As phones began reaching a happy medium in performance, manufacturers have begun looking further afield for new customers, and accessories are the new playing field. Last year realme announced they would be launching their AIOT – Artificial Intelligence of Things – range, which saw the launch of the original realme Watch, as well as earbuds and fitness band. Realme announced their second gen AIOT range in January, starting with the Watch S and Buds Air Pro.

The realme Watch S brings a new design to their watches, with a circular watch face this time around. The body on the Watch S is also chunkier in size than the original, but also includes almost double the battery life with realme promising up to 15 days of life. 

At $169, the realme Watch S is pretty well priced for the Australian market, though competition is heating up in this range. 

I’ve been using the Watch S for a bit over a week now, and here’s how it went. 

Hardware and Design

While the original realme Watch took design cues from Apple, the Watch S is more a traditional circular watch design. I’ve always been a fan of a round face on a watch. The square face smartwatches do tend to fit more data on their displays, but there’s just something visually appealing about the circular design. 

The design of the Watch S isn’t ground-breaking, but it is more traditional and looks just a little more premium than its predecessor. It also feels a little better too, with an aluminium case, a step up from the plastic body on the original realme watch. 

There’s dual buttons on the right hand side – top activates the on-board menu, while the bottom is a shortcut to workout modes. The display is also touch sensitive, with swipes available to display more info:

  • Up: Menu 
  • Down: Messages
  • Right: Quick Settings
  • Left: Health Stats
  • Long Press to change watch face

The display itself is slightly smaller on this generation – 1.3-inch vs 1.4-inch – but that circular screen does make a difference in the style stakes. It’s a decently bright display which makes it easy to read indoors or out.

The watch has no ‘night’ mode, but you can place it in DND mode which can be fairly easily activated at night. If you don’t activate DND mode, and you have ‘raise wrist to wake’ enabled, the display can be a super-bright beacon when it lights up accidentally at 3am. The other option is to slip the watch into power-saving mode which gives you a grey-scale watch face with very basic data – time, battery and Bluetooth – which has the benefit of sipping power without waking you up, though does affect sleep tracking.

The Watch S includes a ‘colourful liquid silicone strap’ though the watch itself is available in black only. There is a Vegan Leather option on their online store in Blue, Green and Brown for $24.99 if you want something more suited to your style. 

Silicon is a good material for working out, however it doesn’t look the best in all situations. If you don’t like the official options though, the strap is a standard 22mm with spring loaded pins to help you switch them out if you want something in another material or design. 

The watch includes a range of sensors such as PPG Heart Rate Sensor, and a SPO2 sensor, as well as the usual 3-axis motion sensor for tracking steps. Heart Rate monitoring is decently accurate, though did register my resting heart rate a little higher than it is normally on several occasions. The SPo2 monitor works as well – though as with all these devices it’s more a general idea of your blood-oxygen saturation than a medically diagnosed issue, but it’s still a good general idea.

The watch has no on-board GPS, so you’ll need your phone, with location services activated, along for the ride if you’re going to track a workout. The watch will remind you to connect your phone if you try to start a workout using GPS, It’s a small hassle, but something worth noting. 

Battery and Charging

Realme have listed a 15-day battery life from the 390mAh battery included in the watch on their website. The actual use is about on par, if not a bit better. I’ve been using the watch for 10 days now with a few tracked workouts, the Raise to Wake function active and occasionally checking heart rate, SP02 and sleep stats, and the battery is currently at 47%, making the 15 day battery claim very achievable, if not being a little understated. 

The circular charging puck included in the box for charging is fairly ubiquitous these days. The POGO pin charging solution has seen a few issues from various brands over the years due to corrosion on either the watch or charging puck, but it works well now, lining up the watch fairly easily when you place it on.

The watch charges fairly quickly, so it won’t be off your wrist not counting steps for too long when you do.

Setup and Functions

Setting up the Realme Watch S is fairly simple, a QR Code shows up on the display which is a link to Realme India which has links to the iOS app store, Google Play Store and the direct link to the APK for Android users. 

My only feedback is that the page lists a number of RealMe apps including the first link which is  the ‘RealMe Store’ app for India. It would be nice to have a global page that links specifically to the “RealMe Link” app you need, but until then, Heads up ;).

The actual install process is simple, follow the bouncing ball type thing. Once the watch is paired, you’re good to go. 

The Realme Watch S tracks your steps and general activity including how often you stand up, as well as sleep, then displays it all in the app. You also get heart-rate tracking with SPo2 saturation tracking as well. These are all by default – though you need to activate SPo2 manually due to having to remain stationary to get an accurate reading. 

For anyone wanting a more defined ‘track’ of their activity, the Sports Mode on the watch includes tracking specifically for a number of sports. You can track an indoor and outdoor run or bike ride, strength training, Basketball, Aerobic capacity, elliptical and more.

My GPS track was fairly accurate when I recorded a few walks, with the details matching up with data from a growing number of devices which have tracked the same walk.

While I see the benefits of the outdoor activity tracking, the indoor activities – the ones I tried – seem more like just periods of time the watch should be aware of increased activity, though this can be mis-leading. I ran the Strength Training sports tracking accidentally, and forgot about it for 10 hours at which point it said I had burned 2100 calories – when in fact I’d been sitting at my desk job all day, I guess it was an intense day?

This just says there’s room to move on the functionality of the fitness tracking. For next-gen I’d like to see more in-depth tracking and reporting for some of the modes – say counting reps when you’re tracking strength training or how many swipes you made with a badminton racquet.

Overall, the tracking works well for the basics but for more advanced insights there doesn’t appear to be anything to bridge the gap into more high-end fitness tracking.

App

The Realme Link app is fairly simple to look at. Your watch connection status, step count, heart-rate and SPo2 stats are there, as is your exercise history. 

The most interaction you can have with the app is with the Settings menu, which is where you can change the Watchface, including setting your own with a background photo of your choosing.

Other options you can enable are notifications (on an app by app basis), Stand up and Water intake reminders and settings for the 24-hour heart rate monitoring. 

The setup is also where you configure remote controls between the phone and watch. You can configure Music Playback, remote camera shutter and Find My Phone controls here. The Camera Shutter is simple, but extremely useful – as is the Find my Phone function. The Music controls are fairly basic play/pause and back/skip as well as volume controls. The music isn’t on the watch, it’s simply to control any media playing app – YouTube, Pocket Casts etc. – running on your phone. 

Other options include setting some of your metrics like your daily step goal, whether you can see weather. Then of course we get the regulatory stuff including a User Guide, MAC Address and Legal information, and Firmware update option.

Should you buy it?

The Realme Watch S is a good looking watch, it’s comfortable to wear while working out and it ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of functionality when it comes to fitness tracking.

The price puts the Realme Watch S in competition with a number of fitness bands on the market, a number of which don’t include a lovely colour display. 

The main competition for my money though is the Xiaomi MI Watch which I reviewed earlier this year, which while it doesn’t have as long a battery life – 9 days vs 15 days – it has a decent colour touch display, and comes with on-board GPS so you can leave your phone at home and costs just $99. 

The Watch S does have a slightly more pleasing, watch-like aesthetic and that battery is on track to last for weeks, so that’s something that can’t be denied when checking out watches. If youl like how it looks, and want to give it a go, it’s available now for $169 from the realme e-store, mobileciti, 5GWORLD, Amazon, eBay and Catch.com.