The Amazfit Bip kickstarted a class of cheap yet feature-filled fitness trackers trying hard to fall into the definition of a smartwatch. That said, it is safe to say that the current-gen Bip S barely qualifies as a smartwatch. I can also say the same for everything else in this price range. After all, these watches just feature fitness tracking functions as well as some basic extras to act as a wrist assistant. Realme has different intentions, however, with its Watch S and despite a lower price of Rs 4,999, it is confident of calling it a smartwatch. Also Read - Realme GT 5G to get Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
Unlike other OEMs in this segment, Realme has shown considerable improvement within a year. After the disappointing Realme Watch, the Watch S Pro was altogether a different experience. It was fast, functional, and full of features that matter to smartwatch users. The vanilla Watch S could then offer a similar experience at a lower price, right? Well, I spent two weeks wearing the Watch S, and here are my overall impressions. Also Read - Realme 108MP camera event on March 2: Realme 8 series could launch soon
I am always excited to see brands experiment with smartwatch designs, be it any price range. In the sub-Rs 5,000 segment, the Watch S is currently one of the most ambitious looking watches I have seen. With its butch looks and a sturdy metal build, the Watch S stands out from all the plasticky watches from Amazfit and other brands in this category. It still has an LCD display that by virtue of its nature will struggle to mask its bezels but it’s masked quite well with dial markings. Also Read - Realme 8 officially teased to arrive in India as company's first with 108MP camera
The glass even slopes towards the edges before the frame starts – something I have only seen in expensive watches. The bulk is definitely there, and you can feel it once you wear it. However, kudos to the designers to mask all that bulk and shape it in an appealing way. I do have my doubts about the “macho appeal” of the watch and if you are a female user, you truly need to be in masculine designs to accept the Watch S on your script.
While I leave the design bits upon you, I can vouch for a fairly comfortable wearing experience. The silicon straps are easy on the skin while the plastic underside of the watch contours nicely along the wrist. The crown-shaped buttons add to the aesthetics and these are tactile too. One of the buttons opens the app menu while the other one is a shortcut to all the workout tracking modes.
On the whole, I adore the Realme Watch S for its design, especially when I glance at that Rs 4,999 price tag.
The Smart Stuff
Since I tried out the Realme Watch S Pro, the software experience wasn’t different on the vanilla Watch S. Realme is using the same proprietary OS as the Realme Watch S Pro and in a way, that’s a plus point for customers. That said, the experience is vastly different from the one on the Watch S Pro and I wish Realme had carried over the same software experience.
The Realme Watch S isn’t as fast, nor fluid, as the Watch S Pro. There’s clearly no dual-core processor here, which means Realme cut down on the animations as well as visual effects. Hence, the swiping animations in the menus are janky while the lower resolution display also highlights the slightly pixelated UI elements. Next to the Amazfit Bip U, the interface doesn’t look nice.
If you move over the UI, the Watch S is no different from the Amazfit Bip U in terms of the smart experience. The watch shows notifications from apps as well as messaging services but you can’t interact with any of them. There is no way to input custom replies like you can do in Samsung’s Tizen platform. Additionally, messages and emails appear all crammed up and difficult to read, which defeats the purpose of the large 1.3-inch display. Maybe Realme can fix this with a future software update.
That said, for a smartwatch that costs Rs 4,999, I will give it to Realme for a well laid out interface with colorful icons. Additionally, I also appreciate the 1.3-inch display on the Watch S. Unlike the Pro variant, the Watch S uses an IPS LCD display. I know many of you prefer an AMOLED display over an LCD counterpart for the boosted saturation and “inky blacks”. However, the display on this Watch S looks good and does the job well. It is legible under direct sunlight and, despite the lower resolution, makes texts and images look well.
Helping the Realme Watch S in its pursuit of smartness is the Realme Link app. By the time I started using it, Realme has bake support for the Watch S for iOS devices. The iOS app still uses the older interface but it makes the watch functional with iPhones. I switched to the Android app for a while and I noticed a revamped interface with colorful elements livening up the mood.
Most of the watch settings can either be altered from the Realme Link app or the watch itself. The app itself is easy to use and explains most of the important health data in absolute clarity. Compared to the Zepp app from Amazfit, the Link app makes it easy for common people to glance over the health data.
Given that you have a 1.3-inch display to deal with, Realme has a large collection of lively watch faces to choose from. You can either have your own background with a custom time template or choose from the preset number of graphic faces. Some of them are animated too. Personally, I like Realme’s collection of watch faces over Amazfit’s as there’s something for everyone, and I hope Realme continues to add more exciting faces in the days to come.
The Health Stuff
Of course, many of you will care about the health stuff and Realme has a lot to offer here. There are a total of 16 sports modes to use for tracking your activities. Along with that, the Watch S can also record your steps, burnt calories, sleep, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation tracking. Even for an average Joe, this is more than enough for keeping a tab on health.
For the sake of this review, I took the decision of wearing my Apple Watch SE alongside the Realme Watch S on my outdoor walk sessions. The standard step tracking functions are almost on par with the Apple Watch SE, with minor variances. I am no fitness freak but I used the Outdoor Walking mode during my stroll sessions and the Watch S tracked my steps as well as the calories and pace data well. For those concerned with step data tracking accuracy, I can say that the Realme Watch S often reproduces comparable data with the Apple Watch SE.
The same is the case for heart rate data where I noticed a minor variance in the heart rate graph. Sadly, there was no professional-grade device to measure SpO2 reading and hence, I had to believe what the Watch S showed. Compared to the Amazfit Bip U and Bip S, the SpO2 reading requires lesser time and returns results despite some handshakes.
Sleep tracking was also reliable and I noticed the Watch S showed both light as well as deep sleep cycles using a clear graph on the watch itself. There’s stress monitoring as well as breathing exercise available. The watch returned normal readings, which was worrying at times when I was genuinely stressed at the workplace. Maybe a future update could fix this. I found the reminder options for walking around quite helpful, especially after I returned to the office. Sadly female users will miss menstrual health tracking on the Realme Watch S, something which the more affordable Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 can do.
Realme claims a battery life of up to 15 days under regular usage. In my experience, the Realme Watch S lasted two weeks before I got bored and decided to recharge the battery. Do note that the watch went down to 10 percent before I put it on charge. The magnetic adapter is tricky to align with the pins under the watch. However, paired with a regular 10W adapter, the Watch S takes close to two hours for a full refill.
After spending a fortnight with the Realme Watch S, it comes across as a decent option, given the Rs 4,999 price tag. Compared to everything else you can find at this price, the Realme Watch S is certainly built superbly. Those seeking a masculine design will like flaunting it as well. It is comfortable on the wrist, is fairly smart, and is a decent fitness tracker. For someone seeking an Amazfit Bip U alternative, this is an interesting option. Although, the Bip U is still a better value considering its lower price of Rs 3,999.
On the whole, I feel the Realme Watch S loves being more of a watch than a fitness tracker. This is different from the trend I usually see in this price segment. Realme is yet to iron out the bugs and minor issues, but rest apart, this is a wearable that geeks will love to pick up.