It’s very unlikely that you’ve ever seen an Amazfit smartwatch on many wrists. It’s also highly unlikely that you’ve even heard about the Chinese smart wearable brand Amazfit too many times. In a world dominated by the Apple Watch (based on Apple’s Watch OS) and Samsung Galaxy Watch (based on Google’s Wear OS), Amazfit does take something of a backseat.
But despite that, Amazfit has taken a large chunk of the budget wearable market. Counterpoint Research splits divides the global smartwatch market into two categories; HLOS (high-level OS’ that has the ability to install third-party apps) and basic smartwatches. If you look at things globally, then Amazfit is in third position with a 7.1% share in the HLOS category.
Today we’re looking at one of Amazfit’s latest smartwatches in India, the Amazfit Pop 3R, which is compatible with both Android and iOS.
Before I begin, let me set the expectations. The Pop 3R is not a full-fledged smartwatch, nor is it a watch for fitness geeks. It’s a smartwatch that is trying to fit in the middle, and its price point - ₹3,499 (for the premium strap) and ₹3,999 (for the metallic strap) - certainly reflects that.
The Amazfit Pop 3R is one of the more traditional-looking watches out there. The Pop 3R has a sleek and modern design. It’s comfortable, lightweight and can be worn for any occasion. It’s a perfect fit as your daily companion and accessory, without breaking the bank balance.
It’s got a metallic round design, an AMOLED display, Bluetooth calling support, and 24-hour monitoring of heart rate, SpO2 and stress, it has 100+ sporting activities and up to 12 days of battery life. You also need to download the companion Zepp Active app. There’s also a magnetic charging dock with a USB Type-A port. The strap is made of silicone materials.
If you’ve never used a budget smartwatch in your life, then you’re in for a big surprise. All Apple Watch users complain of having to charge their smartwatch at least once a day. Even the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro needs to be charged once in three days. The Pop 3R’s ace up its sleeve is its longevity. With typical usage, the Pop 3R can last up to 12 days. In my testing, I’ve gotten over 10 days of battery life consistently, but have yet to get it over 12 days.
While that’s the upside, let’s get to my biggest gripe with the Pop 3R: It has to do with notifications. Simply put, it’s broken. I’ve enabled notifications for WhatsApp and Telegram (because those are where most of my notifications come in from) but despite having a gorgeous 1.43-inch AMOLED display, housed in a 45 mm case, the notifications on the Pop 3R are extremely limited.
The notifications on the Pop 3R are limited to the top half of the screen. It’s only when you tap the specific notification do you get to read the rest of it. Even then, words are broken, and notifications are incomplete, despite there being space on the screen to show more.
Secondly, a lot of the notifications are repeated. For example, the Telegram notification of “43 messages from 7 groups” keeps popping up, even when I’ve already checked them on my laptop. Third, but less of a concern, is the fact that I can’t reply to messages from the watch. Neither from an onboard keyboard nor by voice.
Battery life is just one part of the puzzle for smartwatch manufacturers. Nailing the basics is a huge part of the game. The Pop 3R has an amazing AMOLED display that is readable no matter where you are. Out for a run with the sun shining brightly? Fret not, as you’ll be able to see your stats without having to squint or find some shade.
On its own, the Pop 3R stands tall. There’s an always-on display that can display a digital or analog clock. The basics -- step count, sleep tracker, and heart rate monitor -- are all present and work fairly well.
There’s Bluetooth calling support, which again, works surprisingly well. It’s always strange making a call holding your wrist to your ear, but that’s just how smartwatches have been designed. The voice is a little grainy but both sides are fairly audible and it just works for a quick call. For anything longer than three minutes, I suggest you switch to your smartphone or earphones.
While the Pop 3R passes the test of “nailing the basics”, there’s one thing you need to understand. For those of you that like to casually track your daily steps, sleep and glance at notifications while working, the Pop 3R will be just fine. But if fitness is your mantra, or you’d like to do more on a smartwatch and less on the smartphone, then the Pop 3R isn’t for you.
As for the daily step tracker, the Pop 3R is about 20 percent less than its more expensive competitors. Even some of Amazfit’s own smartwatches are better at step tracking. I personally counted 300 steps at one point. My Galaxy Watch5 Pro had about 290 steps, whereas the Pop 3R came in with only 275 steps. Just by looking at those stats you know the Pop 3R is lagging a bit.
As for auto-tracking of walks/runs, well, that’s nonexistent. Sleep tracking is slightly better, but still not as accurate as other smartwatches. It does segregate sleep into light, deep, eye movement and sporadic naps, which is useful.
Let’s quickly roll through what else I liked and didn’t like about the Pop 3R.
- The bright and vibrant AMOLED display. The fact that there are over 100+ watch faces for any mood.
- The interface. Despite its limited appeal, it’s fairly robust and works without any lag or hitch.
- Swipe gestures work flawlessly.
- The premium strap feels comfortable and the watch can be worn for hours without feeling tired.
- There’s no GPS. It’s a bummer, though it’s expected to be an omission in this price range.
- The vibration feels a little too strong.
It’s simple. Amazfit has been at the forefront of feature-packed yet pocket-friendly smartwatches. The Pop 3R continues that trend and there are a lot of positives going for it.
If you’re in the market for a traditional-looking smartwatch that nails the basics, then the Amazfit Pop 3R is a good fit for under ₹4,000.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He tweets @IMSahilBhalla.