The OPPO Watch has design cues suspiciously reminiscent of those from a fruity company. In part, that is because its prime market loves knock-offs, and in part, because it is a unique style in the Android world.
The OPPO Watch comes in two sizes – 41mm and 46mm. Both have Wi-Fi (not LTE – China only) and have 3/5ATM water resistance. Other than that, they are functionally equivalent.
There is a lot to like. WearOS by Google, superb AMOLED screen, VOOC Flash charge, up to 36hr ‘power mode’ and 21-day ‘power saving’ mode, and an assortment of free and paid workout and health tracking apps.
We put the OPPO Watch through its paces and may have found an alternative to an Apple Watch.
Update: We revisited the OPPO Watch after nine months to see what a difference the updates to Android Wear OS and the Wear app had made. The revised review is here and reflects a 9.4/10 score (up from 8.6/10). The watch has not changed so much as the added functionality of Wear OS 2.23 and what that has done for overall hardware efficiency.
From: OPPO online (41mm or 46mm), JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Bing Lee or shop around. The LTE version is not for Australia.
Bonus: Currently includes a pair of OPPO Enco W31 Buds
Warranty: 12 months ACL
Country of Manufacture: China
OPPO (Est 2001) is a privately-owned Chinese consumer electronics and mobile communications company headquartered in Dongguan, Guangdong. It is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics Corporation (Est 1995) along with OnePlus, Vivo, and Realme (and other brands including VSun, XTC, and IMOO). Its executives and long-term staff own many of the shares. BBK is currently the second-largest smartphone maker in the world (Source CounterPoint February 2020). It is most definitely not part of the Huawei/ZTE/China spying debate.
We use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against test paradigms.
First impression – EXCEED
I admit to being a long-term Galaxy Watch and Samsung Health user. So I am going to make inevitable comparisons with the world’s largest selling watch, and OPPOs take.
I love the Samsung Galaxy rotating bezel, which is the most intuitive navigation system on a smartwatch. In my opinion, it beats Apple Watch’s crown system hands down.
This is a huge AMOLED screen. It is not a traditional round watch design. It gives maximum screen real estate.
This screen is bright (you can adjust brightness and font size – I amped it up a notch). It can display nine icons per screen. A little side/top/bottom bar shows if there are more screens.
Navigation is via swiping up, down, left or right, and it does not take long to learn what screens appear.
There are two side buttons – the top is home, and the bottom is a multi-function.
I find the strap difficult. It is a nub/stud/hole style, and it is just not as easy as a clasp. I give this band a big FAIL.
Setup – PASS with caveats
Pairing is painless. Download Google Wear OS and pair the Watch. You are subject to Google’s privacy provisions that you have already agreed to as you use a Google Android smartphone.
OPPO requires you to set up a cloud account and accept its terms. Your data is backed up to its cloud. OPPO states, “Access to personal data and security will strictly not be processed without user’s authorisation.” I trust OPPO.
Next, it says to download HeyTap, the app that OPPO supplies free for health monitoring. HeyTap is one of many apps you can use with Google Wear OS, so you don’t have to use it.
Its policy states
Acceptance enables HeyTap to push or notification services of HeyTap Products or third-party content, including Lock Screen Magazine, Quick App, app update and installation, sales, and promotion information, etc. If you no longer wish to receive push notifications, you may opt-out at any time by adjusting the settings on your device. Without consent of users, we will not provide third parties with users’ personal information and behaviour data.
I uninstalled the app at the end of the review – Google Fit is fine.
Wear OS – PASS+
Just like Android for your phone, TV or car, this is for wearables. It supports Google Assistant, Google apps like Pay, Calendar, Mail, Phone, Messaging, and Maps. It has a huge range of third-party apps too.
On the health front it has Google Fit, Runtastic, Lifesum, Strava and more.
For entertainment, it has Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.
Wear OS watch brands include OPPO, Hublot, Montblanc, Diesel, TAG Heuer, Skagen, SUUNTO, Moto, Puma, Mobvoi, Misfit, Emporio Armani, Fossil, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton and Polar.
You can browse the Wear OS app store here. My comment is that there are few watch faces for this format in comparison to Samsung’s Watch.
Android Wear’s iOS version was doomed by Apple’s refusal to integrate Apple notifications into it. Fortunately, the newer user reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
The reviews still indicate issues with the iPhone (don’t go there!). In part, the poor initial reviews were due to it having to support so many brands and models – just as Android does for smartphones. Apple and Samsung only have to support a handful of their models.
My take – OPPO and Google work closely on Android so expect the OPPO watch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC to be a good implementation.
HeyTap versus Google Fit (both free) PASSable
HeyTap records continuous heart rate (beats per minute), sleep, workouts (running, walking, workout, cycling and swimming). It gives you a readout of distance walked, calories burnt and a percentage of the goal. It has a GPS tracker to integrate with Maps.
Google Fit is very similar, and frankly, it is what I would recommend.
But if you want a fully-featured free health app Samsung Health exclusively for Samsung Galaxy Watch users is the class-leader.
Battery life – PASS but needs tweaking
On the first day, everything enabled it used about 4-5% per hour and got about 20 hours. On days 2-5 I managed to get a little more. It all depends on use.
OPPO claims a 30% charge in 15 minutes. We hit 40% in that time, and a full charge takes about 1.25 hrs. BTW – it is not wireless charge but uses a magnetic ‘stand’ to hold it in place over four pogo pins.
