Affordable smartwatches are getting better over time, and it's now possible to buy a feature-filled device for less than Rs. 5,000. With popular brands such as Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, and Amazfit popularising the idea of affordable smartwatches and fitness trackers, many buyers are looking for a stylish and easy way to track health and fitness parameters, monitor notifications quickly, and more. A key new trend in affordable smartwatches is also the ability to take calls directly on the watch, similar to how premium options such as the Apple Watch work.
The Fire-Boltt Talk does just this, but costs a fraction of what smartwatches from brands such as Apple and Samsung go for. Priced at Rs. 4,999 in India, this smartwatch has a round colour touchscreen, SpO2 and heart-rate tracking, and the ability to function as a hands-free device on your wrist for calls and audio. How does this interesting new smartwatch work, and is it worth the Rs. 4,999 asking price? Find out in my review of the Fire-Boltt Talk.
The Fire-Boltt Talk works with the Da Fit app, available for iOS and Android
Fire-Boltt Talk design
This device has a round, 1.28-inch colour touch display and a dial that resembles what you see on traditional mechanical watches. A single button that resembles a watch crown is on the right side; although the button physically turns, it doesn't have any scrolling functionality like on the Fire-Boltt Beast smartwatch. Instead, it wakes or turns off the screen, and takes you to the home screen of the watch's interface from deeper within the UI.
It's worth mentioning here that the screen wasn't perfectly oriented with the dial on my review unit, and was turned just a few degrees anti-clockwise. This appears to be a manufacturing defect limited to my review unit, and it didn't affect the working of the device at all, so I've gone ahead with the review under the assumption that retail units of the Fire-Boltt Talk will have properly mounted screens. Users are, of course, recommended to contact customer support in case their retail units are found to have any similar defects or issues.
The included straps are made of rubber, and I found them quite comfortable and easily adjustable. These are removable and replaceable with any standard 46mm watch straps, so you do have some scope for customisation here. The casing of the Fire-Boltt Talk is metal, while the bottom is plastic. At the bottom are the contact points for the charger and the optical sensor for heart-rate and SpO2 measurements.
The included charging cable has a USB Type-A connector at one end and a proprietary connector at the other, which attaches to the bottom of the watch magnetically when properly positioned. It's a bit low-tech and looks susceptible to damage and failure, in my opinion, but it did the job of charging the watch properly during my time with the Fire-Boltt Talk. The device took a little under two hours to fully charge.
The charger latches onto the contact points at the bottom of the Fire-Boltt Talk magnetically
Available in three colours – black, grey, and teal – the Fire-Boltt Talk weighs about 60g and is IP67 rated for dust and water resistance. The device uses Bluetooth 5 for connectivity, using both a basic low-power connection for smartwatch functions, as well as a ‘Phone' mode which turns the watch into a connected wireless speaker and microphone.There is heart-rate and SpO2 monitoring, sleep and step tracking, and various other tools such as a stopwatch, alarm, and timer. The watch can vibrate to alert the wearer of calls and notifications, and you can choose to take calls directly on the Fire-Boltt Talk when it's functioning as a wireless hands-free device.
Fire-Boltt Talk software, interface, and app
The Fire-Boltt Talk runs a custom UI that is very similar to that of the Fire-Boltt Beast, which I reviewed recently, but with small differences that are meant to adapt it to the round screen. It's heavily inspired by Apple's watchOS, even if the smartwatch itself doesn't look like an Apple Watch at all. This includes the bubble-style app drawer and the quick settings icons. All the features are accessible through swipes and taps. The button can be used to wake the screen, but the watch also wakes when you raise your arm to look at it.
The home screen has a prominent display of the time and other details, and you can of course set the watch face to one of your liking through the companion app – more on that later, though. Swiping to the left shows the app drawer, swiping to the bottom shows your unread messages and notifications, swiping from top to bottom brings up the quick settings shade and battery level, and swiping to the right cycles through the built in tools and health monitors.
Other useful apps include the camera shutter app, the music remote for controlling playback on the paired smartphone, the stopwatch, and the alarm. There is a blood pressure monitor on the device, but the readings were quite unreliable in my experience and I don't recommend counting on this data at all.
The user interface of the Fire-Boltt Talk strongly resembles Apple's watchOS, even though the smartwatch itself looks completely different to the Apple Watch
A major feature of the Fire-Boltt Talk is the ‘Phone' mode, which lets you use it as a hands-free device for your smartphone. This needs to be turned on through the watch app or settings menu, after which the watch will be visible as a Bluetooth audio device that you can pair with and connect to from your smartphone. This also activates the phone settings within the app on the watch itself, letting you view the call log, access the dial pad to directly call from the phone, or select one of eight pre-configured contacts (these can be chosen through the app) to quickly call.
