The Realme Watch S is the second smartwatch to launch from the Oppo offshoot, once again positioning itself at the more affordable end of the smartwatch market.
It joins the the original Realme Watch and the new Watch S Pro, with the Watch S essentially a cheaper version of the Pro, wrapped up in a similar round watch design.
Wareable verdict: Realme Watch review
Priced at £74.99 (around $100 but still scarce in the US), it’s a step up in price from the $50 original, putting it up against watches like the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini and Amazfit’s clan of Bip smartwatches like the Bip U Pro.
For the money, this time you’re getting a nicer looking Realme watch that can track your health, exercise and gives you smartwatch staples like notification support and music controls. It’s also ramped up battery life numbers with the promise of more than two weeks away from the charger.
With the likes of the Apple Watch SE and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 taking care of things at the high end, it’s clear the new battleground lies with sub-$100 smartwatches. Is the Realme Watch S the standout smartwatch at that price? We’ve been living with it to find out. Here’s our full verdict.
Realme Watch S: Design and screen
With the first Realme Watch, we got a small, square plastic case that housed a 1.4-inch touchscreen display matched up with a 20mm strap. In the Watch S, we get something that looks and feels different to wear. Largely for the better.
It features a round, 47mm case that’s made from a much higher quality titanium alloy that also gives it more of a conventional watch feel than the sporty and plastic exterior of the first Realme Watch. There’s now a larger 22mm removable silicone band that has a nicer flexible feel to it and caused no issues wearing it through the day, in bed and during exercise.
The case is flanked by two physical buttons that will push you into the main menu screen and offer a shortcut to exercise tracking.
Front and centre is a smaller 1.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen display that uses Corning Gorilla Glass to beef up durability. It does also offer an improved 360 x 360 resolution and the result is a step up in sharpness, colours, brightness and viewing angles.
Realme also uses smart display technology to adjust screen brightness based on available light in your current environment.
It doesn’t have an always-on display mode, but if you can live without that, you’ll be happy with the kind of screen quality you’ll find here on the Watch S.
Around the back is where you’ll find the optical heart rate sensor that unlocks heart rate monitoring as well as blood oxygen measurements.
As a package, it’s disappointing to find that Realme has stuck to the same IP68 water resistant rating. That means this isn’t one you can take the shower or go for swim with it.
We did accidentally wander into the shower with it on a few occasions and it did survive, but rest assured it’s not built for that level of water exposure.
Overall though, the Realme Watch S is pleasant enough watch to live with. It’s not the most original looking nor does it offer anything out of the ordinary in the design department.
For the price though, you get a higher quality case material and a watch that feels ultimately more watch-like than Realme’s first effort.
Realme Watch S: Smartwatch features
The Realme Watch S is for Android users only and you’ll need to download the Realme Link phone app if you have a phone running Android 5.0 or later. Fortunately, we had a Realme phone to test it out with and didn’t have any issues setting up and syncing the Watch S.
Realme is using its own operating system and doesn’t divulge on what’s powering performance. In general, interacting with the software is smooth, but can have the odd labouring moment. It’s an easy to smartwatch to use, with swipes in all directions getting you to notification streams, widgets, quick settings and the main app screen.
In terms of those smartwatch features, you’re getting some pretty standard things here. You can view your phone notifications, but you can’t respond to them.
You can view weather forecasts when it’s connected to your phone, use it as remote for your phone’s camera and there’s music controls here too.
Notification support is very much on the basic side. You can read full messages from apps like WhatsApp, but email notifications will give you just the subject line, prompting you to reach for your phone.
If you’re into your watch faces, you have a nice bunch to choose from here, with a handful available to live on the watch and the rest of them housed in the companion phone app.
It has the kind of smartwatch features we’d come to expect for a watch coming in at this price. It’s pretty basic, but if you like being able to see notifications, controlling music and switching up watch faces, it does the job.
Realme Watch S: Fitness and sports tracking
Like the first Realme Watch, there’s a fair amount at your disposal here if you want to track your health and fitness.
You’ve got a heart rate monitor that unlocks continuous monitoring, resting heart rate readings and real-time heart rate during exercise.
That same sensor is used to enable blood oxygen measurements, with the ability to take reliable measurements a bit hit and miss in our experience.
