First runs with the new STRATOS Triathlon Watch

Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

The Amazfit STRATOS seemed to me to initially be a cheap and cheerful low-end watch that someone had photoshopped up very nicely. It looked like it might even be runnning Google’s WearOS.

Of course; that’s ALL totally wrong.

Amazfit STRATOS Garmin 935

Amazfit STRATOS Garmin 935

The STRATOS looks AWESOME when close up in real life. It has a carbon-fibre-esque shell and a beautifully smooth, large and round touchscreen display. The colours on it are AWESOME. Far, far better than anything Garmin, Polar or Suunto have ever produced to date. If you’ve played with a WearOS watch like the LG Watch or Mobvoi Ticwatch then it’s something akin to that level of quality display. The interchangeable strap is alright and, if not, HEY! it’s interchangeable.

Amazfit STRATOSThe smartwatch side of it is super-clever. You can ‘find my phone’ and see the connected 7 day weather forecast. You want onboard music? You got it. You want a compass? You got it. You want a barometric altimeter? You go it. You want Garmin-levels of sportswatch feature-booty? You got it. Sleep tracker? Stopwatch? Alarm? Continuous HR? Lots of sports profiles? Steps? Inbuilt training programs? Watchfaces? Vibrations? Auto-uploads? Training targets? Custom pool sizes? You got it, you got it, you got it. What if that ALARM screen (or any of the others) annoy you? Don’t worry, you can turn them completely off and hide them

For about £150 or $200 you can buy one … if you know where to look. The English-language models ARE now available. Some people are buying the Chinese versions and ‘flashing’ the ROM…don’t do that.

Amazfit STRATOSIt’s a 3-button touchscreen and that’s where the troubles start. I’ve been using it for about a week and the button-presses seem to change what they do each time I use it. I think it is the logic of the buttons/screen/UI but I’m STILL not entirely sure !! The touchscreen is alright when you mean to use it as a touchscreen but, hey, it’s a touchscreen. A touchscreen on a sports watch.

It’s time for that elusive first run.

You can pair up with your BLE headphones for onboard music and with a chest strap but that seems to be it as far as BLE sensors go. No footpods or cadence sensors or power meters though. That’s the first sign we are NOT targetting the Ironmen and serious triathlon Age Groupers.

You fire up your triathlon profile and it sometimes takes a little too long to lock onto a GPS fix but we’re talking about 2016 levels of wait not 2011 levels of wait. It supposedly has GLONASS. While you’re waiting you can configure some alerts or marvel at the 3D data settings. And then you notice it’s already picked up your heart rate from the onboard optical heart rate monitor and the readings look about right….super cool.That will do nicely, thank you very much Mr Amazfit (or Mrs…)

Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

Garmin 935 Amazfit STRATOS Suunto SPARTAN Trainer

If you want to change around the data fields then you have to do that on the app. That’s OK and a little in the style of WAHOO with the ’tiles’. We like Wahoo. And now we like the STRATOS too 🙂

An on-screen countdown (sometimes) does its thing and you are off. I’m looking at one of 3 data screens for pool swimming, 6 metrics on the first screen. Yummy. It’s auto-locked the touchscreen for swimming…doh! Well that’s DOH to all the other vendors  who have a touchscreen that don’t do that!! Nice move Amazfit. The buttons are a little bit ‘old school button’ and I don’t like them but they are a nice size, larger than normal and with a positive press and you get a positive vibrational feedback. So that’s pretty good to use, I suppose.

You do your funky sports stuff and save the results.

The post-workout summary screens are awesome in their pie-charty, graphical wonderfulness. There is some Firstbeat goodness thrown in for good measure. You can manually save a GPX file on the watch (strange choice of file format I know) or blast up your outdoor run or bike workouts to STRAVA via the AMAZFIT app.

Jumping back up to the app your VO2max and Training Load rear their beautiful heads. No doubt the results are as accurate as the optical heart rate readings you’ve just taken (ahem). There will be another post today about GPS accuracy on the STRATOS but as a hint on HR accuracy…BUY A HR STRAP.

The altimetry really is not great – I’ve seen other reports to the contrary. The optical HR can be alright and the GPS is just about acceptable. Now I’m grumpy again. 🙁

On the positive side the battery seems pretty decent. It does eat through the juice when the beautiful screen is on and especially when it is cranked up to 5/5. But all beautiful screens cranked up to 5/5 eat juice…it’s their thing. Maybe the STRATOS wont give you 30 -odd hours of GPS+sports usage BUT BUT BUT it certainly will NOT need charging every day. The point being: it has a sensible battery. You are NOT going to do a HIM or IM so don’t worry about the battery too much.

