The Amazfit Neo is a bit of an oddball in Amazfit’s extensive collection of smartwatches. It doesn’t have a full color display like the GTS 2 or GTR 2. This is a hybrid fitness tracker that had babies with a 90s Casio, and we love it.
But it’s a Casio for the wearable tech generation. It sits in Amazfit’s sport category alongside the outdoor-centric T-Rex and Stratos sports watches, offering 24/7 fitness tracking and heart rate monitor.
At $39.99, this is the cheapest Amazfit smartwatch you can get on your wrist – and it’s small change. A perfect gift or stocking filler, it’s even cheaper than the Amazfit Band 5, and we’d say a lot more fun to wear.
You’re getting basic smartwatch features, an always-on display and the promise of up to four weeks of battery life.
Is there more to this hybrid than retro charm though? We’ve been living with the Neo to find out. Here’s our verdict on whether this budget hybrid is worth your time.
Amazfit Neo: Design and screen
Everything about this watch is about how it looks. It’s like no other watch in Amazfit’s range and, given the mix of features, very little like it in the world of wearables. it’s the device Casio should have made three years ago.
Available in black and orange case and band combo looks, you’ll get a rectangular, 40mm plastic case that’s very light at 32g and almost toy-like in feel.
It doesn’t feel badly made, but it’s what you’d expect to find from a watch that costs in the region of $30. It’s paired up with a 20mm polyurethane strap that has been comfortable to wear in general. It’s not the removable kind however like you find on so many Amazfit watches.
There are four physical buttons that let you take control of a 1.2-inch STN black and white display.
The two buttons on the left of the case let you select features with the top one and and the bottom one when held turns on the pretty vibrant backlight. The two on the other side let you scroll through functions. It’s all pretty straightforward to get to grips with.
Those buttons control a display that’s broken up into three sections. The biggest section shows off the time with the space up above displaying data from current smart function in use. There’s also a small circular section that displays an icon to indicate that feature.
In its entirety, the display set up actually works well. It doesn’t feel at all cramped and makes good use of the relatively small screen estate available. It’s never been an issue to view the screen and you get a nice, bright backlight to make sure there’s no issues viewing it at night either.
To add some extra durability to the lightweight watch, the Neo carries a 5ATM water resistant rating, which means it’s safe for swimming and showering. You just won’t be able to track what you do when you get into the pool.
Amazfit Neo: Smartwatch features
So what does a very affordable hybrid smartwatch that looks like a retro Casio watch get you in the way of smartwatch features? Well, not a massive lot, but there’s a few surprising things that do make the cut.
We’ll start with notifications where there is support for native and third party apps. You can’t read notifications on the watch, instead getting pinged with an envelope or message icon popping up in the corner to let you know it’s come through on your phone.
In addition to that very basic notification support, you can also view weather forecasts, a world clock option and the ability to turn on the do not disturb mode when you don’t want to hear that pinging notification sound.
It will also do that automatically when it recognizes you’ve gone to bed.
You can set a maximum of 10 watch display settings at any one time, which means you can pretty much get access to everything the Neo is capable of.
You can tinker with the display settings in the Zepp companion phone app where you’ll also find features like locating your watch and turning hourly chimes on or off.
As we said, it’s by no means the richest smartwatch experience you’re going to get. You’ll get more on that front from the cheaper Amazfit Band 5 fitness tracker.
That being said, there was something quite nice about keeping things simple. If you’re happy just knowing you’re getting a notification or being able to check in on the weather, then you’ll get on the with the Neo.
Amazfit Neo: Fitness and sports tracking features
The Neo promises to be your retro-looking fitness tracker and sports watch in one. It does that by including an accelerometer sensor to track movement and Huami’s BioTracker optical sensor to track heart rate continuously and during exercise.
It also offers support for Huami’s PAI heart rate-powered health scores, which use an algorithm to take your weekly activity and put it into a single score. Keep it over 100 to be reassured you’re getting enough exercise.
