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Realme Watch review: a VFM budget smartwatch

On: June 2, 2020

Realme is slowly but steadily expanding its footprint from smartphones to other product categories in India. The brand launched its first fitness tracker, the Realme Band, in March this year. Now, Realme has added yet another product to its wearables lineup in the form of the Realme Watch.

Also readRealme Watch unboxing and first impressions: a solid debut smartwatch

As I observed in my first impressions of the Realme Watch, the wearable is a solid debut from the brand and is essentially a fitness tracker with a smartwatch form factor. I have been using the Realme Watch for a while now, and here’s what you need to know about the device.

Design

The Realme Watch features a conventional square dial reminiscent of the Apple Watch, and looks premium with the black strap it comes with. As of now, Realme is only offering a black classic buckle strap with the smartwatch. If you want different options, you can purchase the classic strap in blue, red, and green colours at Rs 499 each.

Realme will also offer fashion straps for the watch, which feature an Apple Watch Sport-like button clasp mechanism.

On the topic of straps, the Realme Watch features a silicone band, which is comfortable wear in summer for long durations. The watch itself is IP68-rated for water and dust resistance. The plastic construction of the watch and use of silicone straps has allowed Realme to keep it lightweight and at just 31gms, you can hardly feel it on your wrist.

There’s a single physical button on the right edge of the watch for navigation and powering it on or off. The button on the Realme Watch sits almost flush with the chassis, which means it doesn’t jab you in the wrist when you’re working out. Additionally, the watch features a high-precision PPG optical heart rate on the back, along with two magnetic pins to connect the puck-shaped charger.

My only gripe with the design is massive bezels all around the display, particularly on the chin. The bottom bezel also houses a faint Realme logo, which is only visible if you look closely. While the “invisible” logo helps in maintaining a clean look when the display is off, the bezels are an eyesore.

Display

Coming to the display, the Realme Watch features a 1.4-inch colour touchscreen IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels and a pixel density of 323ppi. The display offers ample brightness, with ten levels of adjustments. Unfortunately, there’s no auto brightness, so you’ll have to adjust it manually. The screen was perfectly legible at 20 percent brightness indoors. However, you will need to crank up the brightness when outdoors.

Realme is offering a total of  12 watch faces, of which only six can be present on the watch at any given point. The brand announced that it will roll out over 100 watch faces through an OTA update in the near future. You can long-press on the watch face and change it by sliding left or right.

The display’s touch response is a little on a slower side, but that’s not a deal-breaker at the asking price.

Software and features

The Realme Watch is cross-compatible with both Android and iOS through its companion Realme Link app. However, as of now, the app is available only for Android. Realme has said that an iOS app is in the works and will be rolled out in the near future. Most of the settings for the Realme Watch can be adjusted from the Realme Link app, and setting up the watch is a breeze. The app crashed more than once for me during my testing period, but I expect Realme will fix this with future updates.

The Realme watch runs on a proprietary wearable OS from the brand that’s fairly simple to use. You can press the physical button on the watch to wake the display, or if you have raise to wake feature turned on, simply raise your wrist. The entire UI is gesture-based so you will be swiping right, left, up and down to access various elements.

Swiping from the right to left will let you quickly glance at the weather, sleep tracking data, heart rate, activity tracking data and quick toggles. Quick toggles include night mode, raise to wake, power-saver mode and three-level brightness adjustment. Swipe down from the top of the watch face to access your notifications, which supports all major apps like WhatsApp, Twitter and more.

However, the watch only stores your last notification, and you will have to pick up your phone to check all other notifications. Also, you cannot respond to any of your notifications from the watch itself, which is again expected at this price. Additionally, the watch will also notify you of incoming calls, and while there’s no option to answer a call from your wrist, you do get options to either mute or end the call.

Lastly, swiping up from the bottom on watch face brings up the “app drawer” or the list of all features supported by the Realme Watch. These include Workouts, SpO2, Heart Rate, Activity Records, Sleep, Music, Camera, Find my Phone, Alarm, Stopwatch, Weather and Settings. You can adjust basic settings like display brightness, vibration intensity, access Power Saving mode, DND, time system, and more from the settings menu.

Health and fitness tracking

The Realme Watch comes with support for 14 different sports modes such as outdoor run, walk, indoor run, outdoor cycle, aerobic capacity, strength training, football, basketball, table tennis, badminton, indoor cycle, elliptical machine, yoga and cricket. However, there are only a few modes which show the actual data, and all other modes either show calories burnt or duration of the workout. Additionally, despite being IP68 certified, the smartwatch doesn’t have a swim mode, which is disappointing.

Since we are all cooped up inside our home due to the coronavirus lockdown, I was limited in my testing of the watch. I was able to test walk, indoor run and yoga modes. While the first two modes show detailed data like distance, pace, heart rate, duration and more, yoga mode only shows the heart rate, calories burnt and duration.

I tested the Realme Watch alongside the Mi Smart Band 4 (review) during my review period, and the pedometer was on par for both devices. I didn’t encounter any ghost steps as well, which is a plus. The smartwatch can detect whether you are running or walking, and activates the respective mode.

Coming to the health monitoring features, you get a heart rate monitor and SpO2 sensor. The heart rate monitor can continuously monitor your heart rate for anomalies and warn you if your heart rate is abnormally low or high. Users can also set specific intervals to detect heart rate throughout the day.

During the review period, there were a couple of occasions when the watch warned me about a high heart rate in the range of 140bpm while I was lying down or sitting, but apart from that, it was reliable enough. The blood oxygen level monitor takes readings quickly, and mine were always in the range of 95-98, which is accurate.

The sleep monitor works well, providing detailed analysis including deep sleep, light sleep and awake time, and telling you about the quality of your sleep as well.

Battery life

Powering the Realme Watch is a 160mAh battery, which can last a week depending upon your usage pattern. Realme says the watch can last up to 7 days with the heart rate monitor on, and 9 days with it turned off. For the purpose of this review, I had the water reminders and sedentary reminders on for every hour, all notifications enabled and an alarm set. The heart rate monitor was set to detect my heart rate every 10 minutes.

With this usage, the Realme Watch lasted me five days on a full charge consistently, which is impressive. If you increase the interval for reminders and the heart rate monitor, the watch should easily last a whole week.

Bottomline

With a price tag of Rs 3,999, Realme Watch offers excellent value for money. It has a few shortcomings, such as the limited functionality offered by its workout modes, and the lack of auto brightness on the display. However, for the price, you get a premium design, SpO2 monitor, heart rate monitor and week-long battery life. This makes the Realme Watch an ideal choice for those who want a budget smartwatch with basic fitness and health tracking, phone notifications and above all, good battery life.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8/ 10

What works:

  • Lightweight, compact design
  • IP68 certification
  • Long battery life
  • SpO2 monitor

What doesn’t:

  • Workout modes are limited
  • No auto brightness
  • Thick bezels around the display
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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.