powerful $50 smartwatch for Android users

powerful $50 smartwatch for Android users

  29 Jun 2020

The Realme Watch is for people that really don’t want to spend a lot of money on a smartwatch. At $50, it’s way cheaper than an older Apple Watch Series 3 or a Samsung Galaxy Watch that’s for sure.

The offshoot brand from Chinese tech giant Oppo is out to prove that cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad – although it’s important to stress this watch works with Android only.

This budget option includes the kind of features you’d certainly expect to see on something pricier.

It has smartwatch features like the ability to view notifications and music controls. There’s also plenty going on in the way of fitness features including the presence of an SpO2 sensor.

While you will have to make sacrifices in some departments, Realme certainly offers a lot of smartwatch for your money.

The question is whether the Android-only option delivers the goods when it comes to performance and using it day-to-day. We’ve been living with it on our wrist for a while now to find out.

Here’s our full verdict on the Realme Watch.

Realme Watch: Design and screen

Realme Watch: Design and screen

Does $50 get you a good-looking watch? Well, kind of. While this isn’t constructed from high grade materials, it does a decent job of looking relatively smart on your wrist.

What you’re getting is a square watch with curved edges that comes in black with a body made out of plastic.

That’s partnered up with a removable 20mm strap. It’s supremely light at just 31g and at 11.8mm thick, it’s not as slender as an Apple Watch for comparison.

It looks quite small when it’s on, and the glossy finish on the case helps to give it the sense that you’re wearing something a bit more premium. It’s been comfortable to wear day and night and during exercise and we’ve had no cause for complaint having it on almost 24/7.

We say almost wearing it 24/7, because the water resistant rating means it’s not suitable for jumping in the shower with. The Realme Watch has an IP68 rating, which means it’s good enough for washing your hands. We did accidentally jump in the shower with it once and it sent the screen into a frenzy. It did survive, but definitely don’t do that.

Realme Watch profile and thickness

The ‘classic’ strap that comes with it is a pretty standard fayre, a silicone kind with a watch-style clasp. It’s a little on the rigid side with just enough flex to make it wrap around the wrist nicely.

We did also get the opportunity to try out some of the additional fashion straps, which come in red, green and blue that are certainly less pastel-looking than they appear on the Realme website. These use a single button clasp to snap the other end of the strap that was initially fiddly to get in place, but thankfully hasn’t budged in our time with it.

Realme does include a solitary physical button that will wake up and turn off the display and can be held down to reveal the options to restart and turn off the watch. It’s really over to the touchscreen display to deal with the majority of your interactions and that display isn’t perfect.

Realme Watch bezel

What you get is a 1.4-inch, 320 x 320 touchscreen colour display with Gorilla Glass 3 to offer up some protection.

That display doesn’t entirely fill up the space left for it with a big chunk at the bottom of the screen eating into that. It’s more noticeable when the screen is off and a bit less so when it’s on. It’s a shame nonetheless that bezel eats up so much space.

The quality of the screen is good enough for most tasks. Colours are a little muted, but in general it’s offered good visibility. Getting that good visibility, particularly outdoors in bright sunlight, is entirely dependent on cranking up the display brightness, which thankfully is possible and does offer good maximum brightness.

This isn’t an always-on display, though the raise to wake gesture is pretty responsive even during exercise.

Where the screen disappoints most is the responsiveness to taps and swipes. That lag moving through screens is very noticeable and it can be temperamental at times trying to select features.

There’s certainly aspects of the design that scream budget, but on the whole it does a fairly decent job of not feeling like a really cheap and tacky watch to live with.

Realme Watch: Smartwatch features

Realme Watch notification

The Realme Watch runs on a proprietary OS and that software keeps things unsurprisingly basic in terms of what it brings in smartwatch terms.

The first thing to mention is that it will only pair with Android phones. So, this is no cheap option for iPhone owners we’re afraid.

Once you’ve downloaded the Realme Link app and paired up the watch, you can quickly get a sense of what it’s capable of.

There’s 12 different watch faces to choose from and you can only have six available on the watch at one time.

There’s a mix of digital and analogue options to show off fitness stats or keep things minimal. It’s actually a nice bunch and the fitness-focused ones definitely stand out.

