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Amazfit Bip 5 review: The best Apple and Samsung smartwatch alternative under $100

A ridiculously feature-packed watch with a big screen, great battery life and a surprisingly low price -- now even lower for Prime Day!

If you've been tempted to try a smartwatch but put off by the high prices of Apple and Samsung products, you and your wallet can relax: The Amazfit Bip 5 packs many of the same features found in much pricier watches but costs just $90.

Of course, it must have a small screen, limited fitness tracking, poor battery life and other shortcomings, right? Not so much. The Bip delivers pretty incredible bang for the buck, and while it's not without a few flaws, I think you'll want it on your smartwatch shortlist — and probably your wrist as well. Here's my Amazfit Bip 5 review.

Rick Broida/Yahoo News

VERDICT: This is Amazfit's best Bip ever, and that's saying something. There's an embarrassment of smartwatch riches to be found here, making this a top alternative to pricey Apple and Samsung models. The Prime Day discount is just icing on the cake.

  • Low price
  • Big, beautiful display
  • Tons of useful features
  • Excellent battery life
  • No always-on option
  • Minimal printed instruction
  • Companion app confusing in places
  • iPhone users can't reply to text messages
$80 at Amazon
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$80 at Target

One important note before getting started: The Amazon product page already shows thousands of user ratings, but nearly all of them are for a different, older model: the Bip 3 Pro (which ain't half bad either). Thus, you really have to ignore that average score, as it simply doesn't apply here. (For the record, I strongly dislike this practice of letting new products share a page with older ones, but Amazon doesn't seem interested in rectifying it. Lots of product sellers take advantage of it.)

The all-plastic Bip is available in black, white or pink. I tested the black model, which has a band that's definitely more on the dark gray side. On the whole I think the other two colors look nicer, but ultimately it falls to personal preference.

What stands out immediately is the 1.9-inch LCD display, one of the largest I've seen on a smartwatch. (The $799 Apple Watch Ultra is among the few that rival it.) Thankfully, it has the high pixel count (320 x 380) needed for such a generous screen size, and it's bright enough to read outdoors — though you may need to crank the brightness under direct sun. Alas, there's no ambient-light sensor to handle that automatically.

A side view of the Bip 5, shown here with a third-party watch face.
The Bip 5 is shown here with a third-party watch face I liked so much, I actually spent $2 on it. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

On the side of the watch, a single multifunction button can wake the screen, open the app menu or return you to "home" (i.e., the watch face). Within the Bip's companion app, you can configure a long button press to perform any of 27 (!) different functions: Start a workout, invoke Alexa (more on that below), check your heart rate, find your phone and so on. I love that, but actually found myself struggling to decide which option to choose. They're all super-handy!

To charge the watch, you connect a little magnetic dock to the underside and plug the other end into a Type-A USB port. The cord is short, measuring only 18 inches, so this could make for a challenging nightstand setup. And if you lose it, a replacement will cost you $20. On the plus side, because the Bip 5 can last well over a week on a charge, you won't have to dock it very often.

I don't love the wristband, a silicone job with a "tuck in" design. I frequently found it difficult to wrangle the end of the strap back under the band. It's a little challenging to remove as well because you don't have that end exposed; there's nothing to "push" into the buckle. Fortunately, except for charging, you'll rarely need to remove the watch: It's IP68-rated water-resistant, so it can stay on in the shower (or pool), and it can measure your sleep, so you needn't take it off at night. Also, there's a more traditional Bip 5-compatible replacement band available from Amazon.

The end of the Bip 5's wristband, shown tucked in and under the wristband.
This wristband is kind of a pain because you have to tuck the extra strap in and under, which is awkward. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

If you've never used a smartwatch before or you're not especially tech-savvy, be prepared: There's a learning curve, and Amazfit's included print manual says little more than "Download the companion app and follow the setup steps from there." (Thankfully, you can find a detailed manual online, along with a robust FAQ section.) That app, by the way, is called Zepp, so named for Amazfit's parent company. It's a rather busy tool, heavily focused on things like sleep and fitness, to the point where it's not immediately clear how to access watch settings and info. (Answer: Tap the Profile icon, then choose your device from the list there. Not super-intuitive, if you ask me.)

I will say that once you reach the device screen, you'll find a ton of options: which health-monitoring features to toggle on or off, what kind of notifications you want and all manner of watch-specific settings. There's such an abundance of these, in fact, that it can be kind of overwhelming — but it's easy enough to explore the menus and figure out what does what. (I'd rather have too many options than too few.)

For example, I noticed that one of the watch faces (of the dozens available) included a little weather icon, but the temperature was displayed in Celsius. Eventually I found "App settings" and was able to change it to Fahrenheit.

I'll start here because battery life has long been a key complaint with Apple and Samsung watches — most of which need to be charged daily. According to Amazfit, the Bip can last up to five days under "heavy usage" conditions, meaning with full-time heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring enabled, an hour of Bluetooth calling, three GPS-assisted exercise sessions per week and other battery-draining activities. That's already a considerable improvement over the competition (and, for what it's worth, about on par with what you'd get from a Fitbit Versa 4).

The Bip 5, shown with its charging cord magnetically attached to the back.
The Bip's charging dock is really just a short cord with a magnetic connector. Fortunately, you won't need it often, or long: A full charge takes only about an hour. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

In a more typical usage scenario, you can expect more like 10 days on a charge, and that leaps to a whopping 26 days if you enable battery-saver mode (which gives you basic watch functions and not much more). There are lots of variables that will affect your real-world battery life, but based on my testing, I'd say you should expect at least a week (unless you exercise daily for long periods).

