking for my daily, hour-long hikes or trail runs.
Unlike Garmin and Suunto which offer power-saving profiles, the Verge has none. You can squeeze out some extra battery life by manually turning off 24/7 heart rate monitoring or dialing down your notifications by restricting which apps send alerts.
Mobile app misses the mark
Amafit Verge syncs to the Amazfit app which compiles your fitness and wellness data into one place. All the basic metrics are present including sleep, steps, and a breakdown of your activities. The app has a clean user interface, but it is not as organized or as intuitive as the Fitbit app, which has one of the best app interfaces on the market.
It is also not as detailed oriented as Garmin Connect, which excels at breaking down your data into trends and metrics that appeal to serious athletes. Amazfit does support third-party services but the options are limited. I was able to sync to Strava and Apple Health, but not other services like Training Peaks. There is no web-based app to view or analyze your data.
Music and Alexa round out lifestyle features
The Amazfit Verge has music, but it is not as robust as Garmin and Fitbit which can sync to Spotify. You can download music tracks to the Verge and play them off the watch. You also can use the watch to control music on your connected phone. These music features work, but they are not as polished as they are on competing devices. One handy feature found on the Amazfit Verge is Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant.
Once you link the Amazfit app with your Amazon account, you can use Alexa on the watch. Simply short press the side button when the watch is unlocked and ask a question or speak a command. You can use Alexa to find the local weather, get sports updates, and control Alexa-enabled devices.
Pricing, availability, and warranty information
The Amazfit Verge is available from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Amazfit for $160. The Verge includes a 30-day satisfaction guarantee that lets you return the device if you are not satisfied with its performance. There’s also a one-year limited warranty that covers manufacturer defects. The warranty applies to the original owner and is not transferable.
The $160 Amazfit Verge is an outstanding value as long as you know what you are getting. It lacks the durable construction and the deep feature set of Garmin and Suunto watches, but it is half the price. The Amazfit Verge is in a league of its own — you will not find another GPS-equipped watch with continuous heart-rate monitoring and multiple sports modes at this price point.
Is there a better alternative?
With onboard GPS, an AMOLED display, and multi-sports tracking, the Amazfit Verge is impressive for an entry-level GPS fitness watch. While it is perfect for basic fitness tracking, it lacks the deep feature set and durable construction of its competitors.
One alternative is the $200 Fitbit Versa 2. It costs a bit more than the Verge, but it has an AMOLED display, a stylish design, and a robust app experience, as long as you don’t mind the new subscription model.
Another alternative is the $400 Garmin Venu. Though it costs nearly twice as much, the Venu is much more rugged than the Verge. The Venu has strong polymer casing, a stainless steel bezel, and a layer of Gorilla Glass to protect the beautiful AMOLED display. Garmin also bundled into the Venu a suite of new health and wellness metrics such as respiration, sweat loss, and more.
How long will it last?
The Amazfit Verge is plastic and does not have the rugged construction of a metal or a polymer-based watch. I expect the plastic casing and bezel to last for up to two years under normal usage.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Amazfit Verge is an outstanding value for active people who want a GPS-equipped fitness tracker but don’t want to spend a lot of money on one.
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