OnePlus Watch Review: A Promising First Attempt at a Smartwatch
It’s been a few years since OnePlus deviated from its roots as a smartphone-only brand, but apart from a limited venture selling TVs in a handful of markets, the company is still primarily a smartphone and smartphone accessory brand. OnePlus’ latest accessory for smartphones is a wearable device called the OnePlus Watch. Launching this week, the OnePlus Watch is a smartwatch that costs less than half the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, but as you’d expect, it isn’t as feature-rich. Still, the OnePlus Watch is a promising first attempt from the smartphone brand that should satisfy those looking for a wearable that’s a bit more premium than the typical fitness tracker.
OnePlus Watch Specifications - Click to expand
|Dimensions & Weight|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Geomagnetic sensor, Barometer, Blood oxygen sensor, Optical heart rate sensor, Ambient light sensor, Capacitance sensor|
|Audio & Vibration||Microphone and speaker supported for calls via Bluetooth|
Linear vibration motor
About this review: I received the OnePlus Watch in Midnight Black from OnePlus USA for review and have used the smartwatch for 10 days. The watch was paired to the OnePlus 9 Pro for the duration of this review. OnePlus did not preview or provide any input regarding the content of this review.
OnePlus Watch Review Highlights
- Round shape and display makes it look more like a typical watch
- Design is sleek and ergonomic
- Fluoroelastomer strap is super comfortable
- Buttons are easy to press but don’t protrude too far
- IP68 rating and 5ATM resistance
- Supports standalone location tracking
- Mostly accurate sensors (pedometer, heart rate, Sp02)
- OnePlus Health app is clean, well-designed, and supports Google Fit syncing
- Very fast and smooth
- Clean and minimalist UI
- Great battery life
- Very fast charging
- Decent speaker and microphone quality
- 46mm case and included 22mm watch strap could be large for some
- No Always on Display
- Several features missing at launch (full 110 workout modes, sleep and Sp02 data syncing)
- No iOS device support
- No third-party app support
- Missing some useful first-party apps like recorder, notes, calendar
- No wireless charging
Navigate this review
- Design & Ergonomics: How does it feel to wear the OnePlus Watch?
- Health & Fitness: Is the OnePlus Watch a good health and fitness tracker?
- Software: Is the lack of Wear OS a big deal for the OnePlus Watch?
- Battery Life & Charging: How long does the OnePlus Watch last?
- Audio & Voice: How well does it handle voice calls?
- Conclusion: Should you buy the OnePlus Watch?
Design & Ergonomics: How does it feel to wear the OnePlus Watch?
The OnePlus Watch comes in two variations: the “Classic” edition with a stainless steel case and a fluoroelastomer strap and a “Cobalt Limited Edition” with a cobalt alloy case and a vegan leather strap with a butterfly buckle. I received a “Classic” edition model in the Midnight Black color for review.
Unlike the OPPO Watch, the OnePlus Watch has a round shape and display, which means less room for additional sensors and the battery but results in a design that looks more like a traditional watch. The display isn’t end-to-end but the watch face bezels are black and thus seamlessly blend into the rest of the body. OnePlus says the watch has “2.5D curved glass,” but I barely notice any curvature whatsoever.
The OnePlus Watch comes in a single 46mm size so it may feel quite large on the wrist for some, but fortunately, it’s very lightweight and the fluoroelastomer strap is very comfortable. I’ve never once felt the urge to take the OnePlus Watch off to give my wrist some rest, despite wearing the watch for nearly 9 days straight. The only times I took the watch off were when I needed to shower (it’s IP68 rated but I never feel comfortable showering with any electronics on) and when I needed to charge the watch because its battery was nearly depleted.
The included 22mm watch strap fits me just fine, and I usually buckle the watch at about the 6th hole (there are 10). In case you need a shorter band, OnePlus says you can contact customer service and they’ll ship one to you.
