When it comes to fitness trackers, there are so many too choose from that it can be hard to see which one is worth your time, and more importantly, your money. Many users will simply head on over to Fitbit and purchase one of those, which is fine, but there are better options out there, including more affordable options. Amazfit, a brand from Chinese name Huami – which counts Xiaomi as an investor – is one of the larger wearable brands out there, and one that many might not have heard of. Which, judging by how well-reviewed products such as the Amazfit Equator are, is a real shame. What we’re looking at here is the Amazfit Arc, a fitness tracker that features a heart rate sensor and a small OLED touchscreen, all for less than $100. In fact, the Amazfit Arc has an MSRP of just $69.99 and is regularly on sale for $50. For that sort of price, it might be hard to see the value in such a product. How good can something be if it’s on the less expensive side of the spectrum? Well, hopefully this review will be able to answer that question for you.
In the Box
Given its low price tag, it's difficult to expect much in the way of additional accessories and such here, and in reality, you don't get much at all. You get the tracker - which is itself designed to only need the one strap - and then a short USB charging cable. That's about it, really, there is some literature and instruction manuals included with some simple pointers on how to get started with the Arc as well as some quick hits on the package's back to see what the Arc is all about. Packaging here is small, simple and not dissimilar from the sort of thing we've come to expect from fitness trackers on the market these days. It's simple and minimal, a theme which presents itself a lot throughout the Amazfit Arc.
Design and Build
In terms of design, Amazfit have kept things simple here with the Arc, but they haven’t fallen into the trap of creating something that you could consider “boring.” Instead, Amazfit skate the fine line between “minimal” and “basic” where looks are concerned. It’s available in one color, which features a glass black front – hiding the screen away when not in use – and then features a sort of Space Grey exterior that looks nice in the right sort of light, and blends in in most situations. As for the tracker itself, there’s an ever-so slight sort of curve to the body of the device, which rests nicely on the wrist, and lives up to the device’s name. The strap features a subtle diamond pattern on the top portion that shows, and it’s a nice touch that will appeal to both men and women. The strap comes in one length, and seems ample enough for larger wrists, without having too much excess on smaller wrists, either. The buckle is pretty nice and is a sort of shiny dark gray with a slim opening and a small footprint overall. The strap itself is made of silicon, and feels as though it’ll last a long time, especially given that the Arc itself is water-resistance.
Underneath the hood, the Amazfit Arc features an IP67 rating, giving water-resistance that’s good enough to wear in the shower – as I did, frequently – and comes in at 20g or 0.7 Oz. A 70 mAh battery keeps the show running and with a “power-efficient” accelerometer and heart rate sensor – which is of the optical variety – it promises 20 days of battery life on a single charge. Which is recharged through a simple, yet proprietary, charger with a magnetic connection and two pins in total. The display itself is a very simple 0.42-inch OLED affair, and while it’s marketed as being a touchscreen display, in reality this means that the bottom portion of the tracker is sensitive for touch, which makes it easy to cycle through the different displays.
There are echoes of the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta here in terms of design, but everything is a lot more rounded, and a lot less restrained. There’s no way to change the strap here, which might be a bit of deal-breaker for some, especially coming from a Fitbit or something else, but this will be a matter of preference for a lot of people. Throughout my testing over the last few weeks, I wore the Arc in the shower, day-to-day when out and about and around the gym, and had no problems with the strap. It always felt secure, and unlike other fitness trackers, this 6’4” Editor had a lot of room to adjust the band and could wear it tighter or looser without running out of fittings on the strap.
In terms of design and build, there’s not a huge amount to write home about when looking at the Amazfit Arc, which, depending on your outlook is a good thing. A fitness tracker that’s designed to be worn daily shouldn’t stick out, and it shouldn’t completely disappear, either. As we’ve seen with other Amazfit trackers like the Equator, the company is keen to design devices that will appeal to a wide audience. I feel that the Arc should do just that, as it’s super-slim on the wrist, which makes it easy to pair with other pieces of jewelry, and it’s so light the majority of people will forget their wearing it. Which isn’t all that much of a problem, thanks to the weeks-long battery life.
No matter how good a fitness tracker claims to be, or how accurate it says it is, it’s no good if you’re not going to wear it. This is where the comfort of a device such as this comes in to play. At just 20g in weight, and with lots of room for adjustment, I never had an issue with comfort. In fact, thanks to the slight arc in the tracker’s body itself, as well as its light footprint, I felt that the Arc was the most comfortable fitness tracker I have ever worn. I usually wear a Fitbit Charge 2 on the daily, and while that’s by no means uncomfortable, the Amazfit Arc is so comfortable that it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing it. It’s thin enough to pair with other bands you might want to wear, and even when it’s done up quite tightly, there’s never that feeling of pressure on one’s wrist. Overall, the Amazfit Arc is one comfy fitness tracker, so much so that it’d be surprising to find someone that didn’t think this was comfortable.
The Amazfit Arc might have a display itself, but it’s not really designed for displaying too much information, which is where the Amazfit app comes into play. Easily-downloaded from the Play Store, the Amazfit app finds whichever tracker you have – in this case, the Arc – and then gets you set up in no time. Some might find there’s a firmware update available, which downloads quickly and doesn’t take long to update. Otherwise, the app is pretty much what you’d expect in this sort of situation.
