A Fine, But Boring, Smartwatch

Key Takeaways

  • The Watch 2 has 100 hours rated battery life without the always-on display turned on.
  • The basic fitness metrics compared well to an Apple Watch Ultra 2 in my tests, but the smartwatch’s weight might not make it the best for general exercise.
  • The device uses a dual-chip design for speed and efficiency, but this approach presumably made the watch thicker and bigger than the previous model.



From Apple to Google to Samsung, smartwatches have completely stagnated. While the OnePlus Watch 2 offers an okay value for its $300 price, it too already feels a bit dated and like it might be an afterthought.

OnePlus Watch 2

OnePlus Watch 2

The OnePlus Watch 2 is an elegant, rugged, long-lasting, and high-precision timepiece that makes it easier than ever to live a healthy lifestyle. Powered by a unique Dual-Engine Architecture, the OnePlus Watch 2 features market-beating battery life of up to 100 hours in Smart Mode.

Color Screen
Yes

Battery Life
Rated up to 100 hours

Operating System
Wear OS 4

Onboard GPS
Dual-frequency L1+L5, Beidou, GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, QZSS

CPU
Snapdragon W5 Gen 1

RAM
2GB

Storage
32GB

Dimensions
47 x 46.6 x 12.1mm

Weight
49g without strap, 80g with strap

Senors
Acceleration sensor, gyroscope sensor, optical heart rate sensor, optical pulse oximeter sensor, geomagnetic sensor, light sensor, barometer sensor

Pros

  • 100 hours rated battery life
  • Fitness metrics compared well to Apple Watch
  • Wear OS for wider app compatibility
Cons

  • Dated, boring design
  • Inelegant plastic proprietary charger
  • Long battery life requires display to not always be on

The Design Lacks Any Convection

OnePlus Watch 2 on a wood table on its side
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

On the surface, the Watch 2 specs are intriguing. It features a 1.43-inch circular display with 326 pixels per inch. It’s sufficiently powered with a Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 CPU and has 32GB of storage to keep music or audio content. But for all the interesting ways OnePlus has created desirable products in various categories over the years, it seems the smartwatch category is largely void of anything beyond the ordinary. The OnePlus Watch 2 specs, even if decent, don’t tell the whole story. In use, the watch felt confusing at best, but mostly clumsy in its ideas and execution of its overall design.


Some of the Watch 2’s silliest faux pas overshadow the better parts of the product. For example, the plastic induction charger that comes with Watch 2 is cheap all around. When trying to lay the Watch 2 down on its charger, the molded rubber band can’t lay flat so it tilts and needs to fall to its side. The USB-C cable resides on one side, however, and the uneven buttons are on the other side.

Also, the protruding circular top button spins, but its spinning does nothing—no scrolling or anything like that. There are a bunch of little things like this all around the Watch 2. Even beyond the seemingly hastily designed items, the product’s look seems uninspired, like it could have come from any other Wear OS manufacturer in the last two to three years.

The Battery Life Is Great, Kinda

OnePlus Watch 2 on its plastic charger
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


The area where the Watch 2 excels is its battery life. It’s advertised as having 100 hours of life with general use or 48 hours of heavy use. That’s significantly more than any other Wear OS watch or Apple Watch. It’s not more than some Garmin watches, but it also has a pleasant-looking color display.

At one point, I was able to wear the Watch 2 for three days straight, from just after waking up until bedtime. I took it on three-mile runs and got email and calendar notifications throughout the day. Even though I would voluntarily categorize my usage as casual it still felt like what most people would use it for.

One of the ways the smartwatch can get this can of battery life is because of its dual CPU and operating system design. It uses a Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and Wear OS for general-purpose items and a BES2700 and RTOS for high-efficiency, secondary tasks. This approach seems risky for performance, but I never saw any glitches or issues.


The big caveat with the battery life, however, is that it achieves this longevity without the screen always on. When I forced the always-on display on in the settings, it warned that it would cause heavy battery usage and would decrease the life by “2 days.” An always-on display can be a divisive feature. I know some people couldn’t care less about it, but I think I would change watches before I gave it up for daily use. I certainly noticed less battery life and couldn’t wear it three days in a row, but it still exceeded a full day of normal use.

