Smartwatch By Kind, Band By Function

Only about 5 years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine just how affordable heart-rate-tracking fitness trackers would become. Not just affordable, we’d probably also have a tough time swallowing just how feature-rich they’d be. But it’s 2020 and here we are. Building on their first fitness wearable, Realme is now shipping their first ‘smartwatch’ that not only comes with a heart rate monitor but can also track bloody oxygen levels.

Before we move on with the review, I’d like to point out that this is not a ‘smartwatch’ that you could compare with more expensive ‘smartwatches’ from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Garmin, amongst others. The Realme Watch is best considered to be a device that although adorns the body of a smartwatch, can be best described as a fitness band in function (or at least with features that we’ve come to expect from budget fitness bands).

All said and done, the Realme Watch costs INR 3,999. For that price, the watch offers such as a sizeable 1.4-inch display, a heart-rate tracker along with blood oxygen-level monitor, and sleep tracking. Is the Realme Watch worth its asking price? And more importantly, how much of a smartwatch experience does it manage to deliver?

Let’s try to find out in our full review of it!

What’s Smashable

The Realme Watch goes for a squarish module that – in my opinion – is just a bit more functional than circular displays. The casing doesn’t make use of any metal and hence the watch tips the weighing scale at a mere 31 grams which is only about 50% heavier than the Realme band. This also makes it probably the lightest watch I’ve ever reviewed.

The Realme Watch is IP68 rated. (Image Credits: Prasham Parikh | Mashable India)

This lightweight design makes it easy to forget that you’re wearing a watch in the first place. This also means that you can wear the watch while sleeping without ever facing hand fatigue. The polycarbonate build doesn’t necessarily mean that the watch looks cheap. The sides of the watch have a shiny silver-ish coating that lends it the pretense of being more expensive than it actually is.

The Realme Link is one of the lightest ‘smartwatches’ I’ve ever used.

As far as buttons go, there’s a single button that sits to the right of the watch. The oblong button has a dash of yellow sitting within it that breathes some life into the understated design. The button can be used to wake/sleep the screen and is used as a back button when using the watch. Although, the watch also has support for left-swipes-to-go-back.

The Realme Watch makes use of a single hardware button for control.

The Realme Watch comes standard with silicon rubber straps that are quite comfortable to the skin. In my usage of over a week, I never found them to be troublesome in any way. Each Realme Watch comes default with a black buckle strap and additional bands can be purchased for INR 499.

Lastly, it’s appreciable to know that the Realme Watch has an IP68 certification which makes it completely suitable for you to wear it while taking showers or taking a swim (a shame that it can’t track swims though!).

Smartwatches have gotten drastically better at tracking health and fitness over the last few years. The Realme Watch covers all the basics such as step tracking, calories tracking and heart-rate tracking, and goes beyond to offer much more.

Sleep Tracking

Being feather-light, the Realme Watch is probably the most comfortable watch I’ve ever gone to sleep with. Okay, this probably doesn’t sound right but you get what I mean right? With automatic sleep tracking, there’s literally nothing you have to do keep a track of your sleep. You can simply wake up and check either the watch or the companion Realme Link app to get a brief dive into the quality of your sleep. I found it to be quite accurate in terms of tracking my sleep.

Although, the app doesn’t offer a score or any feedback on how you can improve your sleep quality. We’ve some other manufacturers do this and it’d be sweet if Realme could work on something similar.

Realme Link companion app

Heart-Rate Tracking

We’re far past a time where heart-rate trackers were considered to be a novelty on budget fitness trackers; and even when included, were iffy. The Realme Watch’s heart-rate monitor works alright and – by default – is set to take a reading every 5 minutes. Although, that can be changed to 10, 20, or 30 minutes via the Realme Link application. The application also allows you to set low and high heart-rate alerts which is a nice addition.

Blood Oxygen Level Monitoring

When it comes to oxygen level monitoring, you will find yourself in one of the following two factions. You either couldn’t care less about it or you’d love to track your oxygen levels after every drop of sweat you’ve expunged. But either way, this doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s quite nice to see Realme include this feature on the Watch.

Vibration feedback while doing breathing exercises is a thoughtful addition.

Meditation

Meditation is a feature that I’ve come to really like on the Realme Watch and there’s one major reason why: vibration feedback. I’ve tried out a bunch of smartwatches that either offer breathing or meditation as a feature. Unfortunately, not all of them have made use of the vibration motor to suggest when to start/stop inhaling and exhaling. But the Realme watch comes through here. Users can choose to meditate for up to 10 minutes and I’ve really found it to be helpful at the end of an exhausting day.

Justifying the “smart”, the Realme Watch has support for a bunch of smart features that you may find useful. Although, all such features are disabled by default and need to be enabled within the Realme Link application since most of them need access to permissions.

What’s of prime importance is that you’ll have to make sure that the Realme Link stays open in the background for most of these features to work. To do so, I had to make sure to lock the application to make sure that the process isn’t killed by the smartphone in order to save battery.

It’s easy to misplace your phone and the Realme Watch will help you find it if that is the case. To do so, you need to scroll down in the watch menu and tap on Find My Phone to make it ring. Although, for the phone to ring, it’ll have to be in Bluetooth range of the Realme Watch. And unfortunately, there are no separation alerts on the Realme watch. But given the price of the watch, it’s something we didn’t expect the Realme Watch to necessarily have in the first place.

Music Control is arguably one of my most-used features on a smartwatch. While it doesn’t take a lot of time to change music from a smartphone, it’s easy to get distracted and end up doing a lot more than just changing music. The Realme Watch has support for music control and you can not only play/pause music but you can also skip tracks and change volume.

