Boat Watch Primia review: Basic fitness watch with style quotient
Boat has been a major player in the budget wireless audio segment, capturing a huge chunk of the market courtesy of its wide range of wireless neckbands and TWS earbuds, among other things. The company has also been present in the fitness watches category, again offering basic and affordable options to potential buyers. They now seem keen to up their game in that segment with their latest offering. Marketing is a perception game after all, and Boat knows how to play it. The new Boat Watch Primia is a classic example of that. A quick look at it and nobody would think it belongs to the sub-Rs. 5,000 segment of fitness watches. And it's not just the exterior but a couple of features that it brings to the table like a circular AMOLED display and making calls directly from the watch that should add to the appeal. Time to take a closer look at this interesting product.
The Boat Watch Primia has oodles of style courtesy of its shiny metallic frame and dark blue or black faux leather straps. Interestingly, there is no Boat branding anywhere on the frame or on the bezels of the display. There is a subtle mention only on the buckle; it took me a couple days to spot it. Thus one can pass it off as something a lot more premium. The build quality and finish are pretty good too and the company has done a good job in this department. The straps feel comfortable around the wrist and do not cause skin irritation even after wearing it for the whole day. But the watch is not too comfortable to wear to bed. The straps have a standard 22mm width, and can be replaced with any third party straps of the same width. The company hasn't specified the weight of the watch, but it doesn't feel too heavy nor is it too light. I would place it somewhere around the 50 grams mark. The watch has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. While it can easily survive the rain, you cannot wear it during a swim. The SpO2 and heart rate sensors can be found at the back, along with the charging points. You get two physical buttons on the right side. The top one serves as a Menu as well as Home button, while the bottom button acts as a shortcut for fitness activities. Neither can turn the screen off.
The Boat Watch Primia has an impressive circular AMOLED display with a resolution of 454x454 pixels. It is great to see an AMOLED screen in this budget. It has a curved glass on top that blends seamlessly into the casing. There is no mention of any scratch resistant layer or oleophobic coating on the screen. There weren't any scratches after using the watch for a fortnight but it does gather a lot of smudge marks, and you need to keep wiping it from time to time. You get five levels of brightness of which level 3 is good enough indoors, and you need to push it to level 4 or 5 under bright sunlight. You can either press a physical button or flick your wrist to wake up the watch. It generally works well with a single flick, but the screen often takes a couple of seconds to respond. This feature can be manually turned off or scheduled to stay off at specified times. The overall screen quality is very good with lively colors and sharp text. You get over 100 watch faces through the Boat Crest app. There is a fair mix of digital and analogue faces, and some that display fitness information like steps count, heart rate, calories burned etc. There are a few good ones but you can only store one watch face of your choice on the watch in addition to the 5 pre-installed options. Going back to the companion app every time for a new one is not convenient. The user interface is quite simple and lag-free. You can swipe down for settings, swipe up to check notifications, and swipe left or right to cycle through a handful of widgets like daily activity progress, heart rate, stress level, music playback etc. Within a menu, swiping right takes you to the previous screen, and pressing the top button takes you to the home screen from anywhere.
For starters, you need to download and install the Boat Crest app and sync this watch with. The app is fairly basic, which is good for beginners, but could have done with a few more elements. Other than certain watch settings and watch-face library, you get access to daily activity progress, latest workout data, heart rate, sleep data and SpO2 level. You can tap on some of them for more information, but don't expect much detail. The sleep data does cover the quantum of deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep info but does not give you in-depth sleep quality analysis. Same goes for workout data, but let's not forget this is an entry-level watch after all. Coming back to sleep, I wasn't too convinced about the accuracy of the total sleep duration as it would state a wake up time a lot earlier than I actually would. The Boat Watch Primia can monitor up to 11 different fitness activities ranging from walking, running, cycling, free training, yoga to some 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. The walks and runs are tracked with reasonable accuracy with a 5% margin of error, which is acceptable for a watch without GPS. The pedometer doesn't register false steps which is good but often reports fewer steps. Stress monitoring is also available here and you have a dedicated widget for it. This watch is equipped with an SpO2 sensor that does a great job. Not only are the readings at par with an over the counter oximeter with a 1% variance tops, it is also one of the fastest I have come across in fitness watches. You get a reading in just about 15 seconds which is twice as fast as some of the fitness watches priced twice as much.
Beyond fitness, you get the usual set of features like music controls, remote camera shutter, call alerts, and notifications from various apps on your phone. The messages are perfectly legible on the watch's sharp display, but you cannot reply back. However, there is one interesting feature that is fast arriving on several new budget watches - calling functionality. You can actually make calls from this watch without the need of a headset. It has a built-in microphone and speaker. The watch needs to be synced with your phone as the call is routed through that. But it does offer you a dialer on the watch screen from where you can dial a number. Alternatively you can also give the watch access to your contacts and choose from one of your saved numbers. Similarly, you can accept a call on watch too. However, I encountered frequent disconnections between the watch and the app on the phone, and often the calls weren't routed to the watch. The call quality is passable at best in a quieter place. The microphone is decent but the speaker in the watch isn't too loud. You also get sedentary reminders to get up and move around every hour. The implementation isn't very smart as they seem to appear every hour even if you are active at that moment. The reminder appears on the watch screen even when you aren't wearing it. The company claims that the Boat Watch Primia can last for a week on a full charge. In reality it actually lasted for 8 full days with screen brightness set to Level 3 most of the time, notifications limited to SMS and email, an hour of fitness activity on alternate days, two oximeter readings per day and two nights of sleep tracking during the period. That's not bad but several fitness watches over the past year or so have been going past 10 days comfortably.
The Boat Watch Primia is priced at Rs. 4,999 with a one year warranty but generally sells for 10% lower. It is not a bad price for what it offers, and even more so for the way it looks. While the functionality is par for the course in this segment, the design is way better than most of the fitness watches that you get at this price point. And watches with round dial and AMOLED screens are far and few under Rs. 5,000. A like for like alternative is hard to recommend in this budget, but if you are fine with a rectangular display, then there are a couple of options from Amazfit that offer better functionality and also built-in GPS. I am talking about the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini and Bip 3 Pro that sell for Rs. 4,999 and Rs. 3,999 respectively. They are 5ATM water resistant too, meaning you can wear them along for a swim. Neither of them support calling from the watch. So take a call depending on the form factor and the features that matter to you more.