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Zepp E Circle review: All the beauty but missing some brains
Amazfit Zepp E Circle
What we like
What we don't like
There is a high probability that this is the first time you’re hearing of Zepp. That’s because our Zepp E Circle review is centered on the very first Zepp smartwatch.
You might be more familiar with Amazfit/Huami, which bought the Zepp brand earlier this year. Recently, Amazfit converted its smartphone app to the Zepp branding, which means we are likely to see a lot more Zepp smartwatches in the future. For now, it’s probably easiest to think of this watch as an Amazfit/Huami/Xiaomi-adjacent product.
With the Zepp E Circle, Amazfit is gunning for a premium smartwatch experience, and it definitely achieves that when it comes to the hardware. However, health tracking and app support is a different story.
Design and hardware: It doesn’t get much better than this
Let me just get this out of the way: the Zepp E Circle is not only one of the nicest smartwatches I’ve worn, but one of the nicest watches I’ve worn in general. It’s thin, light, and elegant, and its rounded infinity edges make it look way more expensive than it really is.
The 42mm case is only 9.1mm thick, making it much thinner than most competitors out there. For the sake of comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is 13mm thick, the Fossil Gen 5 is 12mm thick, and even the Apple Watch Series 6 is 10.4mm thick.
The model I received for this Zepp E Circle review is the Polar Night Black version with a real leather band. The band is a bit flimsy for my taste so I wasn’t too big a fan of it, but it still felt great on my wrist. Thankfully, the bands are interchangeable with any 20mm bands you can find online.
The bottom line is that if all you care about is the look of your smartwatch, you can’t go wrong here. If you don’t like the rounded look of the Zepp E Circle, you could get the Zepp E Square instead, which has nearly all the same specs and features but in a more Apple Watch-like design.
Zepp E Circle review: Specs
You can find the specs table for the Zepp E Circle below. However, I wanted to highlight a few things.
First off, don’t be swayed by the relatively small battery. Even though a 188mAh cell is much smaller than many competitor watches, the Zepp E sips on that power. I took the watch off its charger on Monday at 8:30 AM, and I didn’t need to charge it again until Sunday morning. That’s six full days of battery life during which I continuously tracked my heart rate, steps, and stress level. I also tracked a few brief bike rides and a six-mile hike that lasted around two hours.
The watch also charges quickly. It takes about 90 minutes to charge from zero to full. However, the charger is a proprietary two-pin magnet. That means you should be careful about tossing the charger in your bag with any sensitive electronics and that it won’t charge on any of your wireless docks or mats.
Finally, there is no NFC chip in this watch and no built-in GPS.
|Zepp E Circle|
416 x 416 resolution
42.2 x 42.2 x 9.1mm
Stainless steel construction
Proprietary magnetic charger
No wireless charging
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
No built-in GPS
5ATM water resistance
Smartwatch features: Just the basics
Since this is the first Zepp smartwatch, it would be unrealistic to expect there to be robust third-party app support. However, it’s worth stating upfront that there is literally no third-party app support on this smartwatch. That means no Spotify, no Google Assistant, no third-party health apps — nothing. It’s possible more app support could be on the way, but this is how it was during my review period.
With that being said, there are plenty of features here that should keep most users happy. There is a simple music controller that worked with every smartphone app I tried. Unfortunately, there’s no accessible internal storage on the Zepp E, so you’ll need to have your phone with you for music.
The Zepp E Circle has all the basic features you would expect, but that's not all it takes to be competitive nowadays.
There’s also a simple weather app, an alarm system, a compass, and a “Find Mobile” app that will ring your smartphone. Granted, these are all basic things you would find on any smartwatch.
The watch also offers a notification system that allows you to check smartphone alerts on your wrist. Unfortunately, there’s no way to respond to text messages from the watch. There’s no speaker or microphone, so voice responses are out. There’s no keyboard system, so typing is also out. Your notifications are read-only.
Now, those are all the things that the Zepp E Circle didn’t quite slam out of the park, but it did nail quite a few things. There are a ton of watch faces on offer here (all free during my review period), which is always nice to see. There’s an always-on display option you can use, although that will drain the battery a bit faster than if you don’t. You will also find a customizable hardware button, customizable widgets, and a battery-saving “Basic Watch” mode that Zepp says could double your battery life.
Fitness and health tracking: Lots of options, little accuracy
On paper, the Zepp E Circle is a health-focused buyer’s dream. It offers your standard step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and workout tracking. It also has SpO2, stress, and sleep monitoring.
