OnePlus’ Watch 2 gets 100 hours of battery thanks to a pair of chips and Wear OS tweaks

OnePlus’ first smartwatch was a lot of things. Unfortunately, particularly good or memorable weren’t among them. If you’re going to enter a category as established as the smartwatch, you’re going to have to make a splash. Do something unique and different to convince potential consumers beyond your own rabid fanbase that yours is the device they need, rather than something made by Apple or Samsung (or Google, for that matter).

Officially unveiled this morning at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after a few months of teases, the OnePlus Watch 2 does get some points for originality. As noted earlier, the battery is the thing here. It’s not just a good battery, however — that was, after all, one of the main qualities the original had going for it.

I’ll give you the customary caveat here of taking such things with a grain of salt, but OnePlus is claiming “up to 100 hours in full Smart Mode.” That last bit is perhaps a dig at features like Apple’s Low Power Mode, which sacrifices certain key features in order to eke out more than a day on a single charge.

Image Credits: OnePlus

Battery continues to be the lowest hanging fruit in the smartwatch world. These days, companies are talking up sleep-tracking capabilities, pointing to the need for a battery that can last — at the very least — a good 24 hours on a charge. Having to top the watch off little by little before bedtime isn’t a great user experience. It’s something Apple in particular needs to focus on with its next-gen device.

OnePlus’ 100-hour figure is based on what the company refers to as “regular use.” When you switch to “heavy use,” that number more than halves to 48 hours. That’s nothing to scoff at, mind. Two full days of life on a charge is still well beyond the capabilities of some smartwatches. How OnePlus quantifies abstractions like “regular” and “heavy” isn’t entire clear. You’ll want to wait until the review units are out in the world to get a better idea of what all of that means.

Apparently, Google’s Wear OS team was involved in helping these kinds of figures. “We’ve made significant updates to Wear OS’ hybrid interface to support new capabilities that run on OnePlus’ innovative Dual-Engine Architecture,” Google’s John Renaldi explains. “Through this collaboration, the OnePlus Watch 2 transparently switches between the low power and high-performance engines to deliver a feature-rich, premium smartwatch experience with optimized battery life.”

The key to that above quote is the word “hybrid.” The watch has two chips it toggles between to squeeze out as much life as possible. There’s the familiar Snapdragon W5, which powers the Pixel Watch 2 and a bunch of devices from companies like Oppo and Xiaomi, and the more power efficient BES 2700 MCU.

Image Credits: OnePlus

Like the Apple Watch, OnePlus’ Watch 2 has a Power Saving Mode. Here, however, it disables a lot more than Apple’s. The company notes:

WearOS apps and the Always On Display will not work when the device is in Power Saving Mode. Other features such as calling, messaging, and exercise modes will still work on Power Saving Mode; however, some of their more power intensive functions will be limited to preserve battery life, e.g., Smart Reply in Messages, accessing call records and Voice Guidance while running.

So, it becomes a smartish watch, I suppose.

The device is up for preorder beginning today for $300 — that’s nearly double its predecessor’s $159 price point. Clearly OnePlus is tackling an entirely different cross section of the market, with a price more in line with Apple and Samsung devices. It starts shipping next month.

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