OnePlus Watch Cobalt Limited Edition Review: Breeze of fresh air in an already cluttered segment

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OnePlus Watch Cobalt Limited Edition Review: Breeze of fresh air in an already cluttered segment

Smartphones, check. Smart TV, check. Fitness band, check. Smartwatch… hmmm (a 3-month wait) check. Since its first phone launch, OnePlus has not just disrupted the mid-level smartphone market but has been ruling the category. While the expectations were somewhat similar from its first smartwatch, it turned out to be a little disappointing. But it didn’t take the company long to correct what was wrong. Barely 3 months and OnePlus has managed to turn an ‘ugly duckling into a beautiful swan’.
Good Looks:
Be it a regular analogue wristwatch or a smartwatch, I always prefer a big dial. And this Cobalt Edition Watch with 46 mm circular dial is big yet nice. Some might not even like this big a dial, but OnePlus does not offer any options. OnePlus has used striking colours combination — the circular dial is done in matte gold with chrome green leather strap — which makes it look stunning. Perfecting the looks are the style watch faces. The Chrome Green and Shadowy (also have a shade of green in the background) made this watch look exquisite.

OnePlus also boasts about crafting the middle frame using cobalt alloy, which is twice as hard as stainless steel and is corrosion-resistant. And the 1.39-inch AMOLED display has specially treated sapphire glass onboard.

While the face of the watch didn’t attract any scratches, the sides did. The watch display is bright and visible under bright daylight. I believe a watch (especially a smartwatch) should always show time, and the ‘always-on display’ feature does it without draining too much battery.  

The touch navigation is supplemented with the two function keys, of which the first open the watch menu whereas the second gives quick access to workouts. The latter can be assigned to some other actions including workout records, activity, etc.
Fitness First:
Another area where the OnePlus Watch outshines is health and fitness. There are about 110 workouts that the watch supports but given the pandemic, I was only able to check a couple – indoor power walk and treadmill.
I wore Apple Watch and OnePlus watch together. However, there was a slight difference in the step count. Whereas the Apple Watch counted 8000 steps, OnePlus only showed 7,000 steps. It only forced me to walk more to clock my daily target.

But if you believe in competing step count and activity with friends, you might lose with this watch. The watch can also track various water activities such as swimming, surfing, sailboat, water polo, diving to name a few, the leather band can be swapped with a Fluoroelastomer strap bundled in the box.

Contrary to the step count, the heart rate monitoring and blood SPO2 were at par with Apple Watch readings. It measured my heart rate between 60 bpm (resting) and going up to 114 bpm (during workouts).

My blood oxygen was in the range of 98-100 per cent. The watch takes around 30 seconds to measure blood oxygen level and I had to keep my hand still with the watch dial facing upwards. It also supports sleep tracking, one of my fav features in fitness wearables. But it was impossible to sleep wearing such a heavy watch. There is a stress monitor feature onboard, which detects heart rate variability (HRV) via fluctuations. Mine varied — came out between normal, stressed, and happy. And when stressed, the breath feature onboard helped me relax with a quick one-minute session of deep breathing.
Basics done right:
An extension to the smartphone, the Cobalt edition mirrors notifications on the watch. I was able to answer the call or even dial one from the watch itself. But over the watch speaker, which I didn’t use much. Paired with my secondary phone, Android, notifications for messages and WhatsApp were pushed to the watch.

This helped me in quickly glancing through the messages, which saved my time as I didn’t pick the phone to check until it was important. However, there were only a few preset replies I could choose from. Unlike Apple Watch, there aren’t any 3rd party apps that you can download on the Watch. For instance, the WaterMinder app on Apple Watch reminds me to drink water throughout the day.

The user interface of the OnePlus Watch resembles Google Wear but OnePlus has come up with its OS for the watch. This contributes big towards the battery backup (approximately 7 days of extensive usage on a full charge) but is also to credit for the restrictive nature (app support) of the watch. It heavily relies on the OnePlus Health Watch — a clean UI that works well on Android smartphones. OnePlus had done a tremendous job with the Oxygen OS and hopefully, the company should be able to add more functionality to this one too.
The Cobalt Edition is a breeze of fresh air in an already cluttered smartwatch segment. It looks good and does the basics right. But don’t expect to match Apple Watch like support for 3rd party apps. It’s good at mirroring notifications and keeping a tab on your health.

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