OnePlus Nord Watch Review: Well-rounded Smartwatch on a Budget

OnePlus has been focusing on value-for-money devices with its sub-brand Nord. Following a series of Nord smartphones and TWS earbuds, OnePlus recently launched its budget smartwatch, the OnePlus Nord Watch, to further expand its Nord portfolio. Available for INR 4,999 (about $60), the smartwatch is targeted at first-time users and is a step towards building a Nord ecosystem. After testing the smartwatch for close to a month, we have put together some initial impressions.

Impressive display quality with a sturdy build

  • The OnePlus Nord Watch flaunts a 1.78-inch AMOLED screen with a 60Hz refresh rate.
  • The smartwatch features a zinc alloy chassis with a polycarbonate back.
  • The button on the side is used for waking the watch, accessing the menu and exiting apps.

Oneplus Nord Watch Cover Photo, Counterpoint Research

The OnePlus Nord Watch embodies a basic design, similar to those of its competitors in the segment. The build quality of the smartwatch is sturdy with the outer casing made of Zinc alloy. The back of the smartwatch is made of polycarbonate. In terms of aesthetics, the watch looks beautiful with a two-tone finish and glossy outer casing available in black and blue. The display glass is tough enough to withstand daily wear and tear. Even after about a month of usage, we saw no scratches on the display.

The watch features a large, square-shaped 1.78-inch AMOLED display, which has a crisp 368×448 resolution and solid 326PPI pixel density. The display is bright enough to make information visible even in peak sunlight as it offers 500 nits of brightness. The function of the side button is to wake the watch up or open the app drawer. The touch response of the display is smooth and offers a near lag-free experience.

Watch OS is constricted, but useful

  • Fitness modes are flexible and useful.
  • Menstrual cycle tracking is a good addition to the watch.
  • Inability to customize watch faces is a miss.
  • No Bluetooth calling is a miss.

Oneplus Nord Watch App Drawer, Counterpoint Research

The Nord Watch ships with a custom RTOS, which offers fitness tracking, menstrual cycle tracking, sleep tracking and a plethora of other useful apps. There are more than 100 sports modes to choose from, including walking, running, skipping and hiking. The step counter feature functions quite accurately, while the SpO2 sensor and heart rate tracker take a bit of time to stabilize the readings after the initial setup. The sleep tracking function offers good insights into sleep patterns, including deep sleep and light sleep.

I evaluated the OnePlus Nord Watch using two different Android phones – one from OnePlus and the other from a competing brand with similar performance and compatibility. The watch works equally well with both iOS and Android. The UI is easy to use. An upward swipe opens the latest notification and a downward swipe brings up the quick settings menu. A swipe right to left will show your sleep results, and a swipe left to right will display step counts and other health data. The watch syncs with most of the music apps available on iOS and Android, and the camera shutter app on the watch works well with all devices.

The walking and running modes activate automatically only when you perform those specific activities. Nevertheless, this is a good device for all fitness enthusiasts who include walking and running in their fitness routine. If you are using the watch without your phone, the data will only sync after connecting with the phone.

The watch has display icons for most social media apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. However, Teams, Outlook, Reddit and other apps are unavailable, which I believe can be easily fixed via a small update. The watch does not accommodate quick replies while cancelling a call (e.g. ‘Can’t talk right now’), or quick replies for social media, which would otherwise have been a great addition. 

N Health app offers a good user experience

Oneplus Nord Watch App Interface, Counterpoint Research

Users can access features such as watch faces and log data through the N Health app, which can be downloaded from Android or iOS app stores. The N Health app’s UI is minimalistic and offers easy access to health and sleep cycle analytics. The app offers more than 100 non-customizable watch faces from which up to four can be selected and stored in the smartwatch. The app displays menstrual cycle settings, SpO2 readings and heart rate readings.

During my test, the Nord Watch’s battery lasted for about eight days on a full charge at 40% brightness and minimal fitness tracking. If you crank up the brightness to 100% and use the watch more for fitness tracking, the battery lasts for about five days. The standby battery performance is great. It loses 1% when the device is not connected to your phone and 3%-4% when connected.

Oneplus Nord Watchface, Counterpoint Research

Key takeaways:

  • The OnePlus Nord Watch has a simple design with a decent set of features and accurate fitness tracking.
  • The SpO2 and sleep tracking features offer reliable analytics through the N Health app.
  • The device offers many interesting watch face options to choose from. However, the inability to customize watch faces is a big miss.
  • The watch gives the user more than 100 indoor and outdoor sports modes to choose from.
  • The app gallery on the watch offers three types of layouts. However, the default one looks quite similar to what competitors are offering.
  • The absence of a quick reply feature is a miss. The watch also does not have Bluetooth calling, which is a hot favourite feature in this price segment.
  • The lack of third-party app support, such as Strava and Spotify, is also a miss. However, most competing devices also do not offer the same at this price point. This feature is something to look forward to in future iterations.

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