Wearables

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

The OnePlus Watch 2 redefines the Wear OS smartwatch experience in many ways.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

The Watch 2 is priced at Rs. 24,999

Lately, OnePlus has been attempting to stretch its limbs as far and wide as possible in what appears to be an attempt to match (or at least come close to) 's device and software ecosystem. It's still a long way from getting there, but it's the effort that counts, and this is visible from the launch of various new products from the Chinese brand over the past and current year . We've witnessed the launch of two brand-new products from the OnePlus. There's the premium OnePlus Pad (with some quality accessories), and more recently, its high-end OnePlus Open foldable. And now, we have the resurrection of its once-dead smartwatch line-up with the new .

Like the other two OnePlus devices above, OnePlus either offers more added features than the competition or undercuts it with cutthroat pricing, while cutting down on a few non-essential features. With the OnePlus Watch 2, there seem to be some new feature add-ons compared to most smartwatches at and above this price point. Its pricing, too, is quite competitive, and that begs two questions. Does it all work well when put together? And what exactly has gone missing when compared to similar products from the competing brands? I've used this smartwatch for more than a month and it's easy to conclude that despite its shortcomings, OnePlus has a clear winner.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: Price

The OnePlus Watch 2 is priced at Rs. 24,999 which at first glance seems rather competitive for a Wear OS-powered smartwatch. It's available in just one size with a 46mm case, but thankfully in two finishes – Black Steel and Radiant Steel. In the box, OnePlus provides a magnetic charging dock and a short USB-C cable for charging.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: Design and specifications

The OnePlus Watch 2's 46mm case is made of stainless-steel with a case back that seems to be made out of plastic (with embedded glass fibres). The back has all the necessary sensors embedded into it but also has four flat metal pins for charging as the watch does not use wireless charging (which has its advantages in this case). However the downside with the metal pins is that those with skin allergies will have to give this one a skip as these will make contact with your skin when worn. The design according to OnePlus offers 5ATMs of resistance, is IP68 certified for dust and water and is MIL-STD-810H-rated as well, making it able to withstand freezing cold or extremely hot weather conditions.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

The fluoro rubber straps (provided in the package) can be fastened using a stainless steel buckle. These straps are of the 22mm variety and so can be swapped with regular 22mm third-party straps available online. OnePlus provides no other official strap options apart from the fluoro rubber straps.

At 80 grams (including straps) it weighs a lot more than the 47mm variant of the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and even the Watch Ultra 2, but did not feel too heavy. I could also comfortably wear it to bed while sleeping, which is good for those who want to make the best use of its sleep-tracking features.

The display uses a 1.43-inch panel but is protected by a 2.5D sapphire crystal face which fared well during the review period, picking up no scratches or dents despite normal usage. The 2.5D curvature of the face also makes swipe gestures (which this watch relies on) comfortable and inviting.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

While looks are subjective (being a watch admirer myself), I did not find the design of the OnePlus Watch 2 to be attractive, but practical at best. The two buttons connected by a bridge on the right side give it a unique appearance but also make it more applicable for left-handed use. I believe OnePlus went for a mix of classic and modern watch designs and got lost somewhere in between. The software-driven watch faces are also quite uninspiring and not very original, fun or unique in any way. Few of those that are animated also feel very restricted even though they are customisable. Also, adding third-party watch faces will see a higher power draw as these are not supported by the system's AOD mode like the built-in or downloadable ones (via the companion app).

Picking either of the two colourways sure has its advantages. The Black Steel one which we received for review manages to cover up the thick bezel around the circular display well, while the Radiant Steel finish will make the bezel more prominent. Samsung's regular Galaxy Watch 6 looks a lot slicker and modern with its trimmed down bezel, which is very thin in comparison.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

There are two pushers on the right side and while the top pusher (called the home button) can be rotated, it does not function like a digital crown (for scrolling) but is solely used to bring up the app menu when pressed. It is essential since you do not have access to the app menu via swipe gestures otherwise. The other button (called the multifunction button) gives quick access to workouts. Both buttons are also customisable. The top button can be assigned three functions (one tap for the app menu, double press and long press), while the bottom button is limited to two (single press, double press).

As for specifications, the OnePlus Watch 2 has a 1.43-inch circular AMOLED display with a 466×466 resolution. The watch's highlight is a dual processor architecture, which sees the use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 processor (for running Wear OS) and BES2700 processor (for running RTOS). It comes equipped with a bunch of sensors to enable numerous fitness tracking features and also includes dual-frequency GPS (L1+L5). Since this is a smartwatch (powered partially by Qualcomm silicon), there's also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and it's all powered by a 500mAh battery.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: Performance

The OnePlus Watch 2's display gets plenty of bright (1,000 nits in high brightness mode) outdoors, and I had no problems using it under direct sunlight. I like the always-on display (AOD) functionality of the watch, but it's a bit too dim for my liking. Even from the watch faces that OnePlus offers in its companion app, only a few let you view the entire watch face at 1Hz, while most of them only show a white outline of the watch face. This is one of the tricks OnePlus uses to save power and extend battery life and is the reason why third-party watch faces are not supported by the system's AOD mechanism.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

The seamless switching and the Dual-Engine architecture that OnePlus has gone with for this watch have all been done to achieve just one thing, and that's extending battery life. And it's brilliantly designed.

