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Amazfit Verge Lite and Verge review: Solid smartwatches at a bargain price

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
125
inc. VAT (£75 for the Verge Lite)

Both offer solid performance and great battery life but at just £75 the Amazfit Verge Lite is the smartwatch to buy

Pros 
Incredible battery life – especially on the Verge Lite
GPS and heart-rate sensor
Very keenly priced
Cons 
Chunky design
Pricier than the Bip
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Regular readers will know that the Amazfit Bip blew us away when we reviewed it a few years back. A smartwatch with GPS, heart-rate monitoring and a staggering 45-day battery life that somehow could be bought for around £50. Yes, there were drawbacks but nothing that would leave you feeling short changed from that kind of expenditure.

Now Humni, a subsidiary of Chinese giants Xiaomi, is back with a pair of new smartwatches: the Amazfit Verge and Amazfit Verge Lite. They look almost identical to each other but both offer an impressive amount for a relatively small amount of cash.

Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review: What you need to know

At a glance, the Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite look identical and even a closer look will only reveal a few tiny differences. I’ll get on to those later on in this review.

For now, here’s what’s the same: both have 1.3in AMOLED displays with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels and both have built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, ambient light sensors and IP68 waterproofing.

Both also have 390mAh batteries, which is a bit confusing given the first key difference, which is quoted battery life.

Amazfit Verge vs Verge Lite: What’s the difference?

Amazfit says that, while the Amazfit Verge will last five days with typical usage, the Verge Lite can manage a far more impressive 20 days.

This, I assume, is down to the features, internals and operating system. Amazfit unhelpfully doesn’t provide the core specifications of the Lite but we know that the regular Verge comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 512MB RAM.

The operating system is also different, which is a bit weird for two smartwatch siblings. Amazfit says that the Verge uses the Amazfit OS, which is “based on Android system”. Presumably this means Wear OS but, alas, I can’t confirm that. The Verge Lite, meanwhile, uses the same OS found on the Bip, which would go a long way to explaining how it delivers such impressive battery life.

Then there are the extra features. The Amazfit Verge has a built-in microphone and speaker both for calls and a hidden talent: Alexa. This isn’t like the Fitbit Versa 2 where text answers appear when you ask a question – a tinny Alexa voice will provide answers straight from your watch’s speaker. What a time to be alive.

There are other smaller differences, too. The Verge has 4GB of on-board storage (although only about 1.9GB available to users), and the Lite only supports seven different exercises compared to its sibling’s 12 but that’s about it.

Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review: Price and competition

All these differences add up to a price difference of about £50. The Amazfit Verge sells for around the £125 mark, while the Verge Lite goes for about £75.

Those are both competitive prices for a smartwatch but if you shop around there are some very good value options out there. If the Verge Lite is your price range, then consider the Amazfit Bip, yours for £60 or the Huawei Band 3 Pro for £80. Both include GPS, heart-rate sensors and will send notifications straight to your wrist.

If you have more than £100 to burn on the Amazfit Verge, however, then you have far more appealing options available. Firstly, the TicWatch E2, which is a solid Wear OS-based offering that’ll set you back around £145. If running and cycling is your life, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Garmin Vivoactive 3 which started life at £270 but now sells for under £150.

Our pick of the alternatives and where to buy them:

Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review: Design and features

Whether you get the Amazfit Verge or Verge Lite both smartwatches look nearly identical. Both have a circular 1.3in AMOLED face and a bezel that’s a couple of millimeters thick. They look a little plasticky and both are fairly thick, too, sticking up from the wrist by a good 9mm.

Although it’s not a bad look as such, the design feels a bit more childlike than something you’d get from Samsung or Garmin. This isn’t helped by the rubbery wristband they come with, although you can snap these off via the release pins and replace with something more to your taste. Beware, though, a different strap might look a bit odd due to the way the bezel moulds into the top of the bands.

