OnePlus Smartwatch Battery Boost After Reflective Pause

It’s 2024. All smartwatches should offer multiple days of battery life, full stop. As things stand now, there’s a jaw-droppingly wide range across the devices. I would go so far as to say that limited battery has been — and continues to be — the single biggest issue with the Apple Watch. The Series 9 is currently rated at 18 hours in standard mode and 36 in Low Power Mode.

OnePlus’ upcoming Watch 2, meanwhile, promises a jaw-dropping 100 hours “in full Smart Mode.” This is, of course, exactly the sort of claim it’s best to take with a few grains of salt prior to the wearable’s official unveiling next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I would take that a step further and tell interested parties to wait for the first reviews to trickle in.

According to a blog post, the company took a “three-year hiatus and a reflective pause following the OnePlus Watch 1.”

Battery is precisely the sort of thing OnePlus needs to lean into. The first-gen product promised up to two weeks of life courtesy of a 3,402mAh battery, or 25 hours with the GPS switched off. Even then, it was the marquee feature on a watch that failed to impress. It’s not so much that it’s impossible to get noticed among Wear OS devices, it’s more that one has to go that extra mile — especially now that Google and Samsung are both making devices for the operating system.

OnePlus proved that it can still impress, even when it’s not the first to market. That was a theme in the earliest days of its smartphone releases, and the company proved itself with the OnePlus Open. I was among the reviewers who were genuinely surprised that I liked the product as much as I did. This isn’t anything specific to OnePlus, so much as a comment on the state of consumer electronics.

Speaking of the early days, OnePlus says it, “went back to the drawing board, driven by community feedback, to ensure the OnePlus Watch 2 delivers an exceptional user experience.” Community feedback was a primary differentiator when OnePlus initially launched. Having a direct line like that is, however, difficult to maintain as companies grow. The smartphone maker has also since been formally folded into Chinese hardware giant Oppo.

That said, it doesn’t take hours of direct conversations with users to know that battery life is paramount on smartwatches. These things are designed to be worn all day and at night. That doesn’t leave much room for charging. Being able to wear a device for multiple days without having to worry about such things makes for a vastly improved experience. It also paints a fuller picture of your fitness and sleep patterns when you’re not charging the thing every other night.

Three years is a couple of lifetimes in the world of consumer electronics. The Watch 1 didn’t move the needle much in the smartwatch world. Perhaps leaning into battery life in a meaningful way will improve its fortunes for round two. I’m not holding my breath in a category that is currently top-heavy with a few big names and monopolized by extremely inexpensive devices on the other end. That said, anything that re-centralizes the importance of better battery life is probably a net positive for the category.