Let’s get one thing out of the way. I like smartwatches. No, that’s not quite right. I really like smartwatches. I have reviewed many smartwatches for Coolsmartphone in my years as a writer for the site. They have varied from the complex, like the TicWatch Pro, to the simple ones like the Xioami 3 (which, to be honest, is more of a fitness band).
They come in all shapes and sizes and they all present different ways of doing things. Some of them use well-known operating systems and some use their own propriety software. The one thing they have to have in common though is that they have to be simple to use for their core functions. These, in my opinion, are the following..
- The must tell the time
- Provide basic step counting
- Have good app support on the phone
- Be non-intrusive
- Have a good battery life
- Be forgettable when worn
- Be durable
These are must-haves for me and yes, that last one is a bit weird, so I will explain. I don’t want to have to worry too much about my watch. I just want to be able to put the thing on and it’s there when I need a specific task or function. Using these criteria, some smartwatches have fallen flat in the past, but some have also excelled. It is now time for me to see where the Zepp E smartwatch fits into the picture.
First and foremost is the design of the Zepp E It is very, very reminiscent of a smartwatch that is in the mainstream and could (and was) be easily be mistaken for its counterpart. At first glance, you could think that the Zepp E was an Apple Watch. To be honest, unless you look closely, it’s easy to see why.
I have been using the square-faced Zepp E (you can get a round one too) and – bar the rotating crown on the Apple Watch – they do look very similar. I can only imagine this has been done intentionally as the Apple Watch is very popular and has become a sign of status amongst its users. The Zepp E is nice to look at and is very comfortable to wear during the day and also overnight. It does not get in the way and doesn’t feel like it is weighing down your wrist.
The body is made of a combination of glass screen that blends nicely into a stainless steel body. It is about 1/3 glass and 2/3 metal, and it looks brilliant. There is one single button on the right-hand side which serves as a multifunction button depending on whether you long-press, short press or hold. I like its simplicity and sleekness.
I was initially worried that – as the watch is completely flat – it would be uncomfortable, but that has not been that case at all. This is due to the lugs where the strap is fixed being angled just right so that the strap comes off at an angle that fits to my wrist perfectly. The watch comes with two strap sizes and I have been using the small one which fits just right. The straps are made of soft leather and they soon mould themselves to your wrist nicely. With the straps being leather they don’t recommend that you wear the Zepp E in the shower or swim with it as the leather will start to degrade over time.
The watch itself though has been tested to 5ATM and this proudly laser-etched into the rear of the case around the sensor array. If you are wanting to use the Zepp E in the water you can buy an optional fluoroelastomer strap for that purpose. To be honest it would have been nice to have had this included in the box as this is not a cheap watch. That being said, you don’t get additional bands with either the Apple Watch or the Samsung Galaxy Watch so no major loss.
The sensor array around the back is set into a raised circle on the rear and this contains four different sensors. Set astride of this you will see the pogo charging pins for the charger to mount onto. I’ll be honest i would have liked to see this charge via Qi but this would have added further cost and complication so I can forgive it.
The charger secures magnetically so it does the job, it is just not as easy as having a standardised charger in the form of Qi. I have previously mentioned the lugs for the straps to fit into and these are machined straight out of same metal as the main body so should be strong and resilient. The strap width is 20mm so a bit thinner than I would normally use but it all helps to the design of the watch, making it very sleek and subtle.
Onto the absolutely stunning screen then, and it is crystal clear. I have had no issues with reading it, even in the brightest of conditions. The text is displayed crisply and looks sharp. It is a 1.65″ AMOLED square screen with a PPI of 341 – really great. It also features an always-on display which will have an impact on your battery life, but not something to worry about (more on that later).
I’ll be honest, I don’t tend to use always-on displays on my tech but I have been inclined to use it on the Zepp E as it just looks so damn good! As I have mentioned the watch can also comes as a round style which has the same AMOLED screen but it is a bit smaller at 1.28″ with a PPI of 326. The watch is kept very slim by the slim screen – it only uses a third of the total 9mm thickness !
I briefly mentioned the battery life above and now seems to be about a good a time as ever to cover this off. The battery life on this watch is quite frankly awesome. I have been using it for nearly 2 weeks and I have only had to charge it once. It was also really quick to charge – only taking about 2 hrs from zero to full. Battery life has always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to smartwatches so I am really impressed by this aspect of the watch!
Lastly, I think we need to briefly cover the contents of that sensor array. It contains a lot of stuff, so here is the list..
