Update: November 9, 2020 (12:40 AM ET): According to a tipster, the OnePlus Watch will not run on Google’s Wear OS platform. That was one of the top items on our wishlist but looks like OnePlus is taking a different direction. We’ve updated the original rumor hub below to reflect the latest information.
Original article: September 27, 2020 (4 AM ET): OnePlus has long aspired to create an ecosystem of devices that stretches beyond smartphones. The company’s efforts towards achieving this goal started with the OnePlus Bullets Wireless neckband earphones back in 2018. Since then, OnePlus has expanded its lineup with TWS earphones, wireless chargers, and even televisions. However, the fitness wearables space is one that the manufacturer has left untouched till now. This is about to change.
From Oppo to Realme, to Vivo — all of OnePlus’ sister companies under the BBK Electronics umbrella have announced or launched a fitness wearable. The Oppo and Vivo smartwatches are the latest in this onslaught, and by the looks of it, OnePlus isn’t trailing far behind. Enter the OnePlus Watch.
So far, little is known about OnePlus’ debut endeavor in the smartwatch category, but we’ll round up all the rumors in this article. We’ll also list out some expectations we have from the OnePlus Watch, given the crowded market it’s about to enter.
OnePlus Watch: Name and release date
It’s not surprising that OnePlus is making a smartwatch. Creating accessories to go alongside smartphones has been a practice in the tech industry since kingdom come. Samsung has done it, Apple has done it, Xiaomi’s in the thick of it, and nearly every major smartphone brand you can name is expanding its wearables portfolio.
OnePlus first dabbled with the idea of a smartwatch in 2016, but ultimately shelved the idea. In fact, the brand had a completed smartwatch back then but decided against bringing it to the market for whatever reason.
This year, the OnePlus smartwatch rumors were reignited by a listing of the device on the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) certification website. The regulatory listing mentioned a smartwatch with model number “W301GB” and the “OnePlus Watch” moniker. A OnePlus-branded smartwatch was also later spotted on India’s BIS certification website by twitter tipster Mukul Sharma.
Electronic devices usually go through such certification processes just before launch. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the release of the OnePlus Watch is imminent, but it’s at least a strong indication that the device exists and is under development.
Also read: The best smartwatches you can buy right now
Besides the regulatory sightings, TechRadar also cited a former OnePlus employee who stated that the company has “actively been looking into a smartwatch for the last year.”
For the longest time, OnePlus hadn’t whispered a word about the watch. The company finally acknowledged its plans of adding a smartwatch to its ecosystem on October 15.
Through a teaser posted by the OnePlus India handle on Twitter, the company revealed that the launch of a new smartwatch is “just a matter of time.” Our closest guess to a possible launch timeline is sometime before the end of the year.
On October 27, tipster Max J revealed that the smartwatch’s launch has been postponed to a new unknown date. It’s now unclear if the device will make its debut in 2020.
OnePlus Watch rumored design and specs
There isn’t a single leak out there about the specs of the so-called OnePlus Watch. The only info so far comes from tipster Max J on Twitter, who posted a cryptic teaser about the smartwatch having a round dial instead of a square face.
The tipster doesn’t even mention the name of the smartwatch. He only alludes to its possible circular design, which immediately distinguishes it from the Apple Watch-esque Oppo Watch. However, it does open up the possibility of the OnePlus Watch resembling the round Vivo Watch or the Realme Watch S Pro.
If that’s the case, OnePlus might not have to build a smartwatch chassis from scratch. It could just borrow Vivo or Realme’s design and slap its preferred hardware on it. Then again, OnePlus might adopt a completely fresh approach for its first timepiece.
When it does launch, the OnePlus Watch may also include a Cyberpunk 2077-inspired special edition. Straps with Cyberpunk insignia and bright yellow inserts have leaked.
OnePlus Watch: What we want to see
While we don’t have any clue about the specs and software of the OnePlus Watch, there are a few things we would like to see on it. Whether OnePlus has already thought of these or not is anyone’s guess, but here’s what a OnePlus Watch looks like in our minds.
