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Oppo Watch review: An excellent Wear OS smartwatch
What we like
What we don't like
Fashion brands aside, the Wear OS-powered smartwatch landscape isn’t exactly flourishing. Oppo’s smartwatch comes at an interesting time as the smartphone giant tries to make a broader ecosystem play, including true wireless earphones and now wearables. Oppo’s first Wear OS watch is unapologetically inspired by a certain other smartwatch. However, execution is key.
Read Android Authority’s Oppo Watch review to determine if the smartwatch delivers a high-end experience — or if it should be relegated to the long list of lackluster Apple Watch alternatives.
Update: May 2021: We have updated this Oppo Watch review to reflect the latest software updates and value proposition.
How’s the design of the Oppo Watch?
The Oppo Watch is unapologetic in its design inspiration. From afar, the watch could pass off as a facsimile of the Apple Watch. How much that matters to you is a personal preference. But hey, as far as copy-cat designs go, Oppo did an excellent job here.
The curved AMOLED display flows seamlessly into the 6000-series aluminum frame. The frame houses two buttons on the side, and of these, one is programmable.
The programmable key has an emerald green accent on it that adds some visual flair. The key also doubles as the power menu with a long press. While the one programmable key is nice to have, I’d have preferred two for shortcuts. Alternatives from Fossil offer a range of programmable pushers.
A spinning crown would have made scrolling through apps a lot easier.
The buttons are easy to press, though I would have appreciated a spinning crown instead for easier navigation through the app drawer.
A speaker for making calls and interacting with Google Assistant is on the left side of the watch.
The construction of the rear panel is mostly plastic, though the central sensor module is made of ceramic. The smaller 41mm model swaps out the ceramic sensor hub for plastic.
As far as build quality goes, my biggest gripe is with the choice of proprietary straps. Oppo calls the material fluoro-rubber, but to me, it feels just like a regular silicon strap. I have relatively small wrists, and I struggled to find a good fit even with the smaller watch band. It doesn’t help that Oppo opted for a nub instead of a regular clasp.
The 46mm variant is pretty heavy and chunky. Paired with the less-than-ideal fit of the strap, I didn’t find it too comfortable for running.
After using the watch for several weeks, I could not find a suitable first- or third-party replacement. It might be something worth keeping in mind if you like to swap out straps to match outfits.
The real stand-out feature is the display. The high-resolution AMOLED panel gets incredibly bright, which means outdoor visibility is never an issue. Icons flow beautifully off the curved edges, and album covers look visually stunning. Oppo claims the watch has an ambient light sensor built-in, but it was pretty useless in my time with the watch; I found myself adjusting brightness levels manually. It often was not effective enough to accurately gauge the ambient setting and adjust accordingly.
The Oppo Watch exudes luxury.
Copycat design aside, the Oppo Watch exudes luxury. The entire construction has a certain heft to it. While the 46mm size of our review unit was just a bit too big for me, the build quality was spot on. The Oppo Watch is right up there with the best in the business.
Does Wear OS on the Oppo Watch perform well?
Lack of LTE aside, the Oppo Watch packs all the niceties you could want in a modern Wear OS smartwatch. It is not running the absolute latest Snapdragon 4100 chipset, but, for what it’s worth, Oppo did an outstanding job fine-tuning performance, which is fantastic. I didn’t notice any stutters or frame drops at all.
The 1GB of RAM goes a long way in maintaining that slick fluidity. The included storage is more than enough for all the apps and music you might want to store.
Like most modern Wear OS watches, there’s support for GPS and NFC here. The latter can be used for contactless payments. Unfortunately, due to Google Workspace limitations, I could not test this feature. Get on it, Google! Additional sensors include an accelerometer and a gyroscope, but no altimeter.
The Oppo Watch recently picked up the Wear OS H-MR2 software update that brought with it some well-appreciated improvements. This includes performance tweaks, new watch faces, and even better battery life. However, the biggest improvement is the ability to track sleep at any time of the day.
The 430mAh battery on the Oppo Watch lasts all day, and I had no issues pushing it with a notification-heavy workload, overnight sleep tracking. Even with the always-on display switched on, I could get a full 24 hours of use. With lighter workloads, the watch should easily last a full day and part of the next.