Because of the Dual-Engine architecture, all essential smartwatch functions (sleep and heart rate tracking, fitness tracking and receiving calls) can be achieved when in the Power Saver mode. With most smartwatches, a power saver mode functions more like a basic mode, with no access to apps or fitness features. In this mode, the watch only runs the RTOS software on the less-power-hungry processor, letting it last up to 12 days on a single charge. However, you will not have access to any Wear OS watch apps when in this mode.

If you need to use your apps (Calendar, WhatsApp or other third-party apps), then the best way to do it is to use the default Smart mode which delivers between 2-4 days of use. It does this by switching between the two operating systems and processors when needed and this lets the watch extend battery life. And it achieves this all while offering a smooth software interface for the user.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

During testing, I managed to get a good 7 days of usage at default settings (AOD, SpO2 switched off) with no workouts of GPS tracking, using the watch solely for default health tracking features and for notifications. Keeping the AOD, SpO2 monitoring and one 5kms GPS-connected walk everyday (workout), saw the watch's battery die in 2.5 days, which is still a lot higher than the Galaxy Watch 6's battery life which lasted 1 day and 7 hours.

Charging is also a lot faster than the competition with the OnePlus Watch 2 managing a 87 percent charge in 30 minutes and getting fully charged in 46 minutes. Unlike most smartwatch chargers which are hardwired to the charging unit, one can plug in any Type-C cable into the adapter for charging.

OnePlus uses Oppo's OHealth companion app which is only available for devices. And even when using it with Android devices it refused to pair with the smartwatch when installed on the Oppo Find X7 Ultra, which was a bit strange. During the review period, I used it with a OnePlus 12, Pixel 7 Pro and at the time of writing this review is currently connected to an Oppo Find N3 Flip.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

The software interface is simple and intuitive, with three basic tabs at the bottom. Setup is very simple and straightforward when it comes to permissions, and it won't keep bugging you for more every time you start using a new feature.

As for the watch's interface which is largely Wear OS (when you interact with it). It runs smoothly but isn't bug-free. The timer app does not repeat despite letting me tap on the ‘Repeat' button. After missing setting the timer several times, I have now learnt to set a fresh new timer every time I need it. The Google Pay app, which is preinstalled, does not work for users either. However, it's nice to see no unnecessary bloatware in the app menu. One thing that annoyed me a bit was the inconsistency with fonts, the watch uses three fonts in all. You will see the Android 13-based Roboto as the main one (Settings, Play Store and other third-party apps), OnePlus's own font in OnePlus apps (Weather, Clock apps and more), and then a third font which trickles down from Wear OS (from the Pixel Watch) deep inside some settings. But this is possibly down to the way Wear OS works (read restrictions) for manufacturers.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

Bluetooth calling also works well, with the caller being able to hear my voice loud and clear when placing calls from the Watch 2.

As for the fitness and health features, there are a few missing when compared to Samsung and Apple's smartwatches. There's no ECG feature and neither is there blood pressure monitoring. Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6 also offers body mass index (BMI) measurements, which is again not available on the OnePlus Watch 2.

However, OnePlus does get several things right. Sleep tracking was quite accurate and I like how the watch also suggests dietary changes when it notices that I have not had enough deep sleep on a given day. The OnePlus Watch 2 can also track your sleep patterns during short naps, which is something both Apple and Samsung devices cannot accomplish.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: The Power of Two

SpO2 readings were accurate when compared to a stand-alone pulse oximeter and the same can be said about heart rate readings. I like that I did not have to hold up my wrist in a particular position like Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6 when measuring SpO2. Stress readings seemed to match my state of mind whenever I tried it out. GPS accuracy when on my daily walks and runs were to be quite accurate as well.

OnePlus Watch 2 Review: Verdict

For its selling price, OnePlus has managed to get the basics right. Whether it's fitness tracking, Bluetooth calling or the software experience, there's almost nothing to complain about with the Watch 2. The above-average battery life and the well-designed companion app will surely be welcomed by users who purchase one. It's missing several health features when compared to its more expensive counterparts from Samsung and Apple, this also includes the lack of a cellular option, but my best guess is that adding cellular connectivity would have not worked out well for its Smart battery mode and its Dual Engine architecture.

With that said, the OnePlus isn't really undercutting the competition, but has managed to create a product which delivers the features most users will want and expect from smartwatch when paired with an Android smartphone. And for the smooth Wear OS software experience and performance it delivers, it's well worth its price tag.

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