Bright AMOLED always-on display
An OLED or AMOLED display is the gold standard for smartwatches right now. We would love to see the OnePlus Watch bring a bright and crisp always-on AMOLED screen like the one on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 or even the Oppo Watch. Sure, that means you won’t get battery life that lasts weeks, but no full-fledged smartwatch can promise you that these days. The Galaxy Watch 3 tops out at around three days with AOD turned off, while the Oppo Watch easily lasts 24 hours with the feature turned on.
Not many AMOLED-touting watches can last for a week or more, though some Fitbit and Garmin devices do. I would be happy if the OnePlus Watch could take phone calls, get notifications, run apps, track workouts, and basically do everything a smartwatch is expected to do. Of course, with an always-on AMOLED screen that doesn’t kill the watch by mid-day and makes it tick for at least 24 hours.
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus
OnePlus and Qualcomm have had a great partnership when it comes to smartphones, and we expect to see the same for when the company launches smartwatches. Unlike the Oppo Watch that houses the two-year-old Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset, we hope the OnePlus Watch upgrades to the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus.
The new 12nm chip promises the fastest clock speed (1.7GHz) on any Snapdragon Wear platform by Qualcomm to date. Compared to the 1.1GHz clock speed on the Wear 3100, this should feel like a significant boost. The new-generation chip also improves upon memory, GPU, and camera performance, and comes with a co-processor which promises great improvements to battery life. Pair this with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, and you’ll have quite the powerful watch on your wrist.
Wear OS with some tweaks
Let’s be honest, Google’s Wear OS platform hasn’t really managed to dominate the smartwatch ecosystem. It’s mostly relied on Qualcomm’s hardware, and that door was shut for the past two years. With the new Wear 4100 chipset, there’s renewed hope for the future of Wear OS watches. There’s also a new version of Wear OS that’s based on Android 11 and supports the latest Snapdragon Wear chips. It promises faster app starts, quicker access to info, a simplified pairing process, improved support for LTE, and more. For best-in-class smartwatch performance, we would have liked to see the OnePlus Watch pair the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus with the latest Wear OS software out-of-the-box.
Also read: The best Wear OS apps for Android
However, according to tipster Max J, the wearable will not feature Wear OS. That opens up the possibility of OnePlus designing its own software for the watch. We wouldn’t mind seeing some smart software tweaks such as a reimagined ZenMode for watches or custom battery modes like the Fossil Gen 5. It’s also entirely possible that the OnePlus Watch will be a basic fitness watch, sans any third-party apps, like what we’ve seen from Huami’s Amazfit.
Match rivals’ features
We don’t want OnePlus to hide behind an eye-watering number of fitness/sports modes like some watches out there, while compromising on the accuracy of core sensors (read Amazfit Stratos 3). What we want to see is an accurate heart rate and GPS sensor, NFC for remote payments, wireless charging, OnePlus’ signature Warp Charging, as well as blood oxygen monitoring. Stuff like Google Assistant support will automatically come if the watch sports the Wear OS platform. All this will ensure the OnePlus Watch stands on equal footing with other recent smartwatches like the Apple Watch 6 or the Galaxy Watch 3.
A measured price
What we’ve described above may sound like the perfect Wear OS smartwatch, and you might say that all this can’t possibly come cheap. You would be right. We don’t expect the OnePlus Watch to be under $200 with all these features and the latest Qualcomm chipsets. If the leaked Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 price is any indicator, then the OnePlus Watch could cost around $400. That’ll put it in a tough spot because the Galaxy Watch 3 and the Apple Watch 6 are priced in the same ballpark.
There’s also the Apple Watch SE that comes in at $199, and that’s the one OnePlus would probably have to beat. Both Apple and Samsung are ecosystem leaders for smartwatches, and OnePlus has its work cut out for it. Maybe a $250-$300 price point could make the OnePlus Watch the best Wear OS watch to buy. I guess we’ll have to wait and watch.