Updated: Apr 16, 2021
After years of speculation, the OnePlus Watch is finally here and in our possession. It was only a matter of time before OnePlus released a smartwatch, given the company's gradual diversification into new markets. In reality, the fact that we got an OnePlus TV before an OnePlus Watch is a little strange.
The OnePlus Watch, on the other hand, came close to not being. Carl Pei revealed early concept sketches of a watch that would never exist in a since-deleted tweet after the initial smartwatch project was scrapped in 2015-2016. However, the company's position on wearables seems to have shifted since then. We saw the OnePlus release its first fitness band last year, and now we have the OnePlus Watch.
What is the OnePlus Watch, exactly? It is, for the most part, a traditional smartwatch. It isn't driven by Google's Wear OS platform, but rather by OnePlus' own app. This appears to give it one significant benefit, namely 14-day battery life. All of this for $159 as a starting price.
Is it, however, a smartwatch or merely a glorified fitness band? Let's take a look.
The OnePlus Watch is built in a classic circular shape. The casing is made of polished stainless steel and features traditional lugs for fluoroelastomer belts.
The display is protected by scratch-resistant glass with curved edges of an unspecified kind. The bezel around the show has circular circles underneath the glass, similar to those seen on other OnePlus accessories.
Two buttons, a function button at the top and a power button below, are located on the right side of the watch. The OnePlus name is embossed on the feature button, which brings back memories of the Verizon logo on the Samsung Galaxy Note II home button. Fortunately, this one is inconsequential.
The case and all-optical sensors are protected by a plastic cover on the back of the watch. The magnetic pogo pin charger has two connectors as well. The loudspeaker is on the left side (when facing the display) and the microphone is on the bottom.
Standard spring-loaded bar pins attach the straps to the watch, allowing the user to switch them out with any other conventional watch band. The default strap's buckle is identical to the Apple Watch's Sport Band, but the one on the OnePlus Watch is a little loose and falls out when you're trying to put the watch on. In addition, the box only contains one size.
The OnePlus Watch is water-resistant to IP68 and 5ATM standards, as you'd expect from a fitness tracker.
The OnePlus Watch is very big at 46mm. It doesn't look right on my tiny wrists and makes me look like I'm wearing The Flintstones' sundial wristwatch. The one-size-fits-all band is also colossal, wrapping nearly twice around my wrists. OnePlus seems to think this is acceptable because everybody has the same enormous wrists.
The OnePlus Watch will also be available in a Limited Edition version from OnePlus. Instead of stainless steel, this version's casing is made of cobalt alloy, and it comes with two bands: a regular fluoroelastomer strap and a leather strap with a butterfly buckle. In India, the leather strap has been replaced with a vegan leather strap, presumably to save money. This version, however, will be released at a later date for an undisclosed price.
The OnePlus Watch style does not appeal to me. I'm sick of the cliche of a digital smartwatch that looks like a normal watch, and the OnePlus Watch style is about as clichéd as it comes. You'll have a hard time persuading me that someone worked on this for more than a day.
What's more disappointing is that the 2015 drawings are much superior to the finished product. It was still around at the time, but the style was more interesting and had more flair. The final OnePlus Watch is as generic as they come, and it wouldn't get a second look, particularly in the Midnight Black colour we got.
The OnePlus Watch has a 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 454x454. Because of the watch's large size, the monitor is also very large, making it easy to use the touchscreen to fit more details on-screen at once.
The display is very sharp in terms of image quality, thanks to the generous 326ppi pixel density. Small text and iconography are not as jagged as they are on many other smartwatches. Since the UI is primarily dark, the AMOLED panel ensures that the backdrop is still completely black.
Surprisingly, the OnePlus Watch is one of the few watches that does not have a ridiculously oversaturated AMOLED screen like several others. The majority of colours seem vibrant, but not overly so. However, because the display has a low bit depth, there is some visible banding on some gradient watch faces. Maybe the problem is with the watch faces.
The touch sensitivity is average. It's not super sensitive, which can be jarring if you're coming from a smartphone, but it works fine for the most part.
There are five manual brightness levels and an auto mode on the monitor. From the drop-down control panel, you can easily switch between three manual modes and auto mode. Under direct sunlight, the show is bright enough, but the auto-brightness is rather conservative. Indoors, the display is always too dim, so I had to turn to manual brightness. However, it appears that this is an OnePlus problem, as even their smartphones behave in the same manner.