On the right side, there are two buttons: a power button and a function button. Neither protrudes very far out of the body, but they’re fortunately still easy to press. The top button acts as a home button that returns you to the watch face, while the bottom button launches one of the apps installed on the watch (by default, the Workout app). The top button also opens the single column, vertically scrolling app tray when it’s pressed on the home screen, while the bottom button shows the power menu when it’s long-pressed on any screen.
When the watch is powered on but the screen is off, it can be woken up by pressing either of the two buttons. You can also turn on “raise to wake” under “Display and brightness” settings to turn the screen on by moving your wrist. Sadly, there’s currently no Always on Display feature at the moment, and the maximum length of time you can keep the screen on is 8 seconds. The display is generally bright enough for me to see what I need to see before it turns off on its own, but I would prefer to have the option for AOD. On the other hand, I prefer the watch stays off when I’m sleeping, so I’m glad OnePlus added the (aptly-named) “Do not disturb for bedtime” feature which turns off raise to wake during your set DND period.
Health & Fitness: Is the OnePlus Watch a good health and fitness tracker?
OnePlus built the OnePlus Watch to be a personal health and fitness companion, so it features a bevy of health monitoring sensors and fitness-related apps. The watch itself has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and can withstand 5ATM of pressure (ie. it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters in depth for 10 minutes). I haven’t taken the OnePlus Watch swimming, let alone to the shower, so I can’t speak for how durable it is underwater. It’s not a ruggedized watch with a thick casing, but it should be capable of surviving most exercise routines that the average person might do.
According to OnePlus, the OnePlus Watch supports 110+ workout types, but at the time of this review, only 14 were included in the Workout app. These included Running, Fat burn run, Outdoor cycling, Indoor cycling, Outdoor walk, Swimming, Elliptical trainer, Rowing machine, Badminton, Mountaineering, Cross-country, Cricket, Yoga, and Freestyle training. The watch is said to automatically detect jogging and running, but I couldn’t get it to suggest anything when I tried jogging for a bit. It could be that I wasn’t jogging long enough for it to trigger the detection, though.
In any case, each of the workout types features a minimalist widget with a few pages to cycle through. For the outdoor walk, you can see the strength of the GPS signal, the current heart rate, the battery level, the current time, and set some goals before starting the workout. After starting the workout, you can see the distance you’ve walked, how long you’ve walked, how many calories you’ve burned, your current heart rate, and your pace. Swipe to the left and you can control music, either stored locally or playing from your phone. Swipe to the right and you can stop, pause/resume, or change the volume level. Lastly, you can press either of the physical buttons to pause the workout at any time.
If you leave your phone at home, the OnePlus Watch can still track your location with its built-in GPS. It won’t be as accurate as your phone’s GNSS setup, but in my experience, it did track my walks around the neighborhood at the street level. For those who go off the trail, though, I can’t say if the location tracking will be accurate enough for you.
The built-in pedometer generally seemed accurate to me. For example, when I manually counted out the remaining 112 steps to complete my 8000 steps for the day, the OnePlus Watch was off by just 3 steps. I’ve found that the watch’s step counter is a bit sensitive, though, as it’ll think that some wrist movements are actually steps. This doesn’t lead to wildly inaccurate step counts, but it does mean the count isn’t that precise.
As for the other sensors, they all seem pretty precise. Sleep tracking works as I’ve expected, with the OnePlus Watch accurately detecting when I fall asleep and when I actually wake up. It even continues to track my sleep when I wake up for a bit but then fall back asleep. The heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring apps gave me values that were pretty similar to a handheld pulse oximeter.
