OnePlus Watch review: wait for improvements

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With a loaded spec sheet and slick-looking design, the OnePlus Watch has the potential to be a great Android companion for your wrist. Problem is, it doesn’t deliver in a meaningful way just yet. Here’s my experience with the device.

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While the OnePlus Watch packaging was clearly inspired by the Apple Watch, no one will mistake the unit itself for an Apple device. It uses a round design and its large, 46mm size is big but doesn’t seem too heavy or large, even on my wrist, which I would consider smaller. The materials seem high quality, and the included rubber strap is easy to put on and take off. The watch looks and feels great, and it’s comfortable to wear for long periods of time and during activities.

There are two buttons on the side, along with a microphone and a tiny speaker grill. You can make and receive calls on the device via Bluetooth if your phone is nearby. There is no cellular option. You can also control the music that’s playing on your phone or load some MP3’s directly onto the watch. OnePlus says there are 4 gigs of storage on the phone, but only 2 are available for music, translating into roughly 500 songs. I transferred just a handful which is typically enough for my 45-minute runs.

The transfer process is slow since it happens over Bluetooth. But, I didn’t have too many issues transferring music since it worked in the background. Once music is on your watch, you can listen to it by pairing Bluetooth earbuds. Unlike other wearables I’ve tried, there was absolutely no “choppiness” to the audio over Bluetooth.

You can get notifications from a wide variety of apps and most are turned off by default. You can easily go into the OnePlus Health app (which controls the watch) and toggle notifications on for just about any app on your phone. The biggest downside here is that there is no way to respond to notifications, at least not in a way I could figure out. Also, there’s no voice assistant on the watch.

OnePlus has really hyped up the battery on this thing and I can say it really is quite remarkable. Not only does it last forever, but it also charges up really quickly. The charging adapter is not wireless, but since your watch magnetically adheres to the charging cradle, it feels just the same. The best part about the long-lasting battery is that you can just leave this watch on for long stretches of time and get great sleep tracking data from it since you’re not charging it at night.

OnePlus estimates two weeks of battery, which I think you’ll get if you don’t do much physical activity tracking. If you’re tracking a workout daily, I think it would last about one week.

Speaking of fitness, I was also impressed with the abundance of fitness and health tracking on the OnePlus. For starters, it has all of the sensors you need: GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, blood oxygen and heart rate. Some readings seem to be more accurate than others. For instance, the GPS on my run didn’t calculate the proper mileage – OnePlus says there is a GPS update on the way that should improve accuracy. Heart rate was on par with Apple Watch readings.

There’s support for tracking a wide variety of workouts – I tried indoor cycling, a hike, running and walking with the Watch. Unlike the Apple Watch, which has a pretty solid system for closing rings, there is a goal-based system on the OnePlus Watch but I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea if I was hitting any of my exercise goals.

The good news is that all of your fitness data goes into Google Fit (if you allow it) and if you’re familiar with their system of Heart Points, then you’ll be better off than with the OnePlus Health app, which is confusing. The data the OnePlus Watch sends over is surprisingly rich.

The watch also supports automatic tracking of several activities like running and walking, and it did trigger a workout on a walk about 8 minutes into it. It also cues you to get up and move if you’ve been stationary for a while.

The watch is IP68 water resistant, which should hold up swimming and in water.

Overall, I enjoyed wearing the OnePlus Watch but was left feeling a bit out of the loop when it was on. I hate comparing everything to the Apple Watch, but I feel more connected and informed when I have that device on. With the OnePlus, I felt like I had quick reference to the time and that’s about it.

Keep in mind, this watch runs its own operating system and as far as I can tell, there are no third-party apps available.

There are a ton of watch faces and some are customizable. One thing I don’t like about the watch is how it is sometimes slow to light up the screen when you raise your wrist. There is no option for an always-on display and you can’t tap the screen to make it light up. You must press a button on the side. Also, the screen tends to stay on the dimmer side when you use automatic brightness and when you’re out in the sun, it can be tough to see.

One bad sign for a watch: I couldn’t even figure out how to change the time from 24 hour to standard. OnePlus told me a software update will make that possible in the future, but only after I looked for the simple setting extensively.

The biggest competition for the OnePlus Watch is the Fitbit Versa series and the Samsung Galaxy smartwatches. Right now, those seem like a better fit for most Android users. The watches have been refined over the years and accomplish more of what you need with less uncertainty.

To be fair to OnePlus, the company is known for pushing out software updates in a timely manner, so they could improve the functionality of this watch over time. The OnePlus Watch is available now. for $159.

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