I’ve Waited So Long to See the OnePlus Smartwatch and, Well…There It Is

It’s not every day that a new player enters the smartwatch game, so I was intrigued when OnePlus’s then-CEO Carl Pei hinted last summer that a wearable might be on the way. The rumors have been ramping up the past few weeks, and now we know what the watch will look like. After months of curiosity, I am...underwhelmed.

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Ahead of OnePlus’s upcoming March 23 event, @UnboxTherapy dropped what appears to be a leak of the oh-so-cleverly-named OnePlus Watch. After scrutinizing the image for about two minutes, I can confirm to everyone it looks like every other non-Apple smartwatch out there. There are two buttons on the right side, black straps and a black case, and a fairly standard-looking watch face. Woo. This is some drab, milquetoast design and honestly, I expected a little better from OnePlus.

Smartwatch leaker Ishan Agarwal also dropped some more deets on his Twitter, noting that the watch would be 46mm (a big boy!). It’ll also have IP68 water resistance, 4GB of storage, and the ability to control music and OnePlus TV. In terms of health features, which have become a huge selling point for smartwatches, OnePlus will reportedly offer automatic workout detection, include swimming workouts, and also track sleep, stress, blood oxygen saturation, and heart rate. No word on battery life, but Agarwal said it’ll support Warp Charge, or the ability to get a week of charging in 20 minutes. That implies that you get at least a week of wear out of this thing, which would be great, but who knows.

The interesting part about these rumors is that the OnePlus Watch will not run Wear OS, despite being an Android watch. This has been heavily rumored leading up to the March 23 event, and per the Verge, CEO Pete Lau confirmed in a forum that this will be the case. Instead, the company has opted for an RTOS (real-time operating system) type of OS. No word on what that means for a third-party app ecosystem or a digital assistant. As for why OnePlus didn’t go for Wear OS, Lau says the company wanted to provide a smooth, reliable experience along with great battery life. Wear OS has made improvements over the past year, but battery life is still a sore point for that platform.

This is all well and good, but it’s not what anyone would describe as terribly exciting. It’d be one thing if OnePlus came barging out the door with a unique design, or decided to put its own spin on Wear OS as the Oppo Watch did. But OnePlus looks to have played it safe—arguably too safe. Unless we see something absurd like 30-day battery life, unique software, or a breakthrough health feature (for which we are not holding our breath), this smartwatch seems like it might be for diehard OnePlus fans only.

Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

DISCUSSION

I can understand why one would be underwhelmed. It looks like a plain, black, round watch. But on pure aesthetics (disregarding software and hardware specs), I would still rather wear that than an Apple Watch.