Thursday, April 22, 2021

OnePlus Watch

Two-minute review

Remember the OnePlus One and how it tried to go up against the established competition with an offering that was cheaper and subjectively better? OnePlus tells us that it had something similar in mind when it started developing the OnePlus Watch – premium features at a not-so-premium price.

It takes the best stuff from full-fledged smartwatches and fitness trackers, viz. calls and notification management from the former, and loads of tracking and multi-day battery life from the latter, and tones them down by a bit to achieve a reasonable price tag. However, at a price of Rs 14,999 in India, it faces pressure from the best smartwatches from both sides. 

Here’s what the OnePlus Watch gets right: with an integrated microphone and loudspeaker, you can not only receive can conduct entire calls on it, you can also initiate calls from the watch itself – a feature that is not present on most other non-smartwatches. The proprietary operating system is buttery smooth, well-laid-out and easy to navigate through.

It has the usual slew of fitness features, including workout-tracking, pedometer, heart rate, SpO2, sleep tracking, stress levels, etc., all of which worked well in our testing. Moreover, detailed reports and graphs can be seen on the app to get a better understanding of your vitals.

Having said that, the software on the OnePlus Watch can seem limiting as there is no access to third-party apps, limited watch faces for now, unintelligent notification replies and bugs which shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Thankfully, things are a lot better on the hardware front, with the watch following a minimalist design approach with a large display, slim curved bezels and a strong body. It’s not particularly iconic, but it looks good enough to match with most outfits and occasions. The inclusion of standard 22mm lugs means that you can swap straps with ease.

Ending things on a stronger note, the OnePlus Watch battery life was simply great, easily lasting for almost a week on a single charge with all the features enabled. And in case you wondered, it also supports Warp charging, going from 0 to full in just about half an hour.

The OnePlus Watch is for those who want a smartwatch without the premium price tag associated with it, with the battery life and health suite of a fitness tracker. If you’re fine with limited reply functionality and a lack of third-party apps, it serves as a great alternative to Wear OS or Tizen devices. Plus, it looks way better than the bulk of fitness trackers currently available in the Indian market.

OnePlus Watch price in India and availability

Check out the OnePlus Watch

 Rs 14,999  Rs 12,999 on Amazon and Flipkart

Cobalt Limited Edition coming soon

Launched on March 23, the OnePlus Watch price in India is Rs 14,999. It will be available on Amazon and Flipkart starting April 22. SBI credit card EMI transactions will be eligible for a Rs 2,000 discount (offer valid till April 30 only). 

There will also be a OnePlus Watch Cobalt Limited Edition available at a later date. It has a cobalt alloy body with a gold finish, a Sapphire display and comes with a vegan leather band. Pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed.

Design and display

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The OnePlus Watch is minimal in a classy way and looks pricier than it is. Our Black variant comes with a black strap and a dark grey body with a polished sheen. We’re fans of this approach, as it is pretty easy to pair it with all kinds of outfits – be it at the gym, casual or a formal setting.

Encased within is a 46mm watch face with a 1.4-inch screen, making it one of the biggest smartwatches around. The display is surrounded by a curved black bezel that blends well and offers a comfortable smooth touch. The display itself is excellent, with crisp visuals, vibrant colours and ample brightness. The AMOLED tech underneath, paired with the predominantly black interface give it a good discreet look. We found the auto-brightness to be fairly responsive.

Along with the touch screen, there are two physical pushers on the right side for input. By default, the top one is to open the app drawer while the one on the bottom starts workouts. Its function can be customized from the settings.  The button at the 2 o’clock position has “OnePlus” etched on it, giving it some character and texture. 

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The touch response is great, and the OnePlus Watch has been further optimized to run at over 50Hz on most occasions — most wearables in this class are closer to 30Hz.

While the smartwatch is undeniably big, it isn’t too uncomfortable, thanks to the slim Z-axis profile and 45g weight. What we don’t like is the included strap. Made out of fluoroelastomer, it is quite stiff and long. Even the last hole will not be enough for skinnier people. For what it’s worth, the vertical rivulets across the stock strap look quite trendy.

Thankfully, the OnePlus Watch uses standard 22mm bands which can be easily replaced. If you have any other watch lying around, chances are that it has the same size. For the purpose of this review, we used the extra bands of a Realme Watch S and those fit perfectly. 22mm straps are quite inexpensive too, if you like to mix and match things up.

Fitness

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

It might not look so, but at its core, the OnePlus Watch is primarily a fitness tracker. For its price, it has a pretty comprehensive suite of tracking options, though it may underwhelm those looking for more intensive workout-assisting solutions.

Currently, the watch has some 14 workout-tracking modes included, with a future OTA update taking that to over 110. For now, it has running, cycling, walking, swimming, badminton, cricket, mountaineering, yoga, and freestyle training.

We were able to track walking, running and freestyle exercises during our testing, and found the readings to be quite accurate. With in-built GPS, you can leave your phone behind while going on a run to continue tracking the data. It will show the duration of the selected exercise, calories burnt, time and workout-specific metrics on some occasions. 

Details of each exercise can be viewed on the watch as well as the companion app. We were pleasantly surprised at how detailed and accurate they were. It even measured how many flights of stairs we climbed! 

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The auto-detection features are great too, as the OnePlus Watch will notify you and ask if you’d like to start tracking. For instance, If you’re walking outdoors for a few minutes, it will suggest switching on the outdoor walking workout.

For those looking for something a little lighter, the watch tracks daily basic activity progress via four metrics – steps, workout, energy used (in kcals), and activity duration. Similar to closing the rings on an Apple Watch, these fill up quarter-circles as you progress through the day, acting as a gentle reminder to not be too sedentary.