But I felt you would get a kick out of OPPO’s disclosure
Use times for OPPO Watch products are based on OPPO laboratory tests under typical battery use model. Actual battery life may vary according to factors such as network environment, functions used, frequency of use.
16 hours under typical use model is used as the standard for a full day of watch use. The aforementioned use time applies to the OPPO Watch 46mm Wi-Fi version only. This data originates from OPPO laboratory tests conducted based on a model of typical battery use, in which the Watch retains default factory settings, is paired with a smartphone, and experiences normal Bluetooth connection;
Bluetooth connection is maintained for 14 hours; Wi-Fi is used for 2 hours; GPS is enabled with the screen off during outdoor exercise for 45 minutes; the user lifts their wrist to turn on the screen 120 times; Google Assistant is used 5 times for 20 seconds each time; 240 messages with display notifications and vibration alerts are received; 200 messages without notifications are received; the screen is turned on and operations are performed 24 times for 20 seconds each time; 5 minutes are spent on calls from a Bluetooth-paired device; heart rate is checked 8 times for 30 seconds each time; background heart rate monitoring remains on, and sleep monitoring is used for 8 hours.
Actual use time may vary depending on smartphone data synchronisation, watch settings, app versions, third-party app use, and other factors.
Power save mode – PASS but not tested
In Power Saver mode, you can check the time, track your steps, and monitor your heart rate. It turns off Wi-Fi, BT and GPS and dims the screen.
And the secret is that it runs a proprietary OS on the secondary Ambiq Micro Apollo3 SoC. So, in this mode, it is not a Wear OS device. To switch requires a reboot of the device, so we expect few to use this feature.
A-GPS – Pass
It relies heavily on the phone to get A-GPS co-ordinates. On a cloudy day with Watch out of BT paring range, it took over five minutes to get a signal. This is not unusual for any wearable.
In accuracy terms, it shows slightly fewer steps (pedometer) than the Samsung Galaxy Watch, but the A-GPS is as accurate.
Swimming – PASS with caveats
‘3 or 5 ATM (30-50M)’. The moment you see ‘ATM’, you assume its capable of use as a diving watch. It is not. Again, the disclosure says it all
OPPO Watch can be worn while swimming in a pool or doing shallow open-water activities but is not suitable for snorkelling, hot showers, hot springs, saunas, diving, scuba diving, surfing, or other water activities in which the device may come in contact with high-pressure water flow.
OPPO later state that the 41mm is not suitable for showering or swimming. The 46mm will withstand short periods of water immersion, such as light swimming. Not suitable for snorkelling or diving.
Continuous Heart rate – PASS
No optical heart rate sensor is accurate. The key is the consistency of the measurement device. Next time you visit your GP for a check-up compare the resting heart rate with its measurement so you can mentally adjust the rate.
Sleep Tracking – PASS
For reasons unknown it only tracks between 8 PM and 10 AM. It gives awake, light and deep sleep times.
Google Pay – PASS
The one thing it can do over the Samsung watches is use Google Pay NFC PayWave.
Screen responsiveness – EXCEED
I experienced no unresponsive behaviour. The wrist wake is excellent.
Watch Faces – FAIL
The 13 watch faces focus more on art than usability. For example, none give you battery percentage and only two show weather. OPPO will need to do better here as Samsung has done for its Tizen store.
Now there are many faces on Wear OS, but it’s hard to find them. And in true Google style, some have ads, many are for purchase and very few fit the rectangular face. OPPO should get a curated list together.
Speaker and phone – PASS
No watch speaker has any sound fidelity. It is a transducer with a narrow focus on clear voice frequency response.
The single mic lacks any noise-cancelling, so it is not great for calls. To hail OK Google, you can set it for OK Google detection or touch the Google app icon and press the microphone button so it is not constantly listening.
Notifications – PASS+
Because the BT connection is constant (not LE or polled) notifications are instant with the smartphone. And so too are deletions or responses.
You can dictate a message, draw an emoji or pick from suggested responses. There is a mini keyboard that is just ‘usable’.
Spotify – PASS
it has a few GB free to store music but the main use of the Spotify client is to access playlists on your phone. You can pair a set of BT buds with this as well.
What is won’t do (in comparison to Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch)
E-Compass (has a geomagnetic sensor)
ECG (and that is not available here at the moment either)
GadgetGuy’s take – The Apple Watch for Android
OPPO has never shied from giving its users what they want. An Apple knock-off it what they want.
Overall, the hardware – apart from the awful band – is very good. Day-long battery life, brilliant screen and a flawless Gear OS implementation.
OPPO needs to address the lack of watch faces. And the privacy terms of HeyTap are a bit overwhelming for paranoid Aussie users (use Google Fit instead, but it provides good basic software.
The power-saving mode and the claim of 3 or 5 ATM smell of desperation to stand out in a crowded market place.
For me – it’s a very nice smartwatch that is a challenger to both Apple and Samsung.
And the Chinese version
The OPPO Watch is a perfect Android Wear OS watch with a full suite of sensors and great Android Wear fitness and health tracking apps.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Build – premium
Display – terrific
Comfort – all-day
Water-resistant – not a diver’s Watch
That watch band is almost enough reason not to buy it
One-day battery - you probably will never use power-saving mode