Oppo Watch Review: Making the Most Out of a Bad Situation

Rating: 6/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: £229/£369
The 46mm OPPO Watch in gold on a white tabletop
Cam

The world of smartwatches has evolved dramatically and quickly. That is unless you consider Google’s Wear OS platform, which hasn’t grown or changed much since the 2.0 update nearly two years ago. That’s what OPPO had to work with for its Watch—a platform riddled with shortcomings relative to the rest of the market. But by adding its own features in, it hopes to offset Wear OS’ faults.

Here's What We Like

  • Big, beautiful display
  • Good notification system
  • Good performance

And What We Don't

  • Wear OS doesn't compare to other smartwatch platforms
  • Weak fitness features feel like an afterthought
  • Poor battery life in Smart Mode
  • Proprietary watch bands

To cut right to the chase: it’s not enough.

OPPO is working with what it has here. It takes years to build a good smartwatch platform like Samsung and Apple have done, and Wear OS is freely available for manufacturers to use in their own smartwatches. I can see the appeal for manufacturers here, especially considering they can’t just license an actually good smartwatch OS from the likes of Apple, Samsung, or even Fitbit. So, they’re left with two options: Build their own smartwatch OS, or use Wear OS.

Like many others, OPPO chose the later. But it’s not just a stock Wear OS experience, mind you. OPPO tried to at least add in some of the features that users want—like fitness and sleep tracking. But these features feel like an afterthought at best, and a half-assed solution at worst. They’re limited and not all that accurate. If you’re looking for a notification machine on your wrist and don’t care about fitness (or anything else), then maybe that’s good enough for you.

But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

Note on availability: OPPO hasn’t announced U.S. availability for the Watch at this time. It’s currently limited to India (Rs 14,990/Rs 19,900), and will be released in the U.K. (£229/£369) in October of 2020.

Yes, It Looks Like an Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 3 next to the OPPO Watch
It’s uncanny. Well, almost uncanny. Cam

When OPPO announced the Watch back in March of this year, the aesthetic similarities to the Apple Watch were immediately drawn. It’s, um, heavily inspired by Apple’s smartwatch, no doubt. The biggest difference is that it has a couple of physical buttons instead of a crown, and both the 41mm and 46mm sizes are a bit bigger than their respective Apple Watch counterparts (40mm and 44mm).

OPPO also chose to clone the Apple Watch’s proprietary band system—just not to the point where you can use Apple Watch bands on the OPPO Watch. Instead, it’s a similar but equally proprietary system. That means you have to buy bands specifically made for the OPPO Watch, which are absolutely not in abundance at the time of writing. Apple can go with a proprietary system because it’s Apple—third-party manufacturers will always make accessories for its products. OPPO does not have that same sort of leverage, so you’ll be left with whatever OPPO sells and maybe a handful of no-name third-party options. Congratulations.

The proprietary watch bands disconnected from the OPPO Watch
Them’s some proprietary bands. Yep. Cam

Speaking of the band, it’s … fine. I don’t personally love it, but it gets the job done. I’ve grown to loathe most bands that have a free loop instead of a buckle-and-tuck design, but I realize that’s more subjective than the scope of this review should be. Still, of all the aesthetic ideas that OPPO borrowed from the Apple Watch, I wish the band would’ve been one of them.

The Watch’s big-ass display (for a watch, anyway) is one of the high points. It’s an OLED panel, and it shows—colors are bright and vibrant, blacks are black as black can be, and the 326 PPI density keeps everything sharp. I really enjoy looking at the OPPO Watch, even if the only thing it really shows me is the time and notifications.

Overall, the OPPO Watch looks good, even if it is a blatant Apple ripoff. That’s admittedly off-putting to some people (myself included), but if you don’t mind the copycat aesthetic, then you should be pleased with the overall look of the watch.

And It Does Some Smartwatch Stuff

Oppp smart watch

What do you want a smartwatch to do? Tell time? Mirror notifications from your phone? The OPPO Watch does those things. If that’s all you’re looking for, then you’ll likely be pleased with it. But what if you want to run dedicated apps on your watch? Well, that’s when things start to get a little more convoluted.

Wear OS has apps. It has its own version of the Play Store … but in order to access said Play Store, you have to do it directly from the Watch. Have you tried navigating a store or typing on a 1.91-inch display? It’s not a great experience. To be clear, this is 100 percent a Google decision. That’s how Wear OS works, for better or worse (spoiler: it’s worse).

You can install Wear OS apps that are also installed on your phone pretty easily, which is helpful. (There’s a dedicated section for this in the Wear OS Play Store.) Anything past that is more of a pain in the ass, especially if you’re looking for a specific app. But I guess if it’s one of those things you only have to do every once in a while, it’s not so bad. Once everything is up and running, it’s okay.

Once you go through the hassle of getting them installed, though, some of the apps are genuinely useful. Like Google Keep, for example. I forgot how much I love having Keep on my wrist (haven’t wore a Wear OS watch in a while!) until now. These are, of course, watered-down versions of their phone counterparts, and oftentimes it’s easier to just use your phone. But for some hyper-specific occasions, the Wear OS apps are nice to have.