Then, it also has the usual set of sensors to keep an eye on the vitals. Heart-rate tracking and SpO2 readers were quite quick and accurate in our usage, with an acceptable degree of variance with other trackers. 

Sleep tracking was particularly detailed, giving a breakdown of light and deep sleep along with any short instances of waking up in the night or morning before snoozing again. Every morning, it will present a graphic with key observations and suggestions on how to improve your sleep quality. Sleep SpO2 tracking can also be enabled for a more in-depth look.

The OnePlus Health app is the hub for all things OnePlus Watch. You’ll be able to add devices, set your fitness goals, track vitals and workouts in real-time and a lot more. It is well-designed and easy to navigate. The only issue we faced was that the GPS tracking during outdoor runs is not always accurate.

Apart from that, the wearable does a great job as a fitness tracker and health companion. Even with its big size, it wasn’t too uncomfortable or obtrusive to use while working out. And, the inclusion of IP68 and 5ATM means it can be used in all conditions without a worry.

Smart features

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OnePlus Watch

Calls (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Usually, for a watch to be considered as smart, it needs to have a proper operating system such as Wear OS or Tizen. The OnePlus Watch takes a different approach by opting for Real-time operating system (RTOS) with customizations enabled with help from Google.

It is one of the only watches of its kind to be able to initiate, accept, reject and conduct entire calls — most others only allow for rejecting or silencing an incoming call. It’s a nifty setup where you can load up to 30 contacts on the watch from the app and call them directly. The microphone and speaker onboard are quite good and sufficient for short conversations. People on the other end said that our voice was loud and clear, but a little over-processed – likely due to some sort of environmental noise cancellation.

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OnePlus Watch

Music control (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

There’s also support for music control, where you can control media being played on the phone via the watch. The included 2GB storage can be used to store songs locally, so you can continue listening to music while working out, even if your phone has been left behind. However, the process of downloading and transferring MP3/AAC files is quite tedious, so we did not bother with it much after the initial testing. Most of the major apps are supported, but YouTube is notably absent from that list.

Another OnePlus Watch OS addition is the ability to reply to messages. It supports the popular messaging apps, but the selection of replies is ridiculously limited. The options include: “OK”, “Be right there!”, “In a meeting, contact you later” and “I’m driving, contact you later” — that’s it. While we understand that offering exhaustive voice and type replies is really possible with RTOS, there should have been more reply options. Even something simple like a “Yes” and “No” would have been nice.

Further, we also didn’t like how the notifications are (not) segregated. All of them have the same blue icon, with a tiny text beside it mentioning which app it is from. Not having different colours or app icons is a lost opportunity, especially with how good the display is.

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OnePlus Watch

Message replies (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The interface, luckily, is very intuitive – which is not something we often say about these semi-smart watches. The first screen will be the watchface of your choosing, with slightly customizable complications. A long press will let you cycle through about a dozen more designs, with the app having a total of 50 faces. The designs are fine, but we’re not sure if they are enough to cover all tastes. There’s also the option to add your own images as wallpapers, though.

A downward swipe will reveal quick toggles such as auto-brightness, find my phone, alarms, flashlight, settings and night mode. An upward swipe will show unattended notifications while moving side to side will cycle through the vital metrics and music control. Everything is very easy to get used to.

The watch has a decent vibration motor to alert you for calls and notifications. It’s not the strongest, but if you’re at home these days, it will suffice. It doubles as a silent alarm too, waking us up with ease and no sound. Though, deep sleepers’ mileage could vary.

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the inclusion of features such as a compass, barometer and altimeter.

Our experience with the OnePlus Watch has been generally positive. The ability to handle short calls from the wrist is underrated. If you’re fine with not being able to reply to texts directly, then the smartwatch will serve you well. Or else, you will have to splurge on a Wear OS or Samsung offering.

The company has promised a major software update in the coming weeks, which could address some of the shortcomings we mentioned.

Battery

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The biggest shortcoming for every full-fledged smartwatch is its limited battery life. Most of them barely make it to the next morning, while some last for about two days. 

Thus, OnePlus’s decision to opt for RTOS is a welcome one, taking its battery life to more than a week easily, with a 402mAh battery. In our first charge cycle, we got about 8 days on a single charge, with all notifications enabled and 24x7 connectivity to the phone. In the next cycle, we added sleep SpO2 tracking and moved to continuous heart rate tracking. Even then, the watch barely lost 10-15% charge daily. Most users will be able to get 5-6 days of juice with ease.

Perhaps the only time when the battery drained quickly was when GPS tracking was on. But even with that, you’ll be able to go on for a few days.

If that wasn’t enough, the OnePlus Watch is also equipped with Warp Charge. Using the included magnetic charge, you can go from empty to full in well less than an hour. The company claims a 5-minute charge will be enough to last you through the day, and that is true.

Verdict

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Buy if...

You want a smartwatch with good battery life

The OnePlus Watch can easily last for 4-5 days on a single charge, which is way better than other similar wearables. Warp Charge is an added bonus.

You want a wearble with calling functionality

The OnePlus Watch offers a complete suite of calling features, with the ability to initiate calls from the watch itself. The mic and speaker quality are serviceable too.

You want a classy-looking smartwatch

The OnePlus Watch’s looks are one of its best features, with a smooth design and classy polish on its metal case. It’s big, but sleek.

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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)
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OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Don't buy it if...

You want comprehensive message replies

The ability to reply to messages on various apps, via dictation, typing or included responses remainds exclusive to proper smartwatches.

You want something cheaper

At Rs 14,999, the OnePlus Watch is a premium offering. If you'd like to save some cash, check out the fitness trackers from Amazfit, which come in many designs.

Model: Nirali Rajgor

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