Oppo Watch review: A masterclass in imitation

Oppo Watch
  • Oppo Watch
  • Oppo Watch
  • Oppo Watch
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Smooth software
  • Gorgeous display

Cons

  • Price is a little high
  • Proprietary charger
  • No eSIM
  • Lacks originality

Bottom Line

As close to an 'Apple Watch that works with Android' as you can get.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 449.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Oppo Watch?

The Oppo Watch isn’t especially unique in that it tries to emulate what works about the Apple Watch.

For as long as Apple have dominated the category, the world's most popular watch has inspired pretenders. However, the Oppo Watch is distinguished by just how close it gets to the high bar that Apple have set and upheld. The build-quality and form factor here are a delight, the software is snappy and the fast-charging keeps the fun going for long enough that you don’t have to worry about running out of juice. If you’ve been enviously gazing across the OS divide at the Apple Watch for years now and have found other Android-friendly smartwatches wanting, this is probably the wearable you’ve been waiting for.

Price when reviewed

Right now, the Oppo Watch is available in two sizes and priced at AU$449 (41mm) and AU$549 (44mm) respectively.

Credit: Oppo

Oppo Watch full review

Price

In Australia, pricing for Oppo’s first smartwatch starts at AU$449. The Oppo Watch is available through OPPO, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Kogan, Bing Lee, MobileCiti and Amazon.

Design & Display

When it comes to looks, the Oppo Watch follows in the footsteps of the Xiaomi Watch and the Amazfit GTS. Screen ratios aside, it's a dead-ringer for Apple's own premium wearable with a sleek 1.9-inch OLED display sitting at the center of the action. Compared to the other Apple Watch imitators on the market, it does a much better job of selling you on how premium it is in look and feel. The feel-factor here isn’t quite on par with Apple’s flagship but it gets a hell of a lot closer than stuff like the Fitbit Versa.

There are two navigation buttons hanging on the right-hand side of the Oppo Watch’s display. These are reasonably tactile to rely on but the control scheme involved isn’t always as intuitive as you’d like.

Credit: Oppo

The top-most input acts as a ‘Home’ button. Its counterpart is a shortcut to the Workout menu. The functionality here can be customised but for the most part,you’ll be using the touch screen – and that’s good thing. The Oppo Watch feels really responsive to interact with.

While the Chinese version of the watch ran on a modified version of Android, the international version of the device has been roped into the WearOS roster, there’s a decent number of third party apps available for it and it integrates really neatly with stuff like the Google Assistant. Not as nicely as the Apple Watch integrates with iOS but this is definitely an area where the Oppo Watch has the edge on a lot of the competition.

As far as durability goes, the 44mm Oppo Watch is water resistant up to 50 meters and the 41mm Oppo Watch is good for up to 30. Taking the wearable on a recent trip to the beach, I encountered zero problems. Less can be said for the screen itself, which, despite the Gorilla Glass 3 involved, I found to be fairly susceptible to scratches. If you're looking to drop the cash, I'd strongly recommend trying to track down some sort of screen protector.

Under the hood, the Oppo Watch relies on a nifty dual-chipset processor that swaps between a more powerful Snapdragon chip and a less-powerful Apollo chip depending on what you’re doing. The net result of this is that, according to Oppo, you can get around 36 hours of regular usage from a single charge or 21 days of usage when the wearable is set to Power Saver mode. In reality, I struggled to hit a full 36 hours of regular usage but could comfortably get through a long day, wear the Oppo Watch overnight and then charge it back up over coffee in the morning. It’s not exactly an MVP for battery life but its more than generous enough to work with.

I’m not thrilled that the Oppo Watch uses a proprietary cradle charger but, at this point, that’s less of a problem with it and more of smartwatches as a whole. Yes, there are definitely advantages to this approach but it’s hard not to think about the long term issues. It's yet another charger you have to remember to take with you when you travel and, if you lose it, it’s probably not as simple to replace.

In line with their smartphone devices, Oppo are playing up fast charging as a point of difference over established players like Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin. Oppo say you'll be able to go from zero to 46% charge in just fifteen minutes. A full charge takes seventy-five. This helps offset some of my earlier complaints, since you’re never really leaving the Oppo Watch attached to its charger for particularly long stretches of time.

Credit: Oppo

Features & Performance

As far as featuresets go, the Oppo Watch isn’t especially original but it is comprehensive.

Running through the list, all the classics can be counted on. It’s got a heart-rate sensor. It’s got built-in GPS. It’s got sleep tracking. It’s got notifications for connected Android devices and plays nice with the Google Assistant. It’s supports mobile payments via Google Pay. Out of the box, it supports five basic workouts: Fitness Run, Fat Burn Run, Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Cycling and Swimming. However, if you connect it Google Fit, you get a few dozen more options to choose from, including more eclectic stuff like paragliding, snowboarding and weightlifting.

The fact that the Oppo Watch integrates as nicely with the wider Google-verse is one of the key reasons I’d lean towards recommending it over most other Android-friendly smartwatches. As far as interfaces go, the moment to moment experience of using the Oppo Watch reminds me a lot of what Oppo have tried to do with Color OS. It’s about fusing the ease of use of Apple with the freedom of Android. The Oppo Watch juggles these two values with grace for the most part.

Credit: Oppo

The Oppo Watch also supports music playback via the WearOS Spotify app, though this is limited to controlling your connected smartphone rather than fully fledged on-device. Since the device itself doesn't have eSIM, that's not a huge issue but it is illustrative of a larger shortcoming.

The Oppo Watch is stellar at imitating basically everything people like about the Apple Watch but it inevitably lacks in originality. It doesn’t bring much in the way of its own spin on the formula. For a first attempt at jumping into the smartwatch market, that’s probably fine but I found myself hoping that future Oppo Watches are a little more ambitious.

The Bottom Line

Back in 2018, I predicted that "Priced correctly, an Oppo smartwatch could be just as resonant when it comes to value in the same way as the brand's smartphones are. It’s not so much about having the cheapest hardware as it is about having cheaper hardware that’s almost-just-as-good as the market leader."

The final product here is a little pricier than I’d like but, otherwise, one of the best 'first attempts' at a smartwatch I’ve ever seen. The Oppo Watch sits a hundred or so dollars below Apple’s latest smartwatch, a couple hundred dollars off thrifty fare like the Fitbit Versa or Amazfit and more-or-less in line with the rest of the premium Android smartwatch niche. What I’m trying to say here is that, when it comes to the RRP, the Oppo Watch doesn’t feel like a tremendous bargain but it does feel like it sits about where you’d expect.

If you're able to stomach the premium price and unswayed by circular screens or Fitbit’s promises of longer battery life, the Oppo Watch is hands-down the best substitute for the Apple Watch out there. When you come down to it, it's as close to an 'Apple Watch that works with Android' as you can get.

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