The app asks you to set up a profile for yourself, including a few key questions about yourself like your age, gender and of course weight, and then you’ll be asked to choose goals for yourself. The great thing about all of this however, is that you can just go about your day and have the tracker keep an eye on things, and then come back to the app later. There’s no need to put the tracker into a sleep mode, there’s no need to tell the tracker you’re doing something, it just gets on with it. This is a really simple approach to things, and while a lot of people will be disappointed in its simplicity, there will be many more that appreciate it.
In terms of extras on the software side of things, the app itself does a few tricks up its sleeve. From the “My Devices” menu, users can set a couple of notification alerts, one for an incoming call, and another to be notified of an app notification. Given the small display on the Arc itself, these aren’t all that useful, although the incoming call alert is handy for those that put their phone on silent a lot of the time. This is standard for a tracker like the Amazfit Arc, but there are some niceties here, such as the ability to set a Do Not Disturb time window, for instance. On the fitness side of things, the Arc can be programmed to vibrate when you’ve been idle for an hour at a time, and it can also wake you up with a vibration whenever you want it to. These are nice features to have, and are something you’d be more likely to see in a more higher-end model of tracker.
Activity and Sleep Tracking
All of the activity tracking is handled by the Amazfit app, and if you haven’t already gotten the picture, things here are a little basic, too. The Amazfit app simply collects and then displays the data your tracker has observed throughout the day. There is, however, some structure to the way it counts steps, though. If you look at a single day, for instance, the Amazfit app will show your steps on a graph, with peaks and falls at certain times of the day, so it will show if you went for a run at 12:00. The same happens for your calorie burn, too. The same graph is here, and there’s the same graph of peaks and falls throughout a day, as well as a total calories burnt display and a note on whether or not you hit your goal. It’s all really quite basic, and depending on how much you expected from the overall package of the Amazfit Arc, you might be a bit disappointed. Of course, as we’ve come to learn from professional sports, there is such a thing as statistical fatigue, and too much data can be a bad thing. The way that Amazfit presents activity data is basic, but being able to see where you did more, and when you did less is very simple and not getting carried away in all of the data is perhaps a good way of making exercise feel less of a chore.
Where the heart rate sensor is concerned, however, the Amazfit Arc asks for a little more user input. Let’s say that you hit the Spinning bike in the morning before work, and you got your heart rate right up there for an extended period of time. The Arc will be right there tracking it with you, but if you want to make something of that data in the app itself, you need to go into your timeline for the day and touch on that peak. You’re then given the option to rate this activity with one of three different emotions, three different types of feeling for the activity and whether or not it was a “Quiet” or “Active” period of your day. This is perhaps the weakest point of the Arc for many, as there’s no way to log and rename a period of thirty minutes as “Spinning” or something similar. This will disappoint many, but again, this simple approach to data makes the whole package feel relaxed and simplistic. Which might be the key to get many people to stick with a fitness tracker. It does, however, feel very basic and being able to log and organize these activities would have been a lot more appealing.
As for sleep, the Arc gives your night’s rest a rating – which appears to be up to 100 – and then gives you a total sleep time, as well as times for light and deep sleep. Compared to the readings from the Fitbit Charge 2, I felt that the Arc was a little generous with its deep sleep timings, and that there were occasions of when I was reading a book on the Kindle that registered as me being asleep. Perhaps the book wasn’t all that exciting? Either way, the sleep side of things here seems solid, but not quite as accurate as trackers that cost a lot more, but then again you wouldn’t expect it to be. A good guide, which also has some tips to get you into the swing of keeping a routine and such with tips, the Arc is a decent sleep tracker, but as always, it’s hard to tell which tracker is more “accurate” than another when dealing with sleep tracking. There is, however, a more accurate mode in the settings which claims to reduce battery life, but also did little to improve the tracking of my sleep, as the figures were a little less generous, but not drastically much different, either way.
Amazfit claim that the Arc is good for 20-days of battery life on a single charge. I’ve had the Arc for just under two weeks now, and when I got the device it had 30% or so in it, which seemed to last me about five or six days. I have since charged it and have been using it for six days on a single charge and have 60% left, which is a little under two-thirds left. Judging by this, it would appear as though I’m on track to get the 20-days of battery life promised by Amazfit, but this might not be the case for everyone. The Arc claims to have both an optical heart rate sensor and accelerometer that are “power-efficient”, but it seems to me that they’re only power-efficient when they’re not in use. As with anything, the more you use it, the faster you lose it. This is true of the Arc’s battery life, and if you’re a very sporty person that goes running every morning, and does some sort of activity in the evening as well, the Arc might last you closer to two weeks or 16 days. Regardless, this is the sort of battery life that few other trackers can even dream of. It not only beats the competition, but offers users worry-free tracking and a quick recharge time, too.
The Amazfit Arc has a hell of a lot going for it, and while it might appear too basic on the face of things, this approach will “click” with a lot of users. There are trackers out there that offer all kinds of different features, such as the Gear Fit 2 which is packed full of different tracking modes. The problem there, however, is that it’s feature overload, there’s too much on offer and little idea of where to begin. As such, this basic approach from Amazfit with the Arc helps to bridge the gap between something like a Fitbit Flex and a Gear Fit 2. It has the heart rate sensor for more accurate measurements of fat-burning, and a display to keep track of steps and your heart rate on the move, but it doesn’t overload users. The Arc is a fitness tracker that gives users the right amount of information, without the need to recharge every couple of days, and it does so for less than $70. The Arc is very much an unsung hero of the wearable world in 2016.