All of the health and fitness information that is collected can be viewed on the OnePlus Watch itself, but it’s better to download the OnePlus Health app. It’s clean, simple, and to the point. It has 3 tabs: Health, Fitness, and Manage. The Health tab has cards for your daily goal overview, your heart rate, your sleep data, your Sp02 data, your stress level, and your recent workout logs. The Fitness tab shows any recent outdoor runs or walks you’ve done along with a map of your path. You can also start a run or walk from the app, though it’ll use the sensors in your phone rather than your watch if you do so. The Manage tab is where you can change the watch face, choose which notifications to sync, update the firmware, change the health monitoring settings, upload music and contacts to your watch, and set fitness goals. Lastly, there’s an option to sync step, calories, heart rate, and sleep data to Google Fit in case you prefer checking and managing your data there.
The app is compatible with any Android smartphone running Android 6.0+ and with Google Play Services 11.7+. There’s no iOS device support, and there aren’t really any special features that are unlocked if you have a OnePlus phone. In one sense, that’s a good thing as users with other phones aren’t left out, but it’s also a bummer because there is a lot more that OnePlus could do to make the OnePlus Watch more integrated with OxygenOS (more on that below).
Software: Is the lack of Wear OS a big deal for the OnePlus Watch?
A few weeks before the announcement of the OnePlus Watch, the company confirmed the smartwatch won’t run Google’s Wear OS. According to Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, the company opted to use a custom OS instead of Wear OS in order to deliver better battery life. If you’re familiar with Wear OS, this claim makes sense; most Wear OS smartwatches struggle to last beyond 2 days — let alone a single — unless you disable a ton of features and turn the smartwatch into a “dumb” watch. Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3, which is one of the longer-lasting Wear OS smartwatches out there, typically lasted me 2 days with all of the features enabled. In comparison, the OnePlus Watch can last anywhere from 1-2 weeks depending on how heavily you use it. The trade-off, though, is that the OnePlus Watch is bereft of applications.
Since the smartwatch and its OS are brand new and there’s no way for developers to port their apps to it, the OnePlus Watch is seriously lacking in high-quality applications. In fact, there are only 19 total applications available on the OnePlus Watch (not including the Settings app), including:
- Workout record
- Heart rate
- Blood oxygen
- Alarm clock
- TV connect
- Find phone
Most of these apps are pretty self-explanatory and do exactly what you’d expect. They’re all pretty basic, though, which is great for shaving off on setup time but means you might miss some nifty functionality. For example, the Phone app can only list up to 30 of the contacts that you pick, so you may be forced to actually pick up your phone to start a call. The weather app, meanwhile, doesn’t list the chance of precipitation or the UV index, so you may have to do a bit of extra prep work before heading out. While the media player does support local music playback through a connected Bluetooth headset, it forces you to manually transfer audio files encoded in .mp3 or .m4a. If your music listening is primarily cloud-based, then have fun getting the raw audio files you want to transfer.
When OnePlus decided to develop its own OS instead of using Google’s Wear OS, they had to have known the difficulties in overcoming the gap in apps. I think, as a compromise, that OnePlus should have made its first-party apps more polished, and I also think they should offer a couple of additional basic apps. For example, the OnePlus Watch is missing an audio recorder app, a calculator app, an agenda/calendar app, a notetaking app, and a camera shutter app. I find the lack of some of these apps puzzling since OnePlus already made a calculator, notes, and recorder app for OxygenOS. Surely they could find a way to at least create minified versions of these apps that sync with the smartphone versions?
One of the strengths of the Galaxy Watch is that it leverages Samsung’s extensive catalog of first-party apps so users don’t have to tie themselves to Google’s ecosystem. I don’t expect OnePlus to replicate apps like Google Assistant, Google Keep, Google Translate, Google Maps, or especially Google Pay (though oddly, the reviewer’s guide mentions that NFC is “supported for all variants” despite the fact that I can’t find a single use for it). If the entire purpose of a smartwatch is to reduce how often you take out your smartphone, then the OnePlus Watch is certainly less of a smartwatch than any Wear OS watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch. On the flip side, though, the incredible comfort and long-lasting battery life, as you’ll see in the next section, makes the OnePlus Watch feel more like a watch I want to keep on my wrist at all times.
