After I recently wrote about Oppo’s “oddly familiar” new smartwatch, Oppo got in touch with me to ask whether I’d be interested in checking it out for myself, even though it’ll only be available in China until later this year. The company representative suggested that I might find it less familiar in person, so I was interested to try it.
How did that work out? Well, it’s true that the Oppo Watch looks a little less derivative on my wrist than in press shots. But come on, there is no universe in which this product looks like this without the Apple Watch coming before it. From the strap design to the shape of the screen to the visual style of the OS, this is plainly a product that’s been made in Apple’s shadow.
- From the strap design to the shape of the screen to the visual style of the OS, this is plainly a product that’s been made in Apple’s shadow.
- It’s a pretty robust feature set, including things like sleep tracking that haven’t come to the Apple Watch yet.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad watch, and given the unfortunate state of the Android smartwatch market, it’s worth taking a look at, particularly given that Oppo is now a very good smartphone maker. I’ve only been able to use the Chinese version of the watch, as I mentioned, so this is not a full review. All the services on board are oriented to the Chinese market. But I can tell you about the hardware and what Oppo is trying to do with the software.
First, yes, this looks like an Apple Watch. However, the OLED display is an improvement. It is slightly larger than the 46mm Apple Watch at 1.91 inches wide, but the watch maintains the same 46mm size; Oppo has shrunk the bezels and curved the edges of the screen along with the cover glass. I can’t say if it uses a Pentile sub-pixel design or not, the Apple Watch is notable for using an RGB stripe, but if I can’t say it, it really doesn’t matter. The pixel density is the same as that of the Apple Watch at 326ppi. Colors are super vibrant and easy to see outside.
The watch’s chassis takes design cues from Oppo’s smartphones, with the display curved at the thin edges similarly. There is no crown style control here, just two physical buttons on the right edge; everything else is handled by the touch screen. Oppo’s watch straps are detachable in a similar way to the Apple Watch, with simple buttons for the release mechanism on the back of the watch, but the straps open directly inward instead of sliding from one side.
While the Oppo Watch I’m using is made of aluminum, it’s polished to a glossy blue-black finish to the point where it looks more like a steel Apple Watch at first glance. There is a steel variant of the Oppo Watch, too, but it only comes in “bright silver.” The included watch strap is black rubber and feels comfortable if nothing special.
The most interesting thing about the Oppo Watch software is its selection of built-in apps, which are accessible through a scrolling grid that’s halfway between the Apple Watch’s weird honeycomb and list views. There are the usual apps for phone calls, fitness tracking, timers, and weather, as well as an on-watch app store and China-specific services like Alipay. It’s a pretty robust feature set, including things like sleep tracking that haven’t come to the Apple Watch yet. I particularly like the five-minute full-body workout app that includes video demonstrations and yells at you through the watch’s tiny speaker to help get you sweating, though it’s not always easy to actually see the watch mid-exercise.
Overall I think this watch looks fine in a vacuum, but there’s no getting around it: people are either going to think you’re wearing an Apple Watch or realize you’re wearing something that just looks like an Apple Watch. It’s up to you whether that’s what you want out of your wristwear.