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The Amazfit Stratos 3 is one of the latest models that have reached the Huami watch range that, in the last year, is growing totally exaggerated. Amazfit now has a lot of watches like the GTS, GTR, Verge... but the Stratos range continues to be the model for sports practice.
The Stratos 3 is the direct renewal of the Stratos (or Stratos 2, depending on the market), a model that has already stood out in the past for its good price/performance ratio, something that has attracted the attention of hundreds of users.
The recipe remains the same. The Stratos 3 is very similar to the previous model and offers features like barometric altimeter, Firstbeat metrics, music playback, etc., but now it has changed the optical heart rate sensor to a new and more capable one in addition to renewing the user interface.
I spent a few weeks using the Amazfit Stratos 3 on a regular basis. This time I borrowed the watch from one of the readers of the page (thank you very much Aaron!) , which will return to its rightful owner as soon as I finish the test and review and click on the post button.
Remember that if you want to help the site by making these reviews possible, you can do so by purchasing through the links I provide. It won't cost you any more than you normally would pay, but the seller will allocate a small percentage, which is what pays for the work I do.
I'm going to do a quick review of the watch telling you what's going on like in the Stratos 2 and what has changed, and I will go directly to see how sensors behave now, which was my main criticism of the previous model.
- Internal sensors working well
- Low price
- Newer and better UI
- Despite the renewal in the interface, it still has some somewhat chaotic submenu
- Training tracking platform somewhat limited
- Some translations needs a review
- NFC not working outside China
A quick view of the Amazfit Stratos 3
At first glance there are not many differences with the Amazfit Stratos that I reviewed in 2018. The watch bezel has a different design, but what is most remarkable is that we go from the three buttons in the previous model to a 2+2, in which between the two main buttons we can find a double button to move up and down on the screens and menus.
The watch case is still made of polycarbonate with carbon fiber look, something I did not like from the previous model and still disliking in the new one. The silicone strap is better to the touch and more comfortable than the previous model.
The quality of construction is good and highlights the use of quality materials despite the watch price. Ceramic bezel, steel buttons, glass lens... touching it gives the feeling of being a quality product, perhaps not like a Fenix 6 or an Apple Watch, but it is of higher quality than its low price can make us suppose at first.
The screen is touch enabled and allows you to handle the user interface in the same way as the buttons. An interface that has been redesigned and is now easier to use, taking advantage of the touch screen perfectly.
By swiping from left to right we access the phone notifications and from right to left to the watch “apps” menu. We also access the same menu by pressing the bottom button.
They are not applications as such, nor does the watch allow you to install new applications. These are simply functions that we have that, instead of being displayed by a series of menus and submenus, they are sorted in the form of icons.
Sliding from top to bottom we find widgets, small information screens with details such as barometric pressure and altitude, sleep status, training status, etc.
It is add or remove widgets, as well as enable or disable them, all from the mobile app settings.
Regarding this, the Stratos 3 significantly improves the previous model, whose menu was somewhat more chaotic in terms of its displacement.
Where there are not many changes is in the sports performance or in the settings of the sports profile. On the latter there are two adjustments that we need to take into account. One of them is in the sports profile options on the watch, where you need to select how many data you want on each screen, from three to five (in Stratos 2 we could reach up to six).
This selection will apply to all data screens, which means that if you select three, all screens will have three. You can't have one with four, one with five, etc. What you can do is have three data screens on cycling and four data for running, for example.
The second configuration we need to make is to select which data we are interested in viewing on the screen. We can access the full list and select which one will be active or not (right column) and the order in which they will appear (left column).
Here you need to count data fields and remember the selection you made on the watch, so that you order them in the position that interests you. So you might have to add some data to take an empty space if you want your other data shown in an exact spot.
