Anyone looking to improve their fitness has probably considered a smartwatch or fitness tracker. More often these days, the two are one and the same, and there are plenty of options, with the slickest rarely being cheap. But, Amazfit is aiming to offer an appealing experience at a budget price, and the Amazfit Core is one of its more affordable options.
We recently reviewed the $99 (£68, around AU$99) Amazfit Bip and like what it has to offer at the price, especially thanks to its Apple Watch-like styling. Amazfit seems to still be figuring things out though, because the slightly cheaper Cor doesn’t live up to its big brother.
Though the price is palatable for a tracker with smartwatch-like abilities, the Amazfit Cor suffers from unwieldy software and questionable tracking. Worst of all, it doesn’t seem like a lot of consideration went into the ergonomics and how that can negatively impact functionality.
Price and release date
The Amazfit Cor starts at $79 and is available on the company website and elsewhere, such as Amazon. The Amazfit online store offers free shipping within the US on the Cor.
The Cor only comes in black, and though the bands are removable, Amazfit doesn’t appear to offer alternate bands.
Availability outside the U.S. is also unclear. We are unable to find the Cor on Amazon in the UK, but we’ll update this review with any details we retrieve.
The Amazfit Cor has a simple design largely reminiscent of the Microsoft Band. It makes for a simple look, with a long, thin rectangular main watch section that transitions into the band. In form, it’s as much like a bracelet as it is a watch.
The front of the Cor is a mix of marine-grade stainless steel frame and 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass over a 1.23-inch color touchscreen display. That steel doesn’t wrap all the way around the watch body though, as the back of the watch is a hard plastic. A raised section on the back houses the heart rate sensor, and the charging contacts are nearby.
The Cor is water resistance up to five atmospheres (or 50m / 164 feet) of pressure, so swimming and showering with it on is totally acceptable. And, at 32 grams, it’s light. Amazfit states, “You’ll barely notice wearing it.” But, we noticed it, and usually for all of the wrong reasons.
Its likeness to the Microsoft Band isn’t a good thing. The flat, hard portion of the watch doesn’t feel good pressed hard against the wrist, and it needs to be snug for the heart rate sensor to work. Worse still, the watch piece and the band force the start of the straps curve. In other words, though the strap can accommodate wrists plenty larger than ours, wide wrist bones make for an unpleasant fit as hard bone and hard watch piece butt heads. For comfort, this is a small-wrists only type of watch.
The band is also somewhat tricky to put on tightly. One side slips through a loop on the other end, just like any other watch. But, a nub at the end of the first side handles the locking, and it’s hard to press the nub into a slot, and while trying, the other side of the band has a proclivity for loosening itself.
The screen layout isn’t ideal for notifications. Reading text messages is abysmal. So many words split because of the large font and vertical display. Reading multiple multi-page notifications just makes the nightmare worse. It was hard to pick one good example, but this one should do the job:
The screen itself isn’t too pretty either. It’s a visibly low-resolution display that succeeds at showing info, but doesn’t please the eyes. The UI, though responsive, is equally mundane, with no transition animations between pages or opening up tools.
The Amazfit Cor’s performance is murky. As a smartwatch it is wholly basic. As a fitness tracker, it is hindered by its design. In fairness, “smart” isn’t written anywhere on the Cor product page, but the Cor doesn’t have much of an excuse for falling this far short of the Bip, which is smarter, more comfortable and isn’t much more expensive.
The Cor offers a few tools: Status, Notifications, Exercise, Weather, Alarm and Timer. One handy tool is hidden away in settings: a “Find Phone” feature that will chime your connected smartphone if it’s in range.
Multi-tasking is sadly not an option on the Cor. We set a timer so we could know when our Chinese carryout would be ready, and then we couldn’t check the main clock. We were tracking an exercise, and during a break, we couldn’t see if we had any notifications.
The menus are semi-intuitive, and Cor is quick to respond while navigating. It’s a tad irksome that the screen goes off quickly, and when it does, it returns to the homescreen immediately, so any progress searching through menus is backtracked.
That quick sleeping screen surely helps the Cor get its advertised 12 days of battery life. The battery lives up to expectations, as we only charged it once to get our review started, and haven’t since. And, we put extra load on the watch by having it measure our pulse every minute, all day, every day.
