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TicWatch Pro 5 review: the Wear OS watch I’ve been waiting for

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
MSRP $350.00
“The excellent Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 brings the performance and the battery life we've always wanted from a Wear OS smartwatch, along with plenty of great features, durability, and reliability.”
Pros
  • Clever dual-screen system
  • Four-day battery life
  • Highest-performance smartwatch
  • Clean and reliable software
  • Quality haptic feedback
Cons
  • One size and color only
  • No cellular option
  • Fitness-tracking bug requires fixing

It’s here! And I don’t just mean the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5. I also mean Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 processor. When the chip was announced in July 2022, Mobvoi said it would use it in a future smartwatch, but little did we know we’d have to wait almost a year for it — and that when it did arrive, it would still be unique.

Not using the latest processors has been a thorn in the side of Wear OS for years, but can the TicWatch 5 Pro — with its W5+ Gen 1 chip and Wear OS 3.5 software — finally deliver the Android smartwatch experience we’ve all yearned for?

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: design

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I’ve slowly gotten used to wearing the TicWatch Pro 5, but it did take a few days. I’m no stranger to big watches, but this is definitely on the large side, and on my 6.5-inch wrist, the lugs threaten to spill over the sides. It’s simply designed but attractive, with a knurled finish topping the metal bezel, which then has an angled, polished surface leading down to the case to minimize the overall size and hide the edges of the screen. It weighs 64 grams with a rubber strap, and the case is 48mm across and 12.2mm thick.

The body, which is made from aluminum with a plastic case back, has passed the MIL-STD-810H drop and shock tests, and it’s water resistant to about 50 meters. It sports minimal crown guards, a single action button above the crown itself, and stubby lugs attaching the strap to the case. The crown extends quite far out, and I have accidentally pressed it multiple times, through both normal movement and when my wrist is extended during a workout. It twists to navigate through menus and tactile haptic feedback syncs with its movement.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 and its strap.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The 24mm strap is made from flexible silicone, has more than enough holes in it to fit almost any wrist size, and it’s secured using a regular metal clasp. However, while there’s enough adjustability, I found it difficult to get it just right, with it usually being too tight or too loose for me. This was especially annoying at night. It’s also quite wide and thick, and while not uncomfortable, it’s definitely noticeable — and some may find that distracting when using the smartwatch to track sleep. The 24mm size may make it difficult to find alternatives too.

The TicWatch Pro 5 is the best-looking and highest-quality Mobvoi smartwatch I’ve used.

It’s much less subtle than the Google Pixel Watch and more shapely than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, but not as wearable and ergonomically designed as the Apple Watch Series 8. I’ve still happily worn it, and it definitely catches the eye due to its size, but it’s not a statement-maker. The only flash of color is the red circle on the crown, an unfortunate detail that only reminds me of the Apple Watch, where it’s used to signify a cellular model. It serves no such function on the TicWatch.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the crown and side button.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s a massive design improvement over the TicWatch Pro 3 and Pro 3 Ultra, both of which look ancient next to it. The quality has also taken a step forward, with a nice level of resistance to the button and a pleasing softness to the crown when rotating it, which is further enhanced by the excellent haptics. The TicWatch Pro 5 is the best-looking and highest-quality Mobvoi smartwatch I’ve used.

It’s unfortunate there’s only one TicWatch Pro 5 model, though, as the sheer size of the smartwatch means it may not suit small wrists or simply be too big for some people’s preferences. In the same way Google made a mistake by not making a bigger Pixel Watch, Mobvoi has erred by not making a smaller version of the TicWatch Pro 5.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: screens

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the backlit secondary screen.
Backlight on Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There are two screens on the TicWatch Pro 5, with the 1.43-inch OLED screen active only when you’re interacting with the smartwatch and a second low-power monochrome layer taking care of the always-on function. It’s a tech mainstay of the TicWatch Pro series and a great way to minimize battery use while maximizing usefulness.

