Oppo Watch Review: First Time’s A Charm



Google’s Wear OS has its fair share of critics and while the company has made a point of reworking its wearable user experience numerous times over the years, it still hasn’t curried much favour.

With Apple and Samsung offering what are widely regarded as the most capable smartwatches on the market, it takes a competent hardware manufacturer to create an alternative wearable that shines in spite of Wear OS’ misgivings, or at the very least, the less-than-stellar public opinion that it has garnered.

Oppo may be one such manufacturer, having adapted the proprietary Android-based experience that the China-only build of the Oppo Watch sports into a Wear OS-powered offering for international markets, that has a lot going for it.

Design and build

No prizes for guessing the aesthetic inspiration behind the Oppo Watch; its rounded rectangular form would undoubtedly cause Apple Watch-wearers in a room to double-take. In this instance, it does at least feel like an imitation-as-a-sincere-form-of-flattery type situation, with Oppo still clearly putting care and attention into the fit and finish of its first smartwatch; from the forms and tight tolerances of its design to the materials on offer.

Like both the Apple and Samsung Galaxy Watch lines, the company serves up the Oppo Watch in two different casing sizes; in order to appeal to (and offer compatibility for) the widest range of potential users.

The smaller 41mm model features a flat display, while the 46mm version features a dual-curved glass front. Both sizes come shrouded in polished aluminium, in an assortment of colours dictated by casing size: black, Pink Gold or Silver Mist, if you’re considering the 41mm version or a choice between black or Glossy Gold on the larger variant.

Against the Apple Watch, in particular, Oppo’s watches appear (and measure) a little thicker, rising slightly further off the wrist by comparison; seemingly emphasised by their curved backs (made of polycarbonate on the 41mm model and a mix of both polycarbonate and ceramic on the 46mm build).

Provided your wrists suit larger watches, the 46mm is, aesthetically, the clear winner between the two casing sizes. The curved cover glass, wider band and more premium materials all make for a more elegant overall appearance, however, the 41mm version is – unsurprisingly – less obtrusive, without sacrificing any significant functionality, not to mention it’ll likely recover from glancing blows more readily than the curved edges of the 46mm variant.

Both sport water resistance (so swim tracking is on the table) and both boast convenient quick-release bands. However, the proprietary latch mechanism used means you’ll likely have to result to a third-party accessory maker to find a band that suits your tastes, beyond the included fluororubber strap that comes fitted to the Watch out the box (or buy after-market lugs that let you fit more conventional watch bands).

Unlike the Apple Watch, there’s no Digital Crown to speak of, with interaction made primarily via the touchscreen, as well as the two hardware keys on the casing’s right side: a home button and a multifunction button.

Display and audio

Different casing sizes understandably facilitate different screen sizes, with the 41mm Oppo Watch sporting 1.6in 320×360 rigid rectangular AMOLED display, while the curved glass front of the 46mm model features a flexible 1.91in AMOLED display, with a 402×476 resolution.

Although the 46mm model technically boasts a higher pixel density panel – and thus a sharper image – both watches present information (including fine text) with pleasing clarity, in addition to great contrast, vibrant colours and overall brightness. Speaking of which, brightness can also be adjusted either manually and automatically.

By default, the Oppo Watch is set to turn on its display using tilt-to-wake, tap-to-wake or with a press of either button on its right side. More often than not, tilt-to-wake should prove responsive enough for most users to stick with it, but for those who need it, always-on display functionality is present too.

Switching this on does throw up a warning about the impact it may have on battery life and in the process, tilt-to-wake is also switched off (although this can be turned back on within the Watch’s settings menu if desired).

The left side of the Oppo Watch’s casing features a pair of slits, which actually conceal a microphone and speaker arrangement. The pair can be used to make and take calls, directly on your wrist (markedly more likely if you opt for the 46mm cellular model), but can also serve as the means to interact with the Google Assistant hands-free (“OK, Google” wake command detection is switched off by default but can be turned on directly on the watch).

