Cheap smartwatches are still crap! So when shopping online from China you need to be conscious of the cheap models.
We will help you with finding the smartwatches from China which are worth it. What are their differences? And where do you need to be aware of?
We pre-selected smartwatches which can compete with the better brands like LG, Samsung, and Fitbit. The main differences are the operating system (OS) they are using. Some use the known Android Wear 2.0, others use their OS, and some brands use a skin of the regular Android 5.1.
Which Chinese watches are good enough to buy? You will know in a few seconds!
We Preselected The Potential Better China Smartwatches.
– Huami Amazfit Pace 2 – Stratos – Proprietary OS
– Mobvoi TicWatch 2 – Ticwatch OS 4.0
– Mobvoi Ticwatch S – Android Wear 2.0
– Mobvoi Ticwatch E – Android Wear 2.0
– Huawei Watch 2 – Android Wear 2.0
– Zeblaze THOR S – Android 5.1
– Lemfo LEM5 Pro – Android 5.1
What to Look for when buying a Chinese Smartwatch?
What are the most important characteristics when we are going to compare
– Operating System
– Design (Thickness)
– Battery Time
OS – What Is the Difference Between Android 5.x, Android Wear, or Proprietary OS?
This chapter is important to understand when you are looking for a Smartwatch and especially from China. These different operating systems have pros and cons, I will try in short to explain the most important differences.
Android 5.1 Adapted
The use of a fully “adapted” Android version will give the watches more possibilities, but also essential downsides. It is actually a smartphone in a smartwatch case.
A full Android version will give the watch all features a typical smartphone has. Like, the camera feature to take pictures, calling or even video call. Of course, the watch needs those elements to make use of those features.
With this Android version, you can download all apps in the play store. Which sounds great but yet got some significant issues.
The apps are natively built for phones, which often have another screen dimension and better specifications. Therefore, you will often have navigation problems on the watch. Buttons which will not fit on the screen or all elements are ridiculously small and not readable.
There are third-party apps to overcome these small issues. However, you will have to fix it yourself, and even those apps will not always provide a 100% perfect solution.
Next, to the compatibility of the apps, there is another critical drawback. Because the watch runs a full “adapted” Android version but is far smaller to house essential elements like CPU, GPU, RAM, ROM, and Battery.
For the first elements, this will be not a huge problem, but the battery is on every machine an important and difficult element. Increasing battery time requires larger batteries. This will conclude into two limits as a result.
First, the watch with Android 5.x stock is often thicker. Most watches from China with Android 5.1 are around 15mm thick/depth. While the iWatch from Apple is between 11.5mm and 13.5mm dependable on which version.
Second, the standby/runtime is often not more than 8 hours. So you can hardly use the watch a full day when using normally.
Good Explanation About Difference Android and Android Wear
Android Wear 2.0
The main standard these days for high-end Android smartwatches is the OS “Android Wear”. At the moment you will have Android Wear 2.0 and they are expecting 3.0 later this year.
Android Wear is not like the regular Android open source, and brands need to have a license to use the software. The main advantage of Android Wear is the optimization for smartwatches. The OS is stripped into a lighter version to run on lesser specifications and batteries.
Next, to that, the apps for this OS are primary build for watches, and therefore the user experience will drastically improve. You will not find buttons outside the screen as mentioned with Android 5.1 versions.
The Google Play store is not as huge as with Smartphones, but you can undoubtedly choose enough to have fun! There are plenty customizable watch face combinations, and you can use the fitness app, Google Fit. The watch can download it’s personal apps and does not need a phone for that. Your watch is with Android Wear 2.0 a device which you can use independently without the requirement of your phone nearby.
In this case, you are completely dependable on the brand about releasing new features. Which does not have to be a bad thing, but mostly you want to have the ability to the largest market for apps, watch designs, and the newest features.
In our overview, the Ticwatch 2 uses Ticwatch OS 4.0 and the Huami Amazfit Pace 2 use the Huami OS (unknown real name).
The main advantage of a proprietary OS is the ability to reduce the options and therefore increase battery life. All apps and features are optimized for that specific watch ( that is what you should expect ) and consequently, it will run smoothly.
Screen and Material – What Is The Case Quality Of Chinese Watches?
What is the main reason those Chinese watches are far cheaper? At first, when you buy a budget smartwatch, you will always have some concessions one way or another. It is more about the completeness of the total package versus the price you need to pay.
If we look at the resolution of the screens, we notice some decent quality. Most high-end watches have a resolution between 300×300 or 400×400. If the screen is larger, you also need a better resolution to create sharp images (DPI). But overall this feature is pretty decent, also from our budget China smartwatches.
Screen Toughness / Scratches
The material of the screen differs in quality. There are two kinds of glasses which are commonly used these days.
