I'd like to preface this review with a short story. Last year, I reviewed the nubia Alpha, a smartwatch with a flexible display, which was my first (and only) smartwatch review, but also one of my first hardware reviews in general. The experience was middling, with the watch being somewhat heavy and a very lackluster software experience. I also got a MyKronoz ZeRound 3 Lite as a gift sometime later, and again, the experience was just too lackluster to keep using it. Between that, and the lack of really exciting devices coming out in the time since then, I've never felt all too compelled to do another smartwatch review.

When OPPO introduced the OPPO Watch, though, I was intrigued. Yes, the design is very blatantly... inspired by the Apple Watch, but that's actually one of the things that drew me to it. I've always been a fan of that design, so to have that in the Android world was intriguing, and in the end, after debating myself about it for a while, I ended up getting a review unit.

How did that turn out? Well, the OPPO Watch has reignited my interest in the smartwatch market somewhat, and while it's not a perfect device by any means, it might just be one I want to keep on my wrist.

Specs

Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
Case 46mm, 6000-series aluminum (frame), plastic and ceramic (back)
Display 1.91-inch AMOLED, 402x476, 326ppi, up to 500 nits, 100% DCI-P3
Battery

430mAh; Smart (Wear OS) mode: up to 36 hours, Power Saver: up to 21 days; 15-minute charge for 16 hours of use

RAM 1GB
Storage 8GB
Strap Custom mechanism, fluororubber
Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Water resistance 5ATM
OS Wear OS
Price ₹19,990 ($272.83)

Day one

Design and display

There's no way I can pretend that the design of the OPPO Watch takes a lot from the Apple Watch. The display cover that curves rather beautifully at the edges, and the whole casing is just nearly identical. Yes, it's shameless, but I actually love the look. I'll say that I hope OPPO finds a way to stand more on its own legs with the next iteration, but I think this is a great starting point. There's something to be said about how circular casings are more watch-like, but the rectangular look works really well here.

The casing is made of 6000-series aluminum around the frame, and it can be either black or gold in the 46mm model, though the smaller 41mm variant comes in black, pink gold, and silver. On the right side, there are two buttons, one to go back to the watch face or open the app menu, and one that can be set as a shortcut to an app or action you prefer. Between the two, a microphone for taking calls. There's no rotating crown or anything similar here, which I think helps the OPPO Watch feel a little different from the Apple Watch.

On the right side, a couple of large speaker holes, which you also need if you want to take calls. They're definitely not on the same level as phone speakers, but you can use them to take calls in a pinch and it's not terrible. The aforementioned microphone also works pretty well in my experience, I've never had any complaints that I was hard to hear.

The back of the watch is made of plastic and ceramic, and that's where the heart rate monitor and the pin connectors for the charger are. Pin connectors on watches can often get dirty and make it hard to charge the watch, but I haven't had that problem yet here, and I just make a habit of cleaning the watch whenever I take it off anyway.

The strap mechanism is a custom one, so you'll need to buy watch bands made specifically for the OPPO Watch, but at least it's super simple to remove and replace the straps. Press the button on the back and they're released, then simply click the new one into place. This custom mechanism can be a problem, though, because now you'll be dependent on bands being made specifically for the OPPO Watch.

Overall, the watch is fairly comfortable. I need to admit I've never liked any wristwatches whatsoever, and before I reviewed one last year, I hadn't worn one in about a decade. The OPPO Watch is fairly light, and I'm glad it's not using a metal strap, but it still takes some getting used to for me. I'd say it's comfortable enough that it's worth the features it provides, though.

On the front, there's a gorgeous rectangular AMOLED display, with what I would say is pretty high resolution and pixel density. I don't know for sure if that's the reason, but custom watch faces from apps like Facer never seem to take up the entire screen, but hopefully that's just a matter of developers designing them for this display. It gets fairly bright and it's easily visible outdoors, and it's just beautiful all around.

Wear OS, but better

The OPPO Watch runs Google's Wear OS, which I would say is a good choice, as much as the platform has struggled to make any real progress in recent years. There's only so many companies that can create a sustainable ecosystem on their own, so I'm glad OPPO used Google's platform as a base.

However, that doesn't mean this is just any old Wear OS smartwatch. OPPO actually made some changes here, which help align the interface with ColorOS, OPPO's custom Android skin for smartphones. Most importantly, though, the changes make the interface work better with the rectangular display.

That means that when you swipe down to access the quick settings, you get three rows of shortcuts instead of two, in addition to a status bar with your battery level and connection indicators. If you're playing media, a playback indicator also shows up here, and you can just scroll down to see the quick actions. The app list is also different, and I would say it's much better. Instead of a list, it's a 3 by 3 grid, which lets you see so many more apps at once. I think these are very meaningful improvements.

