Who needs the Apple Watch 6? The Amazfit Band 5 is a $50 fitness tracker that promises many of the marquee features found in this year’s premium smartwatches, but at a fraction of the price. It has blood oxygen (SpO2) reading, stress monitoring, high heart rate alerts, Amazon Alexa built-in, sleep tracking and several other tools found in high-end offerings like the $399 Apple Watch 6 and $329 Fitbit Sense.
Size: 1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches
Display: 126 x 294 pixels
Battery life: 15 days
Water resistance : 50 meters
Heart rate sensor: Yes
Like several of the best fitness trackers (and best cheap fitness trackers), the Amazfit Band is comfortable to wear, simple to customize and claims to last 15 days on a single charge. However, without GPS or on-board music storage, it’s not the most independent wearable you can find, but this ongoing Amazfit Band 5 review explains what you expect from your first days with this affordable activity band.
This review isn’t rated yet, as I’ve only spent a few days with the Amazfit Band 5. Be sure to check back soon to see how it stacks up against the current category king, the Fitbit Charge 4.
Amazfit Band 5 price and availability
The Amazfit Band 5 is available for pre-order of September 21 in the U.S. for $49.99. You can purchase it exclusively through Amazon, and it will ship on November 30. If you’re outside the U.S., you’ll need to sit tight — the Amazfit Band 5 will become available to pre-order in more markets in October.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Design and display
When I unboxed the Amazfit Band 5, I thought, “Huh, I’ve seen this before.” Sure enough, as I sifted through my collection of activity bands, I realized this Amazfit band has the same slim, oblong shape of several existing cheap fitness trackers. It’s curvier than the $25 Wyze Band but quite similar-looking to the Xiaomi Mi Band 4. The black version I tested is especially familiar in terms of design, but the eye-catching orange and green models are more unconventional.
The 1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches Amazfit Band 5 felt comfortable on my wrist, even when I wore it to sleep at night. It weighs just 0.8 ounces, lending the barely-there effect that I appreciate while working out. Although the band is nothing special, it stayed secure as I went about my weekend activities.
I also liked the 1.1-inch AMOLED display at first. The size reminded me of the Fitbit Charge 4, while the color touchscreen responded well to my vertical swipes. The complications and fun watch faces I assigned let me see everything I needed with a raise-to-wake motion, too. When I took the Amazfit Band 5 outdoors, though, even at full brightness I couldn’t see the screen in direct sunlight, and there’s no always-on option.
Amazfit Band 5: Fitness tracking and features
Despite the difficult-to-see display, the Amazfit Band 5 provides a suite of metrics you can check out once you’ve completed an activity in one of its 11 different sport modes. The continuous heart rate sensor not only tracks your BPM the entire workout, but it breaks down how many minutes you spend in heart rate zones, ranging from relaxed to intensive to anaerobic.
These metrics came off as a stripped-down version of Fitbit’s Activity Zone Minutes, which debuted on the Fitbit Charge 4. The Charge 4 can calculate your target heart rate zones based on your age and your resting heart rate, and track your progress toward the goal of spending 150 minutes in that zone per week.
The Amazfit Band 5 doesn’t have built-in GPS, so I needed to bring my phone along to map my outdoor activities. I liked being able to see my biking trail in the Zepp app (iOS, Android) alongside the rest of my metrics, though. It even showed me at which points I slowed down to catch some ocean views and sped up through straightaways.
Of course, someone who’s interested in a variety of outdoor activities might be better off with one of the best sports watches with GPS (and in some cases, on-board music storage,) but for step-counting, burned calorie tracking and heart rate measurements, the Amazfit Band 5 fares just fine.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Sleep tracking and stress monitoring
The Amazfit Band 5 offers more actionable sleep tracking tools that I’ve seen from the most of the wearable market. Although the accuracy over the course of several nights varied, especially as nodded in and out of sleep streaming the Umbrella Academy on Netflix, it usually credited me with just a couple more minutes of shuteye than Apple Watch sleep tracking.
But what I appreciated about Amazfit’s sleep tracking is how the app encouraged me to get into bed earlier than 2 a.m., because staying up late could impact my immune system. It also asked me to keep a log of both the activities I did in my ‘pre-sleep state’ (ie. had drinks, read, worked out) and my ‘wake-up mood’ using the available icons.
Unlike Fitbit’s fitness trackers, the Amazfit Band 5 doesn’t have a smart wake feature, meaning it can’t buzz you awake at an optimal point in your sleep schedule, but it can tell you how much deep sleep vs. light sleep you’re getting each night.
The Amazfit Band 5 uses heart rate variability to monitor stress, too. While it doesn’t send alerts, can give you a real-time reading as well as provide a daily stress analysis chart. I cruised at an average 37/100 stress level, indicating I felt relaxed over the weekend, but it did jump up to the mid-60s at one point during a bout of Sunday scaries.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Blood oxygen readings
Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring is a hot health tool these days. Below-normal levels of blood oxygen concentrations (95 percent or lower) could be signs of underlying health issues. An SpO2 reading is also less subjective than a pulse or blood pressure reading.
For someone without breathing complications, a blood oxygen of 95%-100% is considered normal. Several times when I self-administered SpO2 readings with the Amazfit Band 5, it said my levels were 97% or 98%. At the same time, the Apple Watch 6 said my blood oxygen level was 100%. Based on my understanding of pulse oximetry, I’m inclined to believe the Apple Watch’s readings are more accurate, but the difference isn’t much.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Notifications and Alexa
I’ve struggled with the notification options on an Amazfit watch before, so I set my expectations low. But I was pleasantly surprised by the Band 5’s notification system. I could customize which phone notifications I wanted pushed to my wrist, plus whether I wanted to preview their contents. I could even decline phone calls if someone rang me mid-workout.
I felt less impressed, or should I say let down, when I learned Alexa didn’t work on my Amazfit Band 5 yet. The company says the hardware is in place, so an update will come over-the-air to enable Alexa’s super powers. As we’ve seen with the Wyze Band and Fitbit Versa 2, there’s something James Bond-like about whispering Alexa commands into your wrist, so I hope to see it working on the Band 5 soon.
Amazfit Band 5 review: Battery life
The Amazfit Band 5 claims to last up to 15 days on one charge, which is more than double the Fitbit Charge 4’s battery life rating. I wrote this review after wearing it 24/7 for 5 days, and the battery life is down to 55%. I have worked out several times, which could chip at the band’s rated stamina
I’ll need to see how long is actually before coming to a conclusion about what to expect. When it does need to be juiced up, it should only take two hours with Amazfit’s proprietary charger.
Amazfit Band 5 outlook
After a few days with the Amazfit Band 5, I’m reminded that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for a good fitness tracker. Although this $50 option awaits a key feature — Amazon Alexa — it still provides in-depth workout analyses, stress monitoring, actionable sleep tracking tracking and a useful notification system.
I’d like to spend more time testing before giving this activity band an official rating, though. This will include comparing the SpO2 readings against a traditional finger-based pulse oximeter, as well as seeing how long its battery actually lasts. But if you’re looking for an affordable fitness tracker right now, you should put the Amazfit Band 5 on your short list.