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Zebronics FIT4220CH review: A Feature-Packed Smartwatch that Lacks Polish

The Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH is not a full-fledged smartwatch, but is more of a smart band with a big display. It offers a lot of features, including SpO2 tracking and some interesting additions like Bluetooth calling, so it might still suffice for all the functions you need. However, after using it for a few weeks, I discovered that it is far from perfect. Considering that it is priced at Rs. 3,999 in India, is it good enough to cater to those looking for a traditional-looking smart device with a big display? Read on to find out.

Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH price in India

The Zebronics FIT4220CH is priced at Rs 3,999 in India. It’s available in three colours: black, grey, and silver. The black and grey options come with matching straps, while the silver option has a metallic silver case and an off-white strap.

Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH design

A quick glance at the ZEB-FIT4220CH is not enough to tell that this is a smartwatch. It looks like a regular chronograph watch with two buttons on the right side. Minutes are marked on the display glass, which sits within a circular bezel. The 47mm case is made of metal and will feel about right for those who are used to chunkier watches. This also makes it a bit heavy at 60g. The back is made of plastic and is held in place by four flush Phillips-head screws. Apart from the usual array of sensors on the case back, there are also two flat contact points for the bundled magnetic charging cable.

The watch has a round LCD display which measures 1.3 inches across. There’s flat glass on top, which is well protected by the slightly raised metal bezel surrounding it. The watch is IP67 rated, which should mean there’s adequate protection against dust, but the protection against water ingress is only good for exposure for up to 30 minutes of at a depth of up to 1m.

The ZEB-FIT4220CH uses a standard 22mm watch strap, which can be replaced with any third-party strap of your choice

 

The Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH uses a standard 22mm silicon strap with a quick release mechanism. While this smartwatch only comes with one strap (attached to it) in the box, it can be swapped with any third-party strap, which can be purchased easily.

The silicon material makes this device easy to wear through the day and I did not find it uncomfortable to keep it on through the night either. The strap has a standard pin buckle, making it easy to put on and take off, and it never came undone during the review period.

The Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH, unlike the Redmi Watch, is capable of SpO2 tracking, which is useful during the current pandemic situation. The smartwatch has a 220mAh battery which Zebronics claims is capable of 10 days of standby time.

Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH software

While the fit and finish are spot on given the ZEB-FIT4220CH’s price, the software fell a bit short, in my experience. This is in contrast to its prime competitor, the Redmi Watch, which offers a better-looking interface much more in terms of software customisation.

The watch can store up to five days’ worth of fitness data, but works best when paired with an iOS or Android device running the Zeb-Fit 20 Series app. This app shows all the fitness data and is also needed to update the firmware of the smartwatch. It even shows the watch’s battery status (provided it isn’t charging), and lets you customise and set up notifications, time formats, DND mode, weather information, device location, menstrual cycle tracking, and more. Like every other smartwatch app, this one also displays your fitness data, and it’s all nicely laid out along with handy notes to help you understand it, which I really liked.

It would have been great if Zebronics had a cloud data backup solution for health data. I tested this device with an iPhone 11, and while I was initially disappointed that it did not start backing up my data anywhere, a few days into the testing period, deep in the settings (under the Me tab) I discovered that it could connect to the iOS Health App once you give it access. This will synchronise data, which can then stay within iCloud.

Zebronics ZEB FIT4220CH front software ndtv Zebronics  ZebronicsZEBFIT4220CH

The Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH offers SpO2 tracking

 

Back to the smartwatch, the custom OS has a Theatre mode that dims the display and turns off vibrations, which is also useful at bedtime. The watch can store five faces, and you will need to open the app to download more. One of them (Dial 4) can be customised with a photo from your smartphone’s gallery. You can change the text colour and placement, and add up to two customisable complications from a list of preselected apps.

The built-in and downloadable watch faces show a lot of data, but they literally do just that. You cannot tap on those complications to open the respective apps and see more data. A lot of features and a simple UI means you’ll need to swipe around a lot. It takes six left swipes to get to the SpO2 app from the main watch face. You can alternatively right swipe to show a vertical list of apps, where you must scroll down to find the SpO2 app, and then tap again to open it… and tap once again to take a reading.

Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH performance and battery life

The ZEB-FIT4220CH’s software has transitions and animations when you swipe around and they were all smooth without any stuttering or lag. You can check notifications from all your smartphone’s apps, but you cannot reply to them.