- Biological Tracking Optical Sensor
- Acceleration Sensor
- Geomagnetic Sensor
- Linear Vibration Motor
All of these sensors will work to give a large amount of information through the watch but also through the Zepp health app which we shall cover in more depth now
So, like any smartwatch worth its salt you need it to have a good UI that is intuitive and easy to use. I think in this case it is fair to say that the Zepp E has this covered. The main watch face can be chosen from a gallery of different styles to display lots of different information. These range from a straightforward clock face to one that will show you all your stats – distance heart rate, calories burnt etc.
I have opted to use one with more information, as I do like to see my stats at a glance. If you swipe up from this it will bring up a preview of notifications which can’t be actioned annoyingly, but it is nice to have on here. Swiping down from the main screen will bring down a shortcuts bar for settings and it will also show the date. Going either to the left or the right will open a carousel of more screens showing Activity Goals, Heart rate, Music controls, and Weather (this is the order if you swipe right to left the order will reverse if you go the other way).
If you press the button on the right-hand side then it brings up the main menu. which allows access to a few more features such as full settings menu, Workout, Alarms, and widgets to name a few. Finally, a long press brings up the options for work out tracking, this can be configured to perform a different task if required. I have to say the UI is very nicely laid out and is very intuitive.
Here is a brief demo of the UI on the watch.
It is simple to navigate around and features pretty much everything I need from a smartwatch bar one two major exceptions.
The first one is that notifications management. One major draw for me has always been the ability to manage my incoming smartphone notifications on my watch. I receive a lot of crap in the form of emails that I am not interested in. I really like the ability to delete these emails or messages from my wrist without having to remove my phone from my pocket. I also really like the option to be able to reply to messages from my watch quickly and easily. This is a major feature for me that is missing from the Zepp E and for me, this is a core feature of what a smartwatch is.
The second feature that I miss is the ability of my watch to interact with my smart assistant. This is something that I do less often, but I do want to be able to do it from time to time when it is handier to just say “Hey Google” and to get an answer.
The first feature is actually what made me start wearing a smartwatch all the time over a normal watch. I was at MWC many years ago and there were three of us from the CSP team covering the event. We were in constant chats over whats app or hangouts to keep us in the know as to where the others were and what they were doing. In that busy environment, we didn’t have the time or the spare hands to be pulling phones out of our pockets all the time so a smartwatch with actionable notifications was essential.
Other than the above two items I would say that the UI on the Zepp E is pretty much fully complete and, if you are like the vast majority of people who use a smartwatch for its fitness aspects, then you will be fully covered by the Zepp E. For the minority like me, it will still be useful, but you may find it frustrating that you can see the notification but can’t do anything with it!
So that is the watch UI covered, how about the other part of the puzzle, the smartphone app? Well, again here Zepp does not disappoint.
Now, this should hardly be surprising as a little known secret is that Zepp has been doing this for a while – albeit under a different name – Amazfit. What this means is that the Zepp app is refined and well presented. It has a multitude of options for pulling fitness data in from various smart tech. We are of course only really interested in the details pertaining to the watch. So let us dive in together and find out what is on offer.
The App Home screen presents you immediately with your daily step count, your calories burned and your sleep info. Below this, you can see your heart rate. Next up is the sleep score section which gives your sleep a rating out 100. The last section before that is relevant to the watch is your PAI which is a score based upon what activities are done, their intensity and your heart rate during the activity. The higher the score, the better you are doing. This is also present on the watch but I didn’t use it so removed it from the carousel view as I didn’t find it that useful.
If you select the enjoy tab from the bottom of the screen then you are taken to a screen that allows you to set the app and watch up with an area that will take you to the Watch face Gallery. It is also where you can set up Notifications access or App Alerts as they call it.
Lastly, under the profile page, you can see the devices linked to your account and the other bits about your profile. If you tap on the Zepp E under “Devices” then you get into the finer details about setting up the watch as can be seen below. This section is also where you would go to set the watch up initially.
I would say that the watch is easy and straightforward to use but the app is a bit more manic in its layout, mainly because it is catering for many different devices, but once you get past the initial overloading of information it is not too bad. I found that once I set the watch up I didn’t need to use any screen on the app other than the first one which gave me my health stats.
Here is a brief overview video of the app..