However, during my time with the Zepp E Circle, I found the health tracking to be hit-and-miss. There were a lot of little issues that kept popping up. For example, I was in the kitchen cooking. I was walking back and forth from the oven to the counter to the sink over and over. In the middle of this, the Zepp E alerted me that I should get up and move around. Was it just not tracking my steps all that time?
Another example: during a high-intensity bike ride, I wore my Fitbit Charge 4 on one wrist and the Zepp E on the other. During the ride, my Fitbit was alerting me as I moved from zone to zone: Fat Burn, Cardio, etc. The Zepp E, though, stayed in the “Warm Up” zone for the entire ride. Now, it recorded all the info of the ride, but the watch’s real-time display didn’t let me know my heart rate was way up. This would be a huge problem for someone who’s doing high-intensity training and wants accurate heart rate data as they go.
Ultimately, this might be forgivable if the Zepp E data matched the Fitbit Charge 4, but it doesn’t. Check out the charts side-by-side for my heart rate during that bike ride (Zepp is on top, Fitbit is on the bottom):
Granted, these graphs are built very differently so it’s hard to compare them like this. However, I can tell you that the Fitbit recorded me at a 135bpm average with a peak of 157bpm. The Zepp E, on the other hand, says my average was 122bpm and the peak was 170bpm. Those are wildly different numbers.
As mentioned in the specs section, the Zepp E doesn’t have a built-in GPS. On that bike ride, I used the connected GPS feature with my OnePlus 7 Pro. I was able to compare this with the internal GPS tracking of the Fitbit Charge 4, and things matched up really well. This suggests that GPS tracking should be fairly accurate, although your phone’s GPS will have a big effect on that.
The bottom line is that the Zepp E offers a whole lot of health tracking, but the accuracy of some of that tracking might not be high.
The Zepp app: A good start
Most of the functions of the Zepp E Circle can be tweaked directly on the watch. However, there’s a whole lot going on in the Zepp Android app, and you’ll need to use it to get the watch up and running. It’s pretty much the previous Amazfit app, with a change of branding.
The onboarding process of the Zepp E is clunky, to say the least. I am pretty critical of Google’s Wear OS, but onboarding is one aspect where that operating system really shines. The Zepp app could learn a lot from it.
Zepp's proprietary smartwatch OS reminds me a lot of Wear OS, for better or worse.
As an example, at a certain point during the setup, you need to manually tweak your phone’s settings to ensure that the Zepp app’s activities don’t conflict. The app gives instructions for various phone manufacturers to do this, but OnePlus wasn’t on the list. Unbelievably, neither was Google, LG, or even Apple. This left me scrambling to figure out where the various settings are located.
Additionally, the Zepp app would sometimes stop syncing with the Zepp E. There were three times during this Zepp E Circle review that I needed to force stop the app, clear the cache, and then reboot just to get the watch to sync correctly.
Those are some big complaints, but I will admit that the Zepp app has a lot of good going for it. It’s fast with tons of settings tweaks, charts, and stats. It gives the user a high level of control over what the watch does and how the app integrates with the watch’s data. It also integrates with other platforms, such as Strava and Google Fit.
What Zepp needs most is to trim the fat, make onboarding easier, and localize the app for various markets. As it is now, the app is very clearly just a translated version of a Chinese app, not an app specifically catered to United States buyers. If it can do those things, the Zepp app will be killer.
Zepp E Circle review: Value, competition, and the verdict
At $250, the Zepp E Circle is no budget watch. For about $45 more, you can get the Fossil Gen 5, which has NFC, built-in GPS, accessible memory for music storage, and much more. And for $20 less, you can get the Fitbit Versa 3, which will likely give you more accurate data tracking while providing most of the same features as the Zepp E.
However, the Zepp E looks a whole lot better than either of those watches. It will also trounce a lot of competitors when it comes to battery life.
Overall, the Zepp E Circle is a good buy. Yes, there are a lot of issues I have with its lack of features and inaccurate health tracking. But hey, those things might not be important to every buyer. Some buyers just want a watch that looks great, feels great, and does the basics. That’s the Zepp E Circle.
One more thing: if you are an iPhone user, you probably shouldn’t even look at this watch. For $30 more, you can get the brand new Apple Watch SE, which will almost certainly be better in every respect than the Zepp E Circle. Of course, this only applies to iPhone users, as you still can’t use an Apple Watch without an iOS device.