After messing around at the lower end of the wearables market, Mobvoi has seemingly come out of nowhere in the last 12 months to deliver a raft of exciting, and sought after devices including the Google Assistant powered TicHome Mini, as well as the Ticwatch S & E running Wear OS.
The latest from Mobvoi is the Ticwatch Pro, a new watch running Android Wear building on the success of the budget conscious Ticwatch S and E models, with a more premium ‘Pro’ version that offers more hardware and functionality thanks to an exciting dual-screen setup that promises to expand the battery life.
The addition of new hardware, and a faster, more powerful hardware to the watch means it also carries a more premium price tag than either of its predecessors. Mobvoi are selling the TicWatch Pro for AUD$369.99 through their mobvoi.com/au online store and there’s no local retail availability at this stage.
[quote type=”left”]The premium price for the TicWatch Pro is a big ask for a Wear OS watch, so the question is should you pay it?[/quote]
Hardware and Design
To start with the TicWatch Pro comes in two styles, with a Shadow Black and Liquid Silver Metal (the colour of our review unit) colour options, a departure from the Black, Yellow and White options on the TicWatch S and E.
The design is quite nice – the Liquid Silver Metal is definitely my preferred look. The bezel, has increments of five seconds marked around it, still doesn’t move giving the look of a divers watch without any of the benefits. The thicker chamfered edge angled down to the screen looks good from my perspective too, but again it may not be to everyone’s taste.
The change in visual design also includes a change to the casing which is made from a combination of a carbon fiber reinforced with high strength nylon that includes a stainless steel rear. It not only looks, but also feels more premium on your wrist.
The casing also includes IP68 Water and dust resistance, allowing the watch to be in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. It’s not bad, though Mobvoi don’t recommend going swimming with it – sweating while you work out, doing the washing up or showering though should present no issues.
The rear of the case has your dual LED photoplethysmography (PPG) heart rate sensor, as well as a set of four pogo pins used for charging. The watch is charged with a magnetic charging pad which clips to the back quite satisfyingly – though Mobvoi only supply the cable so you’ll need to plug it into a USB port on a PC or supply your own AC adapter to charge it.
The case itself is quite chunky. Not really a problem for me as I prefer the chunkier look and feel of the larger watches, but if you’re aiming for something smaller then this is not the best watch for you.
The look of the TicWatch Pro is also enhanced with the option to change the watch band with any 22mm band you want to. There’s quick release pins on the watch, so it’s a fairly simple matter to swap them over.
The band included with the TicWatch Pro – a leather, or at least leather-like band is surprisingly nice and comfortable. It has a dressy look without being too ostentatious but also works just was well for working up a sweat.
The watch has two quite nice, chunky buttons with a springy return making for a nice tactile press on the side. The top button can be pressed once to access apps, or long pressed to call Google Assistant. The second button offers a bit of customisation with a single press launching the Mobvoi WearOS Fitness app by default, but you can change that to any app installed on the watch in settings. You can also double press the second button to access Google Pay, or if you long press it you get access to power settings including a toggle for Essential mode (we’ll get to that shortly), as well as options to restart or switch the watch off.
But enough about the look, it’s time to talk about the hardware.
|Operating System||Wear OS by Google™|
|Dimensions||D45mm x 14.6mm|
|Display||1.39” AMOLED 400 x 400 + FSTN display|
|Chipset||Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear™ 2100|
|Memory||RAM: 512MB / Storage: 4GB|
|GPS||GPS / AGPS|
|NFC Payments||Google Pay™|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth: 4.2 / Wi-Fi: 802.11bgn 2.4GHz|
PPG Heart Rate sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
Low Latency Off-Body Sensor
|Battery and Charging||Capacity：415mAH
Charging method: Dock with USB cable
|Battery Life||Smart Mode: 2 days
Essential Mode: 30 days
Mixed usage: between 5-30 days
|Water and Dust Resistance||IP68|
To start with, the spec list is rather more premium than previous Mobvoi watches. To start with they’ve moved from a Mediatek Wear processor to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, and they’ve also included NFC for Google Pay, but the major update for the TicWatch Pro is the inclusion of a dual screen setup.
The Ticwatch Pro features an innovative new layered display technology that Mobvoi is in the process of patenting, which layers a low-power FSTN (film compensated Super Twisted Nematic) LCD Display which fades to transparent when not powered up over an OLED display.
Mobvoi offers two modes with these displays, a ‘Smart Mode’ which uses the OLED display that works as other Wear OS watches, and an ‘Essential Mode’ which uses the FSTN LCD display.
The Essential Mode has access to the sensors of the watch, and for now shows pretty much all the relevant information you could want including time/date and your step count and heart rate. Mobvoi says they’re looking to add more functionality for Essential Mode in the future, including distance traveled, calories burned, speed and cadence – but so far there’s no sign of it.
The Essential Mode automatically flicks on by itself when your arm is at rest, or you can force it into Essential Mode to really ramp up battery life. Mobvoi estimate you’ll be able to get anywhere up to 30 days of battery life out of Essential Mode, while 2 days is the expected battery life for Smart Mode.
[quote type=”right”]Battery life is a big question with Wear OS watches these days. The now 2.5 year old Snapdragon Wear platform is very long in the tooth, but with the implementation of this new dual-screen setup with low power mode appears to be a winner for the TicWatch Pro.[/quote]
The estimates from Mobvoi seem about right for my money. I easily got two days of battery life simply having the watch auto switch over to Essential Mode and back when it detected me raise my arm to check out the time, or a notification. I’ve only been using the watch for two weeks so can’t give a complete idea of the 30 days on just Essential Mode, but it’s been impressive so far.
