Haylou smartwatch RT2
- A nice looking, well constructed watch
- Great value for money
- Simple to use app
- Solid health & fitness tracking
- Good battery life
- Screen visibility poor in sunlight
- Cannot swim with it
- Lacks the bells and whistles of more premium devices
This is my review of Haylou smartwatch RT2 – a budget device that I found is constructed and works surprisingly well. It skims on advanced features, but you do get all the basics at a price that is right.
Many people may not have heard of Haylou. The Chinese-based brand belongs to Dongguan Leashing Electronic Technology which was established in 2015. The young company is part of the Xiaomi ecological chain – and we’ve all heard of Xiaomi.
The ecological chain has the benefit of providing Mi-fans other brands’ products with little worries about quality. Xiaomi has a say in areas such as corporate culture, positioning, product design, quality control and sales. These devices typically sell at higher specs as compared to competing brands. In practical terms, it means Haylou sells products on the Xiaomi platform.
Haylou has not been around for very long, but it has already churned out quite a few products. Its smartwatch range currently consists of nine different devices. All of these seem to have pretty much the same functionality – the main difference is in design. The company is also big on earbuds.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Retailing for slightly over $40 (check price on Amazon), Haylou RT2 is a watch that will not break the bank. In fact you will struggle to find another smartwatch at that price. But how well does it work? I set out to find out.
Haylou RT2 smartwatch: Design & hardware
- A no nonsense masculine looking watch
- 1.32 inch TFT display
- IP68 water-resistance, so not swim-proof
- The usual fitness sensors, including on-demand blood oxygen
Sporty look & feel
The Haylou RT2 is a masculine, sporty looking watch. With a circular face, it reminds a bit of the Garmin Forerunner range, Amazfit range or the Xiaomi Watch S1. They all have broadly the same design.
Its round metal frame feels nice to the touch and does not come across as poorly built. This is definitely something you can proudly wear on your wrist. Considering the RT2 is a budget device, it is interesting that Haylou has opted for a metal frame rather than the cheaper polymer option. It certainly is a plus.
In terms of dimensions, the case of the watch has a diameter of 45.7mm and this is attached to a 22mm silicone strap. And while the dimensions are fairly large, the depth of the case is only 12.1mm which makes the device pretty thin. Weighing 55 grams it is also lightweight, particularly when you take into consideration its metallic build.
Retina HD display
The body of the watch secures a 1.32 inch TFT display with a 360 x 360 pixel resolution (272ppi Retina display). It is made all the nicer thanks a 2.5D curved glass which blends seamlessly into the body and contributes to the ergonomic look and feel.
The screen is very sharp showcasing a range of vibrant colours. But this is in indoor conditions. In outside sunny circumstances I found that the visibility deteriorates quite a bit. On a cloudy day you’ll be fine, but when the sun comes out in full force, it becomes more difficult to read the display. This is a common problem with smartwatches. Another slight negative is that the bezel around the display is fairly thick.
The screen wakes with a simple turn of the wrist. This typically works, but if it doesn’t you can also wake it up by pressing one of the two physical crowns on the right. The top one is an on/off button, the bottom one a shortcut to exercise tracking. You can turn the crowns, but this won’t do anything. Only a push of the crown triggers an action.
The display is touch enabled and this works very well. The screen is very responsive to the slightest touch.
Flicking from right to left – you have the Home Screen, summary of fitness stats, heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep, weather and Breathing exercises app. Some of these have additional views with more detail which can be scrolled through.
A flick up from the home page takes you through to settings. A flick down reveals the main menu from which you can access pretty much everything the device can do.
A long press on the face of the watch reveals the five default dial faces. Simply swipe between them to choose a different one. If you are not satisfied with the selection, there a bunch more to choose from in the Haylou Fun smartphone app. It might take a few tries to sync the dial with the app, but it does work in the end. I found this was the only glitchy part of the software, the rest works like a breeze. You can also upload your own photo as the watch face.
The smartphone software allows you to tweak bright screen time, raise-up arm to light up screen and more – pretty standard stuff. These settings can also be changed on the watch itself.
As far as water resistance, the Haylou RT2 has an IP68 certification. This deems it fit enough to withstand dust, dirt, sand and the occasional water splash. So you are fine wearing it out when it is raining and hand washing with it. But don’t plan on swimming, showering or going to the sauna with it.
All thing considered, the look and feel of Haylour RT2 does not disappoint. At the price that it sells for you are not going to get an overly premium build, but you do get a no-nonsense, perfectly decent looking timepiece.
Under the hood
Below the surface of the RT2 is a heart rate sensor, accelerometer and a blood oxygen sensor. Worth noting is that the last on this list captures measurements on demand. So there is no automatic tracking of blood oxygen levels.
Haylou says these are new-generation sensors with more rapid and accurate detection. Beyond that, there’s also support for Bluetooth 5.0 but no WiFi connectivity.
As far as the all-important battery life, the large dimensions of the watch makes room for a sizeable 330 mAh battery. Haylou says on a full charge you can expect to get up to 12 days of use. In basic use mode you can keep it going for around 25 days.
I got a few days less than that, but this is probably because I switched on all the extra functionality. The app allows you to enable all-day heart rate monitoring, low/high heart rate alerts, adjust screen brightness and more. But even with all this, you can easily get more than a week of use.
Charging is done via a proprietary cable. One end is magnetically attached to pins on the back of the watch, the other plugs into any standard USB port. Going from zero to full takes just over one hour.
