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Wearables

OnePlus smartwatch won’t run Wear OS, and I’m excited about it!

By Nadeem Sarwar March 17, 2021, 1:45 pm
OnePlus Watch

Earlier today, some key details about the upcoming OnePlus smartwatch surfaced online prior to its March 23rd debut. Among them was the mention of up to a week’s worth of battery life with just 20 minutes of charging. With such high battery longevity figures, we were skeptical about the watch running Wear OS, since devices powered by Google’s smartwatch OS barely longer than a couple of days. Well, none other than OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has now confirmed that the company’s first smartwatch won’t run Wear OS. Here’s what Lau wrote on the official OnePlus forum:

The OnePlus smartwatch will run custom software based on RTOS

In case you’re wondering, RTOS stands for Real-Time Operating System. Or in simple terms, it is the proprietary software developed by a company to run on wearable devices, while allowing limited interaction with third-party apps. For example, you will see incoming message alerts, but actionable notifications might not be possible. The best example is the smartwatches offered by the likes of Xiaomi, HUAWEI, and Honor among other brands. And now, OnePlus is going to join that list. 

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OnePlus’ official teasers have confirmed that the upcoming smartwatch will have a round dial. Lau, on the other hand, has also confirmed that the wearable device will offer seamless connectivity with the company’s entire portfolio of devices (phones, audio wearables, and even its smart TVs). Leaks have predicted features such as automatic workout detection, sleep tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, stress detection, and blood oxygen level measurement as well.

Ditching Wear OS will play in OnePlus’ favor

In my experience, smartwatches running custom software based on RTOS tend to be less power-hungry, which means they can run on a low-end processor and can last up to a few weeks on a single charge. And oh, they tend to much cheaper than their Wear OS running counterparts. Take for example the Moto 360 and Mobvoi’s TicWatch series smartwatches that barely make it past a couple of days worth of usage. OnePlus apparently wanted to avoid those red flags. 

Even though they offer wider app support and deeper integration with Google’s Android ecosystem, their battery life woes and sluggishness over time have proved to be a major hurdle for the Wear OS smartwatch ecosystem. Interestingly, OnePlus originally shelved plans for its smartwatch years ago due to the experience offered by Wear OS not living up to the company’s desired standards. 


OnePlus Watch leak tips a week’s battery in 20 minutes charge, 4GB storage and more

Ditching Wear OS allows cheaper innards, and overall, a more affordable smartwatch

And by reducing the hardware requirements of WearOS, especially if you’re targeting a fluid experience in the long run, OnePlus has avoided using expensive internals. And this would mean the company can price its smartwatch competitively and might be able to one-up the competition from other Chinese brands by adding some extras and offering a design that stands out from the crowd.

OnePlus smartwatch
OnePlus smartwatch schematics (Image: DPMA)

Lau has promised that the OnePlus smartwatch will offer ‘a best-in-class experience at an affordable price point’ and it is quite likely that the company will achieve that goal by not siding with Wear OS. From a customer’s perspective, I am optimistic about OnePlus’ decision, and eagerly looking forward to what the OnePlus smartwatch brings to the table and seeing how it stands out from the competition.

For now, the leaks have me excited. The OnePlus smartwatch will reportedly arrive in a 46mm model with two color options to choose from – silver and black. The build will be IP68-certified, which means you can take it for a swim too. And oh, the device will reportedly offer a dedicated swim mode too. Regarding the seamless connectivity part mentioned above, you will reportedly be able to control your OnePlus TV with the smartwatch. OnePlus is also bringing the proprietary Warp Charge fast charging tech to the game as well.

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