T-Rex, economical smart watch with long battery life

The T-Rex is the company’s first rugged smart watch, and at under $140 it’s intended to significantly undercut competitors from the likes of Garmin, albeit without advanced features like blood oxygen tracking.

T-Rex, economical smart watch with long battery lifeAmazfit watches and fitness trackers are made by Huami, which is a public company funded by Xiaomi as part of its broad ecosystem. Huami is also the manufacturer for Xiaomi branded products like the Mi Band.

T-Rex is not the most premium device in the world according to price but it does feel pretty chunky and pulls off a reasonable G-Shock imitation. Official said it has 12 military-grade certifications that let it be operated in temperatures between minus 40 to 70 degrees Celsius (minus 40 to 158 Fahrenheit) and underwater up to 50 meters (164 feet). The cheapest feeling thing about it is the vibration motor, which doesn’t provide much in the way of satisfying haptic feedback.

Huami promises 20 days of battery life in T-Rex using with heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking always active. It charged 100 percent and put it wrist. A week later was at 64 percent charging left. You just start thinking of the T-Rex as a regular watch that will need to charge maybe once or twice a month. You almost never have to take it off. It’s great.

T-Rex is a smart watch with a nice 1.3-inch OLED screen that actually kept at a little higher than standard brightness because of auto setting too aggressive. It has GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, and pretty much everything you’d expect from a regular smart watch. The battery capacity of 390mAh isn’t out of the ordinary, and it charges with a magnetic pogo-pin cable like many other watches.

Huami uses its own Amazfit operating system in T-Rex rather than the notoriously power thirsty Wear OS. There is no third party app ecosystem, for one thing. That doesn’t bother me too much except for the fact that you’re also stuck with the 30 preloaded watch faces, none of which are customizable and only a few of which include useful things like weather data. If you just want a bunch of G-Shock-inspired designs, that’s what you’ll find here. But coming from the Apple Watch or Wear OS, options are pretty limited.

Software itself is basic but functional. There are 13 trackable activities in T-Rex including swimming, cycling, climbing, elliptical, and so on. You can access things like workouts easily enough, but it takes a lot of swiping and button presses. Simple things like automatically showing playback controls when listening to music are missing.

Notifications display just fine, but you don’t really have any way of interacting with them. The T-Rex leans heavily on the iOS or Android companion app for configuration, you can’t configure much on the watch itself.

Amazfit software as an advanced smart watch OS, but it does the job well enough that the battery life tradeoff will probably be worth it for some people with more passive use cases like fitness tracking and notification. Power users of more advanced smart watches from the likes of Samsung or Apple will find it a clear step down.

The T-Rex seems to be hard to buy in the US right now. It was on sale on Amazon previously, but the page currently lists it as unavailable. A Huami representative tells The Verge that it’ll return “in the coming months or so.”