So OnePlus has finally got into the wearables segment. And well, it has made a pretty good fist of it as well. The OnePlus Band arrives in a very crowded market, with its own set of smarts and a typically minimalistic interface as well as a very competitive price.
Mind you, it does so in a manner that is surprisingly understated. OnePlus rattled a lot of the competition with its very different phones and audio products. With fitness bands, however, it seems to have taken the path most traveled. The OnePlus Band with its capsule-fitting-into-a-strap design is not going to stand out from the general fitness brand crowd in terms of design. At slightly more than 20 grams in weight, it will sit easily on most wrists, and is comfortable to wear. It is also pretty resilient and comes with 5 ATM water resistance, which means you can wear it in a pool.
The capsule has a 1.1-inch AMOLED display which is reasonably bright and visible in sunlight as well. It fits snugly into the wrist band (you get one with the box), but there is a slight catch – you have to extract the capsule again to charge it, as the charger is a cradle type of charger, into which the capsule needs to fit completely. Of course, you will not be doing the charging very often given the battery life of this device, but it would have been nice to have the option of charging it without removing it (as in the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5).
The OnePlus Band comes with the usual array of sensors and features including step counters, heart rate monitors, sleeping analysis, workout tracking, and also brings blood Oxygen monitoring to the table – something that is a rarity in fitness bands but is actually much in demand as a dipping blood Oxygen level is seen as a COVID symptom. And of course, it lets you get messaging, social networking, mail and call notifications as well, and even lets you see incoming calls and take pictures from the paired phone.
A very smooth operator
The OnePlus Band delivers quite a good debut performance. The band pairs with your phone using the OnePlus Health app, which at the time of writing, seems to be an Android-only affair, with no iOS app. We paired it with the OnePlus 8T and the process was a smooth one.
And “smooth” is a good way to describe the performance of the OnePlus Band. The display is colorful and bright and the touch interface works very well, once you get used to it. Yes, the raise-to-wake functionality is a little erratic and we ended up tapping the display sometimes to see the reading but it should not be a deal-breaker, really. The heart rate and step counts were generally very close to accurate, although the blood Oxygen seemed to be a little high when compared to our readings from the Oximeter (we got a few 100 percent readings, which is rare). Another area where a little work is needed is the sleep tracker which on one occasion, failed to notice when we had dropped off and credited us with about two hours of sleep, which is really low even by our light-sleeping standards.
That said, workouts and runs were tracked with a fair amount of correctness. Of course, thanks to the pandemic, we could not see how it tracked cricket and badminton, but given its performance in other areas, we are sure it would do a good job. And one area that we really liked was how smoothly and briskly the band handled notifications from the connected phone. In this department, we would rank this as one of the better smart bands out there. The music controls were just a little laggy at times, but for the most part, things worked very smoothly indeed.
Battery life is supposed to be in the vicinity of two weeks, but we think it will be lower if you turn on constant heart tracking, and will take a further hit if you do the same for blood oxygen measurements. That said, you should be easily able to get through a week of constant use, with notification buzzing, which is very good when you consider the number of features the band comes with.
A few eccentricities
There are few rough edges on the OnePlus Band, though. Perhaps the most obvious one is the band’s insistence from time to time that you wear it more tightly when you try to measure your heart rate or blood oxygen level. This is a little odd because the band is taking readings in the background at the same level of “band tightness.” Then there is the whole interface. OnePlus has gone with its usual slightly minimalistic and clean approach here. And while we are sure that its fans will like that approach, the fact that other bands tend to be more colorful and feature-rich might make some people find this a little too…well, basic. We would have in particular liked better watch faces and more detail in the application on the phone – sleep analysis, for instance, seemed laden with too much text and not enough data.
One thing that the band misses, however, is women’s menstrual cycle tracking, a feature that is appearing on fitness bands (most notably the Mi Smart Band 5). Some might also look for a customized stress tracking mechanism as seen on the Xiaomi Smart Band 5, but we do not think that is quite as important.
But quite a Settled Start!
All in all, the OnePlus Band is a solid and very settled (we get the irony, but still!) start for the brand in the fitness category. Its regular looks, generally reliable performance, and very good battery life, combined with a super competitive price of Rs 2,499, could well give it an edge over a competition that is generally scattered and a little erratic. And well, this being a OnePlus product, there is every chance that performance will get a boost with updates.
So the big question of course is whether the OnePlus Band does enough to unsettle (pun SO intended) the current favorite in the budget fitness band segment, the Mi Smart Band 5, which comes with a similar price tag and a very similar feature set? Well, after our experience with the device, we would say that the answer would depend on how much you value the blood oxygen measurement on one side and stress measurement and women’s cycle tracking on the other. If you value the former and a very good notification system, the OnePlus Band is a great option. It is not as unsettling as its phone avatar, but the OnePlus Band has the tunes to rock your fitness world!
- Blood oxygen monitoring
- Steady performance
- Support for tracking cricket and badminton
- Great at notifications
- No menstrual cycle tracking
- Some functionality is erratic
- Has to be taken out of the band to be charged
|Looks & Design||
|Ease of use||
The OnePlus Band is the brand's first fitness wearable product. Unlike its phone debut, OnePlus' wearable debut does not attempt to redefine the segment but sticks to fundamentals. The OnePlus Band takes on the similarly priced Mi Smart Band 5, bringing a blood Oxygen sensor to the fitness band fight.