The data field number to be displayed are not the only settings that have to be configured on the watch, there are other settings that can be configured within each sport profile and independently for each of them. These are the same settings we had in Stratos 2:
- Autolap (pretty obvious)
- Alerts:Lap warning, heart rate warning (by zone or by number) or pace
- Real-time metrics:The Heart Rate Monitor adds an additional display where it only shows a heart rate or pace indicator along with a graph (only if the display is unlocked)
- 3D data:For training or races where you will encounter a steep incline and horizontal movement is not "standard". Moving at a certain speed on a 20% slope does not cover the same distance as on the flat, so the watch will adjust the speed to provide a more accurate data, taking into account the hills. However, only use it in situations where you will actually have a significant drops
- Background color:black or white
From the app we can also create full intervals. It is not difficult to create them, although it needs a period of adaptation because it is not explained too clearly and the translations do not help either.
You can configure different intervals by distance or time, and also free interval until you press the lap button, adding a rest period and making that repeat as many times as you want. Within each interval we can select pace or heart rate.
It is also possible to alternate different intervals, for example a 4×400 with rests and then a 4×800. Simply add items to the list and mark them to repeat them.
In this mode the data screens are specific (not customizable) and do not present much information, although actually receiving the warnings if we are outside the desired range is more than enough.
Amazfit Stratos 3 features the same algorithms licensed from Firstbeat than Stratos 2. Huami has not taken the opportunity to incorporate any of the latest developments of Firstbeat or to expand with previously created algorithms.
It stands out the custom training plans. These workouts are available in the running profile, and allows us to choose between the recommended training for the day (which varies depending on the training load) or to select some other training target.
The Stratos 2 already had this. It is a similar concept to that of some Suunto, but not as advanced as the Polar proposal in the Ignite and Vantage. My criticism remains the same as in the past, it is an option that is buried in the settings menu of the sport profile rather than being part of the main functions of the watch.
Everything is based in TE (Training Effect) and depends on other variables, such as the estimated VO2Max , the recovery timefrom your past training history. That is, it is not a pre-determined plan but rather one that adapts as it learns from your training habits.
What has changed is the optical heart rate sensor. Huami has left behind the sensor of the Mi Band 3 (really bad) and replaced it with another one that just at first glance already looks rather better.
The sensor on the left is the new one on Stratos 3, the one on the right is the old one on Stratos.
Later I will go into detail into the operation of the optical sensor.
The training summary is the same as before, with an overwhelming amount of data. Numbers, charts, bar diagrams, etc.
Which is pretty much the same as the app shows after syncing the activity.
The amount of data displayed by the application is correct, and the platform provides basic information such as cumulative training load (in EPOC values) and an estimate of VO2max. It is not too much, but it will be more than enough for the vast majority of users.
Huami still does not make it easy to access the worktout file from the app or share it to another party beyond Strava. You have to scroll to the end of the activity summary and click on the export option.
After doing so, it will be visible in the memory of the watch (because otherwise, it would not be visible).
The app only lets you sync with Strava, but I didn't get it to work properly. As much as I linked my account through the Amazfit app, I've never seen a file sent to my Strava account. And I set it up with a different account than usual, to make sure there was no strange incident.
I won't get tired of demanding that the manufacturers give us easy access to the workout file. These are our trainings and workouts, we must be the owners of these files and we must be able to do with them what we deem appropriate. That file is necessary because maybe we will want to use it for for training platforms such as TrainingPeaks or Golden Cheetah, create a route, share it with a coach... whatever, but it must be within the user's reach.
I can think of a thousand simpler ways to be able to access that file instead of the one that's implemented in the Amazfit Stratos 3. But well, at least we have a chance to do it.
I also do not like that the platform does not save very old workouts. Without going further, I don't have available the old workouts I did in the past with Stratos 2, they don't appear in my account.
Route navigation has not undergone any changes. The watch supports GPX files, which you can download from Wikiloc or create with any compatible tool. Once uploaded to the watch's memory, you can access it from the sports profile options.
Route tracking options are very simple, there is no turn alert or route exit warning. On screen we will simply have the breadcrumb route that we must follow.
I also miss a screen with a route profile to check altimetry, something that is already being included in many models.
At least the watch has a magnetic compass that allows us to rotate at a standstill and allow the map to rotate with us. As for the zoom it allows a scale between 50m and 5km. Enough for a sporadic route navigation, but if you are going to frequent the mountain it will fall short of features.
