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It's time…for a new OnePlus Watch.

Sorry, I couldn't resist, but in all honesty, it is time. The first OnePlus Watch came out about 3 years ago, and it was - in no uncertain terms - a dumpster fire. I had one and after trying to use it for a week, gave it to a friend. This time (get used to them folks), it seems like OnePlus may actually have built a pretty great smartwatch.

OnePlus Watch 2 Design
Source: CrackBerry

Design

In truth, the hardware of the first OnePlus watch was pretty great, by far the best part of the watch and the same holds true for the second go-round. But while the original OnePlus Watch was certainly targeted as more of a fitness wearable, the design of the Watch 2 is much more premium and elegant. The stainless steel case and rubberized band remain, but the added crown and more squared off sides truly elevate the look of the watch. And the silver option is even more premium, if you're into that.

It's certainly not small at 47mm, but even as someone with tiny wrists, it doesn't bother me at all. And at 49 grams (without the strap), it's not all that heavy either. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is 50 grams and the Apple Watch series 9 is 51.5 grams so it's right in line with the competition.

It comes with a fluoroelastomer band - think Apple Watch sport bands - that is actually quite comfortable to wear, and the ridges running down it give a nice texture and some grip on the wrist. The band is removable, and should be compatible with any other 22mm band.

The two buttons that help you navigate the watch stick out on the right side on a sort of ridge. Both buttons can register a single or double press and a press and hold input. The double press and press-and-hold inputs can be customized to open whatever apps you want, which is really nice.

Oneplus Watch 2 Buttons
Source: CrackBerry

By default, the top, rounded, digital-crown-like Home button is set to open your most recent app with a double press and Google Assistant with a press and hold. The bottom, flat, Multifunction button is set to open workouts and Google Wallet respectively. Annoyingly, even though it rotates, the digital crown does not scroll. The only thing I could really find that it does is turn the volume up or down while listening to music. Seems like a missed opportunity that can hopefully be fixed with a software update.

OnePlus is also catering to the outdoorsy crowd with MIL-STD-810H military standard durability, as well as full IP68 water and dust resistance and even pressure resistance up to 5 atmospheres. I was able to test out the water resistance, but I'll have to take their word for it on the mil-spec and diving durability.

The OnePlus Watch 2 is equipped with a stunning 1.43" AMOLED touchscreen display protected by sapphire crystal. This is actually really nice to see as the more expensive Apple Watch doesn't have sapphire crystal on the base model. It's got a 466 x 466 screen with a 60Hz refresh rate and OnePlus claims it can get up to 1,000 nits of brightness. And because it's an AMOLED, the colors are bright and punchy complimented by nice deep blacks.

Battery Life

One of the biggest standout features of the first OnePlus Watch (and there weren't many) was the battery life. Most reviewers, myself included, were able to get about 10 days of juice between charges, and that was mainly due to the company's choice to go with a proprietary RTOS software on the watch. While the Watch 2 won't get anywhere near that due to running WearOS, OnePlus claims the 500mAh battery on the Watch 2 can get up to 100 hours (just over 4 days) of life with the Smart Mode enabled (more on that later).

Oneplus Watch 2 Battery Life
Source: CrackBerry

OnePlus says this extensive battery life is due to what it calls its unique Dual-Engine Architecture. Basically, OnePlus has put two separate chips into the watch to each handle different tasks. But it's not only two different chips; each chip is powering a different software. OnePlus uses its old RTOS system powered by a high-efficiency BES 2700 chipset to manage the less intensive things like background tasks and notifications while the more power-hungry Wear OS and its apps are powered by the beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 chipset.

OnePlus-Watch-2-dual-engine-architecture
Source: OnePlus

It's this combination that OnePlus says enables the up to 100-hour battery life, and honestly, it seems to work pretty well.