I’ll say that again. IT HAS A SENSIBLE BATTERY. FINALLY. JEEZ. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT PEOPLE? THIS STARTUP (ish) has just done it.

Amazfit deliver loads of features in their first tri watch … Suunto just do it too please, you have the hardware to compete with Garmin…Amazfit do NOT!

But. I remind you of the price tag. IT’S CHEAP. I might even say that again in a minute in case you haven’t got the message.

Amazfit Stratos Amazon

Best Amazon/REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $199/£150/Eur160 and will stay around that level in 2018, possibly rising slightly due to popularity. Buying from my partners supports this site

The Amazfit STRATOS is never going to rank as the best running watch,  or the best triathlon watch or even the best running watch with music. However if you change ‘best’ for ‘best value’ then it becomes a contender

Summary

So that’s a super-quick, semi-serious run through

The ambition of AMAZFIT with the STRATOS is fantastic. They have gone to a very deep swimming pool and jumped right in the deep end. Luckily they can just about swim. There’s work to do on this. But their front crawl is as good as mine (well… almost)

But they REALLY HAVE done a bit of research. They seem to have meshed many of the things that Suunto, Garmin and Google (WearOS) have tried to do with their interfaces and they seem to broadly know what they are doing. The 3-button touchscreen interface is a compromise and some of the onboard sensors might cause them AND YOU problems BUT people who are buying their first triathlon watch may well not care about all of that sensor accuracy stuff and, in any case, may not even realise. I can guarantee, if nothing else, they are going to have a rather EXCITING toy to play with.

Amazfit STRATOS Garmin 935

Amazfit STRATOS Garmin 935 and lots of on-screen reflection from a rushed photographer…sorry

I’m not sure if the STRATOS will ever support additional sensor types (power meter, footpod) or custom multi-sport profiles (brick, duathlon, otillo), or multiple sesors of the same type – so it will never be a pro tri watch; even with firmware upgrades.

I need to do a bit more detailed analysis on how the STRATOS works AND THAT WILL FOLLOW IN A REVIEW but it’s safe to say that the STRATOS is not going to threaten the high-end models of the triathlon world. Ever. However if I were Garmin and Wahoo and Polar and Suunto I might well be quite worried about what they come out with next. Or, indeed, I might even be worried about how a device like this can take away the sales at the lower end of the tri watch market from the Garmin Forerunner 735XT and Suunto Spartan Trainer.

Once again I remind you of the price tag. It’s cheap. It even seems to work…

The STRATOS could be an early incarnation of a Garmin…lots of features but some bugs and hardware issues too. But, hey, that didn’t seem to do Garmin any harm did it?

Detailed Review – Available

The highly detailed review is now avaialble.

▷ Amazfit STRATOS Review – Triathlon Watch with Music

Recommendation

Would I buy one? 🙂 well I clearly did for this review (I really did, it’s not a PR freebie).

I’ll probably keep it to see how the watch develops but it’s not targetted at someone like me who at least tries to take triathlon seriously. WITH RESERVATIONS, it’s worth a punt if you are strapped for cash. You should be able to work through any sport-related feubles you find with the STRATOS and complete your workouts and races.

Amazfit Stratos Amazon

Best Amazon/REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $199/£150/Eur160 and will stay around that level in 2018, possibly rising slightly due to popularity. Buying from my partners supports this site

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58 thoughts on “First runs with the new STRATOS Triathlon Watch

  1. I would never pay for this content. If you want money please make more quality content and less teasers, and finance yourself through “ordinary” ads. So let the content decide – not this “ransom” of sorts.

    • PS some stats for you: a genreally good figure for bloggers’ ad revenues from ‘ordinary ads’ is CPM=$6 ie $6 per thousand displays. But that has to be a real display of the loaded ad. ad blockers may more than halve this due to their widespread use. So with 1,000,000 gross annual real views @$3CPM a blogger could make $3000pa. But then a blogger with ‘only’ 1million views will not attract a $6cpm rate and furthermore those rates do not include ‘bounce’. so the content doesn’t “decide” (in your words) to make anyone a living except those who have the super, super popular sites. Mine is NOT one of them by a loooooong way.

      • bxcxc did not comment on how much money can/should You make. He mentioned that this level/quality of content is not worth paying for. And I would agree with him. I dont intend to me mean on You, Your site is nice, loose comments and thoughts on running/cycling/triathlon stuff, from training to races, from gear to gadgets, and I like it. But it’s not on a level of quality that You can charge to read it. For me, it’s a bit disappointing You chose to go this way…

        • You don’t have to pay to read it. It’s free.
          For EARLY ACCESS to a small amount of the content that I consider is worth paying for – newsworthy or stuff that will help a purchase – then that is premium content for a few days
          Being clear : I DO NOT want to do this but there is an industry wide problem where people turn on adblockers. There are other issues too…
          I think what I have done is a very reasonable compromise. I fully understand that some people would not like it. If what I have done becomes detrimental overall then I will stop it.
          PS: he mentioned financing through ordinary ads..this wont work for the reasons i explained above

  2. Awesome ™ review.

    There’s a bunch of squishy goodness in this watch. Great screen, great price, great battery life. But then there are these “step-on-a-lego” problems.

