OnePlus Is Launching A Smartwatch In 2021, But Can It Compete With Apple And Samsung?

OnePlus Nord
OnePlus has made a name for itself by shaking up the Android smartphone market with phones that focus on value rather than ultra-premium prices (see our OnePlus Nord review for a recent example), but in a few months, it will add a smartwatch to its portfolio. No exact release date has been set, only that it is coming out sometime in early 2021.

It feels like this has been a long time coming, given that smartwatches have proven themselves to be more than a passing fad. And it is not as though OnePlus has focused solely on smartphones up to this point. Earlier this month, OnePlus CEO noted on Twitter that his company has made phone cases, headphones, and even backpacks, and asked what is something people want to see next from the company.

In a follow-up tweet, Lau said many people have requested a "watch" (smartwatch, presumably), so that is what OnePlus will launch next year.

OnePlus Watch Tweet

"Many of you said you wanted a watch, and as you might have heard over the weekend—we're making one, to be released early next year. Wishes do come true," Lau said, complete with a gift box emoji.

This is not the first time OnePlus had considered a smartwatch. Back in 2016, Lau told The Wall Street Journal that OnePlus had "completed the design [for a smartwatch] but we still decided to scrap it," noting that the company had to stay focused. But that was several years ago, and OnePlus is on more solid footing these days.

It's not clear if OnePlus will go with Google's Wear OS or something else, and what features it will offer. Health monitoring seems like a safe assumption, but aside from that, it's a big guessing game, for anyone who has the desire to play.

OnePlus will be going up against a juggernaut in the smartwatch space, with Apple owning a demanding 55.5 percent share of the market, according to the most recent data by Statista. Samsung sits in a distant second place with a 13.9 percent, followed by Garmin at 8 percent, and all others combining for the remaining share. Apple has accounted for over half of global smartwatch sales for several years now.

Value has been the bread and butter of OnePlus in the smartphone market, and it will be interesting to see if it brings that same focus to the smartwatch market (I don't think it will be anywhere near as low as Wyze's $20 smartwatch, though). That would be one way to compete with Apple and Samsung, assuming it can deliver a desirable product with a standout feature or two. Fortunately we will find out soon enough, as "early 2021" is right around the corner.