Huami Zepp E Review: Huami's new noble smartwatch in two design variants
Case, equipment and operation
At a uniform price of 249 Euros (~$292), the Zepp E is available either square like the Apple Watch (Zepp E Square) or round like the Zepp E Circle. The round smartwatch would hardly stand out among the fashion watches in a department store display case. This is achieved on the one hand by the shiny polished stainless steel base and on the other hand by the display glass, which is slightly curved over the entire surface.
The 1.28-inch Always-On display with AMOLED technology automatically adjusts to the brightness thanks to a light sensor and ensures good readability even in the sun. However, when you raise your arm, it takes a good second for the display to light up and switch to the active display. Particularly when doing sports, this is when you want more speed. When lying on the bedside table, the display can only be activated by pressing the button and not by tapping the display.
The 1.65-inch display of the Zepp E Square is also an AMOLED and resolves at a pixel density of 348×442. At 36 g, it weighs 4 g more than the Zepp E Circle. The housing measures 43.3 × 35.7 mm with a thickness of 9 mm. The other specifications, including the battery capacity, are identical. Both cases are waterproof to 5 ATM and can be worn in water with the fluoroelastomer strap. Alternatively, leather and metal wristbands are also available, and 20 mm standard wristbands fit both.
The sensors detect ambient light, movement, heart rate and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). Zepp is foregoing the integration of GPS and NFC for mobile payment on its debut.
Setup and operation
Huami already renamed its Amazfit app to Zepp in August. If you own a Huami/Amazfit wearable, you probably already have the app on your smartphone, except that it has moved from the top to the bottom of the app overview.
If you don't already have it, download the Zepp app to your smartphone and set up an account. The watch and smartphone then connect via a QR code in the Zepp E's display. Those who already own another tracker from Huami have to make a decision - the app only connects to one of them at a time, but keeps the other one in memory.
Five dials are preinstalled, and more can be downloaded from the Internet to the watch via the Zepp app. On four of them you can individualize the complications and for example exchange the general weather information with the predicted UV radiation. So much for the theory. In practice, consciously changing one complication led to the other complications also changing at random. But this should be fixed by an update. If you touch a complication, the corresponding function opens.
The Zepp E can be operated using gestures on the touchscreen and a side button. A short press of the button opens the app menu, and a long press opens a previously assigned individual function.
Further individualizations include the ability to adjust the order of the app overview and hide apps that are not needed. For the always-on display, not only a standard analog or digital dial is available but also a darkened version of the selected normal dial. In addition, automatic functions such as the always-on display and switching on when the arm is raised can be deactivated in a time-controlled manner.
Music, notifications, telephony
If you swipe the display from the side, a maximum of five out of a total of nine possible widgets appear, including remote control for the music player or streaming service on the smartphone. The smartwatch has no memory for offline music.
Loudspeaker and microphone are also missing; therefore there is no wizard, nor is it possible to make phone calls via the wearable. Incoming phone calls are displayed by the smartwatch and you can reject them or simply mute the ringtone of the smartphone via the watch.
If you do not respond to a call at all, the watch will not show it as a missed call. It displays short messages (SMS) and social networking messages, but you cannot reply to them or mark them as read. The delete function does not delete individual notifications from the smartwatch but deletes all of them.
Health and Fitness
The Fitness Tracker adds up the duration of physical activity every day, counts the steps taken and determines the calorie consumption. If desired, it monitors the heart rate around the clock, andHuami determines the PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) indicator from the history data. It is updated daily based on an algorithm from the Norwegian University of Technology and Natural Sciences. According to related studies, a continuous PAI value of more than 100 is said to promote higher life expectancy.
The measurement of the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) is initiated manually. In all runs of the test device, the result corresponded to the measured value of a medically certified device with a maximum deviation of one percentage point.
Huami also offers monitoring of the breathing quality during sleep. The function is currently still in beta status and was not convincing in this version, providingthe same result of exactly 100 for three nights and little information beyond that.
The graphical overlay of the sleep phases with the course of the heart rate is good. The sleep log truthfully reflected the times of falling asleep and waking up as well as nightly walks to the fridge, if there were any. The information about sleep is only available in the app, however; at least during the test period, it was not possible to retrieve it on the watch.
Compared to other fitness trackers, the range of workout options is more than manageable: You can choose from walking, running (outdoor/treadmill/trail), climbing, cycling (outdoor, indoor), swimming, cross-training, freestyle and skiing.
If you want to record a route while training outdoors, you have to take your smartphone with you so that the Huami smartwatch can use its GPS. Water protection is limited to 5 ATM; for snorkeling, water protection up to 10 ATM is recommended.
With active use the 188-mAh battery should last about seven days. By active use Huami reckons on the permanent tracking of heart rate and sleep, three half-hourly run trainings per week, as well as twice daily measuring of the blood oxygen saturation, 180 display activations and five minutes for the use of other watch functions.
At almost exactly three days, our practical result is significantly lower. The use is naturally intensive in the test, but we also don't look at the display 24/7 or press buttons. The measured period includes a 37-minute run (A-GPS), 10 measurements of blood oxygen saturation, permanent tracking of heart rate and daytime activities as well as the sleep log with monitoring of breathing quality. The display of alerts, always-on display and automatic activation by raising the wrist were deactivated for seven hours during the night by time selection.
The reason for the discrepancy is probably the nightly monitoring of the breathing quality: It demands much more from the battery than the regular sleep log. The user is informed of this by a message as soon as the function is activated.
In contrast, charging via the magnetic adapter and the pins on the back was much quicker than indicated. The battery should take about two hours for a full charge; in the test it took less than an hour-and-a-half.
Thanks to Huami's experience and development with Amazfit watches, Zepp also has good software.
The subtleties of controlling the always-on display are of great value in practice, as is the ability to hide apps in the app list and, above all, to determine their order; Huawei, for example, does not allow any influence here, and frequent scrolling is the result.
In terms of price, Zepp starts with its smartwatch in the upper class. Functionally, it is only in the middle class, despite many positive aspects.
For a smartwatch without NFC and its own GPS, however, the declared RRP of 249 Euros (~$292) is very high. Microphone and loudspeaker for Bluetooth telephony or a voice assistant should also be expected in this price range.