To be completely honest, the world doesn’t need another fitness tracker and if a brand wants to prove otherwise, it would have to break new ground besides the existing form factor and feature set. Late to the party, OnePlus hasn’t pushed boundaries on either count but does seem confident by calling its first wearable, simply...Band (W101N).
The name seems reflective of its existence, which is to be a no-nonsense fitness band that covers the basics for a price that doesn’t raise expectations.
In plain sight
Available in three different shades of bands, the core can be easily detached for charge purposes. Battery life is claimed to be a couple of weeks but this really depends on the use case scenario, activities that you monitor continuously including heart rate and SpO2 etc. The fit is comfortable for the large part during your waking hours but for a band that has sleep tracking with automatic SpO2 monitoring, the thickness doesn’t bode well with 8hrs of rolling between blankets and pillows. The bright and contrasty 1.1in screen is great and more than 30 watch faces are well-designed with something for everyone, whether you’re into post-modern graphics or a bit of old-school and even your own photos if you can crop them right. Although the screen real estate might seem tight, the gestures are superbly judged and a swipe from every direction invokes a corresponding action. It’s all very easy to memorize and access, hinting at the attention to detail OnePlus usually puts into its products.
Track me down
Accuracy, even on budget bands is getting to be really good as experienced via this OnePlus Band. Comparing data with the Apple Watch S6 on basics like resting heart-rate, steps, kCal etc. Understandably so, the SpO2 measurement takes almost twice as long as higher-end smartwatches, but at this price point, it’s in line with the competition from Honor, Huawei, Covi Sense and the likes. Where the OnePlus scores higher are its 13 workout routines that also include Cricket to add the Indian touch. Metrics like real-time heart rate, duration and calories burnt are presented in an easy to read manner and the accompanying Health app on OnePlus phones is uncluttered and elegantly designed.
Additional tools to interact with your phone include a camera shutter button, alarm, stopwatch, find your phone and music controls. Although for the music controls, I would’ve wished that just keeping volume +/- tapped would work faster but instead you have to multi-tap your way to volume up or down. It’s efficacy with other Android phones beyond OnePlus devices is of course reduced but not unuseable. You miss out on Zen synchronisation and other nuances that OnePlus builds into its OxygenOS but that’s about it. It can also be used with an iPhone if you’re an absolute right-winged democratic, but support for iOS will only be announced in due course of time. Battery life that I got with about an hour or workout a day besides notifications through and sleep tracking only for daytime naps (WFH perks) was about 3-4 days and nothing more. The advertised 14 days of battery life has to be taken with a pinch of “up to”. It’s probably even easier to keep using it everywhere due to its dust and water resistance and the only real time I couldn’t bear it on my wrist was during a full night’s sleep. But if you can endure it, it can also be set up to monitor SpO2 levels at regular intervals and warn you if it drops below a certain threshold.
OnePlus hasn’t brought any real innovation to the budget fitness tracker space with the Band but instead polished the experience from the existing options on the market. If you’re a fanboy, obviously you’ll find reason enough to pony up for it, but it still lacks a solid USP.