Ameya DalviJul 28, 2022 10:02:48 IST
– Elegant design, good build quality
– Sharp AMOLED display
– Fast and accurate SpO2 sensor
– IP67 dust and water resistant, but not swim-proof
– Simple user interface
– Direct calling feature from the watch
– No GPS; pedometer registers lower step count
– Slot for only one watch-face of your choice on the watch
– Minor bugs, questionable sleep tracking
– Frequent disconnections from the app
Price: Rs 3,999
We have reviewed a handful of audio products from Boat in the recent past, and today we analyse their latest fitness watch. Like most of their products, the Boat Watch Primia is also a budget offering, but looks quite stylish and can easily be mistaken for something a lot more expensive. It does offer a couple of interesting features that are hard to find in this segment. So let’s figure out how much style and how much substance this fitness watch brings to your wrist.
Boat Watch Primia: Design and build
The Boat Watch Primia is quite stylish without being too flashy. The dark blue faux leather belts nicely complement its shiny metallic frame. You also get a variant with black straps. What struck me was the lack of any conspicuous Boat branding on the frame or the bezels of the display. It is only present on the buckle if you are observant enough to notice it. In some ways it’s a good thing as the watch looks a lot more premium without the brand name diluting that perception. Even better, if you don’t like being called a ‘BoAthead’.
The build quality is quite good, and the watch feels sturdy without being too heavy. It probably weighs around 50 grams. The straps fit well and do not cause skin irritation even after wearing the watch for the better part of the day. They have standard 22 mm width with a simple lock-in mechanism, and if you do not like the default ones, you can replace them with any third-party straps of the same width.
The watch is IP67 rated dust and water-resistant. While it can easily handle a few splashes, it does not make it swim-proof. So don’t forget to take it off before jumping into the pool. The SpO2 and heart rate sensors are located at the back, along with the charging points. There are two physical buttons on the right side – one that doubles up as a Menu and Home button, while the other serves as a shortcut for fitness activities.
Boat Watch Primia: Display and Watch-faces
One of the most striking features of the Boat Watch Primia is its 1.39-inch circular AMOLED display. It has a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels and is quite sharp, vibrant and responsive. Circular AMOLED screens in this budget are quite rare, but it is great to have one. There is a curved glass on top but no mention of any scratch resistant layer or oleophobic coating. Don’t think Boat has applied the latter as one can easily spot smudge marks on the screen. There were no scratches though even after weeks of use.
You get five levels of brightness of which level 3 is bright enough indoors, and level 4 or 5 get the job done under bright sunlight. In the current weather, even level 3 was fine outdoors. You can turn on the screen by flicking your wrist or by pressing one of the buttons. A single flick generally works, but I did not find it as responsive as watches from Amazfit or Xiaomi. Flick to wake feature can be turned off or scheduled to stay off during your sleep hours or in a dark room like a theatre. You also have an alway-on display option, but at the cost of battery life.
Moving on to watch-faces, there are five of them preinstalled on the watch, and you get about 100 more through the Boat Crest app. You get the usual mix of digital and analogue faces, and some with fitness data like steps count, heart rate, calories burned etc. I did like a few from the lot but the watch lets you store just one watch-face of your choice. If you add another, it replaces the one that you uploaded before. The preinstalled faces cannot be removed. If not more, the company should have let the users store at least three faces of their choice on the watch.
Boat Watch Primia: Software and UI
The user interface is quite simple even for first time fitness watch users, and it’s lag-free too. Swiping down shows quick settings menu, while you can check notifications by swiping up. Swiping left or right lets you cycle through the widgets like daily activity progress, heart rate, music playback, stress levels etc. Swiping right on any screen other than the home screen takes you to the previous screen, and pressing the top button takes you to the home screen directly.
Before you start using this watch, you need to download and install the Boat Crest app and sync the watch with it. The app is fairly basic, which is good for beginners, but could have done with a bit more depth. In addition to watch settings and watch-face library, you get access to daily activity progress, workout data, heart rate, sleep data and SpO2 level. Tapping on some of them displays more information, but don’t expect major data crunching.