The overall experience was a bit awkward – swipes and taps sometimes didn't register, and getting around the watch often took too long, but the experience was a bit less clunky than on the Fire-Boltt Beast. You can, of course, access most of the watch's data and settings through the smartphone app, which is called Da Fit.
This app worked well, maintaining a stable connection between the Fire-Boltt Talk and the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition I had it paired with for this review. The app is available on iOS as well. The preinstalled watch faces are a bit plain, but there are plenty of options that you can download and install on the device. It's worth mentioning here that you can't cycle through watch faces on the device itself, and will need the app to change the face.
I also found it a lot easier to view health data such as sleep, SpO2 levels, steps, and heart rate within the smartphone app, where it's well presented in the form of charts and numbers. You can even configure basic settings, set fitness goals, and update the firmware of the Fire-Boltt Talk using the app.
Fire-Boltt Talk performance and battery life
Like the Fire-Boltt Beast, the Fire-Boltt Talk is device-agnostic and works with most smartphones on both the Android and iOS platforms. You can use many of its functions without being connected to a smartphone, but the key feature on the smartwatch is its ability to be used as a hands-free device, and that will need a Bluetooth source device to work. Most of the fitness and health tracking features, as well as tools, are usable directly on the watch itself.
All of that said, the whole point of a smartwatch is for it to serve as a wrist-worn second screen for your smartphone, showing you notifications, caller identification, and health parameters without having to pick up your smartphone or remove it from your pocket all the time. The Fire-Boltt Talk does this well enough, pushing notifications and letting me take calls on the watch itself efficiently enough.
Once paired with your smartphone, you can use the Fire-Boltt Talk as a Bluetooth hands-free device
The pairing process is easy enough even if this is the first time you're using a smartwatch, and is quick to complete. The preinstalled watch faces are basic but clean-looking. Apart from the time, different faces also show other information such as the date, steps, battery level, and connection status to the smartphone.
The heart-rate and SpO2 trackers on the Fire-Boltt Talk offered accurate readings when compared to an Apple Watch Series 5 and a standard fingertip pulse oximeter. The readings took a few seconds to register, but were usually accurate without me having to wait too long. The Fire-Boltt Beast registered around 1,020-1,030 steps when manually counting 1,000 steps, with the error margin increasing to around four percent over larger step counts when measured against an Apple Watch.
The blood pressure monitor on the Fire-Boltt Talk uses the optical sensor on the bottom of the watch. I saw heavily varied and inconsistent readings, changing significantly even only seconds apart. Naturally, it's best to not rely on this as the readings don't seem to be accurate at all, and it's best to get proper equipment for blood pressure readings.
Other tools in the app drawer include the flashlight, stopwatch, timer, alarm, and music player, all of which work well enough. There is also a ‘Theater' mode which reduces the brightness of the screen and turns off vibration alerts. You can set which apps on your phone you want to receive notifications from through the Da Fit app, with popular options such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram covered, apart from the basics which include the Phone and SMS apps.
The Fire-Boltt Talk is well equipped when it comes to features, making this a decent pick at under Rs. 5,000
The functionality that gives the Fire-Boltt Talk its name works just about how you would expect it to, with the watch serving as a Bluetooth hands-free device with a speaker and microphone. This means that you need the watch to be within Bluetooth range of the smartphone, but you don't actually need to take your phone out to answer calls. The speaker is clear and loud enough for calls, and the microphone picks up voices properly for a workable and pleasant experience. You can also use the watch to play audio from your smartphone such as music, if you like.
Battery life on the Fire-Boltt Talk is decent enough, with its 170mah battery powering it for about four days between charges. The device was almost continuously connected to my smartphone, measuring health and fitness data and also being used for occasional hands-free voice calls. Although this is far below the claimed figure of 10 days, it's still pretty good for a device with a big screen and this set of features, at this price.
Although quite similar to most options in the budget smartwatch segment when it comes to design and features, the Fire-Boltt Talk stands out for one key reason: its ability to work as a hands-free device and let you make and receive phone calls on your wrist. It's a simple but effective way to take quick calls on the go, and additional health and fitness features such as step tracking, SpO2, and heart-rate monitoring make this a worthwhile option for the price.
The app experience was good enough, but the on-device software UI was a bit clunky and awkward for me, and the blood pressure monitor is definitely not accurate enough to be relied on. Nonetheless, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks on the Fire-Boltt Talk. It's definitely one to consider if you're looking for a smartwatch priced under Rs. 5,000, particularly given that it's more feature-filled than options from bigger brands at this price.