I compared the OnePlus Watch 2's GPS tracking to Garmin's best watch: Here's how it performed

The OnePlus Watch 2 is undoubtedly a fantastic Wear OS watch. Not only does it look pretty good and is full of features, OnePlus has also achieved a feat that not even Google or Mobvoi – both with Wear OS models in our list of the best smartwatches – could: it has a Wear OS watch with it Get one 100-hour battery life.

In our OnePlus Watch 2 review, we praised the watch's battery life, numerous features and stainless steel finish, giving it an excellent 4.5 stars. However, I also had the opportunity to personally test the OnePlus Watch 2 – appropriately enough, the Nordic Blue Edition – in the forests of Finland.

After trying out the watch on a bike ride through the forests near Helsinki's suburban Meri-Rastila district, we took another short hike into the forest. The night before it had snowed unseasonably – and quite magically – so the forest was eerily quiet but extraordinarily beautiful. The tall pine trees, which could potentially obscure the GPS, and the circular nature of the walk provided a great opportunity to test the OnePlus Watch 2's outdoor qualities. I wore it on my left wrist while wearing my regular training watch, the Garmin Epix Pro, on the other.

The Garmin Epix Pro has been by my side through every step of this year's marathon training challenge, so to speak, and I recently compared it to the Apple Watch Ultra – my other gold standard GPS watch – at the London Marathon. The comparison of both watches was very good, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how well the OnePlus Watch 2 would fit with my regular training partner.

OnePlus Watch 2 vs. Garmin Epix Pro: How was the comparison?

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

The walk was pleasant as our guide stopped frequently to point out the differences between pines and spruces or to spot blueberry bushes or deer tracks in the snow. It was an absolutely delightful walk through the woods in the style of Narnia (or Skyrim, depending on which winter fantasy cultural reference point you prefer).

Unfortunately, a setting was automatically activated on the OnePlus Watch 2 that I had long turned off on my best Garmin watch: an auto-pause function. The OnePlus Watch 2 recognized every spot where we stopped to notice some interesting-looking footprints or to inform us about the Finnish law that enshrines every citizen's right to pick blueberries and roam the forests.

However, every time I noticed that the watch had stopped, I rushed to stop my Garmin as well, which resulted in the time difference error shown in the following workout. This could also have accounted for the approximately 80 m GPS difference in walking distance, despite following an identical map and not missing any clear deviations or points. I'd like to test the two against each other again, perhaps on a known route where the distance is known, as part of a group test to determine the accuracy of all my different wearables.

OnePlus Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Matt Evans)

There was also a difference in pace of about a minute – which statistically would be significant for a fast run that takes an average of five minutes per km. However, the difference between a walk time of 15:46/km and a walk time of 16:49/km is quite small, and our fitness tests of the OnePlus Watch 2 compare well to our tester's other wearables. The heart rate measurements from the two wearables were spot on, with the average heart rate being within 2 beats per minute of each other and following a similar graph pattern throughout.

I want to be clear that this was not a “real” experiment with science-based benchmarks; Just a fun exercise to see how well the watches fit together. Despite some minor differences in metrics, I didn't think less of either watch – and we can still highly recommend the OnePlus Watch 2 as a great, long-lasting fitness wearable (at least for Wear OS).

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