OnePlus Watch review: Stylishly simple
That OnePlus Watch was one of the most anticipated gadgets of late. The brand has a solid fanbase, and despite taking the premium route with its phones recently, OnePlus diehards are still ready to fight tooth and nail for their favorite brand.
OnePlus Watch: Design
OnePlus Watch certainly looks. From the highly polished stainless steel case to 2.5D front glass, it features a clean and stylish design and can compete with devices that cost twice as much.
There are two physical buttons on the right side of the 46 mm frame, both of which are also made of metal. They are elongated and produce a good tactile click when pressed. The function button at the top also has an embossed logo, which is a nice design.
The back of the watch is made of plastic and houses the optical sensors and two metal contact pins for the proprietary charger. There is also a speaker on the left and a microphone on the right side of the plastic cover.
The included silicone strap is nothing to write home about, but the spring-loaded quick-release mechanism allows you to easily change it to a more premium one. The buckle mechanism is frustrating and also not very secure, so a replacement strap is almost a necessity.
OnePlus Watch: Monitor
The OnePlus watch has a 1.39 “, 454 x 454 HD, AMOLED screen with one pixels density of 326ppi. It is very sharp and detailed, but unfortunately – not very bright, especially if you use the automatic setting.
If you manually activate the high brightness mode, the watch can emit up to 440 nits and everything becomes much more readable in direct sunlight. The conservative auto-brightness mode may have something to do with OnePlus’ claims about the battery life of this device.
Another energy-conscious decision is the omission of an Always-on mode for the AMOLED screen. The only way to activate the display is to lift your wrist or click one of the buttons.
OnePlus Watch: Software and smart features
OnePlus Watch runs a custom operating system that is clean and fast, but also not very smart. To begin with, no third-party software is allowed and dials are limited to 15. The included apps / features are also pretty basic.
The only really smart features are Phone and TV Connect. OnePlus Watch is not equipped with a mobile connection, but it can make and receive calls if connected to its motherboard phone. The quality of the speaker is actually quite decent, and so is the built-in microphone. However, you can not use the speaker to listen to music – you need Bluetooth earphones paired for this.
You can add widgets to the main screen (OnePlus calls them “maps”), such as music controls, weather information, activity history, sleep tracking data, and more. However, they are limited to a total of six.
OnePlus Watch: Fitness and health features
Like a fitness tracker, OnePlus Watch fails to impress, to say the least. Step tracking is far from accurate and the pedometer is updated at very long intervals. During a walk or a run, the counter stays frozen on a certain number for a few minutes, then suddenly jumps up by a thousand or so.
The automatic training tracking is not good either – I ran two long runs and the watch could not recognize them at all. There is a built-in GPS, but occasionally it does not provide data about your training. It’s a shame because heart rate and SpO2 sensors give this watch a huge fitness tracking potential.
When the watch manages to distinguish your activity and when the GPS locks on, you get a lot of useful information, including a map of the course, VO2 max zones, real-time heart rate, heart rate zones, calories burned, cadence and altitude, etc. Some of the information is available on the watch itself, but you need the OnePlus Health app to dive in more detail.
Speaking of the app, it is clean and simple with nothing to complain about. You can customize various settings from the app (step targets, SpO2 sleep tracking, high heart rate alerts, etc.) and also select the apps you want to receive notifications from on the watch. It is an ongoing work I assume so minor errors can be expected.
However, sleep tracking is really good. SpO2 and heart rate sensors help identify different phases of sleep and potential problems. You get a sleep assessment score and a breakdown of your sleep with suggestions, SpO2 graphs, breathing analysis, interruptions and more.
OnePlus Watch: Battery life
Battery life is one of the biggest selling points of this watch, and OnePlus went to extremes to achieve the marketed 14 days. The lack of Always-On, the aggressive auto brightness settings, the long periods of polling data from the sensors and display of them on the screen (hence the “inaccurate” step tracking). Everything seems to be tailored to give this watch battery endurance.
And battery endurance it has. You can get solid 10 days out of it, even if you crack the brightness to the maximum and turn on SpO2 sleep tracking (which you definitely should do). You can also top up the 402mAh battery with the included charger relatively quickly – a half hour charge equals approx. 50%.
OnePlus Watch: Price and last thoughts
At the end of the day, the biggest benefits of the OnePlus Watch are its looks and its battery life. You can find everything else in any running fitness band out there. All hiccups and bugs are likely to be addressed with future updates, but at the moment, the OnePlus Watch just feels a little rough around the edges and incomplete.
The watch costs $ 159, which is a reasonable price considering the features or the lack of them. If you like the design and do not mind waiting for OnePlus to iron out all the bugs, you might want to give it a try. But if you are serious about your training programs and need solid smart features, you should probably look elsewhere.