OPPO also built in some features of its own, but their usefulness varies. There's a Daily Activity watch face by default, which ties into an app of the same name. It shows you metrics like the steps you've taken, calories you've burned, and activity sessions in an X shape, that I would say works fairly well as a watch face. There's also sleep tracking, a feature that Wear OS doesn't offer out of the box, but it's weirdly limited. It only works between 8PM and 10AM, and it detects both light sleep and deep sleep, but it doesn't really track if I wake up in the middle of the night, in my experience.

While Google Fit is built in, OPPO also has five workout modes of its own, but considering Google Fit tracks over 80 types of exercise, I have to say I don't really know if there's a need for OPPO to build its own software here. There's also an app called 5-Minute Workouts, which is a good way to get some exercise in if you have limited time.

The most egregious thing about this is that OPPO's apps sync to the company's own health app on your phone, and this data isn't saved in the cloud. I had to switch phones in the middle of my review period, and all my activity and sleep tracking from my previous phone is gone. I review phones fairly often, so this is something that's very problematic for me, and I'd rather just use Google Fit at that point.

OPPO also has a couple of custom watch faces, and the most interesting one would be AI outfit, which lets you take a picture of something (usually your clothes) and create a watch face to match. The idea is great, but there's a couple of problems. The algorithms used here don't seem to work all that well and a lot of the time the watch faces only detect one major color and disregard images or patterns on my shirts. Also, the watch face isn't visible with the always-on display, so if you're trying to create a certain look, it won't really do anything for you, since you can only see the watch face when you raise your wrist.

Aside from that, this is pretty much Wear OS, with all the gestures and interface elements you're familiar with. Google Assistant, tiles, and the Play Store are all here. There's also NFC support for Google Pay, but the service isn't available in Portugal, so I couldn't test it. I find that replying to notifications and controlling music playback is what I have the most use for in a smartwatch, and the OPPO Watch does that and does it well. Also, there's a standalone Telegram app for Wear OS, which is pretty neat.

Performance and battery life

As with anything, battery life on the OPPO Watch depends on your usage, but it's evident that despite the relatively big 430mAh battery, you'll almost always need to make some sacrifices. If you use the always-on display and you also track your exercise one or two times in a day, you can't really count on the OPPO Watch to track your sleep, too, since it will probably switch to power saver mode during the night.

Personally, though, I found the battery life to be just right for me. I don't see use in an always-on display - the way I see it, if I want to look at the time, I'll raise my wrist, and the watch wakes up when I do. With that usage, I can use the watch all day, track my exercise (usually around 1 hour and 40 minutes), and wear it overnight, and it will last me just fine. Thanks to the fast charging, I just place the watch on the charger in the morning while I eat breakfast, and I'm ready to go when I'm done. This is a routine I'm personally fine with, so I'm pretty happy with the battery life, but it's not for everyone.

If you want to sacrifice some features for battery life, power saver mode can last up to 21 days, and it still counts your steps, tracks your heart rate, and shows notifications, though you can't reply to them.

The OPPO Watch is running on a Snapdragon Wear 3100 and it has 1GB of RAM, which I've heard is what you need to have a good experience with Wear OS. In my experience, that holds up, and the watch performs just fine for almost anything you want to do on it. Some transitions can be a little less smooth at time, but overall, it's pretty good.

The thing about it is that after years of stagnation in wearable SoCs, Qualcomm finally announced the Snapdragon Wear 4100 series this year, which is a major leap forward for Wear OS smartwatches. We might start seeing that in products soon, and then the Snapdragon Wear 3100 won't look all that great anymore. I hope OPPO refreshes the OPPO Watch with the new chipset, because that's all it really needs to keep being great in my opinion.

Conclusion

As I said at the start, I've never been big into wristwatches, and after reviewing the nubia Alpha last year, smartwatches weren't all that tempting for me. But the OPPO Watch does enough for me to be interested in them again. The performance is rock solid, the display and overall design are beautiful, and it delivers on the features I care about the most in a smartwatch - notifications and music playback control.

It's not a perfect watch by any means, to be clear. Battery life probably needs to improve before I can wholeheartedly recommend it for people with heavier usage patterns, and some of the software quirks should be ironed out. And, of course, the design should be more uniquely identifiable and rely less on the Apple Watch's popularity.

But that's all secondary to me. The OPPO Watch is a great foundation for the company to build off of. Honestly, if OPPO refreshed it with the Snapdragon Wear 4100 and that's all the company did, that would be enough to make it an awesome smartwatch. I do hope some design tweaks and software improvements also come along in a potential OPPO Watch 2, but I like this a lot already.

The OPPO Watch has only officially launched in India, but it's coming to other markets eventually. The international price is currently unknown, but if it's close to its Indian pricing of around $270, then I'd say OPPO has a very solid offering on its hands.

 

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