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Realme Band review: as basic as it gets

Last month, Realme announced its Link app, which offers a single interface to control and connect IoT devices, basically converting your smartphone into a universal control center. The brand has announced that moving forward, its focus will be on creating a tech lifestyle brand image and to launch a line-up of AIoT products in India. The product line-up will include audio devices, wearables, smartwatches, and smart TVs. Realme has already introduced the first product that makes use of the Realme Link app in the form of the Realme Band. It’s a budget basic fitness tracker that flaunts a colour display, Cricket mode, real-time heart rate monitor and sleep tracking as its USPs. I have been using the fitness tracker for a couple of weeks now and here’s a detailed account of how the Realme Band performs in day-to-day usage.

Design and display

My initial impressions of the fitness tracker’s design when I first saw it was that it’s boring. There’s nothing fancy or unique about the black variant that I received for review, though the yellow and green variants do look interesting. The fitness tracker features a rectangular display module, which gets TPU straps attached to it. These straps can be removed and the top one hides a full-sized USB connector to charge the fitness tracker. However, the way it’s designed, if you charge the tracker using a laptop, the display will be face down and you will have a hard time checking the battery levels. If you use a powerbank to charge the band, a red LED light tells you the status of charging and you can also check real-time status on the display.

The Realme Band weighs just 20gms, which means the whole time I had the fitness tracker on my wrist, I wasn’t even aware it was there. Basically, Realme has ensured that the band is non-intrusive so that you can track activities like cricket and sleep. Other elements on the fitness band include a heart rate sensor underneath and a single touch button below the display. The band also comes with an IP68 rating for water resistance up to 50 meters. While it’s safe to take a shower with the band on, surprisingly there’s no swimming mode despite its IP68 rating.

Speaking of the display, the Realme Band features a 2.4cm (0.96-inch) TFT-LCD screen with 80×160 resolution. With some fitness bands offer AMOLED displays even in the budget segment, I was perplexed to see Realme opting for an LCD panel. This is because I found myself struggling consistently to read the screen in direct sunlight, which made the fitness band useless while running or walking in the day time. Moreover, the screen lacks vibrancy and punchiness indoors as well.

I also found issues with the raise-to-wake feature on the fitness tracker. The feature takes a while to wake the display once you have raised your wrist and at times didn’t even bother. I had to shake my wrist every time to get the display to turn on.

Software and features

The Realme Band features single-button navigation and doesn’t have a touchscreen display. The capacitive button needs to be tapped in order to cycle through the interface, which includes the watch face, steps counter, heart rate monitoring, workouts, alarm, and finally some regulatory information. To access one of these modes, you will have to long-press the capacitive button until you feel the vibrating feedback.

The Realme Band can track nine activities including Run, Cricket, Yoga, Walk, Bike, Hiking, Fitness, Climbing and Spinning. However, at any given point you can only have three workouts saved on your Realme Band, which I found to be limiting. You will need to download and pair the Realme band with the Realme Link app, which is currently available only for Android users. I didn’t find the app on the Play Store and was sent a Beta version of the app prior to the launch. The Realme Link has a very clean interface but you need to have a Realme account to be able to use and sync your data.

Once you have synced your band with the app, you will be able to check the battery level, daily steps, sleep and heart rate data on your smartphone. You can change the watch face from the settings menu on the app, and there are five of those. You can also change settings like incoming call, alarm, notifications, drink reminder, continuous/ manual heart rate monitoring, DND mode, raise to wake up, auto-sport recognition, and more from the settings. The Realme band comes with Bluetooth 4.2 and is compatible with phones running on Android 5.0 or above.

Performance and battery

I had the default three workouts on my review unit, which are Run, Cricket and Yoga. The latter two modes only show you the heart rate and calories burnt. There’s nothing Yoga- or Cricket-specific data in these two modes, which was a letdown. The Run mode, on the other hand, shows steps, distance, pace, Kcal and heart rate tracking. The Realme Band can also detect whether you are running or walking, and activates the respective mode. However, you will need to have both modes on your band for the auto-detection to work. I didn’t encounter any ghost steps being registered by the band, which is a huge plus.

I found the heart rate monitor also took a lot longer than other fitness bands in the budget segment to measure and display the data on the screen. To its credit, the Realme Band seems quite accurate in tracking heart rate, and I cross-checked this data using the Mi Smart Band 4. The alarm clock and sedentary reminder also work very well. On the flip side, I didn’t get any notifications from apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or other, despite keeping the Realme Band connected with the phone. This issue can probably be attributed to the fact that the Realme link app I’m using is a beta version.

As for the battery, Realme claims that the band comes fitted with a 90mAh unit, which is capable of offering up to nine days of battery life with the continuous heart rate monitor turned off. I have been using the fitness tracker for a week now and I didn’t have to charge it once except in the very beginning, so the claim holds true. As for charging, the Realme Band took just over one hour to charge fully from 5 percent to 100 percent through a laptop.

Verdict

The Realme Band comes as a no-frills fitness tracker with an easy-to-use interface and a basic companion app. And at Rs 1,499, the fitness tracker offers a good value for money as well. However, some of the key features of band, like no support for notifications from apps like WhatsApp, and the functionality offered by the exercise modes didn’t live up to my expectations. The Realme Band is the debut product from the brand but one that needs further refinement and polishing. That said, if you are on the hunt for a basic fitness tracker with accurate step counter and a heart rate monitor, the Realme Band could still be worth considering.

However, if you are looking for a fitness tracker with a more refined experience, I would suggest opting for the Mi Smart Band 4 (review) or the Honor Band 5.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7 / 10

What works:

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Good battery life
  • Direct USB charging

What doesn’t:

  • Dull display
  • Software needs refinement

Photos by Raj Rout

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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.