OnePlus Watch 2 Review: This Great Smartwatch Caught Me By Surprise

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6 finally has a serious competitor.

OnePlus Watch 2 is a terrific Google Wear OS 4 smartwatch for Android users
Lais Borges/Inverse; Photograph by Raymond Wong
Gear Reviews

I didn’t expect to have the OnePlus Watch 2 on my 2024 smartwatch recommendation list, but here we are, in the Year of the Dragon, and OnePlus has made one of the best smartwatches for Android phones that doesn’t sport a Samsung logo on it.

My month with the OnePlus Watch 2 has been mostly positive. It’s a handsome smartwatch with a larger and more readable display than Google’s Pixel Watch 2, the workout tracking does what’s advertised, and the battery life is longer than Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6. The OnePlus Watch 2 doesn’t have any groundbreaking features you can’t find on other smartwatches, but with Fossil no longer making smartwatches, I’m all for strong basics.

The usual ecosystems preface for smartwatches applies to the OnePlus Watch 2: It works best with a OnePlus phone, such as the terrific OnePlus 12 (and cut-down 12R), but because it runs Google’s Wear OS 4, it pairs well with any Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. As always, if you’re an iPhone user, just get an Apple Watch. No Wear OS smartwatch will ever work as well with an iPhone as Apple’s smartwatch.

Stylish and Comfortable Smartwatch

The OnePlus Watch 2 is pretty comfortable to wear for days.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Whether or not you think the OnePlus Watch 2 is stylish is a matter of personal preference. I think the “Black Steel” polished stainless steel case looks good. It also comes in a shiny silver called “Radiant Steel.” The 1.43-inch (466 x 466) AMOLED display is large, sharp, and bright even outdoors. The bezel could be slimmer to match the Galaxy Watch 6 on sleekness. OnePlus includes its own custom watch faces — they’re fine. Many of them resemble mechanical watch faces with metal hour markers or subdials/chronographs, which I think look a bit tacky, but you might feel differently.

The OnePlus Watch 2 is thin and light, and the included silicone band is comfortable to wear for days (more on that below). I also found the band quite comfortable to wear while sleeping so I can track my Z’s. I only have two minor complaints about the band: 1) the ribbed band attracts dust quite easily and running it through water doesn’t always wash it out and 2) the band loops are looser than they should be, which sometimes means it slips out, though not to the point where the whole thing falls off your wrist.

The OnePlus Watch 2 always-on display is off by default. Definitely turn it on.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Why doesn’t rotating the crown do anything?

Photograph by Raymond Wong
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The other small complaint about the design is the crown: you push it to bring up the apps screen, but rotating it does nothing. On other smartwatches, rotating the crown (if it turns) equals a swiping/scrolling action. At first, I thought it was a bug or maybe there was a setting that I needed to turn on, but nope, rotating it really does nothing. I don’t know if OnePlus can change this with a software update, but it sure feels like a goofy oversight.

The Battery Lasts 100 Hours*

The heart rate sensor on the back of the OnePlus Watch 2.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

If you’ve used a Wear OS smartwatch before, there’s no learning curve to the OnePlus Watch 2. Wear OS 4 here works like it does on any other Google-powered smartwatch. Once paired to your Android phone, you can make and receive calls, send and reply to messages, check notifications, get app information shown in widget form, use the Google Assistant, etc. I had no issues doing all the standard smartwatch stuff on the OnePlus Watch 2. It’s a snappy smartwatch and the 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage are more than capable of ensuring a smooth and responsive experience.

And, of course, the smartwatch does auto workout tracking, stress, and sleep tracking, and can monitor your heart with its heart rate sensor. I ran, climbed stairs, and even swam with the OnePlus Watch 2 on (FYI, it’s IP68 water and dust-resistant) and it did everything with aplomb. For comparison, I wore an Apple Watch Series 9 on my right wrist to see how close the tracking was, and the counted steps on the OnePlus Watch 2 were usually within 20 or so steps, so any deviation should be minor.

Auto workout tracking on the OnePlus Watch 2.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Where the OnePlus Watch 2 outperforms other smartwatches, especially the Galaxy Watch 6 and Pixel Watch 2, is battery life. See that asterisk in the subheading for this section? That’s not a mistake. Technically, the OnePlus Watch 2 can last up to 100 hours (four days) on a single charge, but only when the always-on display is turned off (default setting) and the smartwatch is put into “Smart Mode” which is a low-power state. If you need to stretch the OnePlus Watch 2 battery, you can definitely get close to 100 hours, but even with the always-on display clock turned on and the smartwatch in regular mode, I often got 2.5 to 3 days of battery life, which is still impressive. I’ve only found the Apple Watch Ultra to consistently get three full days of battery life.

It’s a handsome watch.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

OnePlus achieves the multi-day battery life on the OnePlus Watch 2 with pure hardware. Instead of using one chipset and operating system like every other smartwatch, the OnePlus Watch 2 has two chips and two operating systems. There’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 chip that handles all the Wear OS stuff and then there’s a BES 2700 MCU (microcontroller unit) that powers OnePlus’s own RTOS (real-time operating system) software for lighter, background tasks. By using the less power-hungry chipset when the smartwatch is mostly idle, the smartwatch sips, rather than chews, through battery. It’s a smart engineering solution that just works, and honestly, might not be a bad idea for others to copy.

The cherries on top (yes, there are two) is that the OnePlus Watch 2 also fast charges quickly (10 minutes gets you nearly a full day of battery life and 60 minutes goes to 100 percent) and the magnetic charging puck attaches to a USB-C cable. I never found myself running low on battery. In fact, I think I only saw the low battery warning less than a handful of times during a whole month of wear.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6 Has a Real Competitor

Sleep tracking on the OnePlus Watch 2 is pretty solid.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

At MSRP, the OnePlus Watch 2 costs the same as Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6: $299.99. I’d probably lean toward the Galaxy Watch 6 if you’re paying full price since it does have some extra features. But if you’re looking at the OnePlus Watch 2 and thinking it’s a good companion for you and your Android phone, I would highly recommend taking advantage of OnePlus’s trade-in offer that takes $50 off the pricing, making the smartwatch $249.99, when you trade in any device in any condition.

At $250, the OnePlus Watch 2 is a good deal. Like the OnePlus 12, it’s a no-gimmick device that gets all the essentials right. I really hope this is the beginning of OnePlus and maybe other smartwatch makers turning up the heat on Samsung because the Galaxy Watch series has been starving for serious competition for years. And you know what they say... strong competition forces companies to make better products, which means we all get better devices instead of minor year-over-year upgrades.

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