Realme Band full review
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Realme has seemingly flooded the market with its smartphones in the short time the Oppo sub-brand has been on the scene and, more recently, it's branched out into other avenues of tech; namely headphones and wearables, including fitness trackers like the Realme Band.
Those familiar with fellow Chinese player Xiaomi will undoubtedly see some similarities in Realme's approach here, offering what appears to be, on paper, astounding value for money; with the Realme Band sporting fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and more, for less than £25/€25.
Design and build
The Realme Band bears a resemblance to both Fitbit's Alta and Inspire HR trackers: a narrow plastic body skirted by flexible TPU straps, a single capacitive button beneath its display and not much else.
The Band's greatest physical attribute is how unobtrusive and lightweight it is (at just 20 grams); easily forgotten on the wrist when not being used for activity tracking and the like.
Its plastic build is expected for the price, with a little style and customisation made possible by the band options and an assortment of watch faces. You can pick the Realme Band up in black, yellow or green (the muted khaki number we tested), with a single plastic buckle and tongued loop to stop the strap flapping about during exercise.
It would have been nice to see some additional colour options and for Realme to sell additional bands as separate accessories, instead of simply selling three discreet bands, but it's assumed that this was a decision made in order to keep costs down.
On the upside, the band's charging mechanism requires no additional adapters, as the top strap pulls off to reveal charging contacts designed to slot straight into a conventional USB-A port.
The main caveat to this design decision is that, as with older-generation Mi Bands and a few other trackers, the constant pulling and replacing of this top band is undoubtedly going to wear to the point where the tracker doesn't sit as securely on the wrist. There's also the more immediate concern of damaging the charging port, as the force and amount of twisting needed to remove the strap each time always feels excessive.
This small tracker also manages to squeeze in an optical heart rate sensor and IP68 dust and water resistance, meaning it's fine to wear in the rain, whilst washing your hands or taking a shower but isn't explicitly designed to wear swimming.
The 0.96in TFT colour LCD panel appears to be curved at first glance but is actually a flat display, hidden behind a rounded plastic cover. Design-wise, it makes for a more premium finish on first impressions but does come with some issues.
The plastic attracts fingerprints rather easily and the bezel thickness, paired with how far beneath that curved frontage the LCD is sat, mean that the screen can actually be partially obscured when viewed off-angle.
As for the quality of the panel at play, the fact that Realme opted for a colour display is nice, allowing for a wider breadth of watch faces and making it easier to parse on-screen info at a glance, however, its low resolution makes reading fine text (such as in notifications) difficult. Contrast and viewing angles aren't particularly strong either.
Raise-to-wake isn't the most responsive but works well enough to leave on and you have the option to schedule when the feature is active (so that it doesn't ignite at night and disturb you).
Features and software
Pairing the Band is easy enough, although you may have to allow special permissions within your phone's settings so that the companion app can run in the background and synchronise automatically.
Despite a fairly robust spec sheet, you actually have to pick and choose which of the features you want at hand, all of which is managed via Realme Link - a sort of catch-all app for Realme's various IoT devices.
The Band supports tracking for nine sport modes in total, including yoga, hiking and cricket, but only three modes can be loaded onto the Band at any one time, which may feel limiting to multidisciplinary athletes and the like.
It's a similar story with what the Band dubs 'custom functions' - a set of four additional menu options, only two of which can be actively available on the Band at the same time; weather (which needs to connect to your phone for up-to-date information), stopwatch, music playback controls and 'Find My Phone'.
With interactions on the Band limited to taps and long-presses on its single touch-sensitive key, all of the fine-tuning happens within the Realme Link app. You'll find options for everything from stand and water reminders, to brightness, Do Not Disturb and heart rate monitor frequency controls.
Performance and battery
The humble Realme Band doesn't attempt to offer UI animations, so interaction is understandably rudimentary, but also pretty responsive on-wrist.
The Band boasts automatic workout detection, although this was hit-and-miss with regards to reliability, while the metrics it offers up - with the exception of heart rate data - are pretty standard fare.
Depending on the exercise you've opted for, it'll track steps, pace, distance, duration, calories burned and heart rate, but in some cases, some of those metrics either won't be applicable (and thus won't be tracked) or are, for whatever reason, omitted by design.
As for battery life, Realme quotes up to ten days of use per charge from the Band's minuscule 90mAh cell, but in practice, even on weeks where fitness tracking didn't feature, it would usually give up the ghost after just eight days of wear.
This is, admittedly, with sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring activated (both of which are on by default) but if that's the out-of-box experience Realme presents users, its battery life claims should marry up with such conditions. And adding notifications into the mix only made things worse.
The Band reached almost 50% charge (48% in testing) after 30 minutes, when topping back up, however, a full charge takes just over 90 minutes (95 in testing) if you want that magic three-digit figure.
Fitness and sleep tracking
With the basic sensors inside the Band, don't expect too much from the data it records, especially when it comes to more unusual inclusions, like cricket; with the mode only paying attention to heart rate and calories. This isn't likely to be the tool to discern if you're becoming a better bowler or not.
The Band's sleep data is arguably its most impressive set of stats, breaking up sleep states into deep, light, REM and awake (in terms of both duration and percentage), with an additional sleep-specific heart rate metric on offer too.
It would have been nice to see some dynamic advice based on sleeping habits, but the data is simply presented for you to interpret as you see fit.
This all comes with the caveat of when the data becomes available, as sometimes the Band refused to connect and offload its data; in one instance Realme Link couldn't discern any logged data at all, as if the Band had wiped any tracking from its memory.
Price and availability
It seems the most interesting variant - the yellow colourway - isn't available in the UK or Europe and looks to remain an India exclusive for the time being.
Realme's first fitness tracker promises a lot, with a variety of supported activities, sleep tracking, heart rate tracking, smart reminders, notification support and more; all for an astoundingly low price. However, the reality of this budget tracker is that it suffers from a few too many inconsistencies and limitations to be a worthwhile buy, especially as it sits firmly in Xiaomi's shadow.
As an entry-level offering or a tracker for kids, its low cost makes it an easy recommendation, but Xiaomi's ever-popular Mi Band series - currently headed by the Mi Band 5 - is undoubtedly superior in every aspect, while only costing a fraction more.
Read next: Best fitness trackers
Realme Band: Specs
- 0.96in 160x80 colour TFT LCD
- Detachable 16mm-wide TPU straps
- Adjustable between 152mm and 227mm
- Single capacitive button
- Optical heart-rate sensor
- Sleep tracking
- Water reminders
- Sedentary reminders
- Support for nine sport modes
- Automatic workout detection
- Phone notifications
- Integrated USB charging
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 90mAh battery
- Colours: Black, green, yellow
- 19.6mm x 11.9mm x 240mm
- 20 grams
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