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OnePlus Watch review: Solid for starters, but not without software snags

Looking to make a toehold in the market beyond smartphones, OnePlus is gradually expanding its products line-up. Fresh in the company’s portfolio is a smart wearable, the OnePlus Watch. Labelled a smartwatch, the OnePlus Watch covers a wide spectrum of features and services that one looks for in smartwatches. Among the most notable is the built-in storage for music, a speaker and mic set-up to attend calls, and a sensor to monitor blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). As a debutant, the OnePlus Watch seems to be a solid smartwatch. But how does it fare vis-à-vis peers? Let’s find out:

What’s good

Design: OnePlus has done a spectacular job in designing its first smartwatch. The Watch looks premium, especially the moonlight silver colour variant (review unit), which goes well with most outfits. It has a solid build, complemented by a circular case that makes it look more like a watch and less like a toy. The top side of the case is dominated by a screen with thin bezels around. It is a touch screen with curved glass on the top to aid the watch’s gesture-based navigation. At the bottom, the slightly raised centre accommodates sensors for monitoring heart rate and blood oxygen, and charging pins. While the case is made of stainless steel, there is a plastic covering at the bottom. This makes the watch comfortable to wear as the temperature effect on the stainless steel does not pass on to the skin. The case has two buttons – the top one for the menu and the other (customisable) for fitness modes.

Display: The OnePlus Watch design is accentuated by a bold-looking 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen of a 454 x 454 resolution. The screen supports sliding gestures; swipe down for quick settings, swipe up for notifications, swipe right to go back, and swipe left to access music player and information related to heart rate, stress, weather, steps count, etc. The screen is bright, vivid and has good sunlight legibility. It supports several watch faces, most with dark backgrounds that look dazzling on an AMOLED screen. The watch also supports custom faces, allowing you to turn any picture from your phone into a watch face background.

Health and fitness features: The OnePlus Watch is loaded with several health and fitness features, including the uncommon stress and air pressure monitors. Starting from health-related features, the smartwatch has a multipurpose heart rate sensor, which registers heart rhythms during active and resting hours. Through this sensor, the watch also monitors stress levels. It supports auto stress level monitoring and has a dedicated breathing exercise built in; this comes in handy in bringing down the stress level. The heart-rate sensor also doubles up as a sleep monitor to register sleep quality. Besides the heart rate sensor, there is a dedicated sensor for measuring oxygen saturation in blood. The Watch is capable of auto-tracking SpO2 during sleep, and there is a provision to manually measure it as well. As for accuracy, the sensor works fine and the deviation in reading is +/- 2 in most cases. Important to note that the watch is not a medical device, so the measurement data and results are for reference only, not a basis for diagnosis and treatment.

OnePlus Watch

Among fitness features, the watch supports several activities, including running courses, outdoor run, indoor run, outdoor walk, yoga, outdoor cycle, indoor cycle, pool swim, and cricket. For outdoor activities, the watch supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou for location tracking. These satellite positioning systems allow the watch to instantly fix location coordinates and accurately record data.

Battery: Complementing the smartwatch’s dazzling display and useful health and fitness features is the on-battery time. Depending on how you use the smartwatch, you get at least a week of on-battery time on a single charge.

What could have been better

Storage: The OnePlus Watch has 4 GB of shared internal storage. Of that around 2GB is available for storing data — audio files, music, etc. That seems inadequate.

OnePlus Health app: The Watch is heavily reliant on the company’s Health app, which is currently available only for Android smartphones. Though intuitive, the app seems to be designed primarily to present the health- and fitness-related stats. Therefore, there is nothing more you can expect from it. It lacks a built-in store to download additional watch faces. Moreover, the watch does not support any third-party apps and watch faces; so you have to make do with the limited set of apps and watch faces that come pre-installed.

OnePlus Watch

Operating system: The OnePlus Watch has a sleek performance, thanks to the lightweight operating system it boots. However, the proprietary operating system lacks basic features. For examples, the option for quick replies is missing; the watch struggles with notifications; not all instant messenger notifications are received on the watch; audio controls for music files playing on the phone show up only when the app is active in the phone’s background; raise the wrist feature shows the watch’s home screen every time; and the watch gives preference to its speaker and microphone for calls even when the phone is connected with a pair of wireless earphones.

OnePlus Watch review: Verdict

Priced at Rs 16,999, the OnePlus Watch is OnePlus’ solid first attempt at making smartwatches. It gets the basics right and that is topped up by extensive health and fitness features. It delivers an experience that is a notch above regular health and fitness trackers. But it could have been a wholesome package if the software inconsistencies were also ironed out. In its current form, the OnePlus Watch is more about style than utility.

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