OnePlus Watch: Solid Features, Decent Battery Life And Style From A Familiar Brand
Before we dive into reviewing the OnePlus Watch, we have to set clear expectations. This device doesn’t compete directly with the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, Fitbit, and Wear OS smartwatches. It’s in a category of wearables that look like watches but are basically fitness bands on steroids. This doesn’t make them worse -- they make up for the lack of installable apps by offering excellent battery life (typically 1-2 weeks instead of 1-2 days).
We tested the OnePlus Watch for a couple weeks after spending months wearing a Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro that’s more premium but similar in terms of functionality. So how does the affordable OnePlus Watch stack up to the competition? Let’s find out.
OnePlus Watch Hardware And Industrial Design
Both watch models weigh 45g and the bands weigh 31g (rubber) and 26g (leather / vegan leather) -- again, pretty traditional stuff. The great news is that the OnePlus Watch uses standard 22mm wide bands, so your choices of straps are virtually unlimited. We’re not big fans of the clasp used on the Apple Sport Band-like rubber strap that came with our review unit, so we replaced it with our favorite leather band (with a traditional buckle).
The bottom of the OnePlus Watch is matte black plastic and contains the usual array of LEDs and optical sensors for heart-rate and blood-oxygen monitoring. In addition, there are peripheral openings for mics and a speaker, plus a pair of contacts that line up with pogo pins on the magnetic charging base. Speaking of which, the charging base is a puck made of black plastic with a captive USB Type-A cord -- no surprises here either.
Overall, the OnePlus Watch feels well made, and it’s also IP68 water and dust resistant (up to 5ATM). And while the design isn’t particularly striking, it’s elegant and refined none-the-less. Just install your favorite strap, and this smartwatch will blend with any outfit.
Check out our OnePlus Watch unboxing video for some hands-on action...
OnePlus Watch Specifications And Features
OnePlus Watch Display Quality
OnePlus Watch Audio And Connectivity
OnePlus Watch Performance And Battery Life
While the OnePlus Watch specs list NFC, none of the software appears to take advantage of it. There’s obviously no way to set up Google Pay, since the watch is not running Google's Wear OS, and Bluetooth pairing via NFC isn’t available. Sensors include ambient light, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, heart rate, and blood oxygen. A linear vibration motor completes the package, and while it feels nice, it’s not very strong.
Charging is pretty quick, with a half charge taking just 20 minutes, and a full charge taking about an hour (at 5V 1A). Basically, a 5-minute charge yields about a day of battery life.
OnePlus Watch Software And User Experience
- Time, date, alarms, timers, stopwatch
- Multiple watch faces (some customizable)
- Step and activity tracking
- Continuous heart rate monitoring
- Continuous blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring
- HRV (heart rate variability) monitoring
- Automatic sleep tracking
- Automatic workout detection
- 110+ workout types (including customized modes)
- Stress monitoring
- Breath training
- Calls over Bluetooth
- Notifications (customizable)
- Weather updates
- Barometer and compass
- Local music playback
- Remote music control
- Remote OnePlus TV control
The OnePlus Watch is pretty intuitive, and the UI is similar to the competition. You can press any button or raise your wrist to wake up the watch and display the current watch face. Swiping down on the watch face shows quick settings (do-not-disturb toggle, brightness, find phone, set alarm, flashlight, and settings menu), Bluetooth connection status, and battery level; swiping up shows recent notifications, plus a “clear all” button.
Additionally, swiping left brings up a series of tiles for activity, workouts, sleep, heart rate, stress, weather, and music control. Think of these tiles as widgets for the pre-installed apps. You can manage these tiles (up to six) by touching and holding the current tile. Similarly, touching and holding the current watch face lets you manage various on-board watch faces (up to 14). More watch faces are available in the OnePlus Health app as well.
Automatic sleep tracking is one of the best features of the OnePlus Watch, and is similar to Huawei’s implementation. Basically, sleep or nap whenever you want, and the watch will figure it out and give you a detailed analysis -- including deep and light sleep. It works like a charm, and is miles ahead of the Sleep app on the Apple Watch. All that’s missing is an option in the settings to automatically enable do-not-disturb after 15min of sleep.
The OnePlus Health app lets you configure which phone apps send notifications to the watch. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Watch currently only displays app-specific icons for notifications from Facebook, LinkedIn, Line, WhatsApp and Instagram. As such, notifications from Gmail
OnePlus will be adding more app-specific icons for notifications in an upcoming update, but for now, this hampers the OnePlus Watch’s utility when it comes to notifications. Another issue is that there’s no way to dismiss individual notifications, and clearing a notification on your phone doesn’t remove it from the watch. The only way to clean up notifications is to tap the “clear all” button from time-to-time.
The rest of the OnePlus Health app is standard fare (see screenshots). Basically, it lets you dive into your health and fitness data specifics, and manage personal and device settings. You can even start a workout from within the app. But mostly you’ll want to use the app to manage watch faces, notification settings, on-device music, fitness goals, device and health settings, plus firmware updates.
In all, OnePlus has done a good job with the software, but there’s room for improvement currently. The OnePlus Health app is somewhat incomplete (it won’t sync sleep data from the watch yet, for example), but the company promises this will be fixed by mid-May. Hopefully the company will provide regular software updates, like it does with its phones, to refine the experience all around.
OnePlus Watch Pricing And Competition
In terms of competition, you have smartwatches with installable apps and shorter battery life, like the $199 Apple Watch Series 3, the $160 Samsung Galaxy Active, the $180 Fitbit Versa 2, or the $160 TicWatch E2 (Wear OS). Then you have smartwatches with fitness band-like functionality and long battery life, which go head-to-head with the OnePlus Watch, like the Huawei Watch GT ($150 on Amazon) and Xiaomi Mi Watch ($122 at Walmart).
Obviously, you can spend a lot more money than this type of accessory -- we chose the most affordable models currently available in each category, which are mostly older devices. If you’re looking for a modern, premium (sapphire, titanium, ceramic, and leather) smartwatch that competes directly with the OnePlus Watch, look no further than the €349 Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro.
OnePlus Watch Final AnalysisThe OnePlus Watch is a great first effort smartwatch from OnePlus. It combines refined design and excellent build quality with a beautiful screen, responsive user experience, and a solid roster of features. Battery life is decent, and its $159 price point is right. The only thing that really needs improvement is the software -- and the OnePlus Health app in particular. It’s currently missing some critical functionality that’s standard in this category.
What’s really exciting is that a quality smartwatch with fitness band-like functionality and long battery life is now officially available from a familiar brand here in the US -- a market that’s dominated by smartwatches with installable apps and short battery life. Let’s just hope the OnePlus Watch opens the door to more competition, and that the company delivers on those promised software updates.