Sapphire crystal glass is an extremely durable material, which is surpassed only by diamond regarding hardness. A sapphire crystal display is a stronger and more scratch resistant than toughened glass such as Corning Gorilla Glass.
Damage resistant glass (such as Corning Gorilla Glass or Asahi Dragontrail Glass)
The Sapphire glass is used in the Apple Watch 3 and therefore the best you can get. However, many high-end brands also use the cheaper ( and even good ) gorilla glass.
Watch Case and Band Material
This part differs from watch to watch. But it is obvious if you want a stainless steel strap instead of a leather or other fabric the prices will differ. But if we look at the cases we will see big differences in IP scores (water and dustproof). The majority of the Chinese budget watches is not that well capable of handling water, this is a problem an element where they economized their design.
|Huami Amazfit 2||Ticwatch 2||Ticwatch S||Ticwatch E||Huawei Watch 2||Zeblaze Thor S||Lemfo LEM5 Pro|
|Operating System||Proprietary OS||Ticwear OS 4.0||Android Wear 2.0||Android Wear 2.0||Android Wear 2.0||Android 5.1||Android 5.1|
|Battery Life||Up to 5 Days (2 Days with GPS)||1.5 to 2 Days||1 day||1 day||1.5 to 2 Days||5-6 Wifi and GPS||4-5 hours|
|Standby||–||–||120 Hours||120 Hours||–||48 Hours||100 Hours|
|Case Dimensions||46 x 46 x 15 mm||44 x 44 x 12 mm||45 x 45 x 13 mm||45 x 45 x 13 mm||48.9 x 45 x 12.6 mm||57.7 x 51.2 x 15 mm||48 x 48 x 15 mm|
|Weight||60 g||–||45.5 g||41.5 g||57 g||65g||–|
|Screen Size||1.34 Inch||1.4 Inch||1.4 Inch||1.4 Inch||1.2 Inch||1.39 Inch||1.39 Inch|
|Screen Protection||2.5D Sapphire Glass Panel||Anti Scratch Glass ( No Sapphire or Gorilla)||Anti Scratch Glass ( No Sapphire or Gorilla)||Anti Scratch Glass ( No Sapphire or Gorilla)||Corning Gorilla Glass||Corning Gorilla Glass||–|
|Resolution||320×300 Pixels||400×400 Pixels||400×400 Pixels||400×400 Pixels||390 x 390 pixels||400×400 Pixels||400×400 Pixels|
|Chipset||Ingenic M200S||MTK2601||MediaTek MT2601||MediaTek MT2601||Qualcomm MSM8909W Snapdragon Wear 2100||MTK6580||MTK6580|
|CPU||1.2GHz Dual-Core||1.2GHz Dual-Core||1.2 GHz Dual Core||1.2 GHz Dual Core||Quad-core 1.1 GHz||1.3GHz, Quad Core||1.3GHz, Quad Core|
|Memory||4GB||4GB||4GB||4GB||4GB||16 GB||16 GB|
|Sensors||Accel, Gyro, Heart Rate, Light, Compass, Vibration, Barometric||Accel, Gyro, Heart Rate, Pedometer||Accel, Gyro, Heart Rate, Compass, Vibration, Proximity Sensor||Accel, Gyro, Heart Rate, Compass, Vibration, Proximity Sensor||Accel, Gyro, Heart Rate, Light, Compass, Vibration, Barometric||Heart Rate, GPS, Pedometer||Heart Rate, GPS, Pedometer|
|Connections||Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi, USB||Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi||Bluetooth, GPS. Wifi||Bluetooth, GPS. Wifi||Bluetooth, GPS. Wifi, NFC||Bluetooth, Wifi, SIM||Bluetooth, Wifi, SIM|
|IP Rating||5ATM (50 meters waterproof)||IP65||IP67 (1 meter)||IP67 (1 meter)||IP68 (1 meter)||IP 67 (No swim/shower)||IP 55 (No swim/shower)|
|Price||From $170||From $180||N/A Yet||From $140||From $260||From $120||From $130|
Huami Amazfit Pace 2 – Stratos
This watch is a bit of a misfit in our selection, but certainly not in a bad manner. The watch from this test with the longest consecutive battery time, the battery will last 5 days with normal use. This is probably the case because they run their own Huami OS.
This watch will deliver less on the one hand but overpowers the other watches on the opposite side. It depends on what you are looking for as a customer. So hopefully we can help you with that decision, and create some visibility in the darkness.
This is the only watch from the selection which can be appropriately used under water. It is waterproof up to 50m, so swimming is not a problem at all. But, it does not have a swim tracker. A missed chance regarding my opinion. It has three hardware buttons which you can use for scrolling through the options, underwater you can only use these buttons. The screen is not responsive in the water.
Huami chose a transflective display instead of the better known and looking Amoled screens. The main reason for this is the ability to put off the screen and still be able to show the clock.
