How can you spot a dedicated runner or an endurance athlete? Just look at their wrist – if there’s a Garmin watch, chances are, they’re serious about either running or cycling or probably even triathlon. There is also a high chance that you are reading this review wearing a Garmin watch. Garmin has had a strong presence in India since it entered the market in 2006, and in recent times it has been recording yearly growth of over 30%. To anyone who has come to me looking for a running watch recommendation, Garmin has been the default choice – Garmin Forerunner 55 to a beginner, Forerunner 255/265 to a serious runner, Forerunner 955/965 for geeks.
There’s a noticeable change happening, notably with Coros, a Chinese company, leaving its mark, particularly with the Pace series. In 2020, they made a significant move by bringing on Eliud Kipchoge, as their global pro-athlete ambassador. Quietly, there’s another Chinese wearable brand making strides in this field, and that’s Amazfit – owned by Zepp Health (was known as Huami, and Xiaomi is a major investor in them). Amazfit GTR/GTS series has been my top recommendation for those starting out in running or on a tight budget. But their bold step into endurance sports took me by surprise. When Apple launched the Watch Ultra, Garmin responded swiftly with their Forerunner 265 & 965, packing it with an AMOLED display and touch features for endurance athletes. Competition sparks progress, and as Coros and Amazfit gain ground, I hope Garmin will respond with competitive pricing.
Okay, so let’s talk about the protagonist in the room – the Amazfit Cheetah. Straight out of the box, this smartwatch is a real looker. It comes in two shapes, round and square, and has an elder sibling called the Cheetah Pro. I got the round basic model’s round one. The Cheetah, priced at ₹21,999.00, packs touch-enabled AMOLED display, features 150+ sports mode like the outdoor and track running, AI-enabled Zepp Coach, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, inbuilt music player to name a few. It’s up against competitors like the Garmin Forerunner 265 and Coros Pace 3, but the Cheetah really stands out with its aggressive pricing.
Before we dive into the details, disclosures first. Amazfit India sent me this watch for Instagram content creation, but my plan from the get-go has been to thoroughly review it for the Indian running community for a fair and detailed review.
Amazfit Cheetah comes in two shapes – round and square. There’s a Pro version as well with additional features, but it is not sold in India yet. The round version, which I have currently comes in only one colourway - Speedster Gray. The watch is well-built and feels durable, and is something that has awed me from the moment I unboxed it. The round bezels are made of fibre-reinforced polymer, and the watch is functional with a crown, and back button, both on the right. The quick-release standard 22mm strap is made of liquid silicone and this honestly feels more comfortable when compared to my Forerunner 255’s strap. The back is made of plastic and packs in an optical heart rate sensor and SPO2 sensor.
Beyond that there are other sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, barometric sensor, and ambient light sensor. These sensors in the watch help it track your movements , detect altitude changes, and sense light levels to adjust screen brightness. The Amazfit Cheetah can connect to external heart rate straps and power meters through Bluetooth (v5.3), but does not support ANT+. For charging, it has two metal contacts at the back, which is used to charge using an Amazfit Proprietary charger. Overall, the watch weighs 32g without the strap and 47gs with the strap on, which is on par with Garmin’s Forerunner 265 but heavier than Coros Pace 3, which comes with a nylon band and merely weighs 30gs.
The watch boasts a 1.39-inch (3.53cm) round AMOLED HD screen with touch capabilities, reaching an impressive peak brightness of 1,000 nits – exceeding even my Pixel 6a mobile’s brightness. The screen is touch screen enabled, and honestly, this is where the Cheetah impressed me right out of the box. The touch is highly responsive. In comparison, I briefly used Garmin’s new mid-range Forerunner 265, which also has an AMOLED touchscreen, and the responsiveness felt noticeably mediocre. Amazfit Cheetah also supports different settings for Always-on Display (AoD), which might impact battery life significantly. One concern was that the Cheetah requires a full wrist lift to activate the screen, unlike my Garmin Forerunner 255 which responds with a slight wrist motion.