It shows time, date, heart rate, step count, battery information, and whether there are uncleared notifications. It’s illuminated by a subtle blue backlight when you raise your wrist, and instantly appears when the main OLED screen times out. What’s more, twist the crown and it shows health data — including calorie burn, blood oxygen levels, and the compass. All this helps reduce the impact on the battery when using the smartwatch, and it really makes a difference.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the secondary display.
Backlight off Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Another feature I really like is how the secondary display’s backlight changes color — from blue through yellow and orange, eventually reaching purple and red — according to your heart rate zone when working out. It’s brilliant for at-a-glance monitoring. The second screen sets the TicWatch Pro 5 apart from the competition, and not only is it functional, but it looks cool and saves battery too. It’s a genuine reason to consider the TicWatch Pro 5 over other Android smartwatches.

The main OLED screen is big, bright, and colorful, with a sharp 466 x 466 resolution. It’s covered in Gorilla Glass with an anti-fingerprint coating. I’ve worn it solidly for two weeks at this stage, and it’s still perfect despite a few knocks and me not treating it with any additional care than usual. Around 30 different watch faces are available, most of which are fairly uninspiring. It’s advertised as having more than 1,000, though, and the rest are found inside the Timeshow app installed on the watch. Timeshow is actually a Mobvoi app, which isn’t clear at first. The vast majority of faces cost money, and to browse the selection effectively, you have to install the TimeShow app on your phone too.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: performance

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the menu.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The arrival of the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip is very welcome, as it brings a speed and smoothness of response to Wear OS that has simply never really been there before. Whether you’re scrolling notifications, opening apps, or zooming in on Google Maps, the TicWatch Pro 5 is always immensely fast, and I simply have no complaints about performance at all. It comes with 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage space. There’s no cellular option available, but the smartwatch does have a speaker and a microphone to take incoming calls.

If the last Wear OS smartwatch you tried had a Snapdragon 4100 processor (or even a Snapdragon 3100, as they hung around like a bad smell) with Wear OS 2, and you were left disappointed by the entire experience, then the TicWatch Pro 5 is the smartwatch you hoped it would be. The slick, powerful, and highly responsive TicWatch Pro 5 rivals the Apple Watch for performance, and that’s not something we say lightly.

It’s actually a little too fast for its own good, a fact not helped by the watch’s massively sensitive screen and buttons. I’ve accidentally activated more features, opened more apps, and unintentionally applied more modes on the TicWatch Pro 5 than on any other smartwatch.

It just can’t contain its excitement, and the slightest touch will see it do something, whether you want it to or not. I do prefer this overexcitement to the lethargy of older chips, but it definitely needs a little tweak so it recognizes phantom touches and accidental screen activations more effectively.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: health and fitness tracking

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the basic workout menu.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In addition to the usual sensors tracking your health — heart rate, blood oxygen, stress, respiratory rate — the TicWatch Pro 5 tracks sleep stages, estimates your VO2 Max, provides recovery time advice, and has more than 100 workout modes. There’s a One Tap Measurement feature that collects all the relevant metrics in 90 seconds and displays them on screen. Workouts are started using a widget or the TicExercise app.

I’ve been using the TicWatch Pro 5 ahead of its launch and have come across an issue that has made it hard to assess its accuracy or compare it with other devices. During some workouts, the tracking seems to crash, with heart rate and calorie burn freezing up. It doesn’t always happen, and when it has worked, the results appear to be what I’d expect. I’ve informed Mobvoi about the bug and haven’t harshly marked it down at this stage, but will continue testing the smartwatch.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the heart rate screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The many workout modes are initially daunting, but at least you can sort them by recently used instead of scrolling through the alphabetical list of 100 to find the one you want. The watch has auto workout tracking, and it has reliably recognized when I’m out walking. It only credits me with about five minutes when it does, despite me walking for at least 10 minutes before it realizes that I’m walking. The Apple Watch Series 8 is more generous when it recognizes a walk or run. The TicWatch Pro 5 has built-in GPS, and it takes around 30 seconds to a minute to locate a satellite and connect. The map is shown in the app with distance, elevation, and lap data.