If you plan to go off the grid for extended periods of time, you’ll appreciate the power saver mode on the Oppo Watch. In this mode, the watch switches off Wear OS altogether. Instead, you are presented with a rudimentary clock face with a few fitness functions. The mode still lets you receive message notifications, check the time, track steps and heart rate, and essentially converts the Oppo Watch into a fitness tracker.
VOOC charging tops-off the watch to just under 50% in 15 minutes.
When it comes time to top-up the Oppo Watch, VOOC charging support comes in very handy. While it took me over an hour to fully charge the watch, it can be topped off to just short of 50% in 15 minutes. A quick charge while you make your morning cup of coffee should be enough to get you through most of the day.
Is the fitness tracking reliable?
Fitness tracking is functional but not as full-featured as something like the Suunto 7 or any other mid-tier running watch. Oppo includes its own watch-based fitness tracking app that can track five different types of exercises, including swimming. Still, I could not find a companion app for it on the phone to analyze the data. There’s Google Fit, of course, and you can use a range of third-party fitness apps if you have a preference for a certain application.
With my usual running trails still blocked, I could only take the watch out for a quick walk around the block. It took mere seconds to get a solid GPS lock, and distance tracking was absolutely accurate. There’s a heart rate sensor built into the watch. I compared the data with my go-to Fitbit Ionic, and the step count and heart rate measurement were close enough not to be an issue for most users.
The Oppo Watch does a pretty good job at sleep tracking, though at launch, it could only track data between 8 PM and 10 AM — an odd quirk. However, this has been fixed with the recent H-MR2 update, and I’d urge all users to upgrade.
Oppo's pre-loaded apps are good enough to get you started, but are a bit short on features.
Other pre-loaded apps include a timer, clock, and stopwatch. You’ll also find apps for breathing exercises as well as guided workouts. The range of workouts here is pretty limited, and it isn’t much more than a beginner’s guide to getting started on a fitness journey. You’ll also find a sound recorder as well as a range of Google apps.
I really like the tile-like widgets on Wear OS, but weirdly enough, the Oppo Watch wouldn’t display my calendar entries on the Google Calendar tile. Huh.
The ability to take phone calls over the watch’s speaker definitely tickled my inner Dick Tracy. However, the tinny sound wasn’t particularly great, and I didn’t find myself using the feature much. Still, the speaker is a valuable addition for when you need to interact with Google Assistant quickly.
Value and competition
The Oppo Watch nails the key tenets of a good smartwatch. All-day battery life, fluid performance, reliable connectivity, and affordability.
The two variants are priced between Rs. 14,990 (~$200) and Rs. 19,990 (~$269) in India. Smartwatch buyers in the UK can get their hands on the 41mm watch for £229, while the 46mm variant costs £279.
At least in India, this makes the Oppo Watch one of, if not the most, affordable Wear OS options around. It certainly helps that Oppo did a great job here. The level of polish is good enough that I’m willing to forgive the absence of the absolute latest chipset. Additionally, while a rotary dial would have been a nice addition and the ability to use both the keys as shortcuts, these don’t take away from the core experience.
If you are not too enthused by Google’s lackluster approach towards Wear OS, there are ample fitness-focused options around.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is an excellent alternative that blends fitness capabilities with just enough smarts. The stellar battery life is a great up-sell too.
Garmin makes some great smartwatches as well. The Vivoactive 4 and the Garmin Venu stand out as great options with solid fitness functionality and just the right number of features like Garmin Pay, music storage, and notifications. And if you don’t mind paying a bit more, the Garmin Venu 2 is even better.
There’s also the newly launched OnePlus Watch that gets the aesthetics right. We found fitness tracking to be reliable in our testing. However, the watch is priced well above the competition.
Finally, there’s the Galaxy Watch 3, which ranks amongst the best smartwatch options for Android users. However, at Rs. 29,990 in India and $399 in the US, expect to pay top dollar for the experience.
Oppo Watch review: The verdict
The Oppo Watch focuses on what matters to users: great style, excellent fit and finish, and reliability. It doesn’t take the kitchen sink approach, and that minimalistic approach works in its favor.
The software is clean and usable, the battery lasts a full day and a bit more, which allows for activities such as sleep tracking.
The screen is visually stunning, and the overall build quality impresses. The Oppo Watch is an easy recommendation for anyone who wants to dip their toes in the Wear OS smartwatch experience.