Amazfit Neo Review: 1980s retro design meets 2020 smartwatch tech
- Amazing looking retro-style watch
- Crystal clear LCD display with smooth backlight
- 28 day battery life
- Lacks Blood Oxygen measuring
- Beeps instead of vibrates for alerts
- Limited customisation due to fixed display
- Only available to import currently
This cool retro smartwatch isn’t on sale in the UK, but if you’re up for it you can get the Amazfit Neo imported for around £32. Is it worth a punt?
Some people have already commented on social media that this watch looks like a toy, calling into question why anyone would ever consider buying a smartwatch so basic looking.
But that’s precisely why I love it. I’m also seeing many other people expressing their joy at something that looks like a 1980s Casio wristwatch. A perfect blend of old and new.
There’s also a really snazzy backlight to illuminate the ultra-clear LCD display that ensures it is ultra readable in all lighting conditions.
Underneath the facade is a watch that functions in much the same way as any other Amazfit watch, or even the recently launched Zepp E watches I recently reviewed. There are many limitations, but you’re still benefitting from the same core software as on alternative watches costing considerably more.
What you won’t get are detailed notifications and tracking, rather just a quick alert, and instead of vibrating you get a 1970s Timex watch style beep.
If you turn off notifications, you’ll be left with just the time, date and whatever information you choose to have permanently on show. That could be your steps, distance travelled or the weather, amongst other choices.
Also, my recollection of owning a Casio watch at school in the 1980s is that they weren’t much beyond water resistant. The Amazfit Neo will work at depths of 50 metres. In my world that means it will work fine after being taken into the shower or bath, but you can certainly keep this on when swimming.
Simplicity on tap
The watch will let you see the basic metrics by scrolling up and down through various pages using the dedicated buttons on the right of the watch.
It’s as simple as it gets, but on your phone you can see additional data, like the heart rate over the day, or your sleep broken down into deep sleep, light sleep, awake time and so on.
There’s also an overall score to rate your activity in any given day, which is referred to as PAI, or Personal Activity Intelligence. The score is based on your last seven days of activity.
Get up and go
The pairing process is as easy as it comes; download the Zepp app, turn the watch on and it will pair in less than a minute.
You have a heartrate monitor, but no SpO2 (blood oxygen) detection. Within the app you can see what services are, and aren’t, available and features missing include things like event reminders, NFC, world clock and watch face customisation.
With a fixed LCD display, the only thing you can adjust is 12 or 24 hour time. Thankfully, the time is set via your phone so you won’t need to fiddle with complication button pressing combinations.
The watch tracks your sleep, as well as short naps, and – like the Amazfit and Zepp E watches – it currently fails to pick up sleeping during the daytime (it registers any of this as a nap, but only for a short period of time rather than your whole sleep). This is something the company is changing in the future, so it will eventually track your sleep 24 hours a day.
I imported the Amazfit Neo for £32 including shipping, so the watch really doesn’t cost a whole lot more than a semi-decent digital watch on sale in your local Argos.
Everyone obviously has different tastes, and this review isn’t intended to convince someone wanting an expensive timepiece to get this instead, but it offers an alternative design that sits nicely alongside the usual vertical fitness bands you’d expect for the same sort of money.
I love the Zepp E Circle, and I love bright colourful displays and customisable watch faces, but there’s something about this watch I can’t quite explain.
Everytime I go to take it off and move on to the next watch to review, I find myself wanting to put it back on.
I can only think it is because I’ve always been consistent in saying I want a watch to be a good watch first and foremost, and keep things simple. I want to be able to see the time instantly, and that’s exactly what I get here.
I also value good battery life, and so far I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the Amazfit Neo offers up to 28 day battery life.
I published this review without doing a single charge, so I can’t comment yet if four weeks is accurate or not, but going by the killer battery on the Amazfit Bip, I see no reason to doubt it.
For sake of argument, let me be brutal and say the battery might only manage 50%. While I can’t see how you could do anything significant to increase power consumption, that would still be a need to recharge every two weeks.
If I discover the battery is significantly short of expectations, I’ll update the review but I really don’t think you need to worry.
I can see the Amazfit Neo also being an ideal watch for a younger child that doesn’t want to wear something expensive that could get broken or stolen. If the watch did get lost, it can be cheaply replaced and all the settings synced to the replacement immediately.
The straps can also be changed, but there’s no quick release mechanism so you will need to change them the old-fashioned way. The charging cable also clips on rather than using magnets or inductive charging, but this means you get a solid and reassuring connection.
It’s not as if you need to charge it that often.
The Amazfit Neo isn’t trying to be anything more than what you can see here. It is simple, but effective.
If you aren’t necessarily thinking of one for yourself, I can imagine you know someone who might like one as a gift. Christmas isn’t far away….
If you’ve never imported anything direct from China before, don’t panic as sites like AliExpress (where I purchased this) offer the same protections as buying from the UK.
It is worth noting that when it comes to a warranty claim, things do become rather more complicated and time consuming. In the case of something costing around £30 and the cost of shipping goods back to China (as well as the time), you’d be better off buying again.
Obviously if the Amazfit Neo ever gets an official European release then that no longer becomes an issue.
I purchased my watch through the link below. It arrived in under three weeks, but I am not endorsing this seller over others you might find online. There are other colours and shipping options if you shop around.
I also do not earn any commission from the link below.
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