The Realme Watch S Boasts Impressive Battery Life, But Limited Features

The Realme Watch S Boasts Impressive Battery Life, But Limited Features
Image: Gizmodo Australia
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‘Smartwatch’ has come to mean a lot of things over the last decade. Most fit into the ‘health’ category like your Fitbits and your Vivoactives, but there’s others that offer complete phone integration (including calls), and some that are really just fancy, designer watches. The Realme Watch S crimps from all these categories, but it also leaves out some important, useful features.

If you’re in the market for a new health-focussed watch, the Realme Watch S is a very affordable fitness companion. But if you want something that’ll help streamline your day, you’re out of luck.

Realme Watch S: Specifications

Here’s a rundown of all the major features and specifications you’ll want to know about:

  • Battery life: 15 days, 390mAh
  • Screen: 1.3 inches, Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Water Resistance: IP68
  • Charging: Proprietary magnetic charging base
  • Straps: Liquid silicone
  • Notifications: View only
  • GPS: Only via phone link

Realme Watch S

WHAT IS IT?

Realme's latest smartwatch

PRICE

$169

LIKE

Great screen, superb health and fitness features

NO LIKE

Lack of proper notification functionality

Design

The Realme Watch S is a chunky little number which may not suit thinner wrists. Rather than a small slimline design, the 1.3-inch screen sits inside a thick sports-style face complete with stopwatch knobs and a thick, silicone band.

I have relatively small wrists, and it meant the watch face took up a massive amount of space and stuck out on my arm.

Still, it’s a nice-looking piece. There’s nothing too flashy about it, but it’s not ugly either. Everything here is smooth, sleek and minimalist.

If you want to jazz it up a bit, you can switch up the watch face on the dazzling 278 ppi display. I went for the above rainbow look, but there’s plenty of other customisation options to choose from. They all add an interesting touch to the relative straightforwardness of the watch’s design.

Battery Life

Where the Realme Watch S excels is its battery life. In regular use, it’ll last you at least two weeks. If you’re using it on-and-off, it’ll last you even longer because the battery retention is excellent.

As of writing, my watch battery is at 56% and 29 days without a charge. This is because my use of the watch was mostly limited to night-time sleep tracking, trips to the gym and on occasional work days where I wanted to focus without being distracted by phone notifications — more on this later.

While the specifications indicate the watch only takes two hours to charge up to a full battery, I wasn’t able to test this — because as of writing, the watch has lasted nearly a month without needed a top-up.

It’s very impressive, and great news if you’re particularly lax with charging your devices.

More active users who wear the watch every hour of the day will likely find the battery lasting closer to that two-week mark, but for most people it’ll last much longer.

If you’re wondering how the battery life is so good, it’s because it’s missing some smart watch features that tend to be a little more battery-intensive.

Health Features

The Realme Watch S is packed with 16 different health modes, and some of them are more useful than others. First, we have the basic modes like fitness tracking for running, cycling, swimming and other activities. There’s also a heart and blood oxygen level monitor, a stopwatch, a sleep tracker and a ‘meditation’ app.

Of these, the fitness tracker was the most useful — I used it for walking and using a treadmill. These modes let you measure the duration, distance and pace of your exercise as well as calories burned, and let you track progress on a daily basis.

This information is then uploaded into the Realme Link app, and you can see how well you’re doing overall. I used it mostly to monitor the amount of daily exercise I was doing and building on it the following day.

The watch doesn’t have a built-in GPS for those outdoors walks (which certainly helps keep the battery life healthy), but it does connect with the Link app to track when you’re walking and how far you’ve gone.

The meditation app was a nice little inclusion in the package, too. It encourages users to undertake breathing exercises and tells you when to catch your breath.

Similarly, the watch lets you set up alerts for standing up when you’re working in an office and lets you know when to take breaks for your health. As someone who often forgets to do this, it was great to be reminded to take time out and look after my health.

The other useful health feature was sleep-tracking.

I’m someone who doesn’t get nearly enough sleep, so being able to see that spelled out was great, if a little depressing.

The watch segments sleep by REM/light/deep sleep and also tells you when you fall asleep, so you can reconsider your habits. The first night I wore the watch, it told me I only got around two hours of deep sleep. As you can imagine, that’s not great for your health. But it did explain some of my lethargy and hunger the next day.

Pairing the fitness tracking features with daily meditation and overnight sleep-tracking helped identify potential improvements in my lifestyle that could contribute to better overall health. Whether I actually do something about it is another matter entirely — but that’s not on the watch.

Notifications

Image: Gizmodo Australia

The major make-or-break issue for the Realme Watch S is its lack of notification functionality. While you can view notifications from particular apps including Messenger, Gmail, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, you can’t interact with these messages.

Some smartwatches will offer a ‘quick reply’ functionality or a keyboard to respond, but the Realme Watch S is read-only. It means if you do get a notification, you’ll still need to head over to your phone to respond.

So if you’re looking for a watch that’ll streamline your daily tasks and let you do away with your phone, this isn’t it. Read-only notifications are handy in a pinch, but the process of checking your watch, then going to your phone to reply, is inconvenient.

It’s the only major concern I had with the Realme Watch S, but it is a big one. It meant I didn’t have the watch strapped to me 24/7 because it wasn’t essential to my work day. For sleeping and exercising, it provided very helpful data — and the watch’s health features are robust — but in everyday use, it wasn’t practical.

Final Verdict

The Realme Watch S is a reliable and affordable smartwatch companion, but its lack of reply functionality for notifications is a major issue. If you’re looking for a watch that’ll help you get through the day and streamline the need for a phone by your side, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

But its because of these limitations that it excels in other areas, like pricing and battery life.

If you’re just looking for a middle-of-the-range health companion, it boasts an impressive array of health features that’ll help you track your sleep, encourage daily movement, monitor exercise and keep you to your fitness goals. It’s also very affordable, and should suit most people.

Overall the watch has some great, handy features but you’ll need to consider your personal needs before you head out to purchase it.