I finally decided to exchange my old smartwatch which was already dying (one of Huawei’s older smart bands) and that I thought why not examine something affordable and checks all the required features that I want – I found the best Realme smartwatch. I needed a smartwatch for two primary reasons: relaying smart notifications from my smartphone after I am out commuting, shooting on the road, or out and about when the streets are too noisy, and as I move I can not feel the phone’s vibration within the pocket, and therefore the second reason being the guts rate monitor for my workout sessions in gyms. My needs for a smartwatch are very basic and that I don’t need all the high-end, super fancy features, I just need these two important functions, and that I guess any budget smartwatches out there today can technically fulfill my criteria.
At a glance, the Best Realme SmartWatch in May 2021, in a budget-friendly and feature-loaded basic smartwatch. Here are the feature highlights:
- 1.4″ 320×320 LCD color touch display
- IP68 rated waterproof
- Lightweight at 31grams
- Bluetooth 5.0 connection
- Fitness tracking features – heart rate, sleep, blood-oxygen-level monitoring, with some fancy sports features that I don’t care much about
- Notifications from the paired smartphone
- Remote control via Bluetooth – camera and music player controls
LOOK & FEEL:
I personally quite like the minimalist and clean design of the Realme Smartwatch. I know, I know, it is a clone from the forbidden fruit product which I swear I will never bite unless hell freezes over and they drop their price down to a level that I don’t have to sell kidneys to afford. There is a reason why this design “template” works, simple and elegant at the same time. I opted for the all-black version, as most of my gadgets are all black. I don’t particularly like the somewhat thick bezels, I think they could be slimmer for a 2020 smart device. Furthermore, the noticeable chin at the bottom bezel is quite distracting, pushing the screen off-center upward, and those with severe cases of OCD will bleed their eyes out seeing this. I am quite ok with the overall design, this is me nitpicking, but it is a budget device after all, and wearing it on my wrist, it does look good.
BUILD QUALITY & WATERPROOF:
The main body of the Realme Watch is made of purely plastic. I can’t say that they feel premium, since it is so light at about 31g only, but it is dense and solid enough, there are no creaky parts, and wearing it on the wrist, using it for weeks now, I never had doubts on the device breaking apart. Plastic is a very durable material after all. The straps are comfortable to wear, Realme claimed they were made of silicone and were gentle to the skin.The Realme Smartwatch does come with an official waterproof rating of IP68, which means you can fully submerge the watch underwater down to 1.5 meters depth for 30 minutes long without worrying about water ingress damage. I obviously did not do anything crazy to push the waterproofing to the limits. The only times I needed water resistance was when I was sweating profusely when walking out under the hot Malaysian sun, or pounding the weights away inside the budget gym that does not have air conditioning which I do go to. Being completely drenched in sweat, the watch survives and I am sure it can take a lot more beating than this. In my video, you will see me pour water continuously onto the watch for a minute, and of course, the watch can take that.
The 1.4″ LCD screen has good enough resolution for sharp display, obviously, it is not the best in class – far from it, but I actually quite enjoyed looking at it and it does its job displaying simple, straightforward information very well. The screen is in full color, and is touch operable, though it is only single touch. You can change the clock face designs by tap-and-holding down the clock face, then swipe around for the other alternatives, and I do like some of the included designs, which I do use interchangeably from day today.
I do notice some stutter when I use the touch operations. The stutter is not severe, but annoying enough to complain about. I’d expect any smart device in 2020 to be free of such stutter, especially a smartwatch that performs only very basic functions. Swiping the screen for notifications, scrolling to read the notifications, swiping left or right of the clock face to see different information display – weather, heart-rate information, sleep monitoring, all registers some case of lagginess. I am not entirely sure what caused this, but I doubt it was software-related, they could probably use a slightly more powerful hardware processing power for a smoother overall user experience.
The LCD screen is bright. There are 9 levels of brightness to choose from, ranging from 10% all the way to full brightness at 100%. At maximum brightness, the screen is visible outdoors under direct sun, though the colors do look very washed out and flat. Nonetheless, the information can still be clearly seen, so it was not a big issue for me. However, I was not happy that there was no auto-brightness adjustment. I know this is a budget device, but I’d imagine it does not cost very much to include an ambient light sensor to auto-dim or brighten the screen accordingly. The adaptive brightness adjustment would have made a whole world of difference, negating the need to constantly need to manually tinker the brightness level of the screen when I move in or out of a building.
EASE OF USE:
The Realme Watch is relatively easy to operate. You only need to pair it once with your smartphone, but you do need to use their dedicated app Realme Link. Once you have established a connection, you don’t have to worry about re-connecting the phone to the watch, the connection will be done automatically as long as the Bluetooth on the smartphone is enabled. The Bluetooth connection has been reliable and steady throughout my duration of use – having Bluetooth 5.0 on both my smartphone and the Realme Watch ensured smooth operations.
On the watch, all operations can be done via touch screen, with the aid of a physical button at the right side of the watch. The button serves as a power on/off switch, and back button. Touch operations that you can perform allow you to navigate between multiple display pages showing varying information:
Swipe left/right – steps/calories, sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen, and shortcut control panels.
Swipe down from top – list of notifications relayed from a paired smartphone, you can choose which apps to push notifications over to the watch, and I find this to be extremely important for me
Swipe up from the bottom – settings and controls for the watch, including music control and camera.
You don’t need to read the manual to figure out how to use the watch, a few swipes there and here you can find your way very quickly. The operation is logical and very easy to understand. Kudos Realme.
The Realme Link app is also quite well designed – at the main page, one singular page you see all the important information being displayed – battery level, steps/calories, sleep, heart rate, and you have even more controls to dive deeper into from the app, having more choices of clock face designs to enable or disable. More importantly, the app allows OTA firmware upgrade for the Realme Watch, using the watch over 2 weeks I have received 2 different updates to fix bugs and improve performance. Hopefully, in the future, we get new features being added or perhaps, new watch face designs.
Realme claimed the battery life for use with continuous heart-rate monitoring is about 7-9 days. I was not able to achieve that at all. I found myself reaching for the charger at the end of the 4th day of active use – usually, the battery charge drops below 20% and I don’t think it will survive the 5th day. I really wish the battery life is better – at least 7 days, so I can charge the watch just once a week.