The Realme Watch joins the market in a time when smartwatches are synonymous with their smartphone cousins, especially from the larger brands, and often costing a pretty penny. Sliding towards the other end of the spectrum, there are literally hundreds of outlets and thousands of companies trying to sell their cheaper alternatives to the big boys. The Realme Watch ends up being more the latter.
- Gorilla Glass 3 & IP68 rated
- Lots of features
- Decent battery life
- Awful notification handling
- Erratic tracking
- Irritating band mechanism
- Android only
Realme have bundled the Realme Watch with their 6-series of devices in some deals, but these can also be purchased separately. For the purposes of this review, that’s exactly what I did. I was curious as to how successful a relative newcomer into the market would be in terms of design and more importantly, execution.
Realme Watch – Overview & Design
It becomes abundantly clear the sort of product you will be using the moment you see the packaging. Realme colour-scheme, but a very Apple Watch aesthetic thereafter. That is where the similarities end.
Of course, Realme are aiming at Apple in terms of market penetration. Instead, they have their sights firmly set on the lower end of the smartwatch segment for Android users.
The unit seems considerably smaller than its 1.44-inches size. That could primarily be due to the 320 x 320 resolution IPS LCD display which takes up 1.4-inches of its width but leaves a large chin on the towards the bottom for a very subtle (read unreadable in almost all lighting conditions) Realme logo. It would have been nice for Realme to forego the branding exercise on the screen itself and instead offer a little more screen real-estate.
That display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and with a black plastic frame. It feels rather cheap, but at first glance looks acceptable.
The watch face has slightly rounded edges and a single physical button on the right edge. That button serves largely as a ‘back’ button in menu interaction.
On the back of the watch is the pulse/heart rate monitor, which can also measure SpO2 during your workouts. This is also where the charging pins sit. It connects to the charging cradle with a satisfying snap and is one of the better implementations at this budget price I’ve seen.
Realme Watch Specs
- Removable wrist strap width：20mm
- Screen size：1.4 inch
- 3-axis Accelerometer
- Heart Rate Sensor
- Rotor Vibration Motor
- IP68(1.5m) Water Resistance Rating
- Bluetooth 5.0
- realme Link APP
- Android 5.0+
Realme Watch – Performance & Use
On paper, the Realme Watch is a nice companion piece to the Realme line of smartphones, and at just £50 it all seems to line up. That is until you try to use the device.
The band itself is made of silicone, that whilst flexible and of a standard 20mm, has an irritating clasp mechanism. The ‘buckle’ notch layer sits against your wrist and then you must fight, and press down quite hard, to get the other side to clip over it. Once you’re through that particular ordeal, you’re on to the next irritation.
The flap that is left over now needs to be stowed. To do that you have to shove it under the band now sitting on your wrist, and have it fit snugly underneath. Once on, it feels snug and relatively comfortable, but getting it on is a pain. Luckily, due to the 20mm standard, you can just switch this out to whatever you feel like.
You’ve got the shiny new Realme Watch on your wrist and you’re ready to pair using the Realme Link companion app. This is a seamless process and, like many apps before it, allows for setting configuration, notification management and more.
The software allows setting of goals as well as tracking of sleep, workouts, steps, polled heart rate, and more. As companion apps go, it’s as good as the others on the market at this price.
Using the watch itself is intuitive. Swipe down for notifications, left for quick access to brightness and power saving toggles, and right to skim through the different views. Swiping up goes through the various apps/features of the Realme Watch such as workout modes, heart rate and SpO2 readings, activity tracking, and more, as well as the curious ‘Meditation’ mode. This is basically an application that sets a goal for how long you breathe for. During that time period you’re told when to inhale and when to exhale. Some might tell me this is a great way of tuning our bodies to relax – they might be right. For me, it is the definition of filler.
The gestures atop the Gorilla Glass 3 feel clean. The glass does feel good quality. That’s where the gesture love-in finishes, sadly.
The performance of the watch is lacklustre with frequent lags when scrolling, especially on notifications. Once you get into an app, or to a location of your choice, things work adequately, with one notable exception; the notification system.
Realme claims there is notification management on the Realme Watch but that doesn’t seem to be the full story. In my testing, I’ve had missed notifications (all battery management for the Realme Link app has been turned off), and there is no true dismissing of notifications or any reply functionality for messaging. Instead, you’re left with a long list of notifications which can be dismissed from the watch itself, but not from the phone. There is no bi-directional control here at all. As soon as another notification comes into your phone, and the Realme Link app forwards this to the device, you get all previously dismissed notifications once again. Infuriating, to say the least!
It should be noted here that I’ve tried this on a couple of Android devices other than the Huawei P30 Pro I run daily and found the issue to persist. Perhaps this can be resolved in a software update?
There is some good news here too. There are a number of tracking elements for those fitness enthusiasts. As previously mentioned, tracking for sleep, SpO2, workouts, steps, heart rate, are all in tow. The bad news is that, other than sleep tracking, they all seem to vary wildly in accuracy. Comparing this to other trackers (most of which are within 2-5% of each others’ readings) and I have seen readings as varied as 25% in comparison. Sleep tracking does seem to function well though with light, deep and REM sleep all tracked well.
The Realme Watch also offers IP68 water resistance. This IP rating suggests it can be submerged to up to 1.5 metres and still remain working. A shower, bath, or workout proves no issue to the Realme Watch. that is, unless you want to actually use the watch at the same time. Each and every droplet of water will wash across the top of the device and trigger a random action. No joke; I actually factory reset the watch by virtue of water from the shower triggering this within 3 days of owning it. Be warned!
Then there’s battery life. Realme claims 7 to 9 days based on their internal lab testing. With 5-minute heart rate polling, I can get 5 continuous days of use out of a full charge. That’s not too bad considering the paltry size of the battery, but the small screen, lack of any cellular activity, and budget storage implementation suggests to me it should last closer to Realme’s claims.
The Realme Watch isn’t the best first dive into the smartwatch pond for Realme. The product is a cheap, derivative, response to the offerings of Xiaomi and Huawei/Honor. There is little here that would persuade somebody to drop £50 on this.
The watch faces, of which there are only a few, are all fairly Tomy-toy like. The watch strap is like fighting with an, admittedly small, Boa, to get on, and the ‘Realme’-logo infested chin is as subtle as a brick.
By far my biggest complaint with the Realme Watch is the notification management. In 2020, there is little excuse for a ‘smartwatch’ not providing two-way notifications or at least some form of response. ‘Response’ might be an arbitrary term, but there are some mainstays I believe should be in tow. If your device allows notifications to be passed to it, the dismiss functionality should dismiss them – not just on the device but on the attached phone also. In addition, if you specifically want to allow messaging applications to send notifications, perhaps a few canned responses, or the ability to navigate the message a little more thoroughly than is available here, should be included.
Overall, not only can I not advocate anybody purchasing the £50 Realme Watch, I firmly believe they should just stick to what they are obviously doing better at – producing and selling smartphones. This is not a good look on them.