Zepp E review TL;DR: a lovely smartwatch/fitness tracker that comes with a brilliant screen that falls short in distinguishing itself from its main competition, the Fitbit Versa 3 and the Garmin Venu Sq.
The Zepp E is as part smartwatch, part fitness tracker and an all around lovely little fitness wearable. It has a brilliant AMOLED screen and long enough battery life, definitely longer than the Apple Watch 6 SE, although admittedly the latter is a more expensive device, so it's not fair to compare the capabilities of the Zepp E to Apple's latest fitness wearable.
However, we can compare the Zepp E to the Fitbit Versa 3 and when we do that, some issues crop up. Considering that the Zepp E is the first iteration of the watch, it shows a lot of promise and should you find one at a discounted price, it is worth having a look.
Please note: I tested the Zepp E Circle so all observations are true for that model. The Square model has a different screen. Can you guess what shape it is? Otherwise both versions are essentially the same.
Zepp E: price and availability
The Zepp E comes in two versions: Zepp E Circle and Zepp E Square. the recommended retail price for both is £209 / $249.
Zepp E review: design and ergonomics
The large AMOLED display of the Zepp E is sharp and thanks to the lack of bezel plus the curved lens, it is definitely the main appeal of the watch. The screen is also responsive and there is no lag between the action of the user and the reaction of the watch either. The 326 PPI screen of the Zepp E Circle has ample amount of clarity and it is also vibrant and sharp enough to be read in broad daylight.
There is only one button on the side of the case: pressing it once will grant access to the quick link menu, long pressing it will take you to the workout menu. You can also swipe the screen left or right to access the different widgets including the summary of your daily activities, heart rate, PAI etc. The case itself is made of stainless steel but it's remains light nevertheless.
One thing that surprised me was just how much the cheap strap affected my value perception of the watch. The display and the case are lovely but the default strap just makes the Zepp E feels like a knockoff. It's a shame, and even though the band can be changed, it would be better if a decent strap was included in the pack.
The magnetic charger works fine and the charging time is relatively short too (approx. two hours).
There are 11 pre-loaded sport modes available on the Zepp E and most of them are centred on endurance sports such as running, cycling and interestingly, pool swimming. The data screens on the watch are pretty basic and definitely not on par with the best running watches, which is understandable, really. The Zepp E is not meant to replace the Garmin Forerunner 745.
The optical heart rate sensor did its job just fine and as long as you don't use the watch for really sweaty resistance training, it will provide close enough heart rate estimations.
I found the sleep tracking feature pretty accurate on the nights I wore the Zepp E in bed: it provides decent insights and the readings from the watch were on par with the Withings ScanWatch. Much like the Fitbit App, the Zepp App also gives you a sleep score based on the quality and duration of your slumber, gamifying health in the process. And also similar to the Fitbit experience, the Zepp E monitors sleep breathing quality and gives you a score for that too.
Zepp E review: the Zepp App and PAI
The Zepp App is based on the Amazfit App (it even says this in the app) and it's easy to use and provides a good overview of your activities and day. As well as collecting data from the watch, you can also add data to the app yourself by manually entering basic information such as weight and chest circumference but also more nuanced data such as blood glucose and blood pressure.
Another similarity with Fitbit is the 'Personal Activity Intelligence' score or PAI for short. PAI is essentially Zepp's version of Active Zone Minutes and much like that feature, it monitors heart rate levels throughout the day and logs fitness activities when your heart rate zone is in the correct zone, even if you are not logging activities as exercises.
The PAI system is based on the WHO recommended levels saying that "adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity." Your 7-day rolling PAI score is displayed in the app and on the watch too so you can keep track of your activities easily.
Does the PAI score help you get more active? I personally don't think so as people will most likely use it to feel better about their own activity levels without putting the work in. So, as opposed to looking at the PAI score and think 'gosh, I need another 20 PAI points this week, I'd better do a quick HIIT workout!', people are more likely feel good that they 'only' did a little less this week. The same goes to Active Zone Minutes so this is not a criticism of the PAI but similar features as a whole.
Zepp E review: verdict
The Zepp e is a pretty solid sort-of health-smartwatch offering. The features and the accuracy are on par with other smartwatches nowadays, maybe not the Apple Watch Series 6 but other smartwatches in the Zepp E's price range, such as the Garmin Venu Sq and the Fitbit Versa 3.
The screen is bright and responsive, albeit the overall value perception is hindered by the strap that makes the Zepp E feel a bit cheaper than it actually is. That aside, the large AMOLED screen is a joy to look at and thanks to the curved glass and the bezel-less design, should you find a decent strap, the Zepp E would look great on anyone's wrist.
The Zepp E is not a running watch and it has only a limited range of metrics it can track. It only has connected GPS so if you would like to use it for tracking outdoor runs, you'll need to take the phone with you. Surprisingly, the Zepp E tracks some swimming metrics, although not enough to make it a swimming watch, but it's an admirable effort.
The Zepp App works fine and offers a good overview of the metrics tracked by the watch. The PAI system could offer a good incentive to some to move more throughout the week. And since you don't need to log exercises for them to be registered as such, this feature could come in handy for people who don't like pressing their watches all the time but want it to record their activities nevertheless.
There is one big catch with the Zepp E though: the price. Not that it's too expensive – that comes down to each individual's budget – but that it's more expensive than the newly released Fitbit Versa 3, not to mention the Garmin Venu Sq. And admittedly, if someone is planning on getting a new fitness smartwatch, it's unlikely they will chose the Zepp E over more established brands.
Even the price wouldn't be an issue if the Zepp E offered more for the same price but it seems to offer the same as those mentioned above for the same price. should the price drop a bit, that would make the Zepp E way more appealing to the masses. Not to mention if it came bundled up with a more premium strap.
Zepp E review: also consider
The most obvious alternative to the Zepp E is the Fitbit Versa 3. The Versa 3 offers almost the same experience as the Zepp E but it has a few things going for it such as the more established brand, a way better strap, the Fitbit ecosystem and voice assistant on the wrist. Some might even argue that the user interface of the Versa 3 is better but that's down to personal preference. It also has built in GPS too and cost a little bit less than the Zepp E.
Yet another big competition for the Zepp E is the Garmin Venu Sq. The non-music variety is way cheaper than the Zepp E and the Venu Sq also has the whole Garmin ecosystem behind its back. The Garmin Venu Sq is capable of tracking more sport activities accurately than the Zepp E.