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OnePlus Watch review: The best cheap smartwatch for Android users

The affordable OnePlus Watch delivers on all its promises — mostly

OnePlus Watch review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The $159 OnePlus Watch is a convincing first-generation wearable, offering a long battery life and responsive OS. It’s missing some key updates, but it could be the best cheap smartwatch for Android users we've seen in a while.

For

  • User-friendly and responsive RTOS
  • Great battery life
  • Competitive price

Against

  • Key updates missing at launch
  • No iPhone compatibility
  • Inaccurate SpO2 readings
OnePlus Watch quick specs

Price: $159
Release date: April 14
Size: 46mm
Storage: 1GB + 4GB
GPS: Yes
Water resistance: 5 ATM
Battery life: 14 days

The $159 OnePlus Watch finally offers OnePlus customers an optimized wearable accessory for their smartphones. You could say OnePlus a little late to the party by only releasing a smartwatch now, but we are still waiting on a Google Pixel Watch.

OnePlus's first smartwatch debuted alongside the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, loaded with features we've come to expect on the best smartwatches, including fitness tracking and blood oxygen monitoring, plus a 14-day battery life. It also can be used to answer phone calls, but this OnePlus smartwatch only works with Android phones.

So was ditching my iPhone worth it for this OnePlus Watch review? Read on to find out.

OnePlus Watch price and availbility

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus Watch  goes on sale April 14. It's marketed much like OnePlus’ phones, which attempt to deliver premium features for less than what comparable flagship phones cost. At just $159, the OnePlus Watch is one of the least expensive smartwatches ever released by a top smartphone maker.

To put that price in context, you can usually find the Apple Watch Series 3 for $169 with the best Apple Watch deals, making it the most comparable big-name smartwatch to OnePlus's in terms of price. The Fitbit Versa Lite and a number of Amazfit's smartwatches are less popular models, but also fall in the OnePlus Watch's price tier.

OnePlus Watch review: Design

You might think you’re looking at Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active 2 when you first see the OnePlus Watch. Both share the round face and rubber strap that tucks into itself and two buttons on the right hand side. But the OnePlus Watch appears less sporty and more sophisticated than Samsung's fitness-centered smartwatch, with a bold AMOLED touchscreen and 46-millimeter stainless steel case.

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus Watch's large display suits the larger overall build of the smartwatch. Still, I wish it offered an always-on display option and came in a smaller size configuration than 46mm for people with smaller wrists like me. Despite the visible heft, the watch feels rather lightweight and is nearly as slim as my Apple Watch against my wrist. The pair of navigational buttons on the right side of the case sit pretty flush, too.

OnePlus Watch

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Watch users will have more than 50 watch faces to choose from, although at launch only a dozen or so are available. I like the current options quite a bit, so I’m excited to see the other ones coming soon. 

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

As for durability, the OnePlus Watch is rated for 5 ATM water resistance, which means it can withstand water up to 164 feet. That's the same water resistance as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

OnePlus Watch review: RTOS performance

Although OnePlus smartphones run Google’s Android operating system, the OnePlus Watch doesn’t do the same with Google’s Wear OS platform. Instead, the OnePlus Watch uses a proprietary Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) which is similar to the software found on Amazfit’s smartwatches. 

In my experience, the OnePlus Watch’s RTOS is very basic, but delivers on its promises. It’s the most responsive interface I’ve used on a non-watchOS or non-Tizen smartwatch in recent memory. Navigation felt efficient, letting me change settings and switch apps quickly. It doesn’t offer nearly as many built-in app choices as Apple’s, Samsung’s or Fitbit’s smartwatches, though, so don't expect Spotify or Strava support. For phone-free music listening, you'll need to transfer music files from your computer.

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

The on-board app options provide basic tools like fitness tracking, heart rate readings, music and timers. There’s also apps for a compass, barometer and stress level readings, although the OnePlus Watch doesn’t provide as many stress management tools as the Fitbit Sense or even Amazfit watches.

OnePlus Watch can be used to respond to text messages or answer phone calls. The notification system won't wow you, but the big display makes it easy to read and swipe away messages as they appear. The OnePlus Watch isn't compatible with iPhones at this time, though. I had to use a Google Pixel 5 just to set up my review unit, which seemed inconvenient since most smartwatches offer companion smartphone apps for both Android and iOS systems.

OnePlus Watch review: Fitness tracking and health features

The OnePlus Watch is pitched as an advanced health monitoring wearable, and while it’s certainly very capable for the price, it’s not the most advanced health smartwatch around. For one, the OnePlus Watch promises 110 workout modes and 15 professional fitness modes, although only a dozen or so workout modes are supported at launch. Its blood oxygen (SpO2) reader hardly gave me accurate readings, often registering my levels under 95% when my finger-based pulse oximeter consistently reads 99%. 

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

I will say the heart rate monitor’s readings matched my Polar OH1’s most of the time, and everything about the current fitness tracking set up on the OnePlus Watch works smoothly. It’s a breeze to launch a workout, set duration or calorie burn goals and see my key metrics mid-exercise at a glance. 

Still, one of the best fitness trackers is probably a better choice if you're serious about staying (or getting) in shape. The $150 Fitbit Charge 4, for example, offers more reliable fitness tracking metrics plus features like Active Zone Minutes, plus an accurate GPS for running and other outdoor activities.

There are a couple of features coming later in April and May that should make the OnePlus Watch’s fitness tracking and health features feel more sophisticated. All 110 workout modes and outdoor cycling tracking in the OnePlus Health app, plus an optimized GPS, will arrive for OnePlus Watch users via over-the-air updates.

OnePlus Watch review: Battery life

OnePlus Watch review

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus estimates that its smartwatch's battery life lasts up to two weeks (14 days) on a single charge. In my experience, it lasts even longer, holding a 43% charge after 9 days of wear. That's a much longer battery life than the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which last up to 18 hours and 2 days, respectively.

When it needs to charge, the OnePlus Watch’s Warp Charge feature offers a week’s power in 20 minutes. If you’re a fan of the fast-charging abilities of OnePlus' latest phones, you’ll appreciate how quickly the OnePlus Watch juices back up.

OnePlus Watch review: Verdict

Compared to the smartwatches made by OnePlus’s mobile competitors, the OnePlus Watch’s alluring price makes it a curious newcomer. We haven’t seen many smartwatches in this cost tier launch in the last year or two, making the OnePlus Watch the best smartwatch under $200 for Android users. We'd say a Fitbit is better, but the brand's latest smartwatches start at over $200.

Of course, buying the OnePlus Watch comes with some caveats. You might want to hold off on a purchase for two months until it gets some updates like GPS and general performance improvements. Still, the user-friendly interface, long battery life and sleek design make the OnePlus Watch a fair first attempt for the company's entrance to the wearable market. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.


  • JJussi.com
    "As for durability, the OnePlus Watch is rated for 5 ATM water resistance, which means it can withstand wear up to 164 feet."

    5 ATM = 40m = 131 feet

    Don't forget that there is 1 ATM top of the water and 10m = 1 ATM = 32.8 feet. :sneaky:
    Reply
  • Ian01nl
    Wow, I have used tomsguide a lot before purchasing products and generally I like the reviews.
    This review is a huge question mark for future use of this site. The watch is barely better than a generic AliExpress product, it has launched without 50% of its features... And has an OS that simply is not suitable for a smartwatch. I used this watch fit a week, via a tech buddy, it is basically trash and should never have been released in this form.
    It is the most frustrating product I have ever used, it does none of the stuff it promises well, it is too big, not bright enough... The list is endless.
    To suggest this is a sensible purchase is ridiculous.
    Reply