Monday, June 24, 2024
Smart Phones

OnePlus Watch 2 Hands-on Review: Ingenious new watch with two chipsets and two operating systems


OnePlus launched its first smartwatch nearly three years ago, in 2021, and since then it almost seemed like the company has given up on smartwatches.

That original OnePlus Watch got a lukewarm reception: users and reviewers complained about a number of bugs and stuttery performance, and its sports capabilities were lackluster too. For OnePlus that seemed to be a big learning experience, so it went back to the drawing board until it could finally deliver something that seems way more special and innovative.

We are talking about this here brand new OnePlus Watch 2.

It features a distinct design, but most importantly it addresses the number one concern of smartwatch users: battery life.

Most smartwatches these days need to be recharged daily, with very few exceptions. And even those exceptions are really chunky watches with a huge battery like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro or Apple Watch Ultra. OnePlus uses a totally new approach, what it calls a dual-engine architecture. The OnePlus Watch 2 has two operating systems and each of them runs on a separate chipset. The idea is simple: for basic tasks you default to the simple RTOS, while for more complex tasks you enter Google’s Wear OS, so you get the best of both worlds.

The result is a watch with a promise of more than four days (up to 100 hours) use in Smart Mode and up to 48 hours of heavy use.

Design and Size

The OnePlus Watch 2 comes in just one size and it is on the larger side for a watch, and it is made of premium materials only. The body is polished stainless steel, and you have a sapphire screen, which resists scratches much better than Gorilla Glass.

It comes in two colors: black (“Black Steel”) and silver (“Radiant Steel”), and it uses a 22mm band with spring bars that you can easily swap.

OnePlus describes the Watch 2 as “elegant yet rugged” and we think that sums it up quite well. The company says the looks are inspired by classic stopwatches and cars, and we guess there is something to that.

You have two buttons on the right side: one is actually a rotating digital crown at the top and the other is a regular button that acts to pull up the workouts menu.

The watch is also IP68 rated and is US Mil 810H certified, truly living up to the rugged part of its description. And you can also take it swimming, but it does not have any special diving rating.

Sports and Sleep Tracking

The OnePlus Watch 2 should provide great accuracy thanks to dual-band GPS support, a premium feature that is not available on the pricier Apple Watch Series 9 for example.
We don’t yet have the full list of supported workouts on the OnePlus Watch 2, but we already know that specifically for running it will give you a plethora of advanced stats: pace, cadence, stride length, vertical oscillation, GCT+Balance, VO2 Max, and heart rate. We don’t see a wrist-based power estimate currently, however.

You have support for over 100 exercise modes, and we will be updating this section with more information about these workouts soon.

The watch also has sleep tracking with separate information about your overall sleep quality, breathing rate, snoring risk, and sleep stages.

Quite importantly, it also supports HRV (heart-rate variability), a key metric for wellness and stress. And speaking of the latter, you get stress tracking on board as well.

In terms of sensors, you have the following: accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer, light sensor, eight-channel optical heart rate sensor, optical pulse oximeter. There does not seem to be a barometric altimeter on board, though.

Wear OS 4

Since the OnePlus Watch 2 fully supports the latest Wear OS 4, you have all the familiar Google-powered apps and functionalities:

  • Google Maps
  • Google Assistant
  • Google Wallet
  • Google Pay
  • Google Calendar

Yes, you have support for Google Assistant, an important feature that is great to have.

You also have support for popular third-party apps like Spotify, Strava, Calm and Sleep Cycle.

There is an absolute massive number of watchfaces available too, so you definitely have quite the variety to pick from.

The watch also supports calling and messaging, and you will be able to use it with the Find my phone feature.

OHealth App

Good news is that you only need one singular app for all things OnePlus Watch, and that app is called OHealth.

This is where you can customize the looks of the watch and control various settings, and it is also a dashboard with all your activities and workouts.

Battery Life and Charging

The big improvements in battery life are what make the OnePlus Watch 2 special, so here are the numbers.

OnePlus Watch 2 battery life:

  • Up to 12 days in Power Save Mode
  • Up to 100 hours (4.2 days) in Smart Mode (always-on display turned OFF and 30 minutes of GPS activity per day)
  • Up to 48 hours (2 days) with heavy use

As you can see, most users will probably fall somehwere between Smart Mode and “heavy use”, so in the real world, we would bet on somewhere around three days of use. While this is not quite amazing, it is definitely far longer than the single day battery life of Apple Watches and Samsung Galaxy Watches of a similar size.

This longer battery life is possible as OnePlus seamlessly and in real-time switches between the battery-savvy RTOS for simple use and the Wear OS 4 for more advanced tasks. Also each OS runs on a different chipset (RTOS runs on a BES2700 chip and Wear OS runs on a Snapdragon W5 Gen1 processor).

And this being a OnePlus device, it also supports SuperVOOC fast charging. You get one day’s charge in just 10 minutes, and a full 100% top-up happens in just one hour.

The charger itself is magnetic and it is a proprietary one.

Price and Final Thoughts

The OnePlus Watch 2 price is set at $300 in the United States, but in the first few days of availability, you will be able to trade in any watch in any condition (yes, even traditional non-smart watches qualify) to get an additional $50 off the price. So… for many people this brings down the cost to just $250. And this is essential Apple Watch SE pricing. Cool!

You will be able purchase the OnePlus Watch 2 at OnePlus.com and Amazon starting from March 4th, 2024.

We love what OnePlus has done with the Watch 2 and it feels like a device that actually stands a chance in the competitive smartwatch space.

The four day battery life with simple use is great and so is having Wear OS on board. The craftsmanship is here and the rotating digital crown here is a very well thought out detail.

We are a bit bummed the OnePlus Watch 2 only comes in one (large) size, so it might not be the best fit for those of us with smaller wrists, but for everyone else, it’s a watch worth trying. And for Samsung and Apple… well, this is an opportunity to learn how a clever solution CAN actually give us much better battery life on a smartwatch.



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