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.

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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 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 Amazon 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 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 Amazon supports this site

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triboysam
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triboysam

they seem to be out of stock.i want one.

bxcxc
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bxcxc

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.

Justin
Member
Justin

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.

Peter
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Peter

‘How long will the company exist?’
Read up on Xiaomi : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaomi

Justin
Member
Justin

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).

Peter
Guest
Peter

I share your concern, even with TomTom (!) and perhaps Suunto even in a way yes.

Eduardo
Guest

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…

Ron Ross
Guest
Ron Ross

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.

Webvan
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Webvan

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.

Manos
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Manos

Is it good for everyday jogging? Most of the people that do.. everything you are saying are about triathlon..

DLloyd
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DLloyd

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?

Clinton Cates
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Clinton Cates

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!

DLloyd
Guest
DLloyd

Why do you not use it for races? What do you prefer about the Suunto? Does the Stratos have a triathlon sport mode? Or would you have to set one up?

Sorry for all the questions, I just want to pick someones brains about the watch as I really can’t decide between this or the Suunto Trainer

Gerardo
Guest
Gerardo

know if the item work with STRYD?

Clinton Cates
Guest
Clinton Cates

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!

Lot
Guest
Lot

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.

Webvan
Guest
Webvan

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 ?

the3.1milerunner
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the3.1milerunner

test on win10 chrome

Test
Guest
Test

amp version chrome android

Lot
Guest
Lot

the5krunner wood you by Suunto spartan trainer or Stratos if price wood be almost same for them.

John
Guest
John

How’s the GPS accuracy?
i.e. if you run a 5k, what does the watch show?

Sascha Bresemann
Guest

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

the5krunner
Admin

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.