GPS and Running Metrics
Let’s get to the core of the running-watch, and that’s the navigation. Amazit Cheetah offers dual-band GPS, which means it can receive satellite signals from both L1 and L5 frequency bands, and supports satellite positioning systems like the GPS, BDS, Glonass and Galileo. The Amazfit Cheetah series introduces MaxTrack™, a dual-band circularly-polarized GPS antenna that reportedly offers 99.5% accuracy compared to a professional-grade GPS locator.
While all these sound well on paper, the real test was on the roads, and Cheetah did work well. 9 out of 10 times Cheetah has taken more time to lock in the navigation system against the likes of Forerunner 255, but once connected, there haven’t been any major connectivity problems.
Here’s a data dive-in from the same run:
|Garmin Forerunner 255
* The Garmin Forerunner 255 I own have had an altimeter calibration issue, and looking at the chart, I prefer Amazfit Cheetah here
^ Running Power was introduced after an update in November, hence the comparison is from another run.
Like other running watches, workout mode offers multiple screens with customizable data sets. The main screen defaults to displaying workout duration, total distance, current heart rate, and current pace. The second screen provides four additional data fields, while the third screen focuses solely on the current heart rate. Additionally, the fourth screen is dedicated to navigation, particularly useful if a route has been preloaded or imported. During interval training, an additional screen displays lap distance and lap time. It’s worth noting that these configurations remain adjustable even on-the-go during the workout by simply pausing the activity. Despite most data fields syncing accurately, I did notice a slight delay in the current pace field compared to the Forerunner 255.
The navigation path is not aligned to the roads when compared to Garmin. If you look at the navigation data comparison in a dense neighborhood with apartments and trees, the Garmin Forerunner 255 consistently follows roads, whereas the Cheetah tends to navigate unpredictably. Surprisingly, the difference in the distance is hardly different from Garmin. I unfortunately could test only in standard conditions – and could not assess their performance in excess heat or excess cold days, where the tracking accuracy might vary.
What impressed me most was the precision of the heart rate, cadence, stride length and running power data— almost mirroring my Forerunner 255’s accuracy. The watch also offers real-time training alerts like real-time performance, virtual pacer, cadence alerts, HR alerts, etc. Even the Vo2 max seemed on par with the Garmin watches. The watch records heart rate data for three minutes after your exercise ends, which is a great way to understand one’s recovery rate. Race prediction also is on par with Garmin, but I’m not sure why the last updated date is a month before, whereas Garmin updates it every day after the workout. Apart from outdoor running, Amazfit Cheetah supports trail running and track running. The watch supports offline maps, for which one can use the Zepp app to map and import the watch which is a swift feature especially for trail runners. Similarly one can also configure structured runs for interval training.
Other sports mode
Apart from the core running profiles etc, Amazfit Cheetah reportedly packs a total of 150 sports modes. Out of running, the two other features I have tried, and honestly loved, are Pool Swimming and Strength Training. Amazfit is water-resistant up to 5 ATM, meaning it can withstand pressures equivalent to being submerged in water up to 50 meters deep. In pool swimming mode, the watch was able to auto-calculate the distance based on the number of reps I did. This is where it got a little tricky. For instance, if I paused at the 15m mark in a 25m pool before finishing the remaining distance, it calculated a total of 50m. Nevertheless, this functionality seamlessly suits swimmers who complete a rep without breaks. Additionally, Amazfit also automatically tracks reps for exercises like squats and lunges. The array of available sports modes includes Triathlon, Climbing, Hiking, Jumping Rope, Yoga, HIIT, Belly Dance, Zumba, and more.
Morning Report, Zepp Coach
The Amazfit Cheetah packs the Morning Report feature which delivers weather updates, sleep, yesterday’s activity, and today’s schedule supported by Zepp Coach. Morning Report activates only when I raise the watch in the morning, accompanied by a gentle haptic vibration akin to a notification. While seemingly minor, I really love this and appreciate the thoughtful consideration given to even the smallest aspects. In contrast, Garmin sends the morning report an hour before the set alarm time.