Finally there is music playback, something for which there are no changes. We still have 4GB available for our MP3 files, but there is no support for downloading playlists from Spotify, Google Play Music or similar. I mean, very 20th century style.
It's simple and with few options, but at least it's there, which is a pretty important detail for a watch of the price of the Amazfit Stratos 3.
Optical heart rate sensor
The most significant change I've found in Stratos 3 is the new optical heart rate sensor. And I say it's significant because the previous one was really bad. Not that the current one is stellar, but at least it is more in line with the rest of the models on the market, which is of paramount importance to the Firstbeat algorithms I have talked about earlier.
Before I show you comparisons of different sensors, I would like to remind you of some basic aspects of optical sensors.
Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
During the several weeks I have been testing the Amazfit Stratos 3 I have had the opportunity to record many workouts, from which I have selected these that you will see below.
Let's start with something easy, a workout that although it was on hills, it's constant in intensity. There are no major changes and the only notable changes have been to stop waiting to cross some street.
At first glance you can see that there is almost total unanimity between the five graphs, but I have pointed out two areas that I want to zoom over.
The first of these is this intensity drop that occurs when I finish climbing one of the hills and start a small descent that ends in a pedestrian crossing, so I'm loosening the pace.
You can see how in the intensity decrease the chest strap is the first to descend (because it is measuring and not estimating). Suunto 7 is closely followed and with a few seconds behind the others come.
Therefore Stratos 3 is around the average, with a very similar behavior to COROS APEX Pro.
This second part, which I pointed out at the beginning, has drawn my attention to the irregularities that have generally been presented by all sensors. It's the only part of the workout that I have no explanation for.
It is a point I reach after running through a flat area and then descending, and then climbing a slope of 12% approximately. Intuition tells me that what altered the optical sensors was the variation in cadence. However, they are not huge differences either, it is simply that you can see how at this point there are things that do not fit together.
Let's go with another similar workout, although this is a flat fartlek, doing some sections faster than others. In the comparison there are the same members as before, except in this case it is the Garmin FR935 the one that is paired to the Garmin sensor and the COROS has dropped.
The start has been very complicated for the Suunto 7, requiring almost 10 minutes to find the right pulse. It is common for the onset of activity to be erratic (in fact Stratos 3 also suffers it), but it does not usually last that long. But once it found the right heart rate, it haven't abandoned it for the rest of the workout.
Again I have pointed out two decreases in intensity, which is the point where optical pulse sensors are always going to have the most complications.
And again the behavior is repeated with respect to what we have seen in the first example, with the Suunto 7 showing almost the same immediacy of response as the chest strap, while both Polar OH1+ and Stratos 3 have needed a second in both the rise and the decrease in intensity.
Now let's go with the most complicated workout that we can put on an optical sensor: short and intense intervals. In this workout the intervals are so short that the sensors hardly have time to increase or decrease the intensity and the cadence changes are very pronounced.
Honestly, I don't expect any optical sensor to be able to track them correctly. Technology is not at that point yet.
There are four blocks of intervals made, I will expand each of them to better appreciate the differences.
The first thing that catches my eye is the bizarre graph in the Suunto 7 grapch. It is a problem of exporting to GPX file and it is not a watch problem, but some platform error. I have already encountered these kinds of errors before when performing Suunto watches reviews.
However, in the app the representation is correct because it has less definition.
Regardless of the irregular nature of the file and what Suunto 7 does, we can pretty much see where it went even though it appears so strangely represented.
In the first block the Stratos 3 does the first two intervals correctly, but in the third it already begins to lose its composure, and does not recover until the complete block is finished. The Suunto 7 on the other hand, leaving aside the wrong points in the GPX file, behaves reasonably well. It does not have too much lag in either the rise or the decrease in intensity.
In the second block the situation is very similar, although here the Stratos 3 does not work in any of the intervals. The Suunto 7 more or less, although it is difficult to assess because of the difficulties presented by the graph.
Third and fourth block is more of the same. In this type of interval the Amazfit Stratos 3 is not at all comfortable but as I said before, it is normal. The technology isn't there yet.