Realme Watch screen

Along with watch faces, you can get call reminders and notifications for third party apps. You’ll need to individually turn on the ones you want from the companion app and then they’ll pop up on the watch screen and you can swipe down from the watch face to view them.

You can only dismiss the notifications and you won’t be able to view photos. It’s basic support, but it did at least work.

Weather updates can be displayed and are powered from your phone, while the ability to take smartphone photos from your watch worked with no problem.

There are also music controls, letting you skip tracks and adjust volume along with displaying current song/audio playing. It worked perfectly fine for us with Spotify and rounds up a decent array of smartwatch features.

One feature that Realme is promising at a later date is the ability to control Realme’s smart home devices like connected lamps and air purifiers and will roll out as a software update at some point.

Realme Watch: Fitness tracking features

Realme Watch fitness tracking

Fitness feels like Realme’s big play here and it’s reflected in the features that you’ll find included. It will track steps and automatically record sleep, but it aims to offer a bit more than what you’d probably expect from a $50 smartwatch.

You’re also getting inactivity alerts, the ability to set drink water reminders and turn on continuous heart rate monitoring. You can choose whether that heart rate data sample is taken every five minutes all the way up to 30 minute intervals.

Realme Watch step accuracy

Step tracking compared: Realme Watch (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)

In terms of fitness tracking accuracy, we found that it largely stood up well against a Garmin fitness tracker we pitted it against. Above is a sample of the kind of daily step count data we recorded.

We are always looking for consistency as opposed to identical scores as the way this data is crunched differs for each device. We’d say that the Realme Watch fared pretty well on this front.

Though the actual distance covered seems to be a little off, which is something we discovered with our sports tracking.

Realme Watch sleep tracking vs withings

Sleep tracking compared: Realme Watch (left and centre) and Withings Sleep Analyzer (right)

For sleep, Realme offers a lot of the metrics you’d expect to find on more expensive watches. It will breakdown sleep into deep, light and REM. It will also record heart rate if you enable the option to continuously record it. The screenshots above are a sample of one (not very good) night’s sleep compared to the Withings Sleep Analyzer mat.

In terms of those sleep phases, it tended to suggest less time spent in light sleep and more time spent in deep sleep. The REM data appeared to be largely in the same ballpark with a difference of around 20 minutes. REM is the phase of your bed time that represents the kind of sleep that influences brain development and productivity.

Sleep tracking seems to a good job in terms of recording data, though lacks the kind of actionable insights you’d expect to see from something more sophisticated and dedicated like Withings’ sleep device.

Realme Watch spO2

SpO2 compared: Realme Watch (left) and iHealth pulse oximeter (right)

We were surprised to see that Realme has also included an SpO2 sensor, which is a sensor used as an additional way to assess your fitness levels and has cropped up on Huawei and Garmin watches.

You can take on-the spot measurements, which, unlike Huawei’s watch, are stored and displayed in the Realme Link app to see range, average and number of measurements.

We were able to measure it against a clinically tested pulse oximeter and found that from an accuracy point of view, it appears to dish out reliable data. It’s what you do with that data that’s really lacking here and it would be good to see some context for the useful health metric.

There’s also a mental wellbeing, which makes the cut in the form of a mode tagged meditation, which is in fact guided breathing exercises.

Like other watches that offer this feature, it’s a simple case of following the instructions when to inhale and exhale with the soft vibrations indicating the changing between the two.

As a budget fitness tracker, the Realme Watch offers a lot and on the whole delivers seemingly reliable data and tracking features that work without any major issue.

Realme Watch: Sports tracking and heart rate accuracy

Realme Watch sports

The Realme wants to give you that feel of a sports watch even if it does look more like a smartwatch. There are 14 sports modes in total and that includes running, cycling, yoga, football, basketball and cricket.

Before you think about slapping this on and expecting it to track a nudge down to fine leg, many of the modes including the cricket one offer just duration, heart rate and calorie burn data.

The only modes that have more in the way of real-time metrics is outdoor cycling, outdoor running and treadmill. For running, you can see pace, distance and cadence data.

