OnePlus Band marks the company's foray into wearables, a move which has long been in the rumour mill. But fans expected a smartwatch, but they will now be settling for a fitness tracker until OnePlus fulfils their wish. It is possible OnePlus Band is a seat-warmer for OnePlus Watch, but it still makes its presence felt amidst the tough competition.
OnePlus has a reputation for making great products and that is going to help sell ample Bands. The company now has a product in every portfolio, fulfilling the needs of consumers. So if you have a OnePlus smartphone, its earphones (TWS or neckband Bullets), OnePlus Band will bring your personal gadget portfolio to a full circle.
If there's a question at the back of your head if OnePlus Band is really worth spending Rs 2,499, look no further. In this review, we are going to answer who the OnePlus Band is for and whether it makes sense to pick this up even if you don't any of the OnePlus product. After having spent a week with the Band, here's what we think of OnePlus' first wearable product.
OnePlus Band Design
OnePlus Band, at first glance, looks just like any other fitness tracker, but it is all in the details. We've always admired the little things OnePlus does with its products, it's like an artist signing his art. In case of the fitness tracker, OnePlus Band has an aesthetically pleasing design, which when worn feels light and comfortable.
The subtle lines on the strap look like a marathon track, something inspiring you to walk more, or better yet, run more. All those lines lead to the display, which is a tiny 1.1-inch AMOLED touch display. OnePlus even managed to put its brand on the display bezel and the watch faces are quite unique.
The pill-shaped tracker and silicone strap will give you the impression of just any other fitness tracker in the market. The tracker needs to be removed from the strap, which honestly is a bid of an inconvenience, especially since it is a weekly affair with the right settings or a matter of few days if you want to use everything the Band offers. More on that later.
The things going for OnePlus Band are the fit and quality, no compromises there. Since we couldn't swim with the tracker (COVID and all), it doesn't need to be removed for showers or in rains (yes Bengaluru still gets one of those). The display is bright enough to be used indoors and outdoors. Ask again in summer when the sun is the brightest, we'll suggest cranking up that brightness level.
Performance and tracking
OnePlus Band doesn't lack the fitness element. There's one watch face with Apple Watch-esque rings that will motivate you to get up and complete the set goals. There's a lot that OnePlus Band offers that will appeal fitness enthusiasts.
The interface is kept simple. It's all gesture-based and navigating is pretty simple – swipe up, down or from side to get everywhere. Swipe up or down to get to the main menu from where you can access all the notifications, settings and different modes. All your heart rate, SpO2, sleep, breathing exercise, weather and tools are just a swipe up/down away. The display is responsive and there were no issues accessing different menus. For a fitness tracker, the software is sufficient, but OnePlus must really get its A-game for when it launches the smartwatch. Apple Watch should be the benchmark.
Now having used the OnePlus Band regularly, the tracking was on point on most part. OnePlus Band looks good on paper, it tracks steps, distance, heart rate, calories burned, sleep and blood oxygen levels. There's integrated GPS, too if that's something you need on your runs. During the entire time we reviewed the Band (paired with OnePlus Nord), it stuck to the phone like a magnet.
Considering the price point, the accuracy of the steps is on point, so were heart rate and sleep monitoring results. We found the blood oxygen levels to serve as a fair indicator of what to expect. The Band cannot replace the pulse oximeter, but it can surely tell you when to get it checked. Since the readings were mostly at normal levels throughout, we didn't feel the need to verify. Apple Watch 6 also had pretty much similar results, so we were at ease.
All of the data was accessible on the Health App, which in all fairness could use some OnePlus magic. Looks like the idea to keep things simple was taken way too seriously at the R&D lab. On the bright side, anyone can get around without needing to going back and forth multiple screens.
There are five watch faces, you can change from app or Band (it's easier on the Band). You get various customization options within the app for things like SpO2 tracking, HR etc. Everything is divided into three tabs, health, fitness and manage.
All your health tracking data is found under health tab, which includes your heart rate, SpO2, sleep info, and the workout-related stuff can be found under Fitness tab and the Manage tab is to customize your watch to your liking. The app is snappy and didn't crash anytime, which is a good sign so far.
But the little things that made a whole lot of difference were accurate syncing, prompt notifications, thoughtful integration of stopwatch, find my phone, timer, and camera trigger. Most of these functions can be found on rival products, but it's good to see you won't be missing out on anything.
The raise-to-wake is quite accurate, so accurate that hand movements while trying to sleep can light up the darkroom. Thankfully, there's a setting where you can set when the raise to wake function works. It helps to set the brightness levels to 20 per cent since there is no ambient light sensor, which is an alternate solution if you prefer having the raise function at all times.
OnePlus Band promises 7-day battery on a single charge. This works only if you choose to let go of all tracking. But if you're a power user, who likes to know everything from SpO2 levels in the sleep to heart-rate and get detailed sleep data, things get tricky. You'll end up charging twice a week, which as we said earlier can be a bit inconvenient since the tracker needs to be removed from its strap to charge.
Surely, OnePlus Band's battery can be improved. Perhaps another software update (since there was during the review) focused solely on the Band's capability of draining the battery could be a great help to power users.
As for charging, it takes less than an hour plugged into the socket. The battery is where OnePlus usually shines, be it the smartphones or earphones, and Band is taking the fun out it.
OnePlus Band is not a bad product. It is good and has several features that are working in its favour. But OnePlus has set the bar too high for its products, and the Band feels like it lacks the "never settle" spirit. With the Band, the company might gently be placing its toe into the water to test the temperature.
If you're a OnePlus loyalist, this fitness tracker will perfectly blend with other OnePlus products. Even if you want to get OnePlus Band to pair with other Androids, you'll still be in luck. The pricing is just right for anyone to jump the bandwagon. But not iPhone users. It's as if OnePlus doesn't even want to enter into a competition with Apple with this product. There's no Health app for iOS, so no way you can use the Band with an iPhone. For now, at least.
Viewing OnePlus Band from a market perspective, the competition is quite tough. The Mi Band 5 is a real threat to OnePlus Band. It would have been great if OnePlus ended 2020 with the launch of Band and made a fresh start with OnePlus Watch if it really wanted to get an edge on the wearable front. But it sure sets the right mood for when OnePlus launches the smartwatch, provided it brings the excellence of OxygenOS to its wearables.