As for cycling there is no surprise, it is mandatory to have an external heart rate sensor if we want to have good heart rate data, there is no other option.
To sum this up, it doesn't have stellar performance, but it's miles away from what the previous model offered. The change of optical sensor is noticeable and now it can be compared with the rest of sports watches.
It's not the best, but not the worst either. There are times when the behavior is perfectly good (constant intensity training or slight changes in pace), and others when we will still need a chest strap (short intervals, cycling); but it is a very similar situation to that we have with any model of Garmin, Polar or Suunto.
Like the optical sensor tests we have just seen, GPS comparisons are made in the same way: with watches accompanying me in my usual workouts. Carrying both the Amazfit and other models, and checking where the problems appear.
I don't have a defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
This is why I prefer to make this type of comparison instead of having a predefined route and assess it from this one.
Let's start with this workout where I compare the result of the Stratos 3 with the tacks of the other two watches I was wearing that day: the Garmin Forerunner 935 and the Suunto 7.
Bird's eye view doesn't seem to show a lot of discrepancies... but we're going to zoom in to see the details better.
In this area I have already passed the first two or three minutes of training and it is totally open, so things should be shown correctly. In general all three watches behave well, with some discrepancy of centimeters up or down, but a good result for all three even in the semi roundabout I pointed out at the most right point.
However, I made another mark on the Suunto 7 track. Until then everything had gone correctly, but at that point there is a small detour of the route. I wouldn't have given it any greater importance if it weren't for what I could see next.
It is something that it repeats again on more occasions. As I say above it is a fully open area (I'm running next to the highway), so there is nothing that can affect the signal. In the meantime, the Stratos 3 -red track- and FR935 -in blue- make a perfectly straight line.
Here things start to get complicated because I enter Puerto Banus and start running between buildings or even below them.
In the first area marked on the left is the Suunto 7 the one that nailed the route, while Stratos 3 changes sidewalk. Here we are already talking about several meters of error, although in general the track is positive because there are no major deviations. That positioning error can be seen in the track, but it won't affect us in terms of total distance or the pace that the watch is showing.
After crossing the roundabout, I make another mark. At that point I pass under trees and balconies of the building so the signal reception is very complicated, especially for the Amazfit Stratos 3 which is the one I carry on my right wrist. At that point it is the Garmin that shows more doubts, while Suunto 7 and Stratos 3 make a rather straight graph.
At the bottom of that picture is the way back I've made on the route. Usually it's always a complicated point, because of the signal that bounces from buildings and running under a row of trees. The three watches behave correctly this time, although you can see a slight shift to the right by the Stratos 3 and to the left by the Suunto 7. The Garmin, which is the one in the center, is the one that shows the correct path.
Let's keep going down the road. At the point I make the turn, bordering a block, the Suunto 7 shows some doubts, but it's worse when crossing the bridge again where it makes a rather strange turn.
The pattern that follows is very similar to the one I pointed out at the beginning when passing through the highway area. Meanwhile the Stratos 3 is very well entrenched on the route.
One of the points that I use most in the comparisons is this small turn that you can see in the following image. it is a very fast change of direction, as if it were a “chicane”, where the path to go is very narrow and quickly you can see which watch is more successful.
On this occasion it is the Suunto 7 that nailed the turn. The Stratos 3 draws it earlier while the FR935 is late to the party. However, despite how well it was going up to that point, the Suunto 7 deviates slightly further.
Second zone that I like very much for the comparisons is this next one, because of the accused turns and how easy it is to appreciate if there are errors by any of the watches I'm wearing that day.
In the right turn to the entrance to the bridge, I have to save a fence next to the road. To do this, I have to move to the right about two meters and then make a 180 degree turn. It is a twist that both the Garmin and the Stratos 3 have made correctly, but that in the case of the Suunto 7 it has opened too much.
The next conflicting point is the turn ahead (on the left side of the image), where the FR935 shamelessly cropped. For its part, the Stratos 3 cuts a bit of the corner and the Suunto 7 adds an extra meter.