The hourly activity reminder is better than others, as when it prods you to get up and move around, it gives you a 100-step target to meet over the next hour. This is far more motivational than simple “Move!” alerts, and because it seems easily achievable, more people may actually pay attention. It even adjusts that target dynamically. Finally, sleep tracking matches the Oura Ring’s results for duration, average heart rate, and skin temperature readings. However, it doesn’t break down the duration into actual time spent asleep rather than in bed and doesn’t estimate Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: Mobvoi’s app

The main screen in the Mobvoi Health app.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Wear OS smartwatches no longer need a Google app to install and run. Instead, they rely on the manufacturer’s own specially designed app alone. In Mobvoi’s app — called simply Mobvoi Health — there are three main sections: Statistics, Device, and Account. We’re going to concentrate on the Statistics section, which shows all your health data collected from the smartwatch.

Tiles show activity, sleep, exercise, heart rate, Sp02, stress, and V02 Max. When you tap each tile, it leads to historical data and more graphs. It’s well-designed, colorful enough to make it visually interesting, but not distracting, and the data is presented in a clear way. It has also proven to be reliable, and the connection between it and the watch has been seamless. Some data seems to be stored in the cloud, though, leading to some delays when you want to look back at previous days and weeks.

It’s really all I want from a companion app. There are no intrusive ads, (currently), no option to pay for a premium version to unlock more features, and links to Mobvoi’s store and other products are sensibly hidden away under the Account heading. I also like the way the app reminds you when the smartwatch has been recharged, something that seems simple, but isn’t always included.

I’ve found the TicWatch Pro 5’s health tracking easier and faster to use, and the app more informative and logically laid out than Fitbit on the Pixel Watch. Mobvoi has announced a premium sleeptracking feature that requires a monthly subscription, but it does not seem to be an option here, and I hope it stays this way. Mobvoi does need to fix the bug regarding exercise tracking, though, which may just be an issue with my prerelease model or the early version of the software.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: Wear OS

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the keyboard.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Version 3.5 of Google’s Wear OS is installed on the TicWatch Pro 5. While Samsung has customized Wear OS extensively with its One Watch UI interface, Mobvoi has largely left it alone, but it still feels more rounded and thoughtfully designed than Montblanc’s version. Operation is driven by scrolling through various Tiles, ranging from the weather, heart rate, and exercise programs to daily activity data. Each Tile can be tapped to reveal more data or additional functions.

Press the crown to access the main menu, where preinstalled apps are found, as is the Play Store to install new ones. The Store itself is far better designed than in previous versions of Wear OS, with big buttons and obvious categories, making finding and installing apps very simple. The Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1’s power makes it really fast to browse, and installing apps takes moments. Again, it’s a world apart from Wear OS smartwatches of old.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing notificaitons.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Mobvoi installs a lot of its own apps, all prefixed by the word Tic, and each one corresponds to features like checking heart rate, blood oxygen, and sleep-tracking data, as well as the compass and TicCare (which lets you share health data with doctors and family members). There’s also an app to connect to Mobvoi’s treadmill, the Spotify app, and basic apps like the calendar, alarm, and calculator. Most of them are superfluous, but can be ignored.

I’ve used the TicWatch Pro 5 connected to the Google Pixel 7a and found Wear OS to be fast and reliable, with notifications arriving quickly and most having at least a degree of interactivity. The watch is quick to react when you raise your wrist after a haptic buzz alerts you of an incoming message, and enough information is shown on the screen to give an idea of what you need to do with it. Some may find the lack of Google Assistant bothersome, and the app can’t be downloaded from Google Play either.

It’s a world apart from Wear OS smartwatches of old.

