Oppo Watch Free Review: A band apart

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It was jarring the first time I unboxed it. With no prior research on how it would look. I thought to myself, “this isn’t a watch, it’s a fitness band”. The long rectangular shape that covers the width of my thin wrist and the absence of a crown on either side bolsters the case that this is indeed a fitness band with a wider screen. But Oppo markets it as a smartwatch, so let’s see how it fares as one.

Design

Watches do come in different shapes and sizes. From round ones like circles and ovals to squares and rectangles there’s one shape to suit anyone’s taste. For smartwatches though, the round and square watch faces dominate the landscape and the rectangular shape is reserved for fitness bands. The Oppo Watch Free is in a predicament. It’s long enough to be mistaken for a fitness band but wide enough that it makes you think twice on why it is not. As mentioned, the lack of a crown is a puzzling omission. Without the crown or other physical buttons, the watch is symmetrical, like a mini-widescreen TV on your wrist. You might argue that a crown isn’t a defining feature of a watch (it is), but having one might have helped the Oppo Watch Free’s case of making it one. The strap also bucks the traditional design and opts for the more “active” design where the slack goes in to the wrist and hides the end of the strap.

Build

For the Oppo Watch Free, the rectangular shape does scream “fitness band” at first but its golden bezel, cream faux leather band and classic watch face do give this smartwatch a chic vibe. The screen itself is not prone to scratches. There was one instance that I undoubtedly scraped the screen on our anay-finish wall in our garage while trying to get in the car. No visible scratches were apparent on the screen or on the bezel.

IMG 3876
At first glance, it’s a fitness band.

Hardware

The long screen with dimensions of 46.0mm x 29.7mm x 10.5mm is the obvious ace in the hole. The portrait orientation ensures more lines of text, and portrait pictures from your phone are better represented. The AMOLED screen with 280 x 456 is crisp.

Performance

Did I mention that the screen is great? When it wakes, it brightens gradually but promptly, a suave feature if the watch ever has one. Raise to wake is always on point compared to other smartwatches where its a hit or miss. As for activity tracking, steps taken, distance covered and calories burned were all flawlessly tracked . It’s in the niche workouts that one will be splitting hairs. So it doesn’t just have Yoga but other more specific ones like Ashtanga, Iyengar, Flow and many more. Swimming with it for an hour and showering with it daily didn’t cause any problems.

IMG 7063
Passed the swim test. With and without a floatie.

Battery Life

Since I only have the unit for 10 days, I wasn’t able to test the claimed 14-day battery life. So instead of longevity, I tested for endurance. Working out every day for half an hour reduced the battery to 5% in five days. That’s with all the bells and whistles turned-on including messages, sleep tracking and blood oxygen monitoring. Recharging the battery was quick yielding a full charge in less than an hour.

Applications

As apps go, one major gripe I have is the inability of its HeyTap Health app to sync the watch via Strava or Apple Health. All fitness apps should be able to track this. Xiaomi’s Mi Health app is capable so why not this app? For those who already have months and years of data in Strava, I won’t recommend this watch since you will caged in in its HeyTap app. For those who don’t track their activity, this feature won’t probably matter. But, this IS a smartwatch so it should sync with ubiquitous repositories of fitness data.

IMG 3928
Sure it captures heart rate zones but it can’t sync to Apple Health or Strava.

Available templated watch faces are at 44 but you can only store just seven at a time. One can customize the watch face with their own photo.

IMG 3933
Testing a portrait photo as a watch face yielded pleasant results.
IMG 3934
Designs on watch faces are quite classy. There’s an AI mode that pairs the watch face with one’s outfit. A grey shirt yielded a plain grey background.

Fit

The silicone strap fits wrist circumference 130–205 mm which means it is the only strap one will ever need.

IMG 3935 Medium

Price

The Oppo Watch Free retails for P5,999 in Lazada. Accessories such as straps and screen protectors are available from third party brands.

Verdict

Those looking for a fitness band from Oppo at half the price can opt for the Oppo Band B1. It essentially has most of the tracking features of the Oppo Watch Free but housed in a slimmer profile. But for those who feel their tracker’s screen is lacking in size, an upgrade to the Oppo Watch Free is recommended. It’s not just a fitness band anymore, it’s a watch that you can pair with your OOTD.

[penci_review]

Allan Abaca is an avid gamer through and through. Virtually, he is locked-in with his PS4 almost daily and has just introduced the awesomeness of gaming to his two sons.

Next in his sights is PC gaming. The platform which he nows considering going back to after a two decade hiatus.

Oh, and let's not forget the Nintendo Switch...

His psn id is hip2b2

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