• Curious Beast from The East: Our Review of The Amazfit Verge



    Fellow smartwatch enthusiasts might already know that I'm a big fan of the cheap and cheerful Amazfit Bip. But what about the other devices in Huami's smartwatch stable? On a whim I tried out one of them, the Amazfit Verge.

    Before we proceed, a few caveats about this Canada-based review:

    1. If you're here for details about Amazon Alexa support, that feature is currently US-only, so I am unable to test it.
    2. If you're here for details about phone calls using iOS, that feature is also currently US-only. Fortunately, phone calls via Android are supported everywhere.

    Design

    Part of what initially drew me to the Verge was my ongoing desire for a smartwatch version of a Casio G-Shock. Like those iconic timepieces The Verge has a similarly chunky design but is also light on the wrist, and light on the wallet as well—at $207 and change on Amazon Canada the Verge is less than one third the current asking price of a WSD-F30. And while both offer onboard GPS the Verge also supports NFC wrist-based payments... that is, if you live in mainland China and/or have an Alipay account.



    On the bottom of the Verge you'll find the heart rate sensor, charging pins and quick-release silicone straps. Because of the lug design replacement straps will unfortunately be limited to those made specifically for this watch.

    There is a single button on the watch's right side (the big orange one) and a microphone port. Not shown in the photo above is the speaker on the left side of the device. More on that in a bit.

    Watch Faces



    Here's a closer look at the default watch face. The Verge runs on Android but not Wear OS—so while Google Assistant and Pay are unsupported you'll at least get more battery life out of this thing than your typical Fossil or whatever. With an hour or so of daily fitness tracking my watch lasted about four days between charges. That's notably better than Wear OS, but there's a catch: While the Verge has an option for an always-on display, it's so faint that it's effectively useless in anything brighter than a dark room.



    Here are the other watch faces that the Verge ships with, courtesy of the companion app for Android. If none of these pique your interest you can also try here.

    Widgets



    Here's another screen grab from the Amazfit Android app, and the easiest way to show you the available widgets for The Verge. Once activated they'll live to the right of your watch face, in whichever order you choose.

    Apps



    The Verge doesn't have an application drawer like Wear OS; your list of installed apps instead live to the right of your watch face, after your widgets (if you've activated any) or via a single swipe in from the right (if not). Hey, is that a phone app I see?



    The Verge can indeed make (and take) calls directly from your wrist, thanks to its built-in microphone and speaker. Test calls I made sounded acceptable on my end, but my test subject complained that she could hear her own voice feeding back from the speaker into the mic. However, for checking your voicemail—or leaving a message for someone else—it's probably fine.

    Notifications



    Notifications on the Verge live below your watch face—like Wear OS but with no way to reply from your wrist. There is an available third-party solution that enables canned replies, but I couldn't get it to work.

    Also, I feel obliged to mention that when it comes to notifications the Verge is a bit of a nag. Weather and step goal progress is fine, but several times when I was on my way somewhere the watch would interrupt me with a notification to the effect of: "Hey, I noticed you're walking pretty fast... wanna start a workout?"

    It gets pretty annoying when I'm running behind, which is often.

    Control Panel



    Status panel? Whatever you want to call this it lives above your watch face. Going clockwise from the right the icons are: settings, power/reboot, brightness, speaker on/off, airplane mode and silent mode. That icon at the top (to the left of the battery) is an indicator for your Bluetooth connection.

    Verdict

    My fondness for the Verge began with its attractive styling and affordable price, but ended as soon as I saw (or tried to see) its unusable always-on display. If you reside in the US the Amazon Alexa support might be a selling point, and if you're signed up for Alipay you can probably activate that feature via a Chinese ROM. As for everyone else, unless you're a **** (Richard?) Tracy wannabe or never go outdoors I would give the Verge a pass, and maybe consider the Stratos instead. And don't forget the Bip!

    ---------
    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    ---------
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Curious Beast from The East: Our Review of the Amazfit Verge started by acurrie View original post
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