This watch doesn’t have built-in GPS, but you can piggyback off your phone’s GPS to improve accuracy.

Realme Watch running

Outdoor run tracking compared: Realme Watch (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 (right)

That being said, even with connected GPS, the data didn’t quite add up on the runs we took it out for. For starters, there’s no signs of a mapped route to look over. Accuracy-wise, it always tended to be around 0.5 miles out from the Garmin running watch we put it up against. Things like average pace and cadence seemed way off too.

Realme Watch treadmill

Indoor run tracking compared: Realme Watch (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 (right)

When we took things indoor onto the treadmill, it was more of the same. Distance tracking was off compared to a Garmin paired up to a Stryd footpod. Again, pace and cadence just wasn’t right.

There’s also automatic exercise recognition for running and walking though, we didn’t seem to be able to get this working in our time with it.

There is a PPG heart rate optical sensor that is designed to be used for on the spot measurements, continuous heart rate tracking and real-time measurements during exercise.

We went in expecting the worst, and what we found is that actually it was pretty much in line with a lot of optical sensors. Good for resting measurements and general exercise, but falters for high intensity exercise.

Realme Watch review

Heart rate testing compared: Realme Watch (left and centre) and Polar H9 (right)

For even tempo runs, it held up well against a Polar H9 chest strap matching average heart rate and was just two bpm within it for maximum heart rate readings. When you ramp things up, it really struggles like so many optical sensors we’ve tested over the years.

Above is a screenshot of an indoor interval running session against the Polar H9 chest strap. Unfortunately, you don’t get a graph of heart rate data for the session as Realme opts for showing you time spent in heart rate zones and giving you your average for the session.

That’s why we also included data from the daily heart rate section to get a better idea of what data it recorded. Both average and max heart rate readings were well off the chest strap.

Realme Watch heart rate

Another surprising addition from a heart rate monitor point of view is the VO2 Max test, which requires a 12-minute run to generate the reading.

That is entirely dependent on the heart rate information being reliable and accurate, which as we mentioned isn’t really up to standard. You don’t have the option to pair up an external heart rate monitor to improve that accuracy either.

When that session is done, you can view the data in the Realme app and there is solitary third party app support just for Google Fit. The exercise log is pretty basic, and doesn’t let you dig deeper into those sessions. You can see total exercise duration, sessions and average sessions, but overall it’s very limited.

As a sports watch, it certainly didn’t blow us away and there’s certainly room for improvement as far as something that punches above its weight in terms of what it offers. It just needs to do that reliably and accurately.

Realme Watch: Battery life

Powering all of its features is a 165mAh capacity battery, which is said to deliver 7-9 days in full mode. That’s 7 days with the heart rate monitor on, and 9 days with it off. In our time with it, we’d say it’s a bit short of that.

We tended to get closer to 4 days and that was with heart rate monitoring on and with a couple sessions of exercise tracked. Tracking exercise sessions didn’t massively dent battery life, though it does seem having the screen at full brightness and continuous heart rate monitoring does sap power.

You could well get closer to 7 or maybe 9 days, but we think you’d need to switch off heart rate monitoring and have lower the screen brightness setting to make that possible.

To push things further, there’s also a power saving mode that promises 20 days that will display time and battery status and nothing else. Holding down the physical button reverts you back to full smartwatch mode and it’s a nice feature to have and is one we had to put to use.

When you do run out, it takes over an hour to get back up to full capacity. There’s a disc-shaped charging cradle to clip onto the back of the watch to charge it up, which does manage to stay put.


The Realme Watch is certainly more fitness watch than smartwatch, and does give you a lot of features for your money. Fitness tracking on the whole worked well, more so than sports tracking, while the smartwatch features that do make the cut worked without issue too. There’s very few watches that can offer the same for the price. If you can afford to spend a little more, the Amazfit Bip should offer more polished hardware and software. If you are looking for a decent budget fitness tracker that looks like a watch, then you might get exactly what you want right here.


  • Lots of features for the money
  • Easy to use
  • Fitness tracking works well
  • Decent battery life
  • Poor display
  • No built-in GPS
  • Sports tracking not great
  • Android only

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