During the review period I usually kept the display brightness at the third of five levels, which seemed more than enough when using the watch indoors. However, under bright sunlight you will have to max it out for comfortable viewing. The LCD has good viewing angles but you will need to turn up the brightness manually from the pull-down control panel. This is where you’ll also find other toggles and indicators for things like vibration, the weather, Bluetooth status, and the battery level. The 1.3-inch display has a low resolution and it’s easy to spot jagged edges on text and icons throughout the UI.

This smartwatch does support Bluetooth calling. You need to pair the watch separately with your smartphone over Bluetooth, as it does not use the same connection for calls as it does for data synching. Once paired, the smartwatch lets you check recently placed calls, use a dial pad, and call your favourite contacts.

Zebronics ZEB FIT4220CH front Bluetooth ndtv Zebronics  ZebronicsZEBFIT4220CH

Bluetooth calling works, but is mostly a gimmick due to the low speaker volume

 

While calling works (provided the watch is within range of the smartphone), the speaker sounded too muffled, making it hard to understand what the caller was saying. Likewise, the mic on the watch does not pick up voices well, so I had to hold the watch up to my face to ensure that the person on the other end could hear me clearly. This means that Bluetooth calling is more of a gimmick, even though it is functional.

One odd side effect of the way Bluetooth calling has been implemented is that all phone audio was often routed to the watch’s speaker. I had to keep disconnecting the watch’s Bluetooth calling link to my phone after I was done with a call to prevent this from happening.

The ZEB-FIT4220CH’s heart rate and SpO2 readings were accurate when compared to those of a standard pulse oximeter. The blood pressure readings were less consistent and varied drastically between tests taken just minutes apart. These were also very different from the numbers I got using a doctor’s blood pressure gauge. Sleep tracking was accurate in terms of patterns, but the watch often got the time I actually fell asleep wrong, that too by large margins of 2-3 hours. I would not rely on this sleep tracking data.

The watch offers very basic fitness tracking with seven sports modes: walking, running, skipping, football, cycling, badminton, and basketball. There are no finer-grained selections for variations or more specific exercises. If you want to choose between indoor cycling on an exercise bike versus an actual bicycle, or running outdoors versus on a treadmill, you won’t find that here. I tried the walking  mode and counted to 1,000 steps manually. The watch registered 981, which is fairly accurate given that my path was uneven.

With a 220mAh battery, the Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH easily lasted about 6-7 days on a single charge, dropping by about 10-15 percent per day on average. This is with the display’s brightness set level 3 most of the time and 5 when outdoors. All notifications were enabled, health tracking features (like heart rate and sleep monitoring) were also switched on, and I tracked a few exercise activities on alternate days. Using the Bluetooth calling feature frequently does drain the battery quickly, and brings the standby time you can expect down to about 3-4 days.

Zebronics ZEB FIT4220CH back charging ndtv Zebronics  ZebronicsZEBFIT4220CH

The magnetic charging connector disconnects a bit too easily

 

Battery life was on par with expectations, but charging is difficult. The ZEB-FIT4220CH took around 2 hours, 20 minutes to charge fully, which is the same time as most other smartwatches in this price segment. The bundled cable has a Type-A USB plug at one end and a magnetic connector at the other end, which needs to be carefully placed in position on the charging contacts. There is no inset or cutout to help align the connector, so there were several instances when the device got disconnected, if the was placed on its back with the charging cable below it. The safest way to charge it was by placing the smartwatch with the display facing down.

While the smartwatch is charging, there’s no way to access anything on it, unless you disconnect the  cable. Pressing the pusher to wake up the display only shows a “charging” message with no details about the status of the battery. The same goes for the mobile app, which also simply shows a charging sign over the battery indicator, with no way to know how much longer it will take.

Verdict

After using the Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH for about two weeks, it’s easy to conclude that it’s more a smart band with a big display than a smartwatch. This is mainly because of its very basic UI, limited fitness tracking capabilities, low-resolution display, and lack of basic features such as an ambient light sensor.

The Zebronics ZEB-FIT4220CH has lots of features, but not all of them work as expected. There’s SpO2 tracking, Bluetooth calling, and a premium metal body with interchangeable straps. Plus, this device looks and feels like a regular timepiece. Sleep and blood pressure monitoring were not reliable, so you need to keep this in mind if you plan to use these features.

At a slightly higher asking price (Rs. 3,999), Xiaomi’s Redmi Watch (Review) gets a lot more things right, but doesn’t look much like a traditional watch. The custom OS works much better, with lots of watch faces and exercise modes, and it can also withstand 5 ATM of pressure under water. It’s even lighter at 30g. The Redmi Watch also has a better charging cradle, GPS tracking, and an app that backs your data to the cloud.


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