    -Right side only buttons
    -No Ant+ support
    -No external sensor support beyond a chest strap
    -Questionable ecosystem longevity

    On that last one, that’s just my mindset. How long will this company exist? How long will this device be supported? Companies with LONG histories just seem a safer bet.

    Sure, there’s a lot going for it, even us that own higher-end Garmin watches can find a lot here (Dat price!!), but the shortcomings of the watch abovementioned… they have me withdrawing my hand and as I tell myself “Nah, I have more with what I have now.”

    I mean outside users like me, that thing might be the premier watch released this year and the “get this watch if you want something like this but don’t have something like it yet or don’t want to break the bank.”

    Yep.

      • Yes, I know who Xiaomi is. Let me amend it to this: How long will these devices be supported worldwide in all the markets they are available in.

        Xiaomi, while here stateside, has a small fingerhold in the American market. Couple this with the most recent trade-war with China. Not only this–but there is a sentiment of security concerns with Xiaomi devices here in American.

        Whether it is true or not, there would be concerns about using one…and if the company just up and abandons support on the USA side of the market if they find people shying away.

        That’s also my lowest point of contention in my list (which is why I put it last). The physical issues would keep me from buying one (that and it really doesn’t do much more than my Forerunner 935 does).

    • Da Price Da Price. yes. It HAS got things the 935 hasn’t got…quite a few of them. But pretty much none of them are performance/tri related. It’s sooo. pretty. I like a bit of faux carbon fibre as much as the next person, I love a pretty screen as much as most people but, err, no. I’ve not yet worn if for any club sessions 🙂 But I like it…look I’m British…IT HAS THE WEATHER ON IT..that’s the killer app for a UK-triathlete 😉 I need to have a serious play with it before I start saying all is good with it in tri world.

  3. Have you had issues comparing the HR to other models?

    I’m working with the Stratos right now as well and it seems it doesn’t correctly handle GMT times in the GPX files…

      • I have to manually edit the GPX file and replace the time codes, as it doesn’t seem to know the time zone I’m in, and there is no way to set it up.

        I’ve had different issues with the Amazfit, but so far I’m impressed considering the cost…

        • i’m not at that stage with it yet but i don’t think i had quite what you are describing (??TBC)…too many other things. it;s probably not going to be accurate with any of the sensors. i want to play with it first to see what the real limitations are eg the button presses from swim to T1 to bike (etc) are wierd and slow.

          • Shoot me an e-mail so I can show you what I mean and I’ll send you some files.

            The problem is that since the watch is not using correct GMT time zones, the graphs won’t align properly (ie, the GPX from the Amazfit is 2 hours in the future), so you have to edit the file in order to change the time.

            Or messing up completely the times and having to manually correct the graph, but not recording the full workout into the file (even when I stopped the watches at the same time -https://www.correrunamaraton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Amazfit-Stratos-2-sensor-1.jpg-). Well, it’s Android in the end…

            I also did one (chilly) openwater swim and did not get any GPS track (?).

            And yes, I also find the tritathlon transition changes wonky and slow.

          • You’re right, I’ve tested a different tool and it handled it in a different way, not using the GMT times in the file.

            Anyway, I’ll keep working on the review, I’ll let you know if I find something else worth mentioning (like not being able to configure WiFi password with the iOS app).

          • In Tri mode you hokd down START button until transition mode starts, then short press START again to begin next event….

  4. Excellent review. So, how do I use this watch in a indoor context (weight lifting, cardio, P90X etc) as I read that there are no indoor profiles for the ones I had mentioned.

    How is the app on the phone looking? Is it as good as Garmin’s?

    Please advise.

    Thanks.

    • There are run indoor and eliptical profiles. You can use any profile you like. i doubt the optical hr will be accurate in the uses you describe (same for any wrist based optical watch)

  5. Thanks for the review and thanks for buying one too ! I thought it might be quite large but it’s not too bad actually compared to the 935 based on your pictures. It seems to be a lot thicker though, that’s one thing I like about the 935’s form factor.

    Will you be taking a closer look at the Firstbeat data ? Especially since it has a few more (and some missing) compared to the 935.

