(Pocket-lint) - OnePlus Watch launched into a very crowded market. But as Huawei has proven there's clearly interest from buyers when it comes to affordable and capable fitness tracking watches. It's sold a lot of its Watch GT series watches across the globe since first launching with its own platform. 

The big question is: can the newbie compete against a company with the resources and experience of Huawei at a similar price point? We've been testing the OnePlus Watch against 2020's Huawei Watch GT 2e to find out. 

Design and display

  • Huawei: 53 x 46.8 x 10.8mm - 43g
  • OnePlus: 46.4 x 46.4 x 10.9mm - 45g
  • Both: Waterproof to 5ATM (50m)
  • Both: 1.39-inch AMOLED panel - 454 x 454 resolution

What's different between these two: mostly the design. Screen size and resolution is identical with both offering 1.39-inch AMOLED panels with the same 454 x 454 resolution. Refresh rate seems similarly low on both, with that being one of the main reasons the battery life is so long. 

While they both feature that completely round display, the case design is quite different. Huawei has gone with a much more angular and straight-edged design, with OnePlus opting for a more minimal round case. Both are 46mm cases (give or take) and feature glass, metal and plastic construction with 50 metre water resistance. 

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The bit that makes the difference is the lug design. OnePlus' design is pretty universal so you can switch out the strap for any other that's the right size. Huawei's makes it harder because it angles into the strap to create that seamless look. 

Software + Performance 

  • Both: Proprietary OS systems
  • Both: Smartphone notification mirroring
  • Huawei: Always-on display
  • Huawei: 455mAh battery
  • OnePlus: 402mAh battery

When it comes to software the two are similar, although you can tell Huawei has been at this game a little longer. They both run their own proprietary software and link to a health focused smartphone app and feature simple widgets you swipe across to, allowing you to glance at basic information like your heart rate, weather, daily activity or last night's sleep. 

Swiping down from the top reveals the settings tiles, swiping up from the bottom reveals unread notifications and pressing and holding the watch face lets you change it. Pretty standard stuff. 

While they both let you view smartphone notifications, neither offers much in the way of interaction with these notifications. It's very much a case of getting them on your wrist, quickly checking and then - if it's important - getting your phone out to reply.

It has to be said though, with the OnePlus we regularly felt a vibration for a notification, but then nothing showed up despite there being a notification waiting on the phone. Or - worse - the watch would randomly disconnect from the phone. Huawei's didn't have that issue. 

You can load offline music files on to both, but neither supports any music streaming platforms and neither supports contactless payments. Saying that, Huawei has started opening its platform up to third party developers so that could change. 

Another thing in Huawei's favour is its experience. Since launching its first Watch GT, it's added a plethora of watch faces to choose from and even added the option to have an always-on display, although that will lead to decreased battery life. There's also the fact that it will pair with an iPhone as well as any Android device. OnePlus isn't that open yet. 

As for battery life, in our testing, they can get through two weeks with light usage. With our testing they were both draining at almost identical levels. Of course, the more you use them to track activities, the more battery you drain. 

Fitness tracking 

  • Both: GPS for location tracking, step/motion tracking
  • Both: HR, SpO2, stress and sleep tracking
  • Huawei: More than 100 workout modes
  • OnePlus: 15 workout modes at launch (more coming in an update)

It's clear that neither of these two is much of a traditional smartwatch but they do claim to offer great fitness tracking, making them ideal for anyone who's looking for a watch to mainly keep track of daily activity, sleep and workout records. 

You get sensors for step counting, heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, plus GPS for location tracking. In truth though, there's only one of these watches that performed reliably in this regard: the Huawei Watch GT 2e.  The OnePlus Watch was deeply flawed in our experience. 

When it comes to the basics of just step counting, it under counts consistently against the Huawei. We'd often finish the day with 1000 fewer steps counted on the OnePlus Watch.

It was similarly unreliable tracking GPS on running routes. OnePlus Watch isn't just slow to get locked onto a GPS signal, but seems to frequently measure distance incorrectly.

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We took both watches - along with the trusty Garmin Fenix 6 - on a pretty slow and steady 12.5km route. The Huawei Watch got within 100m of the Garmin. That discrepancy was entirely down to being a bit slower to get GPS signal at the beginning.

The OnePlus Watch was somehow short by more than 3km by the end. Of course that then leads to your pace chart being completely incorrect as well, so overall, not a great watch for running. 

When it came to heart rate, cadence and elevation it was pretty much bang on with the other two watches showing near enough identical figures for those. 

Then there's the fact that - at this point in time - the Huawei Watch has a much longer list of available activities to track, although OnePlus is going to update its watch in the near future with a long list of similar workout modes. 

Another area Huawei shows its experience is in the fitness discovery section. You can load various training plans for running, whether you want to run 5k or 10k, or even half or full marathons. It's also loaded with various tips to help your training. It's a much more rounded offering from Huawei. 

As for sleep tracking, both a similar here. If you sit on the couch late at night bingeing Netflix, or go to bed to read before sleeping, they'll both often mistake that as time asleep. So if you want reliable sleep tracking, it's best just to take it off before you start reading or watching your show and then putting it back on right before you go to sleep. That way they tend to calculate your sleep cycle more accurately. 

Price

  • Huawei: £159 RRP
  • OnePlus: £159 RRP

While the recommended retail price is the same for both watches, the actual price you pay will likely be very different now that the Huawei watch is older. In fact, in the UK - at time of writing - it's pretty easy to get hold of for less than £100. 

Conclusion 

On the whole then - at least for anyone who wants smart wrist wear as a fitness and health monitor - there's only one of these two watches we can recommend: the Huawei Watch GT 2e.

It might be a year older, but it's been a much more consistent and reliable watch in testing, and when you consider it has similar battery life and features, plus the added bonus of an always-on display, there's really no reason at all to buy the OnePlus Watch instead of the Huawei. Especially now that it can be found cheaper. 

Both are pretty limited when it comes to doing things like streaming music or replying to notifications, and so if that's more of the type of smartwatch you're looking for you're best looking at a Wear OS watch or Samsung. 

Writing by Cam Bunton.