The OPPO Watch on an arm with always-on display enabled
Always-on display mode. Cam

Then there’s battery life. No one likes having to charge their watch as often as their phone, but with the OPPO Watch, you better be ready for it. OPPO claims that it can get “up to 36 hours” in what it calls Smart Mode, which seems to be a little liberal to me. On more than one occasion I got under 20 hours, but after some tweaking (Tilt to Wake toggled off made the biggest difference), I was able to push that to around 24 (ish) hours, even with the always-on display feature toggled on.

The Watch also features a Power Saver mode, which dramatically extends its life. OPPO says Power Saver mode will allow the watch to work for three weeks without needing a charge. This, of course, dramatically limits what the Watch can do, but I was still surprised at some of the features left in place. Even in Power Saver, it still has a step counter, heart rate monitor, and syncs notifications from your phone. It really becomes a very basic fitness tracker at that point, which isn’t so bad.

The claimed three-week time frame was outside the scope I had for this review (considering I had to use all of its features), but I could see it being close to possible. I bet you could get a couple of weeks with a charge exclusively in power mode, anyway.

And Also Some Fitness Stuff

The OPPO Watch with the workouts page on the display
Cam

Then there’s the extra crap that OPPO threw in. It’s mostly fitness-related stuff, but as I stated earlier, it feels more like an afterthought than anything genuinely useful.

If you swipe left on the main screen, you’ll get an overview of your daily activity, with steps, workout time, calories, and activity sessions all right there. The next screen is for the always-on heart rate monitor, followed by the workout screen, and finally, sleep-tracking data.

The Watch doesn’t have any sort of automatic workout detection, which is quite annoying. If you forget to start your workout, you pretty much just lost all the data you could’ve had otherwise. What’s worse, if your heart rate gets above 120 for more than 10 minutes, it’ll give a warning that your resting heart rate is too high. Because, you know, it can’t automatically tell that you might not actually be resting.

Most watches have automatic workout detection, so you may be wondering why OPPO left this out. I figured it’s because the Watch only tracks a handful of workouts.

A screenshot of the Daily Activity screen A screenshot of the available workouts A screenshot of the heart rate data

It can track a total of five workouts: Fitness run, fat burn run, outdoor walk, outdoor cycling, and swimming. So, to start—what the hell is the difference between a fitness run and a fat burn run? According to the OPPO Watch, to do a fat burn run, you should keep your heart rate between 60-70 percent of your max heart rate (which it suggests you find by subtracting your age from 220) for more than 30 minutes. I’m honestly not sure why this needed its own entry, but okay.

You might have noticed a distinct lack of indoor activity tracking. Well, there is one—under the Fitness Run option, you can choose to track it as an indoor or outdoor workout. That’s it though; the rest are all outdoor only. The Watch does have GPS + GLONASS , however, so you can track your workouts without carrying your phone. That’s something, at least.

The Watch also tracks sleep—kind of, anyway. It’s the most basic sleep tracking function I’ve ever used, basically just telling you what time you went to bed and when you woke up. It also tries to detect some sleep stages, with calculations for deep and light sleep, as well as time that you were awake. This is dramatically simpler than what you get from something like Fitbit or Samsung.

A screenshot of sleep tracking data from the Fitbit app A screenshot of sleep tracking from the HeyTap Health app synced with the OPPO watch L: Sleep tracking on the Fitbit Versa; R: The same night tracked on the OPPO Watch. Guess which is more accurate?

The best part is that it’s not even really that accurate. On more than one occasion, I got out of bed to go to the bathroom or check on my youngest son (or both), yet the Watch told me I was awake for zero minutes through the night. I literally walked through the house! By contrast, my Fitbit Versa always nails the awake times.

It’s also weirdly heavy, at least compared to the Fitbit Versa that I lovingly wear on my left arm (that’s right, I’m double watching it right now) and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 I was wearing before. That’s all well and good once you get used to it, but it’s still not super comfortable to sleep with.

You can sync all your health and fitness data with Google Fit and HeyTap Health, though both are much more rudimentary than the bulk of actual fitness tracking apps out there. Again, Fitbit and Samsung Health absolutely run circles around the fitness data provided by the OPPO Watch paired with either of these apps.

Conclusion: A Decent Smartwatch and a Poor Fitness Tracker

The OPPO Watch gives a warning when your heart rate goes above 120 for more than 10 minutes
You think maybe I’m not resting? Cam

Wear OS started out as a good smartwatch platform but has simply been outpaced from Apple and Samsung over the last few years. Fitbit is a great fitness tracker than also offers nearly all smartwatch features that many users would want.

The OPPO Watch simply can’t compete. If you’re an Android user looking for a smartwatch-first wrist companion, just get a Samsung Galaxy Watch. If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker with smartwatch features, look toward something like the Fitbit Versa 3 or Sense.

There’s just little reason to consider the OPPO Watch at this point, outside of the niche group who may love Wear OS and just wish it had more fitness features.

Rating: 6/10
Price: £229/£369

Here’s What We Like

  • Big, beautiful display
  • Good notification system
  • Good performance

And What We Don't

  • Wear OS doesn't compare to other smartwatch platforms
  • Weak fitness features feel like an afterthought
  • Poor battery life in Smart Mode
  • Proprietary watch bands

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and serves as an Editorial Advisor for How-to Geek and LifeSavvy. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. Read Full Bio »

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