Having come from a Wear OS watch, I don’t really have many positive things to say about the app situation on the OnePlus Watch. OnePlus did a decent job with the rest of the OS, though.
- First of all, the OnePlus Watch is very fast, which is a nice change of pace from budget Wear OS watches. Pages zip in and out with little to no lag as my finger glides over the screen, and there is virtually no delay when launching any of the preinstalled apps.
- Second, the UI is very clean and minimalist. Buttons are large and easy to press while text is easy to read. There is little clutter to be found in any of the apps. Few apps are paginated and can be scrolled up and down to reveal more details, but generally little is hidden from the user on the main page.
- Lastly, the overall UX is very easy to use. Just like Wear OS, you swipe up from the bottom to show your notifications, swipe left from the right to show app tiles, swipe down from the top to show Quick Settings tiles, and long-press to change the watch face. While OnePlus offers over 50 watch faces (many of which look quite good), you can’t add a custom watch face. Overall, I like the UX except for two pain points.
- First, the OnePlus Watch lets you respond to notifications, but only with a handful of canned responses that many times aren’t appropriate to send. Since images in notifications aren’t sent over, you’ll be opening up your phone a lot just to see the random meme or image your friend or family member sent. Notification statuses are only synced one way, too, so dismissing a notification on your watch doesn’t dismiss it on your phone.
- My last complaint with the UX is the low-quality localization in a few places, which honestly surprised me since OnePlus generally does a good job at making its products feel “not Chinese.” For instance, when a timer ends, the text reads “timing ended.” When the battery is about to run out, you’ll see a message that says “battery power too low.” When you reach your daily step count, you’ll see “your step count is up to standard. Pls keep it up.” I expect this kind of localization effort from a no-name, Amazon-exclusive electronics brand but not from OnePlus. This isn’t a huge deal since it’s just text, of course, but small things like this can detract from the overall premium experience. Hopefully, these text elements will be changed in a future OTA update.
Speaking of future updates, OnePlus told us that they already have two software updates for the OnePlus Watch in the pipeline. The first update is scheduled for later this month and will include sleep tracking recording and an outdoor cycling workout function in the OnePlus Health app. The second OTA update is scheduled for the middle of May and will include optimizations to location tracking and the inclusion of the full 110 supported workout modes. While I was reviewing the device, I received one pre-release software update to version W301GB_B_33_0330, a 60.12MB update that added new watch faces and a UI revamp for the heart rate monitor. Here’s hoping that OnePlus continues to push out software updates because many of the complaints I have with the software are fixable.
(Note: The only app I haven’t been able to use during my review period is the TV connect app, but that’s because it only works with any of the various OnePlus TV sets sold in India.)
Battery Life & Charging: How long does the OnePlus Watch last?
While I wasn’t too impressed by the software on the OnePlus Watch, I was impressed by its battery life. Since I’ve only had it for about 10 days, I haven’t been able to put it through multiple cycles to see how fast I can kill it or how long I can make it last. Instead, I just kept in on myself and used it like normal.
In a typical 24-hour period, the battery drained about 9-10% for me with features like raise to wake, auto workout detection and pause, “smart” heart rate tracking, auto stress monitoring, sleep monitoring, and Sp02 monitoring during sleep all enabled. That battery drain figure also includes periodically seeing and responding to notifications, occasionally checking the time and weather, and occasionally manually checking my heart rate and blood oxygen level.
When I left my OnePlus 9 Pro at home and went out for a walk with GPS on and music streaming to my Jabra Elite 75t, the battery drained about 10-11% in an hour. According to the spec sheet, the OnePlus Watch can last for up to 25 hours of continuous GPS use, making location tracking and Bluetooth streaming two of the most power-hungry use cases. If you plan to do a lot of both, then don’t expect the battery life to last for more than a few days. For me, the battery lasted a total of about 9 days with 7 of those days falling under my “typical” scenario plus some light indoor exercising and 2 of those days falling under the heavier GPS + Bluetooth scenario. The OnePlus Watch should last most people for well over a week on a single charge.
