I recently acquired the Amazfit Bip "smart" watch. It is a solid improvement over the Mi Band 3, but there are many quirks that remind you that you're using a ~$70 device rather than a real smart watch.

The Amazfit Bip smart watch

First off, it does not "seem" to be able to measure heart rate on-demand. On the Mi Band 3, you simply needed to scroll to the heart rate page and long press the dot to begin measuring. At first glance, the Amazfit Bip does not have this feature. However, digging more into the watch pages shows that opening the "Status" page appears to trigger on-demand measurement of your heart rate.

Next, it occasionally does not show the current temperature on the "Weather" page. Most of the time, it only shows the high and low temperature for the day. Sometimes (when it feels like it?), it will also show the current temperature.

Another quirk is the inability to show emojis when notifications come in. Despite having a color screen and being able to show the icon of the app sending the notification, it cannot seem to understand emojis, and will just display a [?] instead. This is obviously not a hardware limitation, as there exists custom firmware that can enable this feature easily. I'm guessing the Amazfit Bip 2 will have support for emojis.

On the subject of firmware, Xiaomi did not put a lot of effort into supporting new users of the Bip. For some background, the MiFit app comes bundled with firmware binaries and assets inside the package. When you link a device with the app, it will update the firmware of your device if necessary. Each new version of the MiFit app may come with new firmware. At the time of writing, the MiFit app is at version 4.0.2.

When I received my Amazfit Bip, its firmware version was at 1.1.2.05. I noticed that people online were talking about 1.1.5.xx firmware, and I had no idea why my firmware wasn't updating. The official FAQ suggests reinstalling the MiFit app, deleting Bluetooth data, and rebooting the phone. I tried all of that and it still didn't update. I also tried manually flashing the firmware bundled with the 4.0.2 MiFit app using the Notify & Fitness app. It failed with an "Invalid firmware" toast popup.

Almost giving up, I tried flashing the firmware bundled with the 3.6.0 MiFit app. That finally brought me to the 1.1.5.xx line of firmware. I then upgraded incrementally to 4.0.0 (success) and 4.0.1 (fail). 4.0.2 also failed. After waiting a few more hours, the official MiFit app finally showed signs of recognizing the old firmware.

MiFit app finally showing firmware updates

This whole ordeal updated me to the latest 1.1.5.36 firmware. I think it's disappointing that the average consumer would never see a single update to their Amazfit Bip if they bought it recently. The MiFit app should be smart enough to upgrade even the oldest firmware, even if it has to do so incrementally.

Software problems aside, the Amazfit Bip is quite incredible. It has an always-on display, which makes it at least as useful as a real watch. The transreflective display performs amazingly well in the sun. Even if you never connect it to your phone, the Amazfit Bip can still show the date, time, steps, heart rate, etc, and last weeks on a single charge! I highly recommend getting the Amazfit Bip if you're looking for an entry-level smart watch with great value.

June 10, 2019 | 2 comments

Comments

Nice! I like this post!

DD | June 12, 2019

:)

Michael | June 13, 2019
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