OnePlus Watch is the first wearable device from the smartphone company. It has a couple of features that outsmart other pricier rivals, and a sleek look meant to impress. However, with all its modern looks and design, the OnePlus Watch doesn’t have all the smarts you’d expect in a smartwatch. Despite the few shortcomings, the OnePlus Watch is worth every penny and more befitting for those looking for less sophisticated models.

OnePlus Watch: Price and Availability

What started as rumors of “Will they?” and “When?” has now become a reality with the release of the first-gen OnePlus Watch. The smartwatch went on sale in the US and UK on April 14 with a starting price of $159 / £149, but the first orders will be shipping from April 30, 2021.

At that price, the OnePlus Watch has made it to the list of the cheapest smartwatches ever released by a leading smartphone manufacturer. 

OnePlus Watch: Design and Display

First impressions of the smartwatch show solid hardware that’s well put together. Nothing plasticky or creaky, the body is made of polished stainless steel, which we can say is a nice feature at that price point. At launch, the watch is offered in one size and configuration: 46mm watch face with 1GB RAM and 4GB of storage space. It also comes in a single color: Midnight Black.

According to OnePlus press release, a Cobalt Limited Edition watch is in the works. The cobalt alloy is said to be twice as hard and more corrosion-resistant than steel. 

In terms of appearance, the OnePlus Watch seems more generic. It shares a lot of similarities with Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2, with the round face and rubber strap that’s tucked into itself. You’ll also notice two buttons on the right-hand side of the watch that sits flush with the watch’s body. However, it appears less sporty than the Galaxy Watch Active 2, but more sophisticated with a bold 1.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen.

The large display matches its large build, but it feels rather lightweight and is nearly as slim as the Apple Watch. The display is sharp and bright, thanks to the AMOLED tech. But given the limited number of apps supported, there’s nothing to take advantage of the screen.

The rubber-like watch band is wide and thick, but tough. It feels secure on the wrist and seems just perfect for the hefty weight. Several rivulets are running down the side of the band, adding a nice touch to the design compared to flat wristbands.

OnePlus Watch: Performance and Features

The OnePlus Watch underside has sensors for blood oxygen and heart rate (Important note: don’t use these sensors for medical purposes, as they may not be accurate). Other sensors inside the watch include accelerometers and gyroscopes to enable you to track your workouts and activity. There are also GPS and Bluetooth radios. The phone lacks Wi-Fi or LTE, which means if you forget your phone, you will miss important notifications unless you’re back within the Bluetooth range.

The OnePlus Watch runs on its own proprietary Real-Time Operating System (RTOS). This software is fast and power-efficient but lacks extensibility. In other words, you won’t be able to download from the app store or third-party watch faces on the OnePlus Watch. This type of software is similar to the one used on budget Amazon smartwatches.

The advantage of using the RTOS is long battery life, thanks to the power efficiency. However, it’s limiting since you can’t do that much compared with other smartphones. To counter that, the OnePlus Watch offers around 50 watch faces to choose from, with some offering limited customizability in the form of a few select shortcuts or widgets.

Unfortunately, the OnePlus Watch doesn’t offer as many stress management tools as the Fitbit Sense or Apple Watch. While you can answer calls or respond to texts via the watch, there are only four basic replies to choose from: “OK”, “In a meeting, contact you later”, “Be right there!”, and “I’m driving, contact you later.” 

The notification system is clumsy. You can’t clear notifications by swiping them away. Instead, you have to tap on each one and press clear or scroll to the bottom and clear them all. You get only the basic set of apps with the OnePlus Watch: stopwatch, alarm, weather, sleep tracking, workout, etc. Other basic apps like calendar and calculator are however missing, meaning you can’t see your next appointment on this watch – something you can do on other smartwatches. And you can’t add apps since there is no app store.

OnePlus Watch: Fitness Tracking

As mentioned, the OnePlus Watch is suitable for people looking for basic features in a smartwatch. At this price, don’t expect advanced health features. For starters, OnePlus promises 101 workout modes and 15 professional fitness modes. Sadly, there are only a dozen or so workout modes supported at launch.

Most reviewers experienced the same accuracy issues, ranging from sleep tracking, blood oxygen readings, and step tracking. It’s a bug that the company says it’s working on and should be fixed soon.

The Verdict

The OnePlus Watch offers the basic features you’d look for in a cheap smartwatch. Any fitness enthusiast will want to go for something more advanced and one that offers more reliable readings. While it all boils down to what you want in a smartwatch, one thing that we can all agree on is that it’s supposed to be like a personal assistant on your wrists. It should tell you about the time, the weather, your level of activity, your next calendar appointment, and if you’re having quality sleep. It should also allow you to reply to texts quickly or set a timer for when you’re making a cup of joe. Additionally, it should track your fitness levels and workouts to help you stay on top of your physical health.

In that respect, the OnePlus Watch has quite a few notable shortcomings. At a price range of $159, we’d argue a Fitbit is way better, but you’ll have to cough up a few extra dollars. Maybe in a few months, it will get more updates like GPS, patches to fix the buggy software, and general improvements on its performance.

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