OnePlus Watch Review: Early Verdict

First Impressions

The OnePlus Watch is a cheap(ish), decent-looking Android smartwatch. The promise of a week, or even two, of battery life is tempting and will help set it apart from many Samsung and Wear OS watches.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £149
  • 1.39-inch OLED display
  • 454 x 454 resolution
  • IP68/5ATM
  • GPS
  • 4GB storage

The OnePlus Watch got its grand unveiling alongside the OnePlus 9 Pro in March, and units of the brand’s first wearable are now available to order.

I’ve been wearing the OnePlus Watch for the past couple of days and while this isn’t enough time to evaluate this watch for a full verdict on whether it’s one of the best smartwatches to buy, I do have some first impressions on how successful I think this wearable will be.

OnePlus Watch price and release date

The OnePlus Watch will retail for £149/$159/€159 and it’s available to order now.

OnePlus Watch design – Familiar territory

  • Some minor OnePlus touches
  • IP68 and 5ATM rated
  • Large face

Once you’ve taken the OnePlus Watch out of its distinctive red box, it feels very much like any other smartwatch on the market. While I’ve always thought that OnePlus’ phones stand out, I can’t say the same for this wearable.

It has a fairly large face, two side buttons for shortcuts, a metal rim and a plastic rear. The included strap is made of silicone and features a buckle fastening that’s very similar to what you’ll find on the Apple Watch SE. The strap can easily be removed and replaced.

Like the Apple Watch’s silicone strap, it can be a right faff to put on with one hand – at least in my experience. I’ve found the buckle pops out constantly when I’m trying to slip in the loop; there’s little grip or texture on the band. It does fit snug once it’s on, though, which is good news in terms of the heart rate monitor – and very welcome when you’re running. 

OnePlus Watch

OnePlus has added some etched branding onto one of the side buttons, but apart from that there isn’t much in the way of distinctive design here.

All navigation is via the touchscreen, with the two side buttons providing quick access to your app menu and workout options. While this format is probably to be expected on a watch of this price, I’d have much preferred to have either a crown (similar to the Apple Watch) or some snazzy rotating bezel skills of the type found on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch line. Scrolling through various apps and workout options with a finger on such a small display is quite finicky, especially if you’re mid-workout.

I’ve only been wearing the Watch for a few days, so I can’t give my thoughts on the build yet. What I can say is that it’s nice to wear, and while it’s quite large, it’s light and doesn’t feel cumbersome when you’re running.

OnePlus Watch

OnePlus Watch specs and features – Plenty of fitness features

  • GPS and HRM included
  • OnePlus doesn’t use Wear OS
  • No iPhone support

The OnePlus Watch is far from the cheapest smartwatch around, nor is it up there with the high-end models from Apple and Samsung. It should appeal if you’re looking for a first smartwatch and aren’t too demanding when it comes to features. Note, too, that the Watch is only compatible with Android; it’s a no-go for iPhone 12 users.

Instead of opting for Wear OS, OnePlus uses its own software. That means that app support is non-existent aside from what’s already installed. It’s similar to the experience you’ll find on Huawei’s GT watches.

OnePlus Watch

There’s a bunch of pre-installed stuff, such as an alarm clock, timer, barometer and a weather app. You also have a music player that can play up to 400 songs stored on the watch. This is good to see, although some sort of deal where Spotify music can be stored locally would be far superior. I’d assume this costs a lot of money, though.

The UI is straightforward. There are plenty of watch faces, and you can swipe down for settings, or across for quick access to music, fitness workouts, sleep tracking and the weather. Scrolling feels smooth and the OLED display is sharp and bright – at least on the fairly dull British days on which I was using it. Annoyingly, there’s no always-on display option, so you have to physically interact with the Watch for the time and face to appear.

OnePlus has chosen this software for one main reason – battery life. With claims of up to two weeks of juice per charge, this should easily outlast just about all Samsung, Fitbit and Wear OS watches. When it comes to charging there’s a small puck charger included. Wider Qi support would have been welcome as I always find these chargers a bit of a pain.

OnePlus Watch

As with the majority of smartwatches, a large focus here is fitness tracking. I haven’t fully tested this watch in various running and fitness situations yet, so will mainly be going through the specs until the full review. There’s GPS, a heart rate monitor and a sensor to measure blood oxygen – all pretty run-of-the-mill stuff in a wearable at this price. The body is also IP68- and 5ATM-rated, so the device can be worn in the shower or whilst swimming.

I tested the HRM against an Apple Watch Series 6 and the results matched up, while it was common for the GPS to lock on fairly quickly.

These sensors are paired with a number of fitness and health apps. There’s some basic daily movement tracking, for those who simply wish to hit a daily target – and stats are shown visually on many of watch faces. If you want something more ‘serious’ then there are many dedicated workout tracking options in the Workout app.

OnePlus Watch

One of the more unique features of the OnePlus Watch won’t be of much use to many, since it requires the OnePlus TV to function. The TV connect feature not only acts as a remote control, but it can even turn your TV off if the watch senses you’ve gone to sleep. Clever.

OnePlus Watch early verdict

The OnePlus Watch is a cheap(ish), decent-looking Android smartwatch. The promise of a week or even two of battery life is tempting, and will help set it apart from many Samsung and Wear OS watches.

However, as the first wearable from a company that’s usually innovative in the products it brings to market, the OnePlus Watch feels somewhat dull. 

It lacks imagination on the design-front, there’s no always-on display, and it suffers the same pitfalls as the majority of other Android smartwatches. If you removed a few of the OnePlus faces, the minor branding on the side and the big long red box, then there’s nothing to set the OnePlus Watch apart from the competition.

But, for many, that won’t matter. There’s very strong competition when it comes to Android smartwatches, with none of the models really standing out. If the OnePlus Watch can achieve the battery life claims, track accurately, and feel nice to wear over a few weeks then the £149/$159/€159 price tag should make it tempting enough to buy alongside the OnePlus 9 Pro.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

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