Let's go with a different workout. This time instead of the FR935 is the FR945, and I add the COROS APEX Pro to the equation. The Suunto 7 remains on one of the wrists, because this way I take the opportunity to take data for its own review.
This is the same highway area where the Suunto 7 had behaved strangely in the previous training. However, this time it is not repeated again, so it remains in something testimonial of a single workout.
On the other hand, the Stratos 3 is quite solid, both in the previous graphs and in this one that we have now.
However with turns problems begin. At this point the Stratos 3 arrives quite dislocated and cuts the corner, but because it has already been far behind with the incidence (track in yellow color). Suunto 7 and COROS APEX Pro behave quite well, while the Garmin FR945 is quite lost, something that will be repeated throughout the workout on more than one occasion...
At this point I finish climbing up the hill that I started to ascend in the previous turn. It is a narrow street with trees on both sides of the road. The COROS APEX Pro draws a downright good path, the Suunto 7 cuts the corner slightly but without being too exaggerated.
The ones that do make an exaggerated cut are the Stratos 3 (which then goes long in the next turn) and of course the Garmin FR945, which hasn't heard too much of what the story is about yet.
And yet at this point it is the Suunto 7 which is completely separated from the other three watches. It may seem that its track is the worst among them, but truth told is that it is the only one of the four that hits the right side of the road, because I'm running down the sidewalk on the right.
Despite the fact that both COROS and Stratos 3 are displaced several meters to the left of the actual route, the graph they draw is correct; not like the FR945, which in addition to being even more displaced, has quite a bit of hesitation.
We're going to a very conflicting point with a very sharp turn. It is also a rise to 15% so the speed is very slow, something that does not help with GPS data because the points are very little separated from each other.
In general all four watches do bad at this point (as I say because of the low speed), although at least the Suunto 7 is the only one that understands the turn well.
Here I am already accelerating the pace, something that is perfectly noticeable in all the tracks (except for the FR945 that is quite lost again... I think I will have to make a full reset because it has some problems...).
In this zone of fast turns the behavior is positive on everyone's part. You can see a separation between the four because I have two watches on one side of the body and the other two on the other. That's why Suunto 7 and Garmin FR945 are shown on one side while COROS and Stratos are on the other.
All this about GPS, but I also want to show some detail of the barometric altimeter, something that in my Stratos 2 also did not work correctly.
However, it seems that it has already been solved in the Amazfit Stratos 3, so like the optical sensor, the barometer is another internal sensor that finally works as it should.
The graphs don't match because I didn't do an initial calibration. There is a strange situation in which the Suunto 7 and the Garmin FR945 start from the same point, break apart and soon after rejoin, but they are only a few meters apart.
But all the graphs are practically parallel, something I never saw in the previous model.
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Amazfit Stratos 3 opinion
Stratos 3 is a fairly continuist model with respect to the original Stratos, but improved in aspects that did not work in that model. Beginning with the change of optical heart rate sensor that was very needed, the one that Amazfit had used in the first model was totally unworthy of a watch with minimal sporting intent.
The problems I encountered with the barometric altimeter have also been solved, it is another thing that works as it should.
And the rest of the recipe... it remains untroubled. However, the price is slightly higher, but it is well worth paying that extra (right now about 50€) for having a watch that works as it should and does not have very low quality sensors.
It is a watch that will not satisfy all users, especially those most committed to sport. The customization options are limited, the navigation is very basic, the platform does not provide advanced information, it is very limited when it comes to incorporating external sensors... but what is the percentage of users who demand this? There are many other things that will make this model a super sales, such as music playback, cool aesthetics, good battery life, FirstBeat algorithms (the same as Garmin uses) and general basic operation.
A word of warning for the most common manufacturers? Careful, because now there are serious threats. Both Amazfit on the low end and COROS on the top end are starting to knock on the door, and increasingly insistently.
The Stratos 3 is still one step below the big ones, which does not mean that they cannot meet the needs of many users. But the distance that separates them is getting smaller and smaller, which is very good news for users as the battle escalates and forces all manufacturers to improve their product.
And with that... thanks for reading!