Incidentally, I have been looking at another smartwatch fitness band during my review period and I found the UI and Apps to be very similar in terms of functions, so Zepp is not missing a trick here. One thing that I did find very helpful is that the Zepp software allows the data it obtains to be passed through to Google Fit which is the service I use as my main health tracking tool. This was a nice touch.
How is it as a fitness tracker?
In short, it is good, the longer answer I think it may be too good. So what do I mean by that statement? Well up until I had started testing this watch I had been using a Wear OS powered Tiwatch S2 which has been my trusty companion for my smartwatch and fitness tracking for nearly a year. I found that the step count on it was always a little questionable, to say the least. I had a temporary job during the peak of lockdown as a mail sorter at a local Royal Mail Depot. This job did not involve a massive amount of walking but did involve a lot of movement of my upper body, in particular, my arms. I would come back from a 4 hr shift and my watch would inform me that I had walked a few miles when I know that I had not. I can only conclude that the arm movement was causing the watch to think I was walking hence the confusing reading. The same cannot be said about Zepp E.
I’m not sure what the difference is but it doesn’t seem to record arm movements as step and therefore doesn’t give me erroneous readings. My current job requires me to be sat at a desk for most of the day typing and using a phone and as a result, I have been getting very low step counts. The Zepp E was consistently lower than the Ticwatch so I can only conclude that it is better at actually counting steps than the Ticwatch.
Going back to my original statement then. It seems that I have may have been misled to think that I had been doing a good job of keeping myself moving based on the data I was getting from the Ticwatch. So, as a health and fitness tracker if you want to have something that actually pushes you to achieve your goals then I think the Zepp E will do this as it does seem to be more accurate than the Ticwatch alternative. So for Fitness enthusiasts this definitely ticks the boxes.
How is it as an extension to your phone?
Again, in short not as good as a Wear OS-powered watch. I feel that if you want a smartwatch to help you to manage your time and use the actual functions of your phone then you still need to go down the route of Wear OS, Apple Watch or Samsung Watch as these are what I truly define as being a smartwatch. The fact that these watches can have additional apps added and replicate functions from your phone or even work with these functions sets them apart from the more fitness-based watches on the market. I can’t help but feel that the Zepp E just doesn’t fit this category at least as far as I am concerned.
This is a real shame as i feel that the Zepp E has the potential to be a great smartwatch but it just hasn’t been realised by the limits that the proprietary operating system. It cannot use additional apps or to integrate deeply with the phones own OS. It also has not got a significant amount of onboard storage for use as a music player (storage size is not even quoted in the specs).
So how does the Zepp E stack up for me as a Smartwatch when I factor in my criteria that I laid out at the top of the review. Well, let’s look at the criteria and try and work it out.
- The must tell the time – It does this and displays it clearly regardless of conditions.
- Provide basic step counting – It does this superbly well making me now realize that my step count has been incorrect fort he past year!
- Have good app support on the phone – The app on the phone is satisfactory but not great and the interaction between the watch and phone is poor as you cannot manage notifications or use the phones, digital assistant
- Be non-intrusive – It doesn’t get in the way and is sleek and subtle
- Have good battery life – the battery life is amazing at 10+ days with ease it also charges really quickly
- Be forgettable when worn – Dues to its design it can be worn without you being aware of it until you need it so yes
- Be durable- I have been wearing it 2 weeks and I can not see any signs of damage or marking.
So with these criteria being checked off is this the ideal smartwatch for me. Sadly no because I require a watch where I can manage the data being fed into it from my phone. However, I am bit weird and most people dont need or want this functionality. So for the normal Joe Public then this watch would be an excellent suggestion and one that would be very well received. However, there is one more slight thorn that needs to be addressed.
It is, of course, the price, I don’t think that this watch is worth its asking price. Don’t get me wrong if this was a £150 watch then i would be giving it a thorough recommendation but it isn’t it is a £210 watch that is too close for comfort to some Wear OS powered watches that will give you more features and also it is much higher than fitness-focused watches that will give you the same functionality for a lower price. A similar watch with similar specs is coming to the review table soon and I am inclined to think as a value for money proposition this will be a better option than the Zepp E. It is from a known brand and the brand has already made ground for itself in this category.
So as a final conclusion is the Zepp E worth your hard-earned cash. Well, it depends on who you are and what you want from your smartwatch it also depends on your aspirations as a status symbol. If money is no object and you want one of the best looking fitness-focused smartwatches then go for it. If however, you want a full smartwatch then you need to look elsewhere. Also if you dont mind about the looks of the things then there are cheaper options out there and we are testing one very soon.