The OnePlus Nord Watch is the brand’s first entry-level smartwatch in the Nord series. OnePlus Nord smartphones are typically budget to mid-range devices, so it’s no shocker to see an entry-level OnePlus smartwatch from the Nord ecosystem. We have plenty of choice in the sub-Rs. 5,000 smartwatch segment in India, both from local and Chinese companies, so what makes the Nord Watch special, and is it worth the asking price? Let’s find out.
OnePlus Nord Watch price, design, and specifications
The OnePlus Nord Watch is available at Rs. 4,999 and comes in two finishes – Midnight Black and Deep Blue. I received the Midnight Black variant for review which ironically has a deep shade of blue when seen at certain angles. It comes paired with black silicon strap, and a black stainless steel pin and buckle for fastening. The IP68-rated watch case of the Nord Watch is similar in size when placed alongside a 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 (Review).
The case of the OnePlus Nord Watch is made from zinc alloy which makes it quite light at 35.6g, and weighs 52.4g with the watch straps on. The case has a rounded appearance and skinny lugs which hold the replaceable silicon strap in place. Its mirror-like finish catches fingerprints easily but the display glass, which is flat, does a good job of rejecting them. The back the case (underside) is made of polycarbonate and has all the necessary sensors in place along with two contact points for the magnetic charger. On the right there’s one button which is also made of metal but its functionality is limited to opening the app menu. A second press of the button from the app menu takes you back to the watch face.
OnePlus does not sell the Nord Watch’s 20mm straps separately, so you will have to replace them with any third-party ones if and when they get damaged. The straps are made from a hypoallergenic material which feels soft and is quite comfortable for all-day use.
The 1.78-inch AMOLED display (368 x 448 pixels) on the OnePlus Nord Watch has thick bezels, although these are barely noticeable thanks to the deep blacks produced by the display and the software interface, which has black backgrounds. The device has no mic or speakers, so there’s no Bluetooth calling functionality. This also means that all interface-related alerts (alarms, notifications, etc) work using nudges from the vibration motor.
The watch packs an optical heart rate and blood-oxygen sensors, and a 3-axis accelerometer for tracking health and fitness. Connectivity is limited to Bluetooth 5.2 and the watch does not have a built-in GPS receiver either. The Nord Watch comes with 256MB of storage (none of which is accessible to the user), and has a 230mAh battery.
OnePlus Nord Watch software, performance, and battery life
The OnePlus Nord Watch runs a customised version of RTOS which is very light and runs fluidly most of the time, only with a few random instances of lag. The interface is as basic as it gets. Swiping left or right from the watch face shows widgets for the various preinstalled apps such as Sleep, SpO2, Stress, etc. A swipe upwards from the watch face shows unread notifications in a list view, and a swipe down reveals the quick toggles. A swipe to the right take you back to the app menu. There are a handful of preinstalled apps and they all show the relevant data that you’d expect. There is no app store or access to third-party apps though, so the Nord Watch mostly ends up being the equivalent of a fitness band and not a real smartwatch.
What I did not like about the interface of the OnePlus Nord Watch is the manner in which the notifications are displayed. Save for the basic apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram, the watch will not display app icons for individual notifications, which makes it extremely difficult to identify whether the alert is an email (from Gmail) or a message from Slack. The notifications themselves are also truncated, so it’s not possible to read long messages (or forwards) directly on the watch.
The OnePlus Nord Watch works well when paired with the N Health app which is available for both iOS and Android platforms. The setup process is quick and simple, and it asks for most permissions in one go on iOS. On Android, this requires a few extra steps (to enable notifications, incoming calls and auto-health tracking features), which wasn’t a hassle.
The Android version of the app also has a ‘Background permissions’ settings section which provides instructions on how to keep the app running in the background. This was a bit difficult to set up as the Settings app usually looks different across smartphone brands. I used the Nord Watch with Google’s Pixel 7 and faced no issues post setup. During the entire review period I experienced no additional battery drain on the smartphone because of the app either, which was good.
The N Health app is designed well with a well-spaced out interface and minimal clutter, which is good to have. It makes the app easy to use when paired with both iOS and Android smartphones. The app has three sections – Home, Exercise and Me. Home gets you a neatly laid-out preview of all activities and health readings. Exercise lets you start an outdoor workout (with GPS tracking using a connected smartphone), and the Me tab lets you change and access the settings of the app and the connected watch. Despite being fairly easy to set up and use, I did encounter a bug where the alarm did not let me set the time using a 12-hour clock, even though the watch was set to it.
Coming to tracking performance of the OnePlus Nord Watch, the results were a mixed bag. As mentioned above, the watch does not have a GPS module. This only lets it track fitness-related data (using the onboard sensors) during an outdoor workout. Carrying your smartphone along when running or walking outdoors adds GPS tracking to the mix and gets you accurate GPS tracking, but for this to work, I had to start the workout from the N Health app and not the watch.
As for health tracking, heart rate monitoring was quite accurate when compared to a pulse oximeter, but the SpO2 tracking kept fluctuating and was not stable. Step tracking was spot-on when I counted to a 1,000 steps, and the fitness tracking data came close to the Apple Watch Series 8. Sleep tracking was also quite accurate but was limited to preset hours (post 6PM only), meaning it did not track short naps.
Being more of a fitness band than a watch, battery life of the OnePlus Nord Watch was quite good. I managed to use it for an entire week with all the health-tracking features enabled, notifications, and fitness tracking for short outdoor walks every day. The watch takes about 1hour, 45 minutes to fully charge.
The OnePlus Nord Watch is a good first attempt at diversifying the ecosystem of products in the Nord series. While the Nord branding was earlier limited to just smartphones, it now includes wireless earphones, and finally, a smartwatch. The Nord Watch works like it’s supposed to but is clearly not meant for serious smartwatch users as it lacks an app ecosystem and its software is quite basic. It feels more like a fitness band in the shape of a smartwatch and for some users, this may be well be enough. For those who expect more features at this price, there’s the Realme Watch 3 which has built-in-GPS, a speaker and mic for Bluetooth calling and a bigger battery, but lacks an IP rating.