The proprietary OS has advantages (like the battery time) but also disadvantages. There are no third party apps available or watch faces, all features, and software available on the Amazfit will be delivered by Huami.
An honest review of these advantages and disadvantages:
So there is no extensive opportunity for personal preference. With Android Wear, you can choose the fitness app of the brand or go for the popular google fit app. That is not possible with the Amazfit Stratos.
It is able to track your sleep and receive almost every notification. However, you are not able to reply with the watch. The Amazfit 2 got an NFC chip but you can only use the Alipay app and not Apple or Android pay. Last but not least, for the user who also has other Mi devices. You can control those with the Mi home integration.
The Mobvoi Ticwatch 2 was one of the earlier Chinese smartwatches which could compete with the Android Wear watches. It runs their own skin of Android, which they call Ticwear OS. Besides the latter, it was very well priced against the more famous brand.
The Ticwear OS is regarding user reviews an excellent and useful OS. However, some people would rather see the ability to use Android Wear 2.0 on it.
Users are stating that since the announcement of Ticwear S and E the development of the Ticwatch 2 is not improving anymore, which is unfortunate.
Therefore they hope that Mobvoi will push AW 2.0 to the watch or that the community comes up with a solution (beneath a youtube video about the Ticwatch 2 running AW 2.0).
The watch does not have a sleep tracker feature. But the Ticwatch 2 is perfect for sporting activities (not swimming, it is not waterproof) and tracking, the heart rate monitor works like expected and if you are in the exercise mode, it will continuously measure ( only in exercise mode because of battery expense).
The Ticwatch 2 is one of the flattest watches we compare. It is only 12mm thick, which is about the smallest a smartwatch can get nowadays with all the needed features.
It has a 1.4-inch display which is one of the largest, but without increasing the case size, the Ticwatch 2 keeps neat and slim. The glass is surrounded by a brushed metal bezel, which creates an expensive feeling.
On the side of the case, there is a unique feature which is called ‘thickle’. This lets you control the smartwatch by stroking up and down with your finger, a friendly controlling mechanism.
The Ticwatch 2 is available in multiple different styles. There is an aluminum version but also stainless steel one (which is more expensive). It is splashproof, but you cannot use it for swimming activities.
The screen has an excellent resolution of 400×400 with anti-scratch glass. So the Ticwatch 2 glass is not from high standards like Sapphire or Gorilla glass. Therefore, it is more scratch vulnerable. Another issue which many people call upon is the unreadable screen in sunlight.
For general use, the battery can last for a full day. If you decide to limit GPS usage, it can continue as high as a day and a half on its 300mAh battery.
The reviews on Amazon will confirm this; many people are between 30% and 50% at the end of a 14 hour day.
Newest Ticwatch OS Version:
TicWatch S (Sport)
The new successor of the Ticwatch 2. With the major improvement to run on Android Wear 2.0. One of the cheapest smartwatches out there which opens up the Android Wear experience.
So the operating system is a good start, and according to user reviews, it runs very smoothly. Maybe because the used chip is the same as the Asus Zenwatch 3, Huawei Watch 2 and LG Watch series.
This Sports version is a bit more expensive than the Express version. And that is mainly because of a more accurate GPS. Which works great according to the user reviews. People enjoy this watch together with all available fitness apps. But there is one downside, it is not waterproof!
The screen is 1.4-inch with a resolution of 400×400, pretty decent and looks great. The glass is just like the Ticwatch 2 from anti-scratch, but not from the high-end Sapphire or Gorilla glass.
You can only use the watch on the screen, which will leave you with a fingerprinted screen after a while, they removed the beloved ‘thickle’ side swipe feature as used on the Ticwatch 2. Which is a shame because that feature works great with Android Wear and scrolling through apps or options.
Contradictionary, the voice control of this watch is incredible. That is because Mobvoi is also known for their voice control features.
The battery works for 1.5 days, but this is only the case when you switch of the always-on feature and start using the wrist gesture. However, you will need to charge almost all smartwatch types overnight.
It looks neat, it is just 13mm thick and does not feel bulky. The bezel with the green numbers and arrow is not functional and pure for the design. You are not able to switch bands, so you must be okay with the sporty look.
The Ticwatch S got a fair amount of sensors: GPS, E-Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Heart Rate Monitor, and GLONASS. But it is missing features like LTE and NFC.
A very comprehensive review of the Ticwatch S
TicWatch E (Express)
There is obviously not much of a difference compared to the Sports version. The major differences are the price, the case design, the GPS accuracy, and the possibility to switch straps.
User reviews also mention that the fitness app from Mobvoi itself is not that great ( this will even count for the S ), but that is no issue because you can pick every app you want in the Android Wear play store.
The leaving the always-on display feature is a battery guzzler. So deactivating it and use the intuitive wrist gesture will help to extend your battery drastically. You can recharge the Ticwatch E ( and S) in one hour! So you don’t have to charge it all night.