Unfortunately, the music control panel isn’t easily accessible and you’ll have to scroll through the menu every time you’d like to control music. This takes away the swiftness associated with controlling music via a wearable and something I hope Realme addresses in a future update.

The Realme Watch can also mirror notifications from your Android phone. You can select which applications will be able to beam notifications to the watch from within the Realme Link application. Not just notifications, but the Realme Watch can also show call notifications with the option to either end the call or mute it. Since there’s no mic or speaker, you can’t take calls. And yeah, you can’t even reply to notifications. Again, given the price, this is something we weren’t expecting, but it had to be mentioned.

The Realme Watch also lets you use the watch as a remote camera shutter and that’s about it. It doesn’t switch on the camera mode and that’s something you’ll have to do manually. But this feature can come in handy in certain situations. Night photography is one area where a remote shutter will help you deliver better images.

Realme claims that the Realme Watch can last for up to 7 days with automatic heart-rate tracking switched on. Unfortunately, in my two weeks of usage, I never found this to be the case. In my experience, the watch can last up to 5 days on a single charge. If, like me, you find yourself working out every other day, expect similar battery endurance. Continuous heart-rate tracking while working out definitely seems to take a toll on the battery.

Even then, 5 days isn’t too bad considering that the watch completely charges within 2-2.25 hours. The Realme Watch comes with a two-pin charger that magnetically snaps to the Realme Watch. For what it’s worth, the magnet isn’t that powerful and it’s easy to misalign the charger and find out that the watch hadn’t been charging all along.

Lastly, if you really want to extend the battery endurance, you can choose to enable the power saving mode that will disable all features and will only show time.

What’s Not Smashable

The Realme Watch comes with a 1.4-inch display which is probably the biggest display you’d find on a smartwatch in this price range. Now while I appreciate this, the bigger display doesn’t necessarily translate into a better user experience as there’s little that you can make use of the extra screen real estate. Yes, it’s definitely easier to scroll through the UI and read notifications, but that’s about it in my experience.

Also, the display has really thick bezels around it which is a slight sore to the eyes. And the bottom bezel is noticeably thicker than the rest because of the Realme branding that Realme has tried its best to hide. Yeah, the Realme logo isn’t quite easily visible. “So, you’re telling me that the Realme Watch has a really thick chin to slap a logo that’s barely visible?” Yeah, exactly that.

One of the watch faces that’s pre-loaded on the Realme Watch.

The display itself is quite decent and is easily visible when indoors. But sunlight legibility isn’t quite great and you might have to strain your eyes a bit to read WhatsApp messages on the watch. I also wish that the touch response on the watch were better as it’s not as smooth as I’d like it to be. Lastly – though not a big deal – covering the display with your palm doesn’t turn it off. There is support for waking the screen with a wrist-raise.

Realme says it’s planning to push an update that will bring over a 100 watch faces to the Realme Watch.

As for watch faces, the Realme Watch can store 6 watch faces on the watch and there are about a dozen more that can be chosen from the Realme Link application. But that’s about it. Realme says it’s working to bring more than 100 new watch faces to the watch really soon. Although it doesn’t have any plans to launch support for user-generated watch faces.

The current watch faces aren’t too bad, but more is always better.

The Realme Watch ships with support for 15 different fitness activities that include generic activities like walking, elliptical, and cycling. While tracking walks and runs, the watch keeps a track of time passed, heart rate, cadence, calories burned, and average speed. And while the watch doesn’t have GPS support, it can latch on to the GPS of your linked smartphone to map your runs. The watch also allows for pausing workouts which can come in handy at times. Although, a complaint that I have with it is that music can’t be controlled while you’re actively tracking a workout.

Although it does have support for various sports, it doesn’t give any additional sport-specific metrics.

Sports like cricket, football, table tennis, badminton, and basketball also make it to the list of activities that can be tracked by the Realme Watch. Unfortunately, there’s no sport-specific data that the watch can yield apart from the general heart-rate measurements and calories burned.

The Realme Link does offer slightly more insights about workouts than you can check on the watch.

This is a bummer since there exist cheaper or similarly-priced wearables that offer better fitness tracking features. For instance, the Mi Band 4 offers swimming tracking with the ability to recognize 12 different strokes. Given that the Realme Watch is IP68 certified, it would’ve been nice to see swim-tracking amongst other fitness modes. Also, there’s no “regular/auto” exercise mode that I could use to track my daily 30-min routine that consists of stretching, lifting and fat-burning exercises.

The Realme Link application, which is necessary for the Realme Watch to work, doesn’t exist on iOS yet. This limits the Realme Watch to Android smartphones only at the moment and you won’t be able to make use of it if you own an iPhone. Realme says that the Realme Link will soon make its way to iOS but there is no expected timeline for the same.

Final Verdict

At INR 3,999, the Realme Watch is one of the most affordable ‘smartwatches’ out there. With features like heart-rate and blood-oxygen-level tracking, a large 1.41-inch display and support for call and message notifications, the Realme Watch does bring a lot to the table and can prove to be a good smartwatch for beginners who aren’t looking to do much with their wearables. The IP68 certification and features like meditation are some other plus points.

But at the end of the day, I can’t help but see the Realme Watch as a fitness tracker that’s embodied as a smartwatch. Hence, if you don’t really need a big display or a fitness tracker that looks like a “smartwatch”, you’ll be better off with more affordable trackers like the Mi Band 4, the Honor Band 5, or even the Realme Band that offer a similar feature-set for much less.

Also, before you make a purchase decision, we recommend you wait for the launch of the Amazfit Bips S that’s launching quite soon in India. The ‘smartwatch’ is expected to be priced under INR 5,000 and will compete with the Realme Watch. Wait for our full review of it that’s coming quite soon!



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