I've worn this cheap Garmin alternative for 36 hours, and it's awesome

Amazfit T-Rex 2
(Image credit: Matt Evans)

When reviewing smartwatches, I tend to wear them for around two weeks or so before passing judgment. This allows me the opportunity for the watch to track my sleep for a week, take it on a few different workouts, and get a feel for the watch - but I just have to tell you about this one.  

The last watch I tried was the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, and I’ve since switched to a watch that’s less than half the price - the Amazfit T-Rex 2, which retails in the US for $229 and £219 in the UK. 

However, after just two days with the watch, I’m really rather impressed with it. It’s got almost as many of the functionalities of a premium adventure or best running watch like the 955 Solar, at a more affordable price. 

To start, the Amazfit T-Rex 2 is comfortable, looks great, and has all the personality of a real rugged adventure watch. Its much-touted “military-grade toughness” hasn’t yet been tested (I’ll be putting it to the test at the upcoming LoveTrails festival in Wales this weekend), but the watch is said to be resistant to temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and as high as 158. 

It’s satisfyingly weighty at 66.5 grams, and the metal-sprayed polymer case and the thick, ridged silicone band look and feel premium and suitably "adventure-ey". 

The similarities to the Garmin persist through its purpose (it’s designed primarily for triathletes and adventurers) to design, right down to the button signature. There are four instead of five buttons, but a metal protrusion occupies the place where Garmin’s fifth button would sit. 

Amazfit T-Rex 2

The Amazfit T-Rex 2 (Image credit: Amazfit)

The watch’s operating system and default watch faces are more evocative of the Apple Watch, with rings that fill based on your activity level and simple app access. 

The simplicity is actually incredibly refreshing, not overloading you with information initially: a quick scroll down allows you access to the weather, your last workout, heart rate, sleep stats, blood oxygen and activity level, although this list is customizable. 

Best of all, the battery seems to be lasting well, which is always a concern with cheap watches: two days in and we’re down to 91%. 

Recently, I wrote about how we’re often overpaying for smartwatches and fitness trackers and not using most of the features. 

So far, the Amazfit is proving you can find a smart device that is light on price, but big on features and a quality build. I’m excited to see what the next twelve days of adventure hold for me and the T-Rex 2. 

As an alternative to the high-priced premium watches it's great so far. The big question is whether it can match up to both premium offerings and the best Garmin watches in its weight and price class, like the Garmin Instinct 2

The original Amazfit T-Rex has dropped in price down to under $100 - if you see some great deals on the T-Rex 2 in the coming months, after its new-product sheen has worn off, you may be in a position to grab a top-quality adventure watch at a real bargain.  

Matt Evans
Fitness, Wellness, and Wearables Editor

Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.