They also claim you can still get 48 hours of life with heavy use and even as much as 12 days when using Power Saver Mode, which disables most everything except calls, texts, and minimal workout features. And when you do run out, they've brought back their 7.5W fast charging so you can fully charge the watch in about an hour. You can also get a full day of battery in just ten minutes if you're really in a rush.

There are three somewhat minor downsides with this charging situation:

  1. The charging puck is a tiny little square that you plug in via USB-C which makes it incredibly easy to lose unless you leave it plugged in (trust me, I almost lost it more than once in a house with two young kiddos)
  2. Since the puck is so small, the watch doesn't sit flat while charging so you have to set it up at just the right angle so it will charge without disconnecting. However, if you swap out the included band for a flatter or more flexible band, this isn't as much of an issue.
  3. You only get those fast speeds with a OnePlus wall charger as well - not included, of course. Since it is just a USB-C port, the upside is that you can charge it with any other existing charger and cable you have, but the fast charging only comes with their charger. Yay.

Those aren't necessarily deal breakers, but annoying nonetheless.

OnePlus says you can get up to 12 days of battery life in Power Saver Mode

In my testing, I found most of these battery life claims to be valid. I consistently went about 3 days without needing to charge which included two 20-minute runs (not per day, round is a shape) and wearing it all night for sleep tracking.

However, I did notice that the battery dropped almost 10% during a run. But that was also with headphones connected and playing music so that certainly had an impact. Just keep in mind that if you're much more into fitness than I am, expect your battery life to be shorter. As always, YMMV.

Thankfully, the fast charging does work really well so you can juice up quickly before a run if you need to.

Software

This is by far and away where the biggest improvements come for the Watch 2. As mentioned before, the previous iteration of the watch ran a buggy, slow, incomplete, proprietary software that really ruined the whole experience. OnePlus clearly learned from their mistakes and adopted WearOS for the Watch 2. This means you get all the good stuff about WearOS like a full app store and of course the Google suite of apps as well.

Oneplus Watch 2 Wearos Verson
Source: CrackBerry

I won't go into all the details about WearOS, cuz it's been out for a few years already and plenty of much smarter folks have already covered it. What I will talk about are the things that OnePlus has added to the watch that have improved the experience - and a few odd ones as well.

Let's start with my favorite feature (so far at least) from OnePlus. Whenever I clear a notification or, say, delete an email from my watch, I get a little buzz from my phone letting me know it's performed the same action there. This is so helpful and something amazingly Apple has yet to figure out after more than 9 watches.

It's also nice that OnePlus has integrated the alarm and weather apps between the phone and watch so they're always in sync. For example, the alarms I have set on my OnePlus 12 automatically synced to my watch without me having to do anything. Same for weather. All my settings and locations were already there as soon as I set up the watch.

Keep in mind though that this only works between the watch and a OnePlus phone. Womp womp.

Lastly, OnePlus has created 100 watch faces for the Watch 2, and I have yet to find one I don't really like. It comes with 20 pre-installed and the rest are easily available to download through the OHealth app. They give you a nice mix of classy, fitness, and digital faces.

Oneplus Watch 2 All Faces
Source: CrackBerry

Speaking of the OHealth app, this is both a great feature and a pretty odd one as well. What's great is that it works well and allows you to do things like track all your fitness metrics, change your watch faces, switch the tiles around, and manage your notifications.

But that's about it. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most up-to-date on WearOS watches, but compared to the watch app for iOS, it seems fairly limited. Like, for starters, you can't see or control the apps on your watch, or change many of the settings aside from a few specific things like your calendar, weather, and toggling the always-on display.

Ohealth Device Settings
Source: CrackBerry

Another odd thing is that while the Smart Mode that's turned on by default claims to help give it the insane battery life, there's no real information about it and I couldn't find a way to turn it off. Like it doesn't really tell me what Smart Mode is actually doing and I couldn't turn it off to see if anything changed or not.

Oneplus Watch 2 Smart Mode
Source: CrackBerry

Also, for some weird reason, OnePlus decided to make its own timer, stopwatch, and alarm apps in addition to the same ones from Google - that all come on the watch by default. I have no idea why.

