OnePlus Watch is OnePlus’s first SmartWatch Ever. With a starting price of $159, it undercuts other smartwatches like Apple & Google.
And what makes invoking it so irresistible is how often it illuminates just how much settling the OnePlus of today is prepared to do, even when it’s entering a new category for the first time.
Table of Contents
OnePlus Watch Specifications
|23rd March 2021
|Midnight Black, Moonlight Silver
|Water Resistance Depth
|316L stainless steel
|SpO2, Heart Rate
|2 Pogo pin charger
Platform and storage features
|Compatible Operating System
|Android 6.0 and above
Fitness and watch functions
|Heart Rate Monitor
|Date & Time Display
Audio and video features
OnePlus Watch Pros & Cons
|OnePlus Watch Pros
|OnePlus Watch Cons
|Inaccurate step tracking
|No iOS support
|Accurate sleep tracking
|Comes in one size only
|Limited smart features
|Fast charging, good battery life
OnePlus Watch Review
Right up front, this watch deserves credit for living up to OnePlus’s old ideals, better than its newest flagship phone. While the OnePlus 9 Pro delivers a lot but asks too much in exchange, the watch is almost the inverse of that. It’s missing many features compared to the competition, but it’s also asking less for the privilege.
At a starting price of $159, it undercuts not just the Apple Watch, but also most of the smartwatches I wear on a regular basis. The sacrifices you make for that price cut aren’t immediately apparent because out of the box, the watch looks pretty good if you’re into the whole minimalism thing.
Its 46-millimeter case is made of polished stainless steel topped by a curved glass crystal protecting a 1.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen.
The bezel between the display and case bears the watch’s only true ornamentation unless you count the company logo on one of the two side buttons.
A set of perimeter stripes, almost invisible, unless they catch the light just right. OnePlus calls this subtlety, Burdenless Design. And again, if you’re into minimalism, then sure, this is probably your speed.
But too often, I think the word minimalism is used as a cover for lack of imagination. And I’d have preferred a more aspirational or bold style for the first smartwatch from such a historically outspoken brand.
Fortunately, the casing is bracketed by universal 22-millimeter lags. So I dove into the old watch box and swapped out the comfortable but commonplace fluoroelastomer band for something with slightly more personality from Citizen.
Oh, and if you want a flashier finish, you can splash more cash for the cobalt edition later this year.
Let’s talk about usage. After a few days with the watch, I started referring to it as a fitness band disguised as a smartwatch not realizing that I had already used that tagline to refer to another wearable.
That was 2019’s Huawei Watch GT. And when I re-watched that review, I was struck by just how similar the software on this watch is. Like Huawei, OnePlus ditched an established platform like Google’s in favor of a custom real-time OS. And just like Huawei, its main reason for doing so was battery life.
Instead of the one to two days, you’ll get from an Apple Watch or Google watch, the OnePlus watch will keep on ticking for at least a week between charges.
In fact, seven days is exactly the figure I got. Almost down to the hour. And I did not go easy on it. In addition to the never-ending onslaught of messages vibrating my wrist, I took a few phone calls.
I logged four multi-mile walks with the built-in GPS. And during those walks, I streamed an hour-long podcast directly to Bluetooth headphones.
By the way, that Bluetooth connection, whether you’re streaming audio or not is rock solid. The watch never lost connection with the phone for no reason as Wear OS still tends to do from time to time.
And using the software during that walk and otherwise, was fairly simple since it seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from Wear OS.
Notifications from below, settings up top, tiles off to the side and dismiss by swiping right.
The trouble is all those similarities to Google’s wearables, they reminded me just how much I missed using Wear OS, which alongside its many frustrations, also offers a mature feature set that OnePlus is totally lacking.
On Wear OS or Samsung or even now Apple, I can choose from literally thousands of watch faces thanks to Facer.
With this watch, you’re confined to the 50 faces OnePlus offers out of the box. And I know that may sound like a lot, but trust me, they get old in a hurry.
I asked OnePlus if it had a timetable for releasing new watch faces or if it would allow users to build their own. The answers were no to the first and maybe to the second. You can use a photo as a watch face though, which is pretty cool.
But faces aside, there’s no slickness to the software. And as of the date of this video, there’s also an awful lot still missing.
See, as good as it looks, thanks to this bright, brilliant display, the prime directive of this platform is to preserve battery life. So there are no third-party apps.
There’s no assistant, no calendar, no payment support, no iPhone compatibility. The animations are limited. And there’s no Always On watch face.
Notifications are bare bones. You don’t get anything more than the subject line of an email. You can’t dictate replies. And they don’t have custom icons for every app so you can’t triage them as easily.
There’s also a really annoying bug where some alerts buzz your wrist over and over again for the same notification.
I made many of these complaints two years ago on that Huawei Watch GT. And it’s frustrating to see them resurface on a much higher-profile product in 2021.
One that also bears all the hallmarks of having been rushed to market. Even the fitness features are riddled with bugs.
Also, sleep tracking data wouldn’t sync from the watch to the app pending amid the April update that OnePlus says should fix that.
Followed by amid may update that’ll bring all the advertised 110 workout modes to the watch. And keep in mind, there is no Wi-Fi onboard.
So if those updates are anything like the first one I had, they may take up to 40 minutes to make their way to the watch over Bluetooth.
That 95-megabyte podcast I mentioned earlier took 18 minutes to transfer.
Unfortunately, software updates won’t be able to do much for my remaining complaints.
Phone calls taken through the watch are finicky because of the placement of the speaker, which makes callers raspy if you bend your wrist wrong.
And two of those callers said they weren’t the biggest fans of the voice quality from my end either.
Also, while the watch does charge quickly, it will only charge at all if you make sure to anchor the charger properly.
Its magnets are too weak to ensure a perfect fit of pogo pins to contact. So while it may look and sound like it’s firmly attached, it’s not always.
To wrap things up, I’ll take us back to the start and remind you that this is OnePlus’ first smartwatch. And conceptually, I think the company was right to put its focus where it did.
It really does last, at least a week. It should eventually offer a boatload of fitness features if the bugs get shaken out.
It works as a remote if you have a OnePlus TV. And it’s priced competitively even if it only undercuts the bulk of the rivals by about 40 bucks.
But you know, for a device that goes on sale tomorrow, it’s still too raw to recommend today. I’ll be really happy to go back to my Wear OS watches after this. And I think that says it all.
OnePlus Watch Review
The OnePlus Watch impresses with its sleek design, vibrant display, and solid fitness tracking capabilities. However, limited third-party app support and some minor performance leaves a room for improvement.