Monday, November 07, 2022

Quick & Dirty Review: Amazfit Band 5

Because I'm once again trying to "get healthy," I was recently in the market for one of those new-fangled "fitness bands."

Short version: If you're looking for a wearable fitness tracker, you could definitely do worse -- and I have.


I've experimented with the $5-$10 jobs from discount stores and garage sales in the past, and they tended to be 1) reliant on sketchy phone apps that go missing or stop functioning, and 2) not really reliable for anything beyond basic step-counting, even though they advertise otherwise.

My first inclination was to get the Amazon Halo (not an affiliate link), but then I noticed the Amazfit Band 5 (not an affiliate link).

The first thing that jumped out at me was the price difference -- $70 for the Halo, $35 for the Amazfit (with a $5 coupon -- but the base price has dropped to $27.99 in the two weeks since I bought it).

The second thing was the differences in feature sets:

  • The Halo does steps, heart rate, sleep time, and sleep tracking.
  • The Amazfit does steps, heart rate, sleep time, sleep analysis, blood oxygen,  various workout tracking (cycling, running, etc.), works as a watch (to get that from Halo you need their more expensive "view" model), can pass on notifications from my phone (text messages, "hey, your phone is ringing in the other room where you can't hear it and this is who's calling," app notifications), "women's health" (if you're a woman I guess it can track your periods for you or whatever) and ... it says it works with Alexa!
I'm big on Alexa, and beyond price that was probably the big sell for me.

The bad news: I don't know if I haven't figured out the authorization correctly or what, but no, I can't yell "Alexa, what's the square root of 321?" at my wrist and get an answer.

The good news: It does pass on my Alexa reminders, etc.

It seems to be reasonably accurate at counting steps.

It seems to be reasonably accurate at measuring how long I'm asleep, detecting and reporting wake-ups in the middle of the night (bathroom breaks, kids arrive home loudly and startle me awake, etc.), and the "sleep analysis"seems to track my experience (e.g. when I wake up groggy and un-rested, it reports that I didn't get very much deep sleep; when I wake up feeling well-rested, it reports that I got more deep sleep).

On a few quick counts, it seems to measure my heart rate pretty accurately.

I haven't dug out my pulse oximeter to check the accuracy of its blood oxygen measurements, but they seem to be in the same range (95-97%).

It advertises a "two-week battery life." I'm getting more like one week, but that's probably due to me setting it up to pass on phone notifications, etc., and sample my heart rate every ten minutes. The two week claim is probably based on just counting steps and nothing else.

I did have a little scare right after buying it, a scare that probably has to do with the price drop:

The Amazfit Band 5 is made by a company called Zepp, which is supposedly reputable, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, etc. In other words, not some fly-by-night operation in ShenZhen that will close up shop the next time rent comes due.

When I opened the thing up, set it up to charge, and download the app, I go notified that instead of downloading the Amazfit app, I should download the Zepp app. Uh-oh ... was my tracker about to be obsolete before I even got it charged up and put on? As it turns out, no -- they're just unifying all their products (including smart watches, fitness trackers, etc.) under a single Zepp app. And it's all worked quite well.

They sell additional services (Zepp Aura to improve sleep, Zepp Coach for workout plans, etc.), but I haven't tried any of those.

I really like the thing. Other than it not being as Alexa-cool as I had hoped, my only complaint is that the silicone band isn't the most comfortable thing in the world. So I just ordered an after-market pair of cloth bands ($8.99 for the pair).

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