It’s still a little complicated to get Wear OS working the way you want, and Mobvoi’s decision to switch various features off by default makes it worse. I still haven’t managed to configure the sleep tracking effectively enough so that I don’t have to manually activate Bedtime Mode. I’m sure the option is there, but I haven’t found it yet. This is where Wear OS fails next to Apple’s watchOS, which never requires such attention during setup and the first few weeks of use, and where all the health features are on by default.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: battery and charging

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on charge.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The TicWatch Pro 5’s massive 628mAh capacity suggests a very long use time, as does the secondary screen. Sure enough, it really impresses. Mobvoi says we should expect 80 hours, and that fits in with our testing so far. But it can go even longer than that if you decide not to use all the available features.

Out of the box, the smartwatch comes with a variety of health-tracking features disabled — there’s no blood oxygen tracking or stress monitoring, for example. It also comes with Auto Essential Mode activated, where the smartwatch will enter a low-power state during the night. With this left on, along with heart and blood oxygen monitoring, but no sleep tracking, the battery lasted for seven days. During this time, I tracked a few non-GPS workouts too.

Battery life is very good by Wear OS and smartwatch standards.

Switch the Auto Essential Mode off, add in sleep and stress tracking, plus a few longer GPS-enabled workouts, and the battery lasts for four days. If you’re going to wear a smartwatch, then you likely want to use all the features it has, making four days a realistic expectation, but it’s good to know this can be lengthened if required. Overall battery life is very good by Wear OS and smartwatch standards, and it’s a strong indication that the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 is as efficient as it is powerful.

Charging is performed using a proprietary magnetic attachment that’s much smaller than regular charging pucks, and it can’t be used to angle the face toward you on a bedside table. It hasn’t fallen off, but it could easily be knocked off if you’re not careful. There’s no Qi wireless charging like you get with the Garmin Vivomove Trend. It takes a little over an hour to fully recharge the battery, but there is a fast-charge feature that zaps about 65% into the cell in 30 minutes.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: price and availability

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 costs $350 in the U.S. (or 329 British pounds in the U.K.). That matches the Pixel Watch, but is more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Apple Watch SE 2. It’s less expensive than the Apple Watch Series 8 by $50 and substantially cheaper than the $450 Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

Despite matching the price of the Pixel Watch, the TicWatch Pro 5 is a better value. It’s more durable, has longer battery life, the latest (and so far excellent) processor, and clever dual-screen technology. If you’re going to spend $350 on a smartwatch for your Android phone, make it the TicWatch Pro 5. However, Samsung just edges it out as our top recommendation with the Galaxy Watch 5. It’s a bit cheaper, comes in two sizes, and has a greater choice of colors and straps, while the software is equally as good.

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5: verdict

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is what a modern Wear OS smartwatch should be like. It has all the performance we expect, the software is reliable and responsive, the app is logical and free to use, and it doesn’t skimp on materials or durability. The haptics are high quality and noticeable, there’s a speaker and microphone to take calls, and the battery lasts for four days. I do want the odd fitness tracking bug to be fixed, though, and I understand Mobvoi is investigating.

I think the design is attractive, but it’s a shame it only comes in black, and there’s no doubt the size will put some people off.  It’s absolutely a rival to the Galaxy Watch 5 and a better buy than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, so if you have an Android phone and are looking at a smartwatch, this is one to seriously consider — provided you can deal with the size. The TicWatch Pro 5 is leaps and bounds ahead of the Pixel Watch. If you have an iPhone, stick with an Apple Watch as it fully integrates with iOS in a way Wear OS does not.

The Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1’s arrival, finally, seems to have breathed life into Wear OS 3.5, and in Mobvoi’s hands, it has made the TicWatch Pro 5 a very desirable, fully rounded, high-performance smartwatch you will want to continue wearing. That’s a major step forward, and I hope this won’t end up being the one and only smartwatch I’ll be able to say this about.

Editors' Recommendations

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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