A single context-sensitive button sits on the right-hand side of each device, which performs different duties depending on which screen or menu you’re using, and it performs a slightly different job on each watch, too. For example, on the Verge Lite, a long press from the home screen starts a run but on the regular Verge, Alexa opens to ask what you want. For both, it also functions as a back button from other screens.

Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review: Performance

Setting up the watch is also different, depending on which model you get. While the Verge uses the Amazfit app, the Verge Lite requires you to install Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app – the same one users of the Xiaomi Mi Band have to use. That isn’t a problem given the company clearly doesn’t expect you to own both watches but it’s an oddity all the same.

It’s pretty clear the Verge has more grunt than the Verge Lite, too. Sliding between menus is buttery smooth on the touchscreen of the former, while on the latter it’s a little more laggy, with the transition animation visibly running at a lower frame rate. I don’t want to overstate this – it’s not hugely off-putting considering the price – but when you have the two side by side it’s definitely noticeable.

Notifications aren’t handled brilliantly by the Verge Lite. While messages are perfectly readable on the crisp AMOLED screen, they have a tendency to bunch up. If you’re out and about and receive a WhatsApp message, you may just glance at it on your wrist and continue with your day. But if you receive a second one from a different conversation, the watch will show the first until you’ve actively dismissed it. There’s also, at the time of writing, a bug that means your watch will keep buzzing with the phone call notification even after you answer your phone. You can dismiss this but it’ll start buzzing again after you hang up, weirdly.

A minor point, but perhaps illustrative of the overall polish of the two watches: when the clocks went forward on 29 March, the Verge noticed immediately, while the Lite took a day to catch up.

Testing the fitness capabilities of the watches has proven a little tricky in these self-isolating times with the gyms closed and all parkruns canceled. In the absence of the aforementioned measured 5k test, I did the next best thing and took both watches out for a run with my trusty Garmin Forerunner 245 on the other wrist. Forgive the speed and time – it was my first run in three weeks due to said self isolation.

From left to right: Amazfit Verge, Amazfit Verge Lite, Garmin Forerunner 245)

Not too much difference there, which is a good sign. I’m inclined to trust the Garmin Forerunner 245 of these, because it almost always comes within 0.05km of 5km at parkrun, although it’s possible it was overestimating. That would put both Amazfits slightly off the pace, but not catastrophically so.

It’s also worth noting that they both took longer to lock on to a GPS signal than the Garmin, with the Lite lagging a further 20 seconds behind the regular Verge. It was also a lot less responsive to wrist movements: I had both Amazfits on the same wrist, and while the regular Verge screen sprang to life every time, the Verge Lite would often take two or three goes for the display to spring to life.

 

You may consider these sacrifices worth making for the battery life and, for what it’s worth, Amazfit’s magic sauce is once again in evidence here. Over the duration of that 24-minute run with GPS switched on the Verge lost 3% of its battery, while the Lite lost just 2%. Amazfit says you can expect five days from the regular Verge or 20 days from the Lite and, if anything, these numbers may be selling both a tad short. Which is, obviously, hugely impressive.

Sleep tracking is solid on both as well and, on this front, there’s no real difference between the two. The screenshots below are taken from different nights, but as you can see the data fields are the same no matter which app it’s displayed in – it’s just a touch cuter in Mi Fit for the Verge Lite:

Amazfit Verge and Verge Lite review: Verdict

As with the Amazfit Bip before them, the Verge and Verge Lite are pretty compelling but their higher prices mean they’re a touch harder to recommend, especially given the strength of competition these days.That applies to the standard Verge especially. Now that the Garmin Vivoactive 3 can be had for a similar price, the chunky plastic style of Amazfit’s offering is a bit of a turn-off.

The Verge Lite isn’t without its drawbacks, but at £75 it’s a lot harder to find anything offering similar features and finding any smartwatch that can match its epic battery life is nigh on impossible. For that reason, once again, it’s Amazfit’s cheaper offering that gets the nod from us.