For instance, the sleep data covers the quantum of deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep info but does not give you in-depth sleep quality analysis like a score or what the ideal ratio of deep sleep to overall sleep duration should be. Same goes for workout data. Yes, this is an entry-level fitness watch, but we still feel there was room for more analysis.
Boat Watch Primia: Performance
You can track 11 different fitness activities on this watch ranging from walking, running, cycling and yoga to sports like basketball, badminton and football. The watch has a heart rate sensor that can monitor your heart rate all day with frequency ranging from 5 minutes to an hour. I would have liked to see a 1 minute option too. Stress monitoring is also available here and with a dedicated widget on the watch.
The SpO2 sensor on this watch does a great job in terms of speed and accuracy. You get a reading in just 15 seconds which is almost twice as fast as some of the fastest I have come across in fitness watches. Understandably, it is not as fast as over the counter oximeters but the readings are at par with a 1% variance at most. As always, these are just reference values and not meant to replace clinical equipment.
This Boat watch does not have built-in GPS, but walks and runs are tracked with reasonable accuracy. There is a 5% margin of error, which is acceptable in this segment. The good part is the pedometer doesn’t register false steps. If anything, it often under-reports the total steps. The accuracy of sleep tracking is questionable here. While it does provide information about different sleep stages, I felt the total sleep duration it reported was a lot lower than actual. I tried it thrice and it only seemed to get it right once.
Boat Watch Primia: Other interesting features
Other than the above, you get the usual set of features like music controls, call alerts and notifications from various apps on your phone that you allow. The messages are perfectly legible on the watch screen, but as always, you cannot reply back. Beyond the usual, it does support one interesting feature — calling functionality. You can actually make calls from this watch without the need of a headset. It has a microphone and speaker built-in.
Of course, the watch needs to be synced with your phone to route the calls through as it does not have a SIM slot. But you do get a dialer on the watch screen from where you can dial a number. If you give the watch access to your contacts, you can directly choose from one of your saved numbers. Similarly, you can answer a call on watch too, but it can be a hit or a miss. The watch tends to disconnect from the app frequently, and often you do not get the incoming call alerts on the watch.
The call quality is passable at best. In a quieter place, you need to hold the watch closer to your ear to hear clearly as the speaker in the watch isn’t very loud. The microphone does a fair job though as the person on the line could hear me with reasonable clarity. The watch also gives you sedentary reminders every hour to get up and move around. The implementation could have been smarter as they seem to appear on the screen even when you aren’t wearing the watch.
Boat Watch Primia: Battery backup
The Boat Watch Primia claims to last for a week on a full charge. In reality it does better and goes beyond that if you do not indulge in too much calling from the watch. During my testing it went on for 8 days with screen brightness set to 3 most of the time, notifications limited to SMS and email, three hours of total fitness activity across four days, two oximeter readings daily and three nights of sleep tracking during the period.
That’s not bad but several fitness watches have been going past 10 days comfortably. And given that this watch does not have built-in GPS, it should have strived for that number. Another minor issue being, you do not get a numeric value for the battery on the watch, and the battery graphic isn’t perfect. The watch runs out of battery without a warning when one feels there’s 25% juice left in the tank as per the battery graphic.
Boat Watch Primia: Price and Verdict
The Boat Watch Primia launched at Rs 4,999 with a one year warranty but can easily be purchased around Rs 3,999 online. It is a fair price for what it offers, and if style ranks high in your list of requirements, then it’s a great price. And not that it is light on features either. Yes, GPS is an obvious absentee but that is offset by a circular AMOLED display; something extremely rare in this budget. Add to that decent performance, ease of use and one of the fastest SpO2 sensors, and you easily get your money’s worth.
As for alternatives with round dials, you have the Realme duo of Watch S and R100 that offer similar features in the 4k to 5k range but without an AMOLED screen. If a rectangular display is fine with you, then you have two good options from Amazfit that also have built-in GPS. The Amazfit GTS 2 Mini and Bip 3 Pro can be picked for Rs 4,999 and Rs 3,999 respectively, with the former flaunting an AMOLED screen. They are swim-proof too thanks to their 5ATM water resistance. Choose one depending on the style and features that appeal to you more.