It should come as no surprise that the audio quality of the Watch’s integrated speaker is nothing to get excited about and certainly not meant for enjoying music, but it’s loud and clear enough to serve as a serviceable alternative for those times when you don’t have Bluetooth headphones connected.

Software and features

While the underlying Wear OS experience is instantly recognisable on any watch that supports it, each manufacturer has a little room to add its own spin; namely through watch faces and pre-loaded apps.

In the case of the Oppo Watch, those who’ve encountered Wear OS before will feel right at home; with a swipe left for Tiles (effectively widgets, allowing for quick access to information like weather and heart rate), right for the Google Assistant, up for notifications and down for quick settings, but Oppo has also augmented Wear OS on its Watch in small but impactful ways.

The apps drawer defaults to a grid view, rather than a list view – ideal for the timepiece’s rectangular display, and most of the included Oppo apps feature dedicated tiles, justifying their inclusion in light of the Watch’s understandably low internal storage capacity.

Daily Activity shows a breakdown of steps, workout time, calories and activity sessions throughout the day, and ties into a number of Oppo’s watch face complications, as well as offering integration with Google Fit. You’ll also find an Oppo-made workouts app that can track two types of running (fitness or fat burn), outdoor walks, outdoor cycling and swimming, as well as a separate ‘5-minute workouts’ app that is broken down into entries like ‘Morning Energizer’ and ‘Bedtime Stretches’.

The Watch features stand reminders, so that when you’ve been sitting stationary for an hour it’ll prompt you to “Get Moving” and jump into a ‘5-minute workout’ routine with a single tap, while other basics and staples are covered too; such as a timer, stopwatch, world clock, dedicated heart rate app, guided breathing app and more.

Sleep tracking is also part of the experience here, with a dedicated Sleep app, tile and automated reports that provide the duration of the previous night’s sleep, as well as differentiation between awake, light and deep sleep states.

Paired with the Watch’s oddly named HeyTap Health app on your smartphone (available for both Android and iOS), you can gain additional insight, with a sleep score and a breakdown of your sleeping habits, as well as suggested changes that might prove beneficial to your long-term health.

You can press and hold on your current watch face to scroll through all of the Oppo Watch’s various alternatives, with both the Google Wear OS app and the HeyTap app supporting this functionality too (there are approximately 20 Oppo-made faces to choose from by default).

The HeyTap app goes the extra mile by letting you set a watch face that features a picture from your phone’s gallery or, more impressively, generates a series of eight new faces, coloured-matched to your outfit based on AI recognition from a photo you take of yourself from within the app.

The multifunction button defaults to Oppo’s workouts app but can be reassigned to open any app installed on the watch from within its settings menu, including Google Pay – for contactless payments – as the Oppo Watch features NFC support too.

Fitness and tracking

While Oppo has included two workout apps of its own, and the Watch supports swim-tracking and sleep tracking, I’d argue that it doesn’t have as robust fitness credentials as some other smartwatches. The native workout app only supports a total of five activities, with five additional ‘5-minute workout’ routines to choose from.

The silver lining is that Google Fit integration is on the table, which may not be the go-to option for serious athletes, but provides a far wider selection of trackable activities than Oppo’s apps natively support.

After poking around in the Watch’s settings, I also discovered integration with its in-built tracking, meaning its fitness-centric watch face complications take into account workouts logged using Google Fit (something that I didn’t think was possible at first).

While app compatibility famously isn’t great on Wear OS, there are a handful of third-party fitness apps like Strava, the Adidas running app which can also be downloaded and make use of the Oppo Watch’s hardware.

Speaking of which, along with the aforementioned sleep and step tracking, the Oppo Watch features an optical heart rate sensor for constant heart-rate monitoring and there’s integrated GPS, for phone-free route tracking and pace detection. More advanced sensors – like a pulse oximeter for SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) tracking – aren’t on the table here but such functionality can be found in rivals from the likes of Garmin and those watches that take a more fitness-first approach.

Step counts proved consistent (at least with themselves), however, heart rate readings often appeared to be lower than expected – even during intense workouts, further undermining the Watch’s fitness credentials.