Haylou RT2 smartwatch: Functionality
Fitness and health monitoring
- Works with Haylou Fun app
- Covers all the basics
- Activity tracking works well
As mentioned, the Haylou RT2 works with the Haylou Fun app. Download it and install on your iOS or Android phone, open an account, allow the watch to pair with your phone and you are good to go. Just like the watch, the smartphone app has a simple, to-the-point design. It covers all areas without overloading on features.
Whenever you fire up the smartphone app it will take a moment or two to link up to your watch before it starts syncing. I found that after the initial pairing the watch connected without fail.
The default view in the app is the Home tab which shows your up-to-date stats for the current day. This includes distance travelled, an estimate of calories, sleep, steps, heart rate, blood oxygen and weight (if you have a compatible smart scale connected). Click on any card and you go through to a more detailed view of that particular metric. This allows you to chart trends on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
Of course, all of this can be seen on the watch itself, but the app has the benefit of providing a larger view and longer-term trends. The one area where the app does lack is in terms of insights. You don’t really get any beyond a few general tips. But those that are just after their stats will be perfectly satisfied.
In terms of accuracy, I found that the daily steps totals were within a few hundred of the Garmin Forerunner 935 on my other wrist. There were slightly bigger discrepancies for sleep stats but that’s to be expected. This area is not an exact science and most watches will capture different sleep measurements. The Haylou device splits your nightly sessions into Deep Sleep Light Sleep and Wide Awake categories.
Blood oxygen tracking also works without a hitch. It takes about 30 seconds to capture a reading, and I was mostly around 98% or 99% which is considered to be the normal range. Unfortunately there is no way to enable automatic blood pressure measurements. it would be useful to be able to do this overnight as those types of stats provide more insight than occasional on-demand readings.
As far as heart rate, you get a chart showing how this has changed during the day and night. Below that are stats for max bpm (beats per minute), min bpm and average bmp. You can go back and view heart rate stats for any particular day along with viewing weekly, monthly and annual charts.
- Supports 12 workout modes
- No built-in GPS but there is Connected GPS
The Haylou RT2 supports 12 workout modes. Click on the bottom crown and you’ll get the full list which you can scroll through. The choice includes jogging, fast walking, biking, climbing, spinning, yoga, indoor running, integrated training, gymnastics, basketball, football and rowing.
It is an interesting list of exercises with some options that differ from what you get on a typical watch. Each of these workout modes comes with proprietary data tailored to that specific activity.
As a keen runner, of most interest to me was the jogging exercise mode. The watch does not have built-in GPS but it does have Connected GPS. Which ensures the location stats and tracking is of decent quality. This simply means that the RT2 taps into your smartphone’s GPS for a satellite signal.
Once established, the connection holds. The accuracy of the maps and distance will then depend on the accuracy of the GPS chip on your phone.
You can start a running activity from the watch itself or the smartphone app. But you do need to have both open in order for Connected GPS to work. I preferred to start and stop my runs by using the smartphone app – by navigating to the Sport tab. It felt like the safer option.
The Sports tab is also where a historical overview of your exercise can be found. Initially I had trouble locating this. The trick is to click on the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner. This reveals a list of all the workouts you have done.
As with other stats, the accuracy of run tracking is quite good. For example, I compared a recent run on the Haylou and Garmin smartwatch. The distance was slightly over 3.5km. The heart rate on RT2 was 140 (average) and 148 (max). This compares to 138 and 149 on the Garmin respectively.
Other metrics tracked for runs include a step count, exercise time, distance, calories, average pace and exercise zones. So not that much performance statics. For example you don’t get Vo2Max or anything more advanced. But you do get the basics and the accuracy is of decent quality.
Also worth a mention are a few smart features. These work in conjunction with your phone via the Bluetooth 5.0 connection. For example, you can sync calls in real-time, WeChat and tap into some app information.
The alerts come in the form of a nice little buzz on the wrist. All of this can be tweaked in the settings section of the smartphone app. However, worth noting is that you will get truncated versions of texts, emails and other notifications. Plus there is no option to respond. All you can do with notifications is read, save or delete them.
There’s also a timer function, the weather screen and you can tap into the Find phone feature. The last one on this list can help you find your misplaced smartphone.
Finally, the RT2 has the ability for music control. This allows you to play or pause music and switch songs without having to take your phone out of your pocket. Useful when exercising or feeling too lazy to get off the sofa.
The Haylou RT2 smartwatch sells for slightly over $40. But you would never guess this when looking at the device. With a metal build and sharp colour touch-screen with curved glass, it comes across as stylish, light and comfortable. It definitely has a design and aesthetics that simulate more premium products.
Fitness and health tracking stats are pretty accurate. When you take into consideration that the company is part of the Xiaomi ecological chain, this comes as less of a surprise. Another plus is that the watch comes with a nice clean menu system and simple to use app.
The negatives are that the display visibility deteriorates in bright, sunny conditions. Plus, you will not get very advanced features or deep insights into your fitness and health stats. Smart functionality such as notifications is also quite basic.
But you will get all the essentials and for more accurate tracking of exercise, the RT2 can connect to your smartphone GPS. And all of this works without a hitch.
If you are after a budget timepiece or an entry-level device, the Haylou RT2 smartwatch presents itself as an attractive option. It’s a purposeful basic device that does what it claims in a stylish design. The timepiece does not have as many functions as its more expensive counterparts, but it does offer a nice set of features for the price.
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