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REVIEW: OnePlus Watch 2 - Battery and the Beast

The OnePlus Watch 2 is a fantastic follow-up effort for OnePlus.

5 min read
REVIEW: OnePlus Watch 2 - Battery and the Beast

The OnePlus Watch 2 is a fantastic follow-up effort for OnePlus. A smartwatch that promises and delivers on its impressive battery performance while offering the standard suite of Wear OS features, thanks to its unique hybrid OS architecture.

Pros:

  • Class-leading battery life, with up to 4-5 days with normal usage
  • Hybrid OS architecture enables power-saving mode without sacrificing core functions
  • Large, bright AMOLED display with optional always-on mode
  • Durable sapphire crystal glass and stainless steel build
  • Responsive performance with snappy UI

Cons:

  • Bulky design may not fit smaller wrists
  • Haptic feedback is too weak
  • Installed watch faces aren’t amazing
  • Companion app lacks advanced features
  • Rotating crown serves no functional purpose

One Plus Watch 2

The OnePlus Watch 2 is a fantastic follow-up effort for OnePlus. A smartwatch that promises and delivers on its impressive battery performance while offering the standard suite of Wear OS features, thanks to its unique hybrid OS architecture.

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Design and Build Quality

Starting with the design, the OnePlus Watch 2 grew on me over time. At first, coming from the Pixel Watch 2, this watch felt gargantuan with its standard 47mm wrist size. It's not really meant for smaller wrists, not by a long shot. The stainless steel body is eye-catching, with a nice, elegant, and reflective top surface contrasted by a brushed finish on the sides. Hopefully, buyers like shiny watches cause this has that in spades.

The flat glass display isn't quite as flat as it may seem upon first glance. There's a slight curve if you look closely, but not as exaggerated as the Pixel Watch 2. This gives the watch a more masculine look. The sapphire crystal glass is durable, as I experienced zero scratches despite a few unintended wrist-to-wall encounters.

Display and User Interface

The AMOLED display is sharp and bright, with excellent outdoor visibility. It's a large display, but the default text size was a little smaller than my preference. Thankfully, OnePlus included a font size adjustment in the settings, although the watch warns that this adds extra battery taxation. I can’t imagine it impacts the battery life much in the long run.

On the side, you'll find two buttons: a Home button on top and a multifunction button on the bottom. Strangely, the Home crown rotates but does nothing when you rotate it, which OnePlus claims makes it more resilient when dropped. However, they etched the crown, giving it an easier spinning ability, which feels a bit misleading when it serves no function.

The watch strap that ships in the box is not my favorite. The strap holders often slid out of place, leaving the strap flopping around. It looks a bit cheap, especially compared to the build quality of the watch itself. Thankfully, the watch can take standard 22mm quick-release bands so buyers can swap in better bands themselves.

One of my main complaints is the weak haptic feedback system. The light haptics meant I often missed notifications because the vibrations were not obvious enough to break through the everyday motion of life.

Battery Life and Performance

But the marquee feature of this watch is undoubtedly its battery life. The 500mAh battery, combined with the dual-chip architecture, enables the watch to operate in two modes: Smart Mode, which runs Wear OS 4 to its fullest, and Power Saver Mode, which switches off the Qualcomm chip and runs entirely on the RTOS chip.

This unique approach allows the watch to maintain most core functions even in Power Saver Mode, missing out only on Wear OS 4 apps, third-party watch faces, always-on display, Google Assistant, and accessibility features. The auto-hibernation mode further extends battery life by automatically switching to low-power mode when not in use or during sleep tracking. I found this mode to be essential for the battery minded.

In my practical battery tests, with all default settings and always-on display enabled, I got a total of 103 hours of battery life. With the always-on display disabled, I achieved an impressive 132 hours of usage. OnePlus touts the battery as capable of 100 hours in Smart Mode, and my tests confirm that the watch exceeds this claim.

The charging puck that comes with the watch is well-designed, with the right amount of magnetic pull and a removable USB-C cord. It charges the watch relatively quickly, taking around 45 minutes to go from empty to full.

As for performance, the watch is snappy and responsive, with no noticeable lags or drags. The multifunction buttons allow for instant access to your favorite features, and the dual-chip system operates seamlessly without any noticeable handoffs or dual operation.

Software and Features

Fans of Wear OS will feel right at home with the OnePlus Watch 2. All of Google's thoughtful design touches for the interface are present, including swiping gestures for notifications, quick settings, tiles, and widgets. You can access the Play Store for third-party apps and watch faces, although the included watch faces are not particularly impressive.

The watch ticks most of the boxes in fitness tracking and sleep monitoring. It offers a wide range of trackable activities, including stress monitoring, heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood oxygen tracking. The auto-detect feature can recognize activities like walking, running, rowing, elliptical, cycling, and swimming, but in my experience, it often took too long to kick in and sometimes failed to activate altogether.

Sleep tracking is comprehensive, monitoring four states of sleep: awake, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. The bedtime mode darkens the screen to prevent it from blasting you out of bed when you roll around. Consider, though, that you must wear a giant timepiece to bed to enjoy these features.

The companion O Health app is relatively bare-bones, presenting your tracked data in a visually appealing manner but lacking advanced features. 

Pricing and Conclusion

At $300, the OnePlus Watch 2 is approaching the upper tier of smartwatch pricing in the Android world. The Pixel Watch 2 starts at $349 but offers a more robust fitness platform, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 starts at the same $299 price point but with more advanced sleep and fitness tracking capabilities.

For those seeking relief from battery anxiety, the OnePlus Watch 2 is as good as it gets. It delivers a smartwatch experience with days of battery life, making it a compelling option for the right person. However, those with smaller wrists may find the watch's size too cumbersome.

Overall, the OnePlus Watch 2 is a mixed bag of good features and areas that could use some improvement. But for $299, it's one of the best Wear OS watches you can buy today.

 
Jason Howell produces tech content with a focus on the human experience. His podcasts and videos can be found at youtube.com/Techsploder. Support his work on Patreon at patreon.com/JasonHowell.

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