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I tested the '100-hour battery life' smartwatch from OnePlus, and it blew me away

OnePlus launched one of the worst watches ever in 2021, so I was beyond shocked to test the new OnePlus Watch 2, which beats Google in almost every respect.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The OnePlus Watch 2 is available for $299.99, with a $50 discount when you trade in any watch. There are also larger discounts if you purchase a OnePlus 12 or 12R.
  • Elegant hardware, long battery life, flawless performance, tested durability, affordable price, and Wear OS 4.
  • Lacking some advanced health functions and a bit large for smaller wrists.

When OnePlus announced the OnePlus Watch in 2021, I immediately placed an order because the hardware looked compelling and it was priced at $159. After a few weeks, I returned the device due to its sheer lack of offering anything of value.

The original OnePlus Watch was powered by Real-Time Operating System (RTOS), which was perfectly fine as many smartwatches run lean and mean. However, the new OnePlus Watch 2 takes things to the next level by offering both RTOS and Wear OS 4 on a single watch with a dual-engine architecture. With this unique approach, the device is the most efficient Wear OS watch available today, with longer battery life than any other Google Wear OS device or Apple Watch.

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In addition to a powerful operating system strategy, OnePlus has created one of the most elegant smartwatches available today. The device incorporates stainless steel in the watch body, a 2.5D smooth sapphire crystal watch face, and a durable silicone watch band. The right-side buttons are stylishly incorporated into the bezel, with a round button on top and an oval one on the bottom.

View at OnePlus

The OnePlus Watch 2 is built to meet 5 ATM water resistance and has an IP68 rating, so you can wear it without worry for swimming and other outdoor adventures. In addition, the device has been built to satisfy MIL-STD-810H standards, so it beats out even the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

OnePlus states the watch will last for 100 hours in Smart Mode, 48 hours with heavy use, and up to 12 days in power-saver mode. It has a 500 mAh battery. In my two weeks of testing, I was able to wear the watch 24/7 and charge it up every three-to-four days. I wore the device for running and walking with GPS tracking turned on, indoor rowing for active heart-rate tracking, and more. The battery will be consumed faster with the always-on display mode enabled. But as I found the lift-to-wake feature performed well, I kept the always-on display turned off after my first few days of testing.

Even though the OnePlus Watch 2 has excellent battery life, it also supports 7.5W VOOC fast charging, so you can charge the device up to 100% in just an hour and get a day of use in a much shorter period. Long battery life with processor efficiency and fast charging are the best combo for a smartwatch.

Also: 7 exciting Android upgrades Google just announced at MWC 2024

Dual frequency, L5 and L1, satellite position is present, with support for Beidou, GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, and QZSS GNSS. The watch tracked me in almost the same way as my dedicated GPS sports watches. And with support for Wear OS, you can use your dedicated watch applications if you don't want to use OHealth. Heart-rate tracking on the watch was also accurate. 

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

OnePlus requires the use of the OHealth app on your Android phone and the watch does not work with an Apple iPhone. The Wear OS app is not used, as both the watch apps and settings, along with health and wellness features, are all managed through the OHealth app. 

The OHealth app offers a clean user interface and I prefer using it over the Google and Fitbit apps found in Pixel Watches. At this time, the data collected by the OnePlus Watch 2 remains in OHealth, with OnePlus publicly stating it has future plans to support syncing to other services, such as Strava.

Screenshot by Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The OHealth app and OnePlus Watch 2 support the tracking of your heart rate, blood oxygen, stress, sleep, workouts, and more. The OHealth app is also used to manage your selected watch faces, and the Wear OS tiles that appear when you swipe left and right on the watch face. There are many settings contained with the OHealth app and I find the software easier to navigate than the Wear OS app on a Pixel phone. 

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Also make sure to check out the extensive number of workout and health settings, which include heart-rate alerts, breathing assessments while you sleep, auto-workout detection, and even customization of the displays for your favorite workouts.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

While the OnePlus Watch 2 is a significantly better watch than the first-generation device, there is room for improvement. There is no option for cellular connectivity, the single 47mm diameter with 80 grams of weight isn't the best for people with smaller wrists, there is no support for fall detection, there is no capability to control a OnePlus phone camera from the watch (this is coming in a future update), women's health-tracking features are not present, ECG readings cannot be captured by the watch, and there is no skin-temperature sensor.

However, I loved wearing this elegant watch and swiping across the face to access my favorite tiles. The Google Pixel Watch is too small for me and the battery life is too short to enjoy its functionality. The OnePlus Watch 2 shows there is hope for better options at a reasonable $250 price.

Screenshot by Matthew Miller/ZDNET

ZDNET's buying advice

After testing the first OnePlus Watch, I had little confidence that OnePlus would impress me with another RTOS smartwatch. I was frankly blown away by the work that has been done by the company to make the OnePlus Watch 2 one of the best watches available for Android smartphone users, while still having room for improvement. 

At $250, the device is a must-buy for OnePlus phone owners and a watch that all Android smartphone users should consider. You can also look forward to future software updates that will make this watch an even better investment.

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