Zepp Coach, an AI-powered running guide, tailors personalized running strategies aligned with individual goals—whether it’s completing a race or achieving a specific finish time. Amazfit claims these plans adapt dynamically based on current fitness levels, target race date and distance, and race objectives. Ranging from 5K to marathon distances, these plans also factor in the current fitness level to set realistic targeted finish times. In my case, the marathon’s fastest targeted finish time allowed is 3:19, which honestly seemed quite realistic. The training schedules appeared comparable to Garmin’s Coach, though I couldn’t thoroughly compare due to time constraints.
Zepp App & Integration
The Zepp app serves as the pivotal platform for syncing the Amazfit Cheetah, seamlessly integrating workout history and various vital parameters available. It also acts as a platform to configure structured workouts, set up Zepp Coach, manage watch faces, and control notifications. I liked how neatly it presented workout information on a single page, making it easy to access and review – unlike multiple tabs on Garmin’s Connect. Additionally, the Zepp app makes it effortless to add extra apps and stylish watch faces to your device, all accessible under one roof without the need for separate app downloads like Garmin Connect IQ for Garmin watches. It also allows workout information to sync with Strava, Relive, Google Fit, Apple Health, Adidas Running, and Komoot.
If you’re an Apple Watch user, you can skip this section. Garmin users like me aren’t as used to frequent charging—I find myself hunting for my charger just once a week or every ten days, depending on the training regime. The Amazfit Cheetah follows a similar pattern. Let’s start with the charging aspect: the Amazfit Cheetah uses a magnetic charging method with its proprietary charger, usually taking over 75 minutes to reach a full 100% charge. When it comes to battery life, the Amazfit boasts 14 days in smartwatch mode and 26 hours in high-accuracy GPS mode, slightly edging out other mid-range models with similar features like the Garmin Forerunner 265 and the Coros Pace 3. In standard GPS mode, the battery life expectancy extends to 44 hours, again outperforming the competition. Personally, I charge the watch once a week, and I’m pretty happy with it, especially considering its impressive display, which I thought would drain the battery much faster.
Smartwatch – AI Assistant, Music
The Amazfit Cheetah, despite being a running watch, it’s surprisingly smarter than one would have expected. It does all the usual smartwatch stuff: tracks your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and stress, even keeps tabs on women’s monthly cycles, and sleep patterns, and handles calls and messages. But here’s the catch: there’s no speaker, so you can only accept or reject calls, not communicate through the watch. It’s got Amazon Alexa AI voice help, but you’ll need the Zepp app for that. Plus, it’s got an inbuilt music player, though it doesn’t support any of the subscription services like Amazon Music or Spotify. Sadly, it can’t control phone music like Garmin can, something I miss, especially when I’m on the go. The display modes like sleep and theater mode are also amazing. Sleep mode, once activated dims the screen completely and lightens up only when you press the crown, whereas the theater mode disables always-on-display, wrist-lift mode and even notifications.
There’s so much to admire about the Amazfit Cheetah, and I genuinely wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, even to serious runners. In fact, it’s become my everyday go-to, not just for running but for everything—I wear it to work and everywhere else. It’s incredible how the Cheetah packs almost everything you’d find in a watch that’s double the price, yet it’s available at just half that cost, priced at ₹21,999.00. The standout features are definitely the touch and display, stealing the spotlight, especially when compared to even the top-notch Garmin Forerunner 265, which costs more than double. In my opinion, the closest competitor would be the Coros Pace 3, but its availability and pricing in India aren’t confirmed yet. If the Pace 3 manages to stay under ₹25K, that’d be my top pick in this mid-range segment. However, if it’s priced higher, the Cheetah clearly takes the lead. The value for money is exceptional. I’m hoping Amazfit introduces the Pro edition in India, which promises an even more premium build, a nylon band, and a microphone for answering calls through the watch. Considering its price and offerings, it’s an excellent buy for any runner looking at a mid-range GPS watch.
Karthik is a business analyst by profession and a long-time volunteer contributor to Wikipedia. Apart from his enthusiasm for running and photography, advancements in mobile & wearable technology are of utmost interest to him. He is a co-founder of the Mumbai-based Tilaknagar Running Club.