Charging via the included cradle is a lot better than the previous proprietary cable provided with the TicWatch S and E. The cradle, which has magnets to secure the watch in place while charging, is very reminiscent of other Wear OS devices, but essentially if the formula isn’t broken why fix it?
The cradle snaps onto the watch, lining up the pogo pins perfectly with the contacts on the rear of the watch, then it charges – it’s that simple. The rubberised base on the charging cradle then keeps it steady while it’s on your desk.
The display itself is fairly good. You can just about detect the FSTN display in direct sunlight, but only if you’re really looking for it. The OLED display is clear, bright and at 400×400 resolution it’s easy to read and Pixel dense. The glass is prone to showing your fingerprints on it, but it seems quite tough with little to no micro-scratches appearing during the review period.
There’s not a lot to say on Software if you’re familiar with Wear OS. The TicWatch Pro runs Wear OS v1.4 based on Android 8.0 (Oreo) with the April 5 security patch included. Considering Google essentially controls the software on Wear OS watches that’s pretty standard these days, though that security patch date is a little worrying.
There is of course some controversy over how ‘good’ Wear OS is. There’s a lot of detractors, but as I use it mainly to read and respond to notifications, track fitness and use Google Assistant and all those things work I’m pretty happy.
The software has the occasional lag likely thanks to the ageing Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 512MB RAM, but it’s not overly slow.
In terms of customisation Mobvoi hasn’t gone overboard here, there’s not a lot of custom apps that are included on the TicWatch Pro, in fact I can find only four.
To start with there’s an ‘app’ for toggling Essential Mode in the app launcher, but you can also go to settings > System to toggle it on/off or you can long press that second button to access power options.
There’s the ‘Fitness’ app that’s used for tracking your run/walk/bike ride (the watch has standalone GPS) or even free weights session. and a ‘Health’ app which tracks your steps, Exercise, Active Hours and calories burned, both apps tie in with the Mobvoi app on your phone which is free on Google Play.
The Mobvoi phone app ties together the stats from the Wear OS Health and Fitness apps on the watch. The app displays the same stats you see on your wrist, as well as displaying any activities like the map and stats for exercise tracked through the health app on the watch.
The final app is a bit of a novelty with a Step Ranking app showing you how you stand against other TicWatch users in your area. It looks to be fairly anonymous, at least from a user facing perspective, so it’s a bit of fun.
The sensors on the TicWatch Pro are much improved over what I found on the TicWatch S. A comparison of step count and heart rate tracking with a Fitbit Ionic and Huawei Watch 2 saw all three giving not exactly the same, but very similar data so I’m happy with those results.
Lastly, of course you’re going to get some neat Mobvoi created watch faces, and there’s a bunch included and they’re pretty nice. You can of course install other watch faces through the Google Play Store if you’d like, but there’s a heap included.
Should you buy one?
Whether you should buy the Ticwatch Pro is a big question. It’s simply loaded with all the features you could want including that screen which extends your battery life, NFC for payments and with the exception of LTE it’s the whole package. Not a lot of people have expressed interest in LTE on a watch, so that could also be construed as a positive.
The dual display certainly works in terms of keeping it running and tracking your steps, giving you the time etc. so that’s a plus but it’s not exactly in Smartwatch mode at the point.
The big spectre for the smartwatch world is the impending announcement of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and whether that could substantially improve battery life for watches without the need for a secondary low-power display.
The best recommendation is that the TicWatch Pro is one of the best Wear OS devices to buy right now. Whether that’s the case in a month or two will have to wait for further developments in the Smartwatch arena.
The watch looks great – unless you want something small – and has all the hardware, so if you’re in the market for a Wear OS watch right now then it is definitely the best of the bunch, and at $370AUD it’s a steal.
I’ve also had quality and customer service issues with Ticwatch. My first Ticwatch E had a faulty gps. That was returned and replaced no problem. The problem was the replacement wouldn’t perform its system update to Oreo. I tried troubleshooting it for a week before contacting Ticwatch who said they’d replace it again. I was really hoping for a simple fix but instead I’ve gotta go thru the process of sending it back and waiting for another replacement. I send it off anyway following exactly the same postage instructions as before. I’ve followed up a number off times since and… Read more »
Mine went back on warranty claim (contact pins for the charger wouldn’t make contact = no charging) mid July… I still haven’t gotten my replacement yet. So buy at your own discretion.
Been on the fence in regards to this watch. The impulsive me says get it…the patient side says wait till pixel watch. That being said I can’t really see the pixel watch offering that much more in terms of hardware. Unless we are talking weeks in terms of battery life i am not all that interested in the new chipset. More concerned about the supposed new software expeeience and how quickly it will rollout to other watches and how well it will be integrated. I making an assumption but based on number of new wearos watches announced recently on old… Read more »
Whats the lag like switching from Essential to Smart mode? I’ve heard it’s pretty bad.
It’s noticeable, but not horrible, just under a second to fully switch, but usually happens as you raise your wrist up so not a deal breaker.
No LTE no buy, happy with my lg urbane 2nd edition (except the pogo pin charger). happy to wait till i find decent watch with LTE.
With wireless charger capability, No e-sim, and gd design