OnePlus Watch 2: Better than original OnePlus Watch, but still some way to go

OnePlus has tried its hand at smartwatches a couple of times with its original Watch and Nord Watch, but neither really caught the attention of a lot of consumers. The Watch didn’t have great performance and software experience, while the budget-friendly Nord Watch hasn’t stood out against a number of domestic players. With the OnePlus Watch 2, the company has come out with first WearOS smartwatch. It’s priced at Rs 24,999, and goes straight up against the likes of Samsung as well as Apple. Can it pose a challenge? Let’s try and check.

The Watch 2 is made up of steel and has a round sapphire crystal-protected 1.43-inch watch face, weighing around 80 grams with the fluoro-rubber strap added in (which also has stainless steel buckle). The watch comes in only 47mm case size and 22mm strap size, which seems like a decent size to me, but may not be everybody’s tea of cup. The rubber strap is sturdy enough and smooth to wear and didn’t seem uncomfortable on the wrist at any time.

It’s an IP68-rated water and dust-resistant smartwatch that comes in two colours – Radiant Steel (which I tried) and Black Steel. The brushed and subtle steel gives a pretty look; nothing flashy like some other smartwatches. Plus, you aren’t stuck with the default strap and can get any other standard 22mm for the watch. During my usage, I didn’t notice any scratches or marks on the watch despite a few bumps with various soft and hard objects.

The right side has two buttons – crown and action button, both are multi-function buttons that can be long pressed or double pressed to open Google Assistant, a workout app, or any other installed app. Oddly, the crown button does scroll but doesn’t do anything such as scrolling on a page. The buttons feel nice and tactile with no cheap build and materials to be seen.

The 1.43-inch (466×466 resolution) display is bright enough to be used outdoors and is quite sharp and smooth to handle your notifications, iconography and text without any noticeable sacrifices.

Running on Wear OS 4 + RTOS dual architecture, to connect and sync the Watch 2 to your smartphone, you have to install an app called OHealth – initial setup and connection is straightforward. You can use the app to choose which apps on your phone can show notifications on the watch, choose from different watchfaces, or check your daily fitness metrics (you can do so on the watch itself, too, of course). Notably, if you change connected devices, you would have to reset the watch and restart with the O Health app.

You can also connect a pair of wireless earbuds over Bluetooth directly with the Watch 2 to listen to music.

The Watch 2 has plenty of sensors, including accelerometer, gyroscope, optical heart rate sensor, optical pulse oximeter, geomagnetic sensor, light sensor, barometer and PPG. Expectedly, there’s no blood pressure monitoring and ELG here, and it only comes with Bluetooth + WiFi connectivity option and no 4G/LTE.

Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 chipset along with lower-powered BES 2700 chipset, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, general performance, animations, swiping, opening apps and checking notifications work without any lag and the watch is able to handle widgets quite well.

What doesn’t quite work well seems to be its fitness tracking, when it comes to accuracy. The Watch 2 was able to notify stress detection almost every single time it detected some heart rate variability, but things like sleep tracking and steps count seemed off.

Comparing it with Apple Watch Series 7 and Ultrahuman Ring Air, the steps counting as well as sleep tracking was off for the Watch 2 in the range of overestimating by around 15 per cent to 20 per cent. Though changing its positions did help a bit, it still wasn’t very reliable.

There are dedicated modes for badminton, skiing and tennis.

The OnePlus Watch 2 is equipped with a 500mAh battery unit and is charged with a pug-like accessory with a USB type C port (no permanent cable attached). It charges from 1 per cent to full in around an hour at 7.5watts. The Watch 2 lasted me a 2-3 days on average, with always-on display and animations turned on. This got further extended to 3-4 days with always-on display turned off, so yeah, it would be safe to say it’s among the best performers when it comes to

battery experience on a smartwatch today. That low-powered chip and RTOS to go with Wear OS are really working well for the battery department.

OnePlus’s The Watch 2 is a better watch than its predecessor. It has quality build (albeit only one size available), a nice display and has great battery life, but it doesn’t quite do justice as a fitness and activity tracker.

Having said that, the company says the two years of software updates can improve on some of those missed targets. It might make it a competitor to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6.