Just like the Sports version you are not able to swim with it.
Huawei Watch 2
If you want features, this watch is perfect for you. But you will need to overcome the lack of a premium look and the small screen.
The watch case is covered with a plastic body, and the straps are sweat-proof. The bezel is non-functional, and it got two hardware buttons for scrolling through options and apps. This could have worked better with a crown or rotating bezel ( or the ‘thickle’ Ticwatch option).
It is waterproof but just up to 1 meter, which is not enough for swimming activities.
The screen is with 1.2-inch tiny and without proper other control methods sometimes tenuous to find your way through the apps.
The tracking of GPS and Heart rate are doing remarkably well. But on the other side, the battery is not so reliable. According to the expert review, he experienced battery life from between 18 hours to nearly two days. But overall a smartwatch with a battery life of 18 hours is excellent ( this is without using it with a sim card).
You will have the possibility to use the watch with a nano-sim card. In this manner, you can use it completely independent from your phone. However, you will also need a second subscription from your telecom provider.
The features on the Huawei Watch 2 are excellent; it has NFC so you can use it with Android pay. And it got the following sensors: accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer, compass.
According to some reviews, the watch is not always performing smooth, some longer loading times when opening apps. Which was extremely ignorant when you will use the NFC and Android pay feature on public transportation. Where you just walk into a payment pile.
Lemfo LEM5 Pro
Difficult to find honest reviews about the Lemfo LEM5 Pro, the LG Sports look alike. Most reviews are from bloggers who only try to sell the product and don’t tell anything new or mention their honest opinion.
The specs for the Lemfo LEM5 Pro look great, but in practice, it is a whole different case. Of course, you need to consider the price. You are not able to find cheaper smartwatches with all these features.
But the effectuation is just not decent enough and for most users and disappointing.
According to our research, many users are complaining about the same issues. Issues which occur mostly because of the operating system ( Android 5.1). The price is attractive, but you certainly give in some user-friendliness with this watch.
– Battery short (only half a day max)
– Not able to keep properly connected with phone
– Apps sometimes ridiculously small ( this is because of non-optimized Android 5.1 ) – It is like a phone in a watch housing.
– It will probably not even stand a bit of rain.
– Gorilla Glass < Less than Sapphire ( but better than the Ticwatch screens! )
– with 15mm thick very bulky
So, in the end, it looks promising regarding design and specifications. But we are not convinced and would advise leaving the Lemfo LEM5 Pro alone.
Interesting Forum Discussion:
XDA Forum Discussion with Issues
Amazon User Reviews
Zeblaze Thor S
The Zeblaze Thor S also runs on Android 5.1. Therefore, it is bulky, with a disappointing battery consumption. Overall, I should consider it not as bad as the Lemfo LEM5 Pro. Though, it is certainly not an overwhelming product.
It is only for users who are not willing to spend $150+, and are aware of the downsides when using and configuring the watch.
We are starting off with the positive points for this watch. At first, the case is of stainless steel. This will give it an expensive look. Charging is easy and fast; it is complete within 1 hour. You can use it with a sim card, and the screen is of gorilla glass!
Contradictionary there are also some downsides. Charging is fast, but you will need that because the battery does not last for 5 hours with regular use. The GPS sensor is placed within the strap, which is not a good choice at all. Because of this, the signal is feeble, and you are not able to replace the belts.
Another issue is the poor connectivity with your phone, it will disconnect regularly. This is something to do with the Android 5.1 OS, all smartwatches with that OS have connectivity problems.
So, it is almost similar as with the Lemfo LEM5 Pro. Though, the Zeblaze Thor S is better looking (but still bulky).
Verdict China Smartwatches
At first, smartwatches from China which run on Android 5.1 with good specifications is simply not what you want. Those manufacturers need to develop and design something different to sell a proper product. Because the current solution is a real mockery and devastating for the Chinese smartwatch quality.
It’s clear, do not buy smartwatches with a stripped down Android 5.1 version
So what about the watches which offer us Android Wear 2.0. The OS is clearly satisfying, it works smoothly and there are enough apps and options to completely configure your watch in the style you like.
But there are some downsides regarding China watches with Android Wear 2.0. They are cheaper than the competition, but they also have some flaws. Which are mostly related to design and build quality.
They are not waterproof, do not have the ability to switch bands, have less quality screen glass and are somewhat thicker bulkier.
Huami Amazfit Pace 2 – Stratos
Mobvoi TicWatch 2
Mobvoi TicWatch S
Mobvoi TicWatch E
Huawei Watch 2
Lemfo LEM5 Pro
Zeblaze THOR S
Help Others, Share Your Thoughts
Comment below and share your questions and knowledge. Help each other with shopping in China, we all appreciate it.