Amazfit Falcon review: A very good $499 multisport smartwatch | CNN Underscored

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When it comes to multi-sport GPS watches, you likely know the major players. Garmin, COROS, Suunto, Polar, and now even Apple offer high-end wearables that can go the distance with you, whether you’re running, cycling, windsurfing, kayaking, skiing, and more.

Amazfit, a wearable brand that’s known for its number of budget-friendly fitness trackers, is currently hoping to be considered alongside those household names with the introduction of the premium Amazfit Falcon. The new smartwatch costs $499 and tracks 150 indoor and outdoor sports (and automatically records eight of those, in addition to recognizing dozens of strength training movements to track reps and sets).

The Falcon, which runs on Amazfit’s Zepp OS, comes with Zepp Coach — a training algorithm that personalizes the watch’s recommendations to your fitness level — and is packed with health features like heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen readings and sleep tracking. In addition, it includes stress measurements, and pairs with major third-party apps such as Apple Health, Strava, and Google Fit for holistic fitness insights.

But is it worth the $499 price tag? After two weeks of testing, here’s what you need to know.

An affordable multisport watch

The Amazfit Falcon is a good, more affordable alternative to Garmin’s popular high-end multisport watches, offering great battery life and GPS functionality for the price.

Ashley Mateo/CNN

Out of the box, the Falcon looks super similar to several of my go-to outdoor watches. The frame is made from titanium and it has a sapphire crystal glass screen (it also has an anti-fingerprint coating). I didn’t take a battering ram to the device — the company claims it’s tough enough to pass 15 military-grade tests — but after multiple outdoor workouts, two strength training sessions with kettlebells, and a few attempts at dropping it from wrist height, I found nary a scratch or nick on the screen or frame. It’s also water-resistant up to 200 meters, although the most I submerged it was in the shower.

I fully charged the Falcon before setting it up, and after two weeks of wear I have yet to recharge. That’s standard for the device, according to the company; with typical usage, you should get 14 days on a single charge, which goes down to seven days with heavy usage. There are several GPS settings that allow you to get 21 to 50 hours on a single charge, or, in battery saver mode, the Falcon can last up to 30 days. When you are running low, it takes just two hours to fully juice up.

Easy setup, simple app and intuitive use

It took me less than five minutes to set up the Falcon. It pairs with Huami’s Zepp app, which will look familiar to anyone who’s ever used a Fitbit or other fitness tracking app; you can find all your main metrics — like sleep and steps — as well as recent activities on the homescreen, and clicking into any will give you deeper insights as to your own data.

The Falcon has a 1.28-inch always-on AMOLED screen that lights up with a flick of the wrist, and you can navigate using four buttons, two on each side. I found that once I clicked into a menu (like the workout options, using the button at the top right) it was easier to swipe up and down and side to side using the touchscreen capabilities.

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Ashley Mateo/CNN

Accurate GPS is one of the most important features in a multi-sport watch, and I found the GPS in the Falcon to be nearly as accurate as that of the Apple Watch Ultra during outdoor running and hiking workouts (during one run, the Apple Watch recorded 6.01 miles, while the Falcon recorded 5.93 miles; during a hike, the Apple Watch tracked 2.84 miles and the Falcon tracked 2.8).

Both devices use dual-band GPS (L1 and L5) for better accuracy in areas with tall trees or high buildings; however, that’s likely not going to be as accurate as the multi-band tracking a company like Garmin uses. One thing I did not like was the 10-second waiting period for the GPS to engage; it’s not a long time, obviously, but other watches I use engage almost instantly.

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Ashley Mateo/CNN

At 64 grams, the Falcon leans towards the heavier end of the wearable spectrum — which is to be expected for a more rugged watch. It’s not quite as hefty as the 89-gram COROS Vertix 2 or 76-gram Garmin Epix and it’s actually pretty comparable to the 61-gram Apple Watch Ultra, but it was significantly heavier than my standard running watch, the COROS Pace 2 (29 grams) and took some getting used to while wearing 24/7, especially while trying to sleep.

One of my biggest pain points while using the Falcon was the screen locking feature during workouts. When I wanted to swipe through the different screens to view different metrics, I kept getting a “screen locked” message that would prompt me to “press the button” to unlock. It’s the lefthand up or down buttons, but that wasn’t clear mid-workout and resulted in unintentional lapping of the workout multiple times since my instinct was to use the righthand buttons. (This may be a customizable feature, but I have yet to figure out a way to remove it.)

The Amazfit Falcon is similar to multisport watches from Garmin, COROS, and Suunto in terms of the metrics and activities it tracks, and even shares some similarities with the new Apple Watch Ultra. While it uses dual-band GPS like the Ultra, you’re unlikely to get as accurate GPS readings as a Garmin device; that company is known for its mapping and navigational features, and would be recommended for more serious outdoor adventurers.

However, at up to 30 days, its battery life, even with the best features engaged, is pretty impressive; it’s just a little less than what you’d get in the comparably priced COROS Vertix 2 or the slightly more expensive Garmin Fenix 7. I found the interface to be a little less user-friendly than in competitors, but I’ve also never used a Zepp-based wearable before and a learning curve is to be expected.

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Ashley Mateo/CNN

The Amazfit Falcon is a worthy competitor to top-of-the-line multisport watches currently on the market from Garmin, COROS, and more — especially since it rings up at $499, several hundred dollars less than Garmin’s popular Fenix line.

I was not thrilled with the constant screen-locking. Plus, the GPS and navigational features aren’t quite up to the high standards set by Garmin, but if you’re not a professional athlete or someone who’s venturing too far off the beaten path, that shouldn’t matter too much. For anyone who wants a more affordable entry point into the world of multi-sport GPS watches, the Falcon will get the job done well.

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