There are two big drawbacks to the show. To begin with, there is no always-on mode, which means you must lift your wrist each time you want to check the time. Second, you can't toggle on the projector by tapping it. When the screen is turned off, the touchscreen is disabled, so the only way to wake the watch is to lift it or click one of the side buttons.
The raise to wake feature is mostly functional, but it's not as good as some of the better smartwatches on the market, and it's even worse than the OnePlus Band, which woke up with the slightest tilt of your wrist. The OnePlus Watch, on the other hand, involves a deliberate twist and lift to wake up, which isn't always convenient.
Software and Features
The OnePlus Watch is powered by OnePlus' own custom operating system. This is most likely a modified version of the OnePlus Band's operating system with a few extra features.
The touchscreen and the function button are used to monitor the user interface. The app launcher is accessed by pressing the feature button once. Pressing it again returns you to the home screen, regardless of where you are in the UI. You navigate by clicking on objects and then swiping backwards from the left side.
The app drawer contains a catalogue of all the watch's features, including runs, fitness monitoring, sleep tracking, heart rate monitor, tension monitor, blood oxygen sensor, alarms, clocks, and so on. The big monitor makes it easy to use all of the software without having to click as much as the Band did. The user interface is very receptive. It also scrolls at 60 frames per second, making it feel seamless.
You will pull up the control centre by swiping down from the home screen. Here you'll find shortcuts to allow DND, change brightness, locate your handset, set alarms, and use the screen as a flashlight (which isn't great, but it'll do if you're in a pinch).
You can also view the notifications by swiping up from the home screen. These don't seem to be synced with the phone in any way, but they'll continue to exist even though you access them on the phone and dismiss them there.
The UI for changing watch faces is presented by pressing and holding the button. This is a fairly standard user interface that we've seen on pretty much every other smartwatch out there right now. You'll see a sideways scrolling list of installed watch faces, which you can press to pick or customise using the settings button below. You may change the pattern, colour scheme, and/or complexities depending on the watch face.
The OnePlus Watch had 15 different watch face styles as of this writing, 14 of which could be mounted on the watch at any time. If you want to add one, you'll have to delete the ones you already have. The transition of watch faces is much easier here than on the OnePlus Band, as they transfer almost instantly.
Since the OnePlus Watch does not run on a standardised platform like Wear OS, it does not support third-party apps, including watch faces. Since OnePlus hasn't announced an SDK for third-party developers to draw on, any new features would have to come from the business.
Despite this, the OnePlus Watch comes with quite a few applications. The OnePlus Watch has a built-in audio player in addition to all of the fitness-related features listed previously. You use the phone app to move any audio files you have to the watch, then connect some Bluetooth headphones with the watch and you're ready to go. If your playlist fits into the watch's 2GB storage capacity, you won't need to bring your phone with you on a run if what you want to do is listen to music.
The OnePlus Watch will also communicate with any OnePlus TV model you own. You will use the watch to monitor simple TV functions, and if the watch notices that you have fallen asleep while viewing, it will switch off the TV after 30 minutes.
The OnePlus Watch has the ability to make phone calls. About the fact that the watch lacks networking capabilities, it serves as a headset for the attached handset, allowing you to send and receive calls from it. You still don't have to think about people around you tuning in on your call if you have headphones connected to the watch.
A barometer and a compass are both included in the OnePlus Watch. It even contains NFC, but there is no way to access it as of this date. It's likely that OnePlus will incorporate a payment solution to take advantage of the NFC in the future.
The same OnePlus Health software that was needed for the OnePlus Band is required to attach to the watch. You can change the watch configuration, add or delete watch faces, and choose which applications to sync alerts with. The software also allows you to download and instal watch updates. More specifically, the app serves as a central repository for all health data collected by the watch, allowing you to keep track of it all.
On the Google Play Store, you can find the Health app. This allows you to use the watch on almost every Android phone. However, there is currently no iOS app, so you won't be able to use the OnePlus Watch on your iPhone as you do with Wear OS and Samsung smartwatches.
The OnePlus Watch UI is well-designed and easy to use in general. The watch also comes with a variety of useful functions. Unfortunately, no apps can be installed, and any new watch faces must be purchased from OnePlus. The watch is also unsuitable for use with an iPhone.
Last year, I tested the OnePlus Band and found it to be a capable fitness tracker for the price. With a few small additions, the OnePlus Watch has almost the same health monitoring capabilities as the Apple Watch.
When you put the watch on, it automatically monitors your habits. This entails counting the steps and calculating the number of calories you've burned as a result. The watch includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, barometer, blood oxygen sensor, and heart rate monitor, both of which help it keep track of your movements.
The Workout menu on the watch allows you to monitor a variety of fitness routines, which you can find and unlock. Outdoor running, indoor running, fat burn sprint, outdoor cycling, indoor cycling, outdoor walk, swimming, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, badminton, mountaineering, cross-country, cricket, yoga, and freestyle training are among the activities available. The choices on the OnePlus Band are the same as on the OnePlus Band.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the OnePlus Watch does not support exercise routines, so you won't be able to make the watch record the reps when lifting dumbbells or using a weight machine.
The fitness monitoring is fairly accurate, and the user interface is straightforward. The big window often makes it possible to see things at a glance, but the absence of an always-on monitor means you have to wake it up with subtle movements.
Aside from monitoring your movements, the OnePlus Watch has a sleep tracker that records your sleep during the night and keeps a log of it in the Health app, along with any reported interruptions. It can even track your blood oxygen levels using your smartphone.
As with the OnePlus Band, the sleep monitoring performed pretty well for me. There was no significant difference between what the watch and the Health app reported and what I witnessed.
Stress monitoring is a capability that is new on the OnePlus Watch but not on the OnePlus Watch. It rates the stress level on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being the lowest, 30-59 the average, 60-79 the medium, and 80-100 the highest. You'll have to open the Health app to get the exact reading since the watch can either say low, average, medium, or heavy.
Menstrual monitoring for women, which is provided by a number of other fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market, was one aspect that the OnePlus Band lacked. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Watch still lacks this function. It's not a difficult function to introduce, but OnePlus appears to neglect it despite the fact that it will support half of the world's population. If it was only integrated into the OnePlus Health software, it would potentially stop users from having to search and eventually pay for another app.
In general, the OnePlus Watch is a superior exercise tracker. It has a decent number of monitoring features for most users. Outside of running, swimming, and rowing, it does not monitor any form of weight lifting or gym workouts, making the watch less attractive to those who routinely work out. Menstrual monitoring is still missing, which is simply laziness at this stage.
The OnePlus Watch is advertised as having a 14-day battery life, which is the same as the OnePlus Band. The number for the OnePlus Watch, like the band, is very promising.
Sure, if you leave the watch on its default settings, it could last you two weeks. However, I like to have the display set to manual brightness because the default mode is too dark, an 8-second screen off timer, smart heart rate tracking activated, auto tension control enabled, and SpO2 tracking enabled while sleeping. A maximum charge can last about a week if you use the watch in this manner.
This is also exceptional as compared to other full-featured smartwatches. In fairness, I'd be willing to give up some of it in exchange for an always-on show mode. Although, as with its smartphones, it seems that OnePlus would make us wait an inordinate amount of time before allowing it.
A basic magnetic adapter with pogo pins is included with the OnePlus Watch. This enables it to charge quickly, with OnePlus reporting a week's worth of battery life from a 20-minute charge. I wouldn't put too much confidence in that because it's dependent on the 14-day claim, but the watch does charge easily.
The OnePlus Watch is a good smartwatch but not great. In reality, it's a stretch to call it a smartwatch because it lacks third-party device support, except for watch faces. The device then becomes nothing more than a glorified exercise tracker.
It's adequate as a health tracker. It lacks a few core features, but it compares favourably to most other trackers in this price range. If you're thinking of buying it for the health monitoring features, make sure you check out the list of things it will monitor and see if it'll be enough for you.
It's also not particularly impressive as a timepiece. The style is unremarkable, there is no always-on show mode, and only a few watch faces are available at launch, none of which are especially eye-catching. And there are no sizing choices, you're faced with this massive watch with a long strap no matter what your wrist size is. The only saving grace is the week-long battery life, but even that isn't as impressive as the advertised 14-day figure.
If you don't mind the design, the OnePlus Watch is still a good deal in the US at a $159 starting price. However, at INR 14,999 in India, it's clearly overpriced as compared to the Mi Watch Revolve, which is currently available for INR 8,999 and has a number of additional features, including an always-on monitor.
Overall, the OnePlus Watch is a commodity that does not cater to me. And if the design was excellent, it would have been difficult to favour it over its competitors. As things stand, it isn't the case, but we don't see any need to suggest it at these rates right now.
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