OnePlus snubs Google’s Wear OS, announces $159 smartwatch

OnePlus is launching a smartwatch. OnePlus announced the OnePlus Watch today, and despite being a longtime Android OEM, the company isn’t using Google’s Android-based Wear OS. Like Garmin and Fitbit (pre-Google), the company is striking off on its own and shipping an in-house OS on the watch. The OnePlus Watch is only $159, so it’s very much a budget option.

OnePlus has announced the watch, but it’s still being cagey about the spec sheet. We don’t know what the SoC is, even after asking, but the lack of information suggests it’s not something the company wants to brag about. The body of the watch is a huge 46×10.9 mm, so there’s definitely room in there for an old Snapdragon Wear SoC. The display is a 1.39-inch, 454×454 OLED. There’s 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 402 mAh battery. The watch has GPS, Bluetooth, an optical heart rate monitor, and an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

The body is stainless steel with a glass top, and the bands are easily swappable. OnePlus says the battery will last anywhere from 25 hours (with GPS on) to 14 days, depending on which features you use. There’s a “Warp charge” pogo charger, and OnePlus says you’ll get a week’s usage (so 50 percent?) after 20 minutes of charging.

Seeing OnePlus skip Wear OS is totally understandable, but it shows how badly Google (and Qualcomm) has bungled launching a smartwatch platform. Wear OS has been nearly abandoned by Google, with the last major OS update coming in 2018 and many of the company’s newer services ignoring the OS. Google Music is dead, and there’s still no YouTube Music client for Wear OS. Google Chat doesn’t have a client yet even though Hangouts is dying, and recently the company stripped Google Fit workout detection from the OS.

Not using Wear OS means the watch won’t have an app store or an open third-party app ecosystem, and you’ll be stuck with whatever features OnePlus has developed. We couldn’t get any answers about the lineage of the operating system; OnePlus just calls it “OnePlus Watch OS” and says it’s a real-time OS. OnePlus says the watch has a ton of workout modes, local music playback over Bluetooth, the ability to take phone calls over the built-in microphone and speaker, and sleep and heart rate tracking.

The OnePlus Watch requires a phone with Android 6.0 and up and will mirror notifications over Android’s wearables notification API, so you can view, archive, and reply to emails, view and reply to messages, and see a lot of other information from your phone. The video also mentions a “parkour mode” and the ability to control the India-exclusive OnePlus TV (literally a OnePlus-branded, 55-inch flat-screen TV).

The OnePlus Watch will be available on April 14.

Listing image by OnePlus