One handy (at least on paper) feature that’s annoyingly off by default is the ability to turn the screen on by flicking our wrist. Perhaps it’s off by default because it works poorly, as half the time it didn’t work, and a quarter of the time is responds so slowly that we assume it didn’t work and try again.
The Mi Fit app that pairs with the Cor and other Amazfit devices is decent. It offers interesting information, like how our steps each day compare to those of other users, or explaining things with tangible measurements like how many pints of gasoline we’ve saved by walking or how many ounces of fat we’ve burned. Data visualizations are also eye-catching.
The app has some downsides though. Navigation is confusing, and it can be hard to find a setting you know is there. Plus, not everything is clearly explained. A page called “Behavior tagging” comes with no explanation, and presents a large grid of different activities. Selecting one prompts us to wear the watch and perform the activity. We thought this may be a way of training the watch to detect different motions, like brushing our teeth, but it seems this may just be a way to counting how many times you did an activity and how long you spent.
The app also struggled with updates for the Amazfit Cor. We were all ready to do an workout at the gym, and after having waited for roughly a half hour for the app to finish an update on the watch, the update failed, then began again. And, as with other things on the Cor, there was no multitasking. The update could not be cancelled on the app or the Cor, and it tried and retried several times that day. Needless to say, our workout wasn’t recorded.
The exercise tracking tool even shocked us with the way it counts time. While averaged out, it does keep fine track of time, but it’s disturbing to see a timer tick slow then fast and then skip numbers altogether. This just further contributes to the difficulty trusting the Cor to track activities accurately.
For Fitness, the Cor seems to accurately track steps. We counted our own steps for a couple blocks, and the step counter was within a few steps of our count. Beyond this simple capability, we’re not too confident in its performance.
Sometimes, the heart rate sensor appeared to be doing a good job of keeping track of our pulse. Walking down the block, slightly elevated. Middle of a run, pumping. Yet at other times it was transparently incorrect. At the end of a workout, when we could readily feel our pulse in our throat, the Cor claimed we had a cool 70BPM. We tightened it a bit to see if it would correct itself, but it didn’t.
After a run, the Cor again thought we had a relaxed pulse while we showered off, yet we measured our own pulse at easily over 120BPM. Perhaps in this case the water was interfering with the measurements, but that doesn’t bode well for the Amazfit Cor’s ability to track exercise for swimmers. It doesn’t get much better for swimmers since the screen is non-responsive when wet.
Part of the the Amazfit Cor’s difficulty measuring heart rates may come down to fit, but plenty of times we wore it uncomfortably snug, and still measurements were iffy. It seemed accurate during our run, but we weren’t happy to have it jammed into our wrist. And for workouts that include arms, the lack of flex in the band will be at odds with swelling muscles. We took it for a couple climbs, but couldn’t wear it tight enough to measure our heart rate without also digging into our muscles.
For sleep tracking, the Cor seems to get a good idea of when we go to bed and when we get up. And, since it’s motion tracking is fairly effective, we can trust that it knows when we’re tossing and turning. But, since the Cor struggled to get an accurate heart rate reading without being uncomfortably tight, we can’t say much about how well it factors our pulse into its measurements of deep and light sleep.
The Amazfit Cor should not be thought of as a smartwatch. On the one hand it’s a digital watch with a fancier touchscreen display, and a couple of more advanced tools. On the other hand, it’s a simple fitness tracker. It blends the features from each side, but sadly doesn’t do either terribly well, and is uncomfortable to boot.
In the ever-expanding market of fitness trackers and wearables, Amazfit has plenty of work to do to make a name for itself, and the Cor is not the device to make that happen.
Who’s it for?
The Amazfit Cor is for a budget shopper with small wrists who wants a pedometer, occasional heart rate tracking, and a touch screen. The water resistance and Gorilla Glass also make it a better pick for someone worried about ruining other watches.
Should you buy it?
There are watches that can do more, that are comfortable and that have better prices. While the Amazfit Cor isn’t an unmitigated disaster, we have a hard time looking on it favorably as little more than an uncomfortable pedometer with a few bonus features that don’t greatly improve our lives. For $20 more, the Amazfit Bip is a far better option in almost every way.
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