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The OnePlus Band Is Nothing But a Rebranded Fitness Tracker That Doesn’t Offer Anything Unique

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OnePlus is making its foray into wearables and their first attempt is with the brand new OnePlus Band. However, the company’s first steps into a new segment is a big disappointment in almost every way. Whether it comes to the performance, features and usability; it all looks quite half baked. We’ve been testing the OnePlus Band for over a week and met with several problems over the course of the review. From battery drain issues to pairing problems, the OnePlus Band is not exactly what we expected. 

Design 

When I first opened the box of the OnePlus Band, the first thing that came to my mind was “oh hey! They sent the Oppo fitness tracker.” That’s because the OnePlus Band is a rebranded fitness tracker that we’ve already seen by its sister company Oppo. Even the software that you use with the OnePlus Band is identical to the ColorOS version of it. From the basic design to even the functionality; there’s nothing innovative, new or unique about the OnePlus Band. 

OnePlus Band Review © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla

The OnePlus Band comes with a 1.1-inch AMOLED touchscreen that is the only way one can interact with the fitness tracker. There isn’t a single physical button on the fitness tracker that can be used for navigating menus or act as a simple back button. The pill-shaped tracker comes with a silicone strap and needs to be removed for charging. Speaking of the charger, it comes with the smallest USB charging cable that feels awkward to use with a wall charger. 

OnePlus Band Review © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla

You cannot use it to charge your device on the nightstand nor can you use it to charge from a wall plug that is high as it dangles the charging module. The other baffling choice is the usage of a USB-A port here as OnePlus has now switched to chargers that come with a USB-C port and will remain the same with future models as well. It might be convenient for older OnePlus users however it isn’t future proof if you plan to buy OnePlus smartphones in the future. 

The OnePlus Band also comes with an IP68 water resistance rating which means you can use it underwater up to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to thirty minutes. Having said that, the band does offer swimming tracking as well. Of course, we could not test this feature thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic but it's good to see OnePlus include this form of tracking. 

The overall design of the tracking device is quite rudimental and very similar to Xiaomi’s Mi Band 5. Which means apart from the logo there’s nothing really unique about the band that will set it apart from millions of Mi Band users.

Battery Life

OnePlus Band Review © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla

The OnePlus Band is said to offer battery life up to seven days on a single charge however that was not the case in our testing. When idle through the night, we notice a 20% drop in battery which is quite unacceptable when compared to what the competition is capable of. With SPO2 turned on, the battery life is even worse and lasts anywhere between 3-4 days. This is after receiving an update after the launch which only means the fitness band is not well optimised for power users right now. 

Usability and Fitness 

The OnePlus Band in terms of usage is very basic which is not what I expected from a debut product. You can navigate the interface by using gestures i.e. swipe left, up or down from the top of the display. Swiping up brings up all the settings and different modes you can use while swiping down brings up your notifications. 

Speaking of notifications, the OnePlus Band does them well and is almost instantaneous. However, there are still some teething issues that need to be fixed. In fact, this is where we noticed the OnePlus Band is not a first-party ecosystem device the company makes it out to be. For example, if you turn on DND on your smartphone, the OnePlus Band ignores that and does not set DND mode on the tracker. You will have to turn on DND on the fitness band manually as it works independently from the phone. As a companion device to OnePlus phones, it’s beneficial for only rejecting calls and locating your phone via the pinging method. The OnePlus Band does offer some smartwatch features, but it's not as comprehensive as I thought it would be. 

OnePlus Band Review © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla

When it comes to fitness, the tracker offers the usual activity tracking such as outdoor runs, indoor run, outdoor walk, cycling, elliptical training amongst others. The tracker also uses connected GPS for tracking your runs which more or less works as advertised. The fitness tracker also calculates steps quite reasonably well and the heart rate monitor is accurate enough for the cost of the fitness band. 

In addition to all of the fitness tracking, the OnePlus Band also offers sleep tracking. To be honest, I didn’t really use this feature as I cannot wear anything on my wrist while sleeping. However, I have heard from peers the sleep tracking is on point and can even detect sleep apnea. 

The OnePlus band can also read blood oxygen levels which is a nice feature to have. However, in my usage, the performance of SPo2 detection was all over the place. There were instances where it would read SPo2 levels very accurately when compared to a pulse oximeter and there were times it was not. To be honest, one should not consider the OnePlus Band as a blood oxygen reader in the first place as it is only supposed to indicate approximate blood oxygen levels. Having said that, the OnePlus Band needs to do a better job of bringing all of the health data at the forefront to its users. 

OnePlus Health App

The OnePlus Health app is currently the most disappointing part of the whole experience. It is a rebranded app of Oppo’s offering and lacks many features that are a staple for fitness tracking companion apps. There’s no way to track your weight, monitor your diet or export data. The companion definitely needs a bit of work in order to become a comprehensive offer however for now it seems half baked. 

OnePlus Band Review © OnePlus

Having said that, I do like the simplicity of the app and additional features such as the ability to change watch faces. The watch faces aren’t as elaborate as the Apple Watch but it does deliver all the information you need. Other features include having the ability to set alarms (up to 5), set the hours for raise to wake, and set the vibration levels. We can see the OnePlus Health app transform to an all-in-one health tracking app in the future however for now it makes the user feel more like a beta-tester right now. 

The Final Say

The OnePlus Band retails in India for Rs 2,499 which is great value if OnePlus fixes all the issues with the tracker. At launch, the OnePlus Band is not the ideal fitness trackers for users especially since the competition has a more robust offering. As of now, the OnePlus Band seems like a rushed product that is not ready to compete with the big boys yet.


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