Oppo Watch Free review: Fitness monitoring in style
The Oppo Watch Free is an affordable fitness tracker that focuses on a polished user experience without sacrificing most features. Should I buy it?
The Oppo Watch was released in 2020 as Oppo’s answer to mainstream smartwatches from Apple and other Wear OS brands. Considering its price, it was one of the best looking watches to buy. However, it was out of reach for many and in a bid to expand its accessibility, Oppo later announced the Watch Free. Launching in India now at a price of Rs. 5,999, it’s almost half the price of the Oppo Watch and promises a lot on paper.
It is, however, very different from the Oppo Watch. In fact, the Oppo Watch Free is essentially a fitness tracker rather than a full-fledged smartwatch. It also looks like a fitness tracker. Therefore, it falls into a segment of “budding smartwatches” that want to do it all but lack some street smarts. And, is it worth choosing among all these others?
To find out, I’ve been wearing the Oppo Watch Free for two weeks and here’s what I found.
Free Oppo Watch Design
The Watch Free plays it safe with its design, and as a result, it looks familiar to a few fitness trackers from Honor and Huawei. You get a strip-like design that has a thin and thick screen, with its silicone straps emerging from the top and bottom. The strap has a leather-like texture, which adds to the overall appeal of the Watch Free.
The watch body itself is devoid of any physical buttons, which adds to the overall elegance of the Watch Free. The 1.64-inch screen stretches almost edge to edge, but there are some visible bezels at the bottom. It is an AMOLED screen and that too of good quality. Therefore, you can see bright and vivid watch faces in the best way Oppo intended. There is an automatic brightness sensor, which is of great convenience. The display responds quickly to touches, although I think the animations and response could be tuned better for a smoother experience.
Oppo Watch Free Smart Features
Since it’s a fitness tracker, Oppo opted for a proprietary OS on the Watch Free, which is standard in this sub-Rs. 10,000 connected watch spaces. And it’s easily one of the prettiest smartwatch user interfaces we’ve seen in a while. The design is practical and well thought out. It’s fast and smooth, and doesn’t clutter menus with unnecessary options you may never touch.
Bring up the menu and you’ll see apps for all health monitoring systems, as well as a few information-based apps and some control apps. You get things like alarm, weather, camera control, timer, stopwatch and more. Unfortunately, you cannot download third-party apps to this watch. Navigation is entirely based on swipe gestures, which I think is a smart use of that big screen.
Then there are the watch faces, which are some of the best I’ve seen on a large-screen fitness tracker. You get a few preloaded on the watch, and myriad more to choose from in the companion app. The collection is limited though and I wish Oppo would release a few more watch faces like Xiaomi and Amazfit are doing with their watches.
Unfortunately, the Oppo Watch Free only relies on Bluetooth for connection and data transfer. Therefore, applying a new watch face tests your patience. Also, due to limited onboard storage, you can only store seven faces at a time, which I find weird. A little extra space to store at least 10 faces would have been better, Oppo!
There is no more sadness! The Watch Free can display notifications from your smartphone, but this is limited. It struggles with emojis, Hindi font and pictures; like most fitness bands available at this price.
The HeyTap Health companion app is available on Android and iOS, meaning the Oppo Watch Free works with iPhones and Android devices. All features are available on both platforms, which is a plus. The app itself is well-designed, collecting and presenting all the health and fitness data in well-arranged graphs. You can also change watch settings from here.
Oppo Free Fitness Watch
For those who are health conscious, the Oppo Watch Free has all the benefits one would expect. As is the norm, you can see a heart rate sensor and SpO2 monitoring sensor doing their duty of monitoring your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation monitoring. Then there are over 100 sport modes to track your workouts in various disciplines including running, walking, swimming, weightlifting, and more.
Now, I’m not an athlete, but I tried the “walk” mode to monitor my evening walks, and the tracking data was on par with what my Apple Watch Series 7 recorded. I didn’t have a medical grade device to compare the reliability of the data. Sports mode displays useful things like pace, live heart rate, location mapping, and more.
Heart rate and blood oxygen saturation data is also comparable to Apple Watch most of the time, with inaccuracies rarely occurring. That said, this is not a medical grade device and therefore you should never rely solely on the data from these devices.
Oppo, however, advertises sleep tracking as the USP and in fact it seems to be one of the best systems out there, even beating the Apple Watch Series 7 in this regard. It is precise in how it accumulates hours and variation in sleep quality. You can see your sleep data broken down into light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, and even “awake” hours. And thanks to its slim band-like design, it doesn’t interfere with the comfort factor.
Free Oppo Watch Battery Life
Oppo claims up to 14 days of battery life on a single charge, which is only possible in the most compromised state. In fact, I was able to stretch up to a maximum of 10 days of use with 1 hour of tracking in sports mode, all-day heart rate tracking, and constant connection to my phone. When depleted, the battery takes more than 2 hours to fully charge.
It’s sad to see Oppo populating its ‘Watch’ range of wearables with not-so-smart fitness trackers – perhaps calling it Oppo Band Pro would have made more sense. Because that’s what this Watch Free is – a glorified fitness tracker. It doesn’t intend to be a smartwatch, especially in how it works.
Once you’ve scaled your expectations to the standards of a fitness tracker, the Oppo Watch Free is the best there is. It has a beautifully large screen, a well-designed operating system that also works fast, is well built, has a comfortable strap, and is reasonably priced. Compatibility with Android and iPhones makes it more accessible to everyone. And if you’re into fitness, that should be enough, especially with its workout modes and a smartly designed companion app.
It’s not perfect though, as the Oppo Watch Free missed the chance to set a new benchmark for affordable fitness watches and trackers. Features like Bluetooth calling and a better notification system with support for emojis and local languages could have helped justify its price of Rs. 5,999 better.
For those looking for a better-looking fitness tracker who don’t mind spending north of Rs. 5,000, the Oppo Watch Free is worth a look. For those who want better value for money, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini and Amazfit GTR watches will make more sense.
Free Oppo Watch
- Good battery life
- Nice display
- Lack of smart features