There’s also the fact that you can’t dive particularly deep into the health data logged within the HeyTap application, which may also prove problematic for those considering a smartwatch that doubles as anything more robust than a basic fitness tracker.

Performance and battery

Despite a lack of innovation and development, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear chipsets continue to serve as the go-to silicon for almost all Wear OS-powered smartwatches. In the case of the Oppo Watch, it comes running on a Snapdragon Wear 3100 but, interestingly, has been paired with a separate Ambiq Micro Apollo3 Wireless SoC, which helps with power efficiency.

Add to that a generous 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, and the Oppo Watch feels like one of the slickest Wear OS smartwatches currently on the market; alongside entrants, as found within Mobvoi’s TicWatch series and Fossil’s Gen 5/5E timepieces, while also competing handily against the likes of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 in this regard.

As for longevity, alongside screen size, the two casing options also accommodate different battery capacities; with the 41mm model featuring a 300mAh cell and the 46mm variant toting a larger 430mAh power source. Quoted longevity by Oppo – when using these watches in “smart mode” – clocks in at 24 hours per charge for the 41mm model, 36 hours for the 46mm WiFi-only build and 30 hours for the cellular model.

In practice, things are not as clear-cut as this but using the smaller-capacity 41mm SKU as a baseline, in general use the Oppo Watch lasted through two days of daytime-only wear (i.e. switching it off at night) or approximately a day and a half per charge when leaving it on at night to track my sleep.

Oppo has followed Apple’s, Samsung’s and Fossil’s approach in offering up a watch that delivers a slicker, more responsive user experience over the greater longevity available on more modest wearables from the likes of Amazfit or even members of the Huawei Watch GT 2 family, which provided your comfortable charging your watch daily, shouldn’t be an issue.

There’s also the fact that the Oppo Watch boasts one of the most functional low-power modes of any smartwatch I’ve tested; still delivering notifications from your phone and able to track your heart rate, despite running on fumes. Better still, Oppo’s Watch VOOC Flash Charging means that even the larger battery in the 46mm model can be replenished in just over an hour.

Price and availability

The Oppo Watch moved outside of China following an announcement in July 2020 and hit the market in September.

Not all variants are available in all markets; for example in the UK, you can pick the 41mm model up from Oppo directly or retailers like Amazon for £229, while the 46mm WiFi-only variant isn’t available in Blighty.

If the larger Watch does grab your fancy, it is available on contract (via OneNumber) with Vodafone, so you can also benefit from its cellular functionality on plans starting at £17 a month (at the time of writing).

Verdict

For Oppo’s first attempt at a smartwatch, the Oppo Watch is something of a tour de force; boasting a premium fit and finish, two sizes, heaps of functionality, great performance and all at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

It’s clear that the company clearly wanted to make an Apple Watch equivalent for its own smartphones and in that it has clearly succeeded, even if its approach lacks originality. Moving to Wear OS is a double-edged sword but with the capable hardware at play, what the Oppo Watch delivers doesn’t feel like a second-class user experience when placed against the competition.

Specs
Oppo Watch: Specs

1.6in 320 x 360 rigid AMOLED (41mm) | 1.91in 402 x 476 flexible AMOLED (46mm)

Aluminium alloy casing

Polycarbonate back (41mm) | Polycarbonate & ceramic back (46mm)

Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC + Ambiq Micro Apollo3 Wireless SoC

1GB RAM

8GB storage

Wear OS w/ Android & iOS compatibility

HeyTap Health app & Wear OS app

Water resistant up to 3ATM (41mm) | 5ATM (46mm)

Bluetooth 4.2 + BLE

GPS

NFC

300mAh battery (41mm) | 430mAh battery (46mm)

Compatible wrist size: 125 to 185mm (41mm) | 130 to 200mm (46mm)

Weight (without straps): 30.1g (41mm), 39.3g (46mm WiFi), 40g (46mm cellular)

41.45 × 36.37 × 13mm (41mm) | 46 × 39 × 12.96mm (46mm)

Colours: Black, Pink Gold, Silver Mist (41mm) | Black/Glossy Gold (46mm)



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