As for recharging, it's barely an inconvenience: It took about 50 minutes to fully recharge the Bip 5 from around 5% battery remaining.

In addition to, you know, telling time, the Bip 5 smartwatch can perform a wealth of different tasks. It slings text messages and notifications from your phone, tracks your steps, collects sleep data and monitors your heart rate and blood-oxygen levels. On the fitness front, it offers a whopping 120-plus sport modes, seven of which (walking, running, cycling, etc.) it can automatically detect. (Shockingly absent from the list: pickleball. Come on, Amazfit! It's literally the fastest-growing sport in the world.) Onboard GPS provides very accurate tracking of your speed, position and so on.

The Bip 5 is shown with its phone dialing screen.
Calling Dick Tracy! The Bip 5 lets you make and take calls, even if you're an iPhone user. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

You can also make and take calls right on the watch, something that, for iPhone users at least, is rarely available outside the Apple Watch. At first I was a bit bummed because the speaker volume was too low, even when set to maximum. I could barely hear the caller. Then I thought to raise my iPhone's volume, and that helped. The Bip's speaker sounded surprisingly good, and my test caller said my voice came through loud and clear. Even so, you might have trouble hearing a call if you're outside or in a noisy environment, even with both volume settings cranked up.

As for messaging, Android users have the option of sending emojis or preconfigured "fast replies" to text messages. That's fairly limited but better than nothing. As an iPhone user, I'm stuck with nothing: iOS doesn't currently support messaging from any watch other than Apple Watch.

Thankfully, both platforms can take full advantage of an onboard smart assistant: Amazon Alexa. For this you'll need an Amazon account and the Alexa app on your phone. Once configured, you can ask Alexa (via the Bip) for all the usual things: weather info, sports scores, timed reminders and so on. If you have compatible smart-home devices, you can control them the same way. Although this does require your phone to be in close proximity (as it's the device that's actually processing all the voice commands), it's still a great feature to have on your wrist.

The Bip 5 comes with an assortment of useful built-in apps — Stopwatch, Breathe, Camera Remote, Find My Phone, Membership Card (used to display anything that has a bar code) and others — but there's also a library of additional ones you can install via Zepp. These range from 7-Minute Workout to a metronome to various simple games. There's even a client for ChatGPT. Most of these extra apps are free; a few cost a buck or two.

The Bip 5's app screen.
The Bip 5's app screen isn't in alphabetical order, but you can manually rearrange items within the companion app. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

In my experience, inexpensive smartwatches and fitness trackers tend to be pretty weak when it comes to fitness features. Either they're limited in what they can do or inaccurate when it comes to actual tracking — especially for sleep. Once again, though, the Bip 5 exceeded my expectations.

I tested automatic workout detection by going for a walk. About four minutes in, the watch vibrated and began a countdown timer for me to "enter" the workout (a slightly confusing choice of words). One tap and I was tracking my distance, speed, heart rate and so on — all of it already accumulated from the start of the walk. My Apple Watch works similarly, but usually doesn't detect my walk until I'm around 10 minutes in — and sometimes not at all. In this respect the Bip actually performs better than the much pricier Apple product, which I've often found frustratingly bad at walk detection. (On the other hand, the Bip failed to auto-detect my elliptical activity, even though that's one of the seven sports on the auto-detect list.)

Three screenshots from the Bip 5's companion app, called Zepp.
The Bip 5's companion app, called Zepp, is largely health-oriented, focusing on sleep and workouts. To access Bip settings, you have to venture into the Profile page. (Rick Broida/Yahoo)

I liked that the mid-workout status screen could be swiped right to access audio playback controls (helpful if you're listening to music or a podcast while exercising) or swiped left to pause or end the activity. Again, very similar to Apple Watch.

I also liked the fitness reminders, like "You've been sitting for an hour. Time to stand up or go for a walk."

Because the Bip 5 can easily last a week or more on a charge, you can realistically wear it to bed in order to capture sleep metrics. (An Apple Watch can typically get through a night as well, but it'll be in need of charging by morning — not very convenient as you're starting your day.) For testing purposes, I wore it a few nights and was surprised by how much it didn't bother me. I was also surprised that the data it collected — heart rate, sleep stages, total time asleep and so on — closely matched that collected by an Oura Ring and Withings Sleep Tracking Mat.

To put it another way: The Bip 5 proved a very good sleep tracker, and the Zepp app's Sleep tab makes it easy to digest all the details. Note, however, that if you want specific sleep insights, you'll need to subscribe to Zepp Aura, which costs $9.99 per month or $49.99 annually. My advice: Start with the data that's provided for free, then decide if you want more.

In addition to the aforementioned short charging cord and awkward wrist strap, the Bip 5 has a few flaws worth noting.

First, there's no always-on option; you have to raise the watch or press the side button to make the screen turn on. According to an Amazfit representative, the watch also supports tap-to-wake, but I couldn't get this to work consistently. There were times when no amount of tapping would bring the screen to life. I'm not sure if this was the result of a hardware issue or some errant setting. Mostly, tap-to-wake seemed like it was broken — not a huge deal, but something Amazfit needs to address.

Next, the font for text messages and notifications is quite large, which can be great for those of us with aging eyes. However, I actually found it a little too large, requiring a lot of scrolling to see all the text. Unfortunately, there's no way to adjust the font size.

Finally, although you can enable notifications for many apps (and easily disable those you don't want bugging you), Zepp doesn't support all of them. For example, Southwest Airlines is on the list, but Delta isn't — and I mostly fly Delta (and definitely want those notifications).

I feel as though I've barely scratched the surface of what this watch can do, but rest assured it does most things very well. The more I fiddle with the Bip 5, the more "That's cool" or "Huh, impressive" moments I experience.