If you do keep the screen from always being on, the extra battery life could come in very handy for sleep tracking. It can detect and record that information if you want. However, In the case of the Watch 2’s physical size and weight, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it to bed. It was a bit cumbersome during the day, but unbearable to wear to bed. Others may feel differently, but I’m bothered by anything on my wrist while sleeping.


This is one instance where the Watch 2’s physical attributes don’t match its ambitions. It could be used for sleep tracking, but it’s not comfortable to wear throughout the night—it’s heavier and bigger than a Pixel Watch 2.

The OnePlus Watch 2 has a lot of these counterintuitive aspects to it. Yes, it has a rugged MIL 810H certification and IP68 dust and water resistance rating, but it also doesn’t have a water mode. (You need to turn on a screen lock setting to stop water from messing with the touchscreen.)


The watch wants to be a fitness device with running-specific metrics and comes with a rubber, sweat-friendly band, but its shining metal body aesthetic is more business than fitness. It’s not a purely casual watch though because it’s also nearly as heavy and big as my Apple Watch Ultra 2. There are contradictions around every corner.

Another thing that limits the Watch 2 is its lack of a cellular model. The device comes in black or steel colors, includes 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage for $299.99, but doesn’t really have any other tiers or options. It might have dual-frequency GPS that OnePlus claims is more accurate than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, but without your phone as a companion, you’re not getting any data with it.

Running With the Watch 2


Running and health tracking were a big part of why I started wearing my Apple Watch as much as I did. I was curious how the Watch 2 compared to the Apple Watch Ultra 2 so I wore it on my left wrist and the Watch 2 on my right wrist to compare the results.

I’ve done these side-by-side comparisons in the past with some big differences between fitness trackers so I was pleasantly surprised to see how closely the basic metrics aligned. The time, distance, cadence, and pace all lined up nearly identically. I don’t know which was more accurate or how accurate the Watch 2 was with other metrics, like power, but those things didn’t align with my Apple Watch Ultra 2 results. The thing I was really looking for was consistency. Even if the numbers are slightly higher or lower than they should be, if they’re consistent then they can still give you a baseline and help you casually train.


OnePlus Watch Vs. OnePlus Watch 2

OnePlus Watch 2 unable to lay flat on its charger
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The new Watch 2 is plugging a lot of holes the company’s first watch had simply by giving it more robust software. It has better support for notifications, apps, watch faces, and the types of things people now expect from their wrist computers. The problem here is that OnePlus nearly doubled the price, increased the size, and ultimately still kept its watch pretty boring compared to the current market.

The Watch was Pixel-y before the Pixel Watch existed. I wish OnePlus would have stuck closer to that appearance compared to the chunky one that looks like a Motorola ripoff.

Price and Availability

The OnePlus Watch 2 retails for $299.99 and will be available starting March 4. It will be available to purchase on OnePlus.com and Amazon.


Should You Buy the OnePlus Watch 2?

watch face of the OnePlus Watch 2 on someone's wrist
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

Although the OnePlus Watch 2 beats other direct competitors in battery life it still doesn’t stand out in many, if any, other ways. It feels like any other bulky Wear OS-based smartwatch. Without a cellular model, it’s also limited by the need to have your phone nearby.

A lot of the features and design choices it makes feel contradictory. It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be or who its target audience is. I wouldn’t argue that it’s an aggressively bad device so I wouldn’t fault anyone for choosing it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I think your money is better spent somewhere else. For the $300 and under price point, you’re almost certainly better served with a Pixel Watch or Pixel Watch 2.


OnePlus Watch 2

OnePlus Watch 2

The OnePlus Watch 2 is an elegant, rugged, long-lasting, and high-precision timepiece that makes it easier than ever to live a healthy lifestyle. Powered by a unique Dual-Engine Architecture, the OnePlus Watch 2 features market-beating battery life of up to 100 hours in Smart Mode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *