OnePlus Watch review: Stylishly simple
Big expectations lead to big disappointment, though. The OnePlus Watch isn’t terrible. It offers great battery life, a premium and stylish design, a sharp and detailed display, and an affordable price tag. Unfortunately, it’s plagued by bugs, lack of features, and feels like a rushed and unfinished job.
OnePlus Watch: Design
There are two physical buttons on the right side of the 46mm frame, both of which are made of metal as well. They’re elongated and produce a nice tactile click when pressed. The function button on the top also features an embossed logo, which is a nice design touch.
The back of the watch is made of plastic and houses the optical sensors and two metal contact pins for the proprietary charger. There’s also a speaker on the left and a microphone on the right side of the plastic cover.
The supplied silicone strap is nothing to write home about but the spring-loaded quick-release mechanism allows you to change it for a more premium one easily. The buckle mechanism is frustrating and also not very secure, so a replacement strap is almost a necessity.
OnePlus Watch: Display
The OnePlus Watch features a 1.39", 454 x 454 HD, AMOLED display with a pixel density of 326ppi. It’s very sharp and detailed but unfortunately - not very bright, especially if you use the auto setting.
If you manually activate the high-brightness mode, the watch can output up to 440 nits and everything becomes much more readable under direct sunlight. The conservative auto-brightness mode might 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 display. The only way to activate the display is to raise your wrist or click one of the buttons.
OnePlus Watch: Software and Smart features
The OnePlus Watch runs a custom operating system that’s clean and fast but also not very smart. For starters, there’s no third-party software allowed, and watch faces are limited to 15. The included apps/features are quite basic, too.
The only real smart features are Phone and TV Connect. The OnePlus Watch doesn’t come equipped with cellular connectivity but it can make and receive calls if it’s tethered to its mothership phone. The quality of the speaker is actually quite decent and so is the onboard microphone. You can’t use the speaker to listen to music, though - you need Bluetooth earphones paired for this.
The OnePlus watch displays notifications from your smartphone apps and in theory you can answer some of them - there are predefined text templates - but I failed to make this feature work with Messenger Lite and ProtonMail. Even though the watch has an NFC chip, you can’t make payments at the moment (although the necessary app/feature might be added by OnePlus at a later date).
You can add widgets to the main screen (OnePlus calls them “cards”), such as music controls, weather information, activity summary, sleep tracking data, and more. They are limited to a total of six, though.
OnePlus Watch: Fitness and Health features
As a fitness tracker, the OnePlus Watch fails to impress, to say the least. The step tracking is far from accurate and the step counter refreshes at very long intervals. During a walk or a run, the counter remains frozen on a specific number for a good couple of minutes then suddenly jumps up by a thousand or so.
The automatic exercise tracking is not good either - I did two long runs and the watch failed to recognize them at all. There’s a built-in GPS but occasionally it fails to provide data about your workout. It’s a real shame because the heart rate and SpO2 sensors give this watch huge fitness tracking potential.
When the watch manages to discern your activity and when the GPS locks on, you get a fair amount of useful information, including a map of the course, VO2 max zones, real-time heart rate, heart rate zones, burned calories, cadence and elevation, etc. Some of the information is available on the watch itself, but you need the OnePlus Health app to dive into more detail.
Speaking of the app, it’s clean and simple, with nothing to complain about. You can tweak various settings from the app (step goal, SpO2 sleep tracking, high heart rate alerts, etc.), and also pick the apps you want to receive notifications from on the watch. It’s a work-in-progress I guess, so minor bugs are to be expected.
Sleep tracking is really good, though. The SpO2 and the heart rate sensors help to identify different sleep stages and potential issues. 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 displaying it 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 a solid 10 days out of it, even if you crack the brightness to the max and turn on the SpO2 sleep tracking (which you should absolutely do). You can also top-up the 402mAh battery with the supplied charger relatively fast - half an hour of charging translates into about 50%.
OnePlus Watch: Price and final thoughts
At the end of the day, the biggest advantages of the OnePlus Watch are its looks and its battery life. You can find everything else in any run-of-the-mill fitness band out there. All the hiccups and bugs will probably be addressed with future updates but at the moment the OnePlus Watch just feels a bit rough around the edges and incomplete.
The watch costs $159 which is a fair price considering the features or the lack of them. If you like the design and don’t mind waiting for OnePlus to iron out all the bugs, maybe you can give it a try. But if you’re serious about your workouts and need solid smart features, you should probably look elsewhere.