An Affordable Fitness Tracker Lacking The Finesse of a Smartwatch
Realme struck gold when it launched its first true wireless earphones in the country. The Realme Buds Air became the second best selling product in its category earlier this year and ever since then, the company has been quite aggressive on expanding its product offerings. It went on to launch its first health-tracking wearable, the Realme Band earlier this year which didn’t really get a lot of attention from consumers. That was probably because it wasn’t the most accurate one when it came to tracking fitness, and Xiaomi’s Mi Band has consistently been a highly recommended and well-established name in the market. The company has now introduced yet another wearable, only this time its a smartwatch. Judging by the history of how affordable smartwatches have not done very well globally, I was intrigued so I gave it try. DESIGN Realme has gone for a square watch-dial reminiscent of the Apple Watch. This doesn’t come as a surprise as it has set the benchmark when it comes to the best and the most premium smartwatch experience. Upon first look, you can see that the company has made an honest effort, but it is when you actually hold and wear it, things take a different turn. For starters the Realme Watch is very lightweight, which is good, but the straps feel cheap and the inconsistent bezels around the display remind you that this is not a premium product. The main watch module primarily has a glossy finish and on the right there is a physical button with a golden accent. This button offers decent feedback and can be used for various functions like powering on/off the watch itself, waking up or turning off the display, or going back while scrolling through the watch interface. At the bottom, there is the heart rate sensor, the SpO2 sensors, and the magnetic pogo pins for charging. The watch is also IP68 certified which means that you can wear it while swimming or taking a shower. Notably, it doesn’t offer the ability to track your swimming activity. I think the only thing going for the Realme Watch in terms of design is how lightweight it is. You can wear it all day, even while you sleep, without straining your wrist. The straps, however, could’ve been better and you would be better off swapping them for a third party one. DISPLAY The Realme Watch features a 1.4-inch touchscreen with a 320×320-pixel resolution with a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The company also claims that it offers a peak brightness of 380 nits. While that sounds pretty decent, the display is anything but. Using the watch indoors is fine, but once you move outdoors, the display looks washed out, even at full brightness. As I mentioned before, the bezels are inconsistent for some reason with a large area below the display made available for the faint Realme logo. Considering the low price, I wasn’t expecting an ambient light sensor either, which means that there is no auto-brightness feature on the display. The touch response on the display is good though, and you can swipe around to navigate through the UI with ease. The watch comes with 12 pre-installed watch faces that are available through the Realme Link app, and the watch itself can store 6 of them. Apparently Realme has planned about 100 more watch faces that it plans to launch in upcoming updates. However, at the time of writing this review, there were no additions via any of the updates that we received on the wearable. SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE This brings us to the software, performance, and tracking capabilities. Now the Realme Watch is more of a simple fitness tracker rather than a full-fledged smartwatch. It runs on a basic user interface and you cannot install any third-party apps, watch faces or even respond to notifications. It is pretty simple to use though the interface doesn’t feel very fluid. You can swipe down for your notifications, swipe right for information like weather, sleep stats, heart rate, step count and burned calories, and swiping left takes you to some quick settings where you will also find the battery indicator. At the bottom there is a menu with various features and settings on the watch. It takes a while to get used to the layout but overall the user interface felt a little sluggish to me. To fully appreciate the smartwatch you need to use the dedicated Realme Link app where you can enable or disable certain features on the watch and get additional fitness tracking data. You get some pretty standard features on the watch like lift to wake screen and getting notifications from your smartphone, both of which worked well in my testing. However apart from fetching the most recent 10 notifications, there is not much that you can do apart from reading them as there is no option to reply. Realme does however give the option to select the apps that you want to get notifications via the smartphone app. In terms of fitness tracking and health features, there is heart rate monitoring, step counter, sleep tracking, drink reminder, sedentary reminder, blood oxygen monitor, meditation, a bunch of sport modes and camera control. Apart from that, you can also get weather, music controls and a phone finder feature. Now the heart rate monitor makes use of a PPG optical sensor. The values seemed somewhat accurate when compared to my Samsung Galaxy Watch Active that I use on a daily basis. You can also log your heart rate automatically at set intervals throughout the day and there are options to alert you when your heart rate goes higher or lower a certain level. Both the heart rate tracking intervals and the heart rate thresholds can be manually set by the user. There is also a SpO2 sensor that can measure the oxygen level in your blood. You can only measure it manually with all the data available in the Realme Link app giving you info of your blood oxygen level range, average, and the number of times it was measured. The data is not completely accurate, and Realme suggests that the values should only be taken as a reference. As for step counts, the watch was off by 10-15 steps in the limited walks that I could take around my apartments due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. Given the low price point, I was expecting such results. The watch seems to lock on GPS well, but somehow didn’t calculate the correct distance on most occasions. There are also various sports tracking modes including Football, Basketball, Yoga, Cricket, Aerobic Capacity, Badminton, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Table Tennis, Outdoor Run, Indoor Run, Walk, Outdoor Cycle and Strength Training. The watch can also track your sleep and it does that rather well. It offers you your sleep stats divided into Deep Sleep, Light Sleep, REM, and Awake. It did track my sleep patterns accurately and also provided a neat graph. BATTERY Battery life on the Realme Watch is claimed to last seven days with heart rate monitoring turned on, and an additional two days if you turn it off. There is a 160mAh battery on the watch and in my testing, the watch easily lasted 5 days, with regular usage including a mix of numerous notifications, some small walks and the regular walks around the house, along with heart rate monitoring. VERDICT It seems that Realme has really rushed into things. Their first ‘smartwatch’ doesn’t feel like a very polished product, rather it is more of a basic fitness tracker. This essentially means that it is just as good, if not better than the large variety of affordable fitness bands out there. I think the Mi Band 4 or even some of the affordable options from Amazfit are way better alternatives. The Realme Watch in my opinion is a decent product, but not the best among the lot.