Overall though, the software is very fast and fluid. I never had issues navigating through the software and never experienced any bugs or hang ups during my time with it.

Oneplus Watch 2 Holding Dumbell Outside
Source: CrackBerry

Fitness features

Even with its more premium design, OnePlus is still leaning heavily into the fitness features of the Watch 2. They've included more than 100 different workout and sport tacking modes which help give you comprehensive workout data in the OHealth app. I was actually pretty impressed by all the data it did give me about my runs, but I'm certainly nowhere near enough of a fitness guru to be able to say if it's that much better than other typical smartwatches.

Ohealth App Workout Information
Source: CrackBerry

As far as the accuracy of my workout data, I'm not enough of an expert to know for sure, but it seemed to be pretty on par with what I expected. When compared to the Apple Watch, the readings were mostly consistent with nothing being too far off. Now, I'm not saying that the Apple Watch is the gold standard in fitness tracking, but it has been out for quite a few years and I've found it to be pretty consistent over time, so it makes for a decent comparison.

I also really like that auto-detect feature for workouts. Basically, the watch will automatically start tracking my run if I just start going, and if I stop to walk or chat with a neighbor, it will pause the workout until I start up again. And it works surprisingly well. I could just start running and instantly the watch would buzz me that it was tracking my run, then would instantly stop as soon as I stopped running. No significant delay or anything.

What doesn't work so well is the music controls during a workout. On my Apple Watch the music controls are built into the UI of the workout app, so they're always one swipe away during the workout. On the Watch 2, the only way I could find to manage my music was to navigate back and forth between the Spotify app and my workout playlist. Not the most convenient way to do it.

Also, the voice feedback from the watch leaves something to be desired. It's quite robotic and it didn't pause the music or even lower the volume so I could hear what it was saying. I assume it was telling me my split time and current distance, but I couldn't hear a word it was saying over my music.

The Watch 2 gathers fairly in-depth sleep tracking information including things like blood oxygen levels and screen time, and it even monitors your snoring - which would certainly apply more to my wife than me (don't tell her I said that). Overall, this seemed to be pretty accurate, with the overall result being that I'm not getting enough sleep - surprise surprise.

Things like the Sp02 (blood oxygen) monitoring and screen time monitoring are not enabled by default. Turning on Sp02 will eat into your battery life so keep that in mind.

There's also a Stress Monitoring mode which can tell you if you're stressed or not, or point out warning signs that you may not be aware of.

Overall, there seems to be a lot of pretty useful health and wellness features in the OnePlus Watch 2, which is good to see. They seemed to take the idea behind the comprehensive health features of the first watch, and make them infinitely better.

And there's a Badminton Mode. Which apparently is a big deal for a mass-market smartwatch.

Cool.

Final Thoughts - Forget the past

I have no doubt OnePlus is keen that we all just forget about their first watch, and the Watch 2 goes quite a long way in helping us do that. Honestly, the Watch 2 is so far ahead of the first one, that they should have just called this the 'Watch' and completely erased the other from memory.

And it's not just that the Watch 2 is so much better than the first one; it's actually a really incredible smart watch. The hardware is really solid, even if the black color is a tad boring. The battery life is better than any other Wear OS or WatchOS smartwatch I've ever used. The performance is fast and fluid and the fitness features are really solid for a smartwatch.

The OnePlus Watch 2 will set you back $299 and is available for preorder now. The company is offering $50 with the trade-in of any watch in any condition and 30% off with the purchase of a OnePlus 12 or 12R.

You can get it from OnePlus starting on March 4 and on Amazon from March 11.

A sequel done right

OnePlus-Watch-2-reco-box

OnePlus Watch 2

The OnePlus Watch 2 delivers a great experience that will last for days.

There's not much to not like about the second gen OnePlus watch. Thankfully, they delivered an amazing desing and massively improved nearly all the problems with the first one. This one's easy to recommend.

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