OnePlus Band Review: A Worthy First Attempt
There have been rumors for some time that OnePlus is working to release a smartwatch. It was a rumor that dominated a good part of 2020, finally shutting down when it was leaked that the clock would be delayed. We are now in 2021 and our OnePlus band is launching. The watch we expect is not perfect, but certainly an interesting product. Why do we call it interesting? Read on to find out.
OnePlus band build and design
When you find yourself with the OnePlus band, there is a feeling of familiarity with it and then there is something that sets it apart from the likes of Mi Smart Band 5 and others. The OnePlus band’s original silicone band has a nice ribbed finish and dual-tone color treatment. It is gray on the bottom and black on the top. You can get yours in a gray-orange color or plain blue. The band has no physical buttons for navigation and such, but the 1.1 ”AMOLED panel offers a completely touch-sensitive area, allowing you to navigate the band and its functions by swiping and tapping. Charging is done by removing the core from the silicone strap and placing it on a dedicated charger. Really, for bands, there really isn’t a perfect charging solution. A built-in USB port won’t make much sense due to water and dust resistance concerns, so we’re stuck with an incomplete charging solution for now. What I found a little annoying is the hug. To fit properly around the wrist, you will need someone to hold your band in place, so that it does not move when you pull the strap to tie it. It’s not a perfect process, but it’s neat.
OnePlus band fitness tracking
The OnePlus band offers 13 activities that it can track, including the most common suspects such as running, cycling, swimming, yoga and more. There’s a built-in SpO2 sensor to offer more detailed statistics about the workouts you do, where a heart-rate monitor picks up your heart rate as you exit it. I used the band to track a few evening walking and cycling sessions and came to the conclusion that for the walk, the number of steps was reasonably accurate, and the heart rate data were consistent with the data picked by Apple Watch Series 6. While cycling, the band provides your heart-rate data, and if you take your phone with you, you’ll also get GPS data. The net result is that the Health app gives you your burn calories and heart-rate metrics. If you go riding without your smartphone, you’ll lose GPS-based data because the OnePlus band doesn’t come with on-board GPS sensors.
OnePlus band slip tracking
OnePlus also offers band slip tracking and is capable of delivering quality deep sleep data, thanks to heart-rate and SpO2 sensors. Surprisingly, the OnePlus band, in my experience, was fairly spot on in terms of sleep duration. My sleep duration in the OnePlus band was accurate to 15 minutes, although there is no way to verify my sleep level data.
Smart features and OnePlus health app
While the OnePlus band does not require a OnePlus smartphone, it does require pairing and working with the OnePlus Health app. Pairing and setting up the band is extremely easy and fast, and we didn’t have any problems there. The Health app, however, is not the most intuitive app for managing health data we’ve seen out there. The logic of looking at detailed statistics is applied in different sections (sleep vs. daily action or daily action vs. workout). The “Daily Activity” tab shows you a 7-day calendar that starts on Monday, with the remaining 6 days being the next 6 days. It was completely ruined real estate, and ideally should have followed the login showing today and the previous 6 days. That way, you’ll have access to a week’s worth of fitness data at a glance. We do not see the point of having so much of a single tab dedicated to showing any information. I do not understand it. Additionally, you won’t see details of your past workouts in the Daily Activity tab. No related heart-rate data is available in this part of the app. Step counts are available through a different part of the main screen, but will only show you the total number of steps taken per week / month / year, the daily breakdown will only be shown as a graph.
The OnePlus Health app is definitely clean, but it still needs a lot of refinement. Ideally, all the data for a particular workout should be found in one place in one detail and should not be broken down into three separate sections.
OnePlus band battery life
Now that the OnePlus band claims 14-day battery life, one can expect to see how it offers very bare-sister sensors and limited smart capabilities. You get notifications from bands, but you can’t do much with them. Since there’s no GPS on board, you won’t suddenly see a significant amount of band battery drained, which is what happens with other wearable devices that come with onboard GPS. It’s been 4 days since I last charged the band at 100 percent, and it’s already at 45 percent I’m not so sure that the band will be able to be honest at this rate in 14 days, but fortunately, charging the band back up rarely takes much time.
OnePlus Band vs Mi Smart Band 5
OnePlus band’s closest competition is posed by Mi Smart Band 5. The latter has gone through various refinements and iterations in both software and hardware. The OnePlus band, by comparison, does not offer stress-tracking, a feature you’ll find in the Mi Smart Band 5. The build quality is felt better in the OnePlus band, which also provides more accurate sleep tracking. Mi Smart Band 5 As we mentioned in our review, the test had very unreliable sleep tracking capabilities.
Should You Buy OnePlus Band?
The OnePlus band certainly looks better than the others in this segment. It is a band that offers a minimal but thoughtful feature set. It certainly lacks some things. The OnePlus Health app is not as polished as the Mi Fit app or the Xiaomi Wear app. The OnePlus band also lacks the stress tracking feature, which is strange because it has all the right sensors. I believe that OnePlus has the engineering chop to further refine app and band software. While the experience isn’t bad out of the box, the OnePlus band feels like a first-generation device that takes some time to get better.