You can track steps, distance and calories burned all which can be viewed from the watch.
There’s a simple stopwatch and also the ability to use the accelerometer sensor to track running, walking and cycling. Though those tracking features weren’t available to us in our time with it and seems to be a pattern with Amazfit watches we’ve tested recently where features have yet to roll out.
We did manage to test the step tracking and found it was generally in the ballpark with the distance and steps recorded by a Garmin fitness tracker. The lack of an altimeter, means it’s not going to cover stairs climbed during your day.
The Zepp companion phone app collates that data long with showing when those steps happened over your day along with weekly and monthly step goals.
Step tracking compared: Amazfit Neo (left) and Garmin fitness tracking (right)
You can also monitor sleep and its lightweight body makes it a good fit for taking it to bed. It will track deep and light sleep stages and time you were awake for.
You can see heart rate during sleep, but there’s no REM sleep recorded so it’s not as detailed as Fitbit’s or Amazfit’s GTS/R watches.
You’ll get a sleep score and breakdown of sleep stages in percentages. There’s additionally some trends insights that usually told us were fell asleep too late on most occasions.
From an accuracy point of view, we pitted it against the Fitbit Sense and found actually that it did a pretty reliable job. It roughly recorded the sleep duration and breakdown of deep and light sleep stages. It even served up largely identical sleep scores.
Sleep tracking compared: Amazfit Neo (left and centre) and Fitbit Sense (right)
When it comes to paying attention to your heart rate data, we’d say it’s more useful for resting readings than it is for any form of exercise.
In general, it was within 1-2bpm for resting heart rate readings compared to a Garmin watch and a chest strap monitor. Though it had a habit of posting some rather excessive heart rate readings too. As much as 40bpm more.
Heart rate tracking compared:Amazfit Neo (left) and Garmin fitness tracking (right)
It doesn’t get much better for exercise. As we said, we couldn’t access the promised sports tracking features, so we just kept a close eye on the heart rate data during runs and indoor HIIT and rowing workouts.
What we found was that heart rate data displayed was generally much lower than what we recorded with a heart rate monitor chest strap. It simply wasn’t very insightful data to use.
This makes Huami’s PAI Health scores a little redundant here as well. It relies on good heart rate data to tell you whether you’ve been getting your heart rate rising regularly with exercise over the week to generate those scores. Based on our experience however, those scores probably aren’t the most reliable.
Ultimately, you’re going to buy this watch for its fitness tracking and not sports tracking. We didn’t have massive expectation with the latter, but it certainly does a good enough job with the former that would make us continue to use it.
Amazfit Neo: Battery life
With no power-sapping color screen and a small array of features, we expected big battery numbers from the Neo.
What you’ll get is a 160 mAh capacity battery that promises up to 28 days and takes a not so speedy 2.5 hours to get from zero back up to full battery. There’s a useful battery status watch display, which means you can keep close tabs on how much you have to play with.
In our time, we had the full works turned on. So that’s heart rate monitoring 24/7 sampling at every one minute, turning on the sleep assistant and having the full complement of notification support to ping us during the day. Daily drop-off was around 5%, which is a good showing and shows it has the capability of going the distance.
The Amazfit Neo is a bit of an oddball, but in a nice way. It’s a watch that wants to appeal to people that enjoyed the digital watch life where you kept things simple, but maybe yearn for some extra smarts. It keeps those smarts to the basics, but we liked stripping things back. You can definitely get more features from something like the similarly budget-tastic Amazfit Band 5 or Xiaomi Mi Band 5. If you have zero interest in owning a band-style device and like the idea of that retro look, decent fitness tracking skills and living a more simple smartwatch life, we think you might just like what the Neo offers.
- That retro look
- Well designed display
- Nice array of features
- Heart rate iffy during workouts
- Sports tracking MIA
- Can’t read messages