    • 🙂 yes. am looking at FB stuff today /tomorrow in relation to the 645 and also in general…i think i coverde something like that in the fenix 5 review tho? will have to check.

    • It is sold as a multisport watch. Triathlon includes running, jogging is just slower running. so yes same applies.

      • I know what is triathlon, what I want to say is that this watch maybe is good enough for some people who do basic training like jogging or amateur – begginer runners. In my opinion if I use an hr belt I will be fine and I will have the firstbeat’s vomax!

        • The watch is great for any running. I find interval training and intense bursts, the optical HR is bad. It has been great for normal jogging. On the trails, street, and track.

  6. Great review! The Stratos sounds like a great entry level triathlon watch and has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works in my mind. I had been set on buying the Suunto Trainer as a budget level tri watch, but now this seems to have the Suunto beat on a few things;

    – GLONASS,
    – Battery life,
    – Barometer,
    – Onboard music,
    – Slimmer,
    – Cheaper

    Intrigued to find out whether the Stratos performs as well as it suggests it will? It does seem to be punching above its weight if it can work effortlessly and can back up what its is advertising.

    I know you haven’t had the Stratos long, but would be very intrigued to find out which you think is a better triathlon watch; the Amazfit Stratos or the Suunto Trainer?

      • Better as in overall performance of the watch, which is more accurate, which has the better measurements, which one is easier to use, which is of better build quality etc.

        Hypothetically if both had power meter support, which would you spend your money on? For me I’m not sure I’m going to use power meters, although that could change. At the moment I just watch a watch that tracks my workouts, gives me an idea of heart rate, has good battery life, can record my triathlons and overall is a good sports watch but I’m struggling to decide between the two. If I buy the Stratos will I be longing for the Trainer in a few months? Or vice versa?

    • I own a Suunto Ambit3, Polar V800, Garmin Fenix 5x. But I find I am wearing this watch the most because its size, beauty, and screen. All day HR and fitness tracking is awesome. Screen is amazing. Its great for daily running. Ill wear my Polar or Suunto to trail race in, but this for every day. 160$ is a deal. I have Hokas that cost more!

  7. I bought one to compliment my collection of Suunto, Garmin, and Polar devices. I am pleasantly surprised at its accuracy of the GPS. The iPhone app isn’t terrible either. Its actually kind of simple but contains what you need to review your workouts. I find the HR accuracy is bad at high efforts, so I will wear a BT strap for intervals and tempo runs. The build and screen are beautiful and I love it as a daily watch. I am seeing roughly a 30hr gps life on the trail with BT turned off. I find the 3 button layout just find for use. Lets you disregard the touchscreen if you don’t like it. The altimeter works well, but you need to let the gps lock in real well so it can have a solid updated GPS altitude to correlate its baro altimeter to….My music plays fine from it to my Airpods and paired with my iPhone and Wifi just fine. I think its an Amazing deal for 199$ or 159.99$ with the GETFIT discount code. Should make a great ultramarathon watch. And you can charge it while in use!

  8. Please, did someone used Stratos for indoor swimming, what metrics does collect, does it collect accurately, HR monitor in the water, swimming trening load and resting time. Thank you.

    • training laod will likely only be as accurate and useful as the oHR. i will cover that in my review later. if you use a chest strap (non water usage) then the onboard firstbeat algorithms should work properly. ohr wont be accurate in water (can’t remember right now if it collects it)

  9. Doesn’t it wear a bit thick as a daily watch compared to say an FR935? I guess it’s a great value if you’re starting from scratch or upgrading from an FR305/FR405 but if you own a fairly recent Garmin starting with the FR920?

    PS – I haven’t found it possible to get the captcha recognized when posting from Chrome/Android, am I doing something wrong ?

  10. It’s a disappointing watch it’s so promising but the heart rate sensor and calorie count is the worse on any watch I had the watch on all day been to the gym and out with the kids all day and only burned 500 calories. That can’t be my Fitbit versa at this point had 2700 so where is the discrepancy?? Terrible such a shame as the watch looks hot

    • it looks like the calorie count comes from EXERCISE -only. firmware could change that i guess.
      that calorie figure will then come from heart rate
      yes the heart rate is not great. as stated in the review i would have to use a chest strap, or alternate device.

  11. Nice review, I’m curious how accurate the ‘real time’ pacing info is? I have the Bip and the pacing info is really inaccurate (until post event upload)

    • you could buy a $700 garmin fenix 5x plus and still find incorrect instant pace
      only way for accurate instant pace is a footpod
      stryd Live is the best footpod for that

  12. I agree with the HR accuracy, it seems to handle lower heart rate alright but once i hit 170 and above , it shot up to 202 and refused to back down even i slowed to a walk, so a HR strap could be needed

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