There’s a 3-axis accelerometer to track activities like daily steps and is used for sports modes like running with connected GPS support on offer to improve outdoor tracking accuracy.
For fitness tracking, you can view your stats from many of the available watch faces and the dedicated activity tracking widget that opts for the ring-style UI to shoe steps, calorie burn and hours spent active. That means you’ll get inactivity alerts to give you a nudge to walk around and there’s also some handy water drinking reminder alerts too.
From an accuracy point of view, it was generally within 500 steps of a Fitbit Sense we wore at the same time on the opposite wrist, so it seems to fair well from that point of view. The data is presented in a pretty basic fashion in the companion phone app, but we found ourselves mostly checking in on progress on the dedicated activity tracking watch widget.
The Watch S also tracks sleep in a way that most smartwatches monitor your bed time. You also have a dedicated app on the watch to see most recent sleep data. It will capture sleep duration and break down REM, awake, deep sleep and light sleep stages. It’ll also record heart rate during sleep as well. All of that data is viewable in the Realme Link app.
Up against a Fitbit Sense, we found that it usually captured a longer sleep duration and counted time spent in bed before falling asleep as sleep. Deep sleep data was largely in the same ballpark and light sleep seemed skewed by that time it thought we’d fallen asleep, when in fact we were just in bed binging on Netflix.
Sleep tracking compared: Realme Watch S (left and centre) and Fitbit Sense (right)
When you switch up to exercise mode, you’ve got your pick of 15 sports to track, which includes running, cycling, strength training, basketball, badminton and indoor rowing. Like most watches at this price, you’re not going to be able to track your free throws or your rowing strokes as it keeps data basic for more niche activities.
We spent most time running and indoor rowing with it and found much like what we found with the first Realme Watch, don’t expect wonders here.
Run tracking compared: Garmin Fenix 6 (left and centre) and Realme Watch S (right)
During runs, even with connected GPS in use it was a mile off a 5 mile run compared to a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, which meant metrics like average pace were massively skewed as well. We know these watches sit in very different price ranges, but even with phone GPS in use, we’d expect better here.
For indoor rowing sessions, we were more interested in heart rate performance as this mode only tracks duration, heart rate and calorie burn. In a 30 minute session it delivered an average heart rate reading of 102bpm when a chest strap suggested a 118bpm average and a 134 max reading. So even at those more steadily paced exercises, that heart rate monitor struggles to deliver.
Heart rate tracking compared: Realme Watch S (left) and Garmin HRM Pro chest strap monitor (right)
That heart rate data fared slightly better with running offering average HR readings within 2-3 bpm of a chest strap. Though you don’t get any graphs plotting out data over a session or maximum readings.
If you want a serious sports watch experience or even a more basic one, the Watch S doesn’t deliver on that front unfortunately. For those fitness tracking basics, it’s a little more reliable.
Realme Watch S: Battery life
The Watch S packs a 390mAh battery, which Realme says is capable of delivering 15 days of battery life. Those numbers are based on lab tests that include enabling 24/7 heart rate monitoring, receiving 100 message notifications and syncing it to the companion app 5 times a day.
Based on our testing it’s a smartwatch that’s built to deliver a couple of weeks of use, and seems to manage that battery better than the 4-5 days we got with the Realme Watch. On a daily basis, with the screen bright, continuous heart rate monitoring enabled, notification support turned on and around an hour of exercise tracking, battery drop-off was at most 10%.
When you are running low, there’s a power saving mode that reverts to a black and white screen and will only display time and battery status. Realme doesn’t put a number on how long it lasts in that mode, but we’ve left it alone for well over a week and it’s still been running with plenty of battery to spare.
Realme Watch S
The Watch S is certainly a better smartwatch than Realme’s first effort, which is down to the more attractive design and the improved screen quality. Core features however haven’t changed and that’s the not such good news. It’s a much bigger problem when Amazfit is pushing out smartwatches at the price point that offer a better mix of smartwatch and fitness tracking features. If you’ve got less than £100/$100 to spend on a smartwatch, we’d say go for something like the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini or the Bip U Pro. If you shop around and can afford to pay a little more, you find the excellent Huawei Watch GT 2e for just under £100/$100 as well.
- Nice design for the price
- Good quality display
- Impressive battery life
- Heart rate accuracy
- Sports tracking accuracy
- Basic smartwatch features