In order to charge the OnePlus Watch, I used the included cable and a Warp Charge 30 adapter that was laying around, though you can use any standard 5V/1A adapter. OnePlus says you can get a “week of charge” in just 20 minutes, and in my testing, it took only 43 minutes to charge from 5% to 100%. Considering my typical use only drains the battery about 9-10% in a single day, I would say that Warp Charge on the OnePlus Watch lives up to the hype.
My only real gripe with the charging is that it isn’t wireless. To date, OnePlus still hasn’t made a single Qi wireless charging accessory. That’s an odd omission considering one of the highlight features of the OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro is reverse wireless charging, which means you can’t even use your OnePlus flagship to wirelessly charge your OnePlus earbuds or smartwatch.
Audio & Voice: How well does it handle voice calls?
There’s not much to talk about when it comes to audio quality and voice calls on a smartwatch, but fortunately for the OnePlus Watch, I don’t have anything bad to say. The speaker and vibration motor are loud and powerful enough for alarms to wake me up each morning. Incoming and outgoing audio during voice calls is clear and loud enough to hear when you hold the watch up against your ear.
Voice calls are simple to make and receive. You don’t have to fiddle with settings to get them to work, though I’ve only tried them when the watch was paired to the OnePlus 9 Pro, so your mileage may vary with other devices.
I did face some issues with making and receiving voice calls when I had my Google Fi SIM card inserted into my OnePlus 9 Pro, but those issues all went away when I switched back to my T-Mobile SIM. To be more specific, I was unable to actually answer phone calls from the watch as the action of accepting the call on the watch wasn’t syncing to the phone, causing the call to hang. Vice versa, when I tried placing a call from my watch, I frequently saw a “call failed” warning show up. Until I switched to my T-Mobile SIM which fixed these issues, I had to start a call from my phone and then switch the speaker output manually to the watch, which defeats the whole purpose of using the watch in the first place. This was by far the biggest software-related bug that I encountered, but it thankfully didn’t persist.
Conclusion: Should you buy the OnePlus Watch?
I get to try a lot of smartphones, but I always gravitate towards Google, ASUS, or OnePlus phones as my daily driver. While I’m not a big fan of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, the one thing I really envy about them is how tightly integrated the first-party accessories are. OnePlus is finally starting to build out its own ecosystem of products, but they’re sadly not that integrated with one another.
For what it is, I think the OnePlus Watch is a great first attempt from a company that has never made a smartwatch before. If you’re looking for a wearable that has a more premium design than a fitness tracker but is more affordable than the cream of the crop smartwatches, then the OnePlus Watch is a decent option. It’s pitted directly against the Amazfit GTR 2 and Mi Watch Revolve, two affordable smartwatches from more established wearable brands (Huami and Xiaomi respectively). It’s impressive that OnePlus’ first smartwatch out of the gate looks and feels as premium as it does, runs very smoothly, and lasts over a week on a single charge. However, it’s held back by running a custom OS that lacks support for third-party apps and is missing some useful first-party apps.
So is the OnePlus Watch buying? If you can get it at a discount or a bundle, then I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. If not, then you should think about how you plan to use this product. If you think a smartwatch should be simple and easy to use, then maybe a Wear OS or Tizen OS smartwatch isn’t for you. If you think any of the issues or lack of features I mentioned will drive you nuts, though, then you may want to consider other options. Since I mostly work from home, I feel like I haven’t gotten the maximum use out of my Wear OS-powered TicWatch Pro 3, but I have used and enjoyed my time with the OnePlus Watch mostly because of how comfortable and long-lasting it is.
Right now, OnePlus is running a “OnePlus Watch Appreciation Credit” discount until midnight that knocks $20 off the price, making it $139 in the US. Otherwise, the OnePlus Watch will be available starting tomorrow for $159 in the US, $219 in Canada, €159 in Europe, and ₹16,999 in India.