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TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra hands-on review: Amazing battery life

I’m a die-hard Apple fan, but after years of using the company’s watches, I decided to take a walk on the wild side and test out Google’s Wear OS with the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. My Apple Watch Series 7 works well, but the interface is getting boring. I wanted to try out the many cool-looking watch faces that are available on the Google Play Store. Also, the sameness of the Apple Watch’s square design needed some changing up.

I was curious to find out if the TicWatch, and by extension other Wear OS devices, could be used effectively with my iPhone 12 Pro Max. After spending several months with the Pro 3 Ultra, the answer is yes, although with some caveats. Apple phone owners should probably stick with one of the company’s watches.

But if you’re an Android user looking for a sporty-looking Wear OS with long battery life, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra should be at the top of your list. The $300 price tag is reasonable given this watch’s excellent performance.

Design

A TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra sits flat on a wooden surface.

There’s no getting around the fact that the Pro 3 Ultra is big and bulky. At 47mm by 48mm by 12.2mm, it’s got a rugged, outdoorsy look.

I love the style and, at only 42 grams in weight, I found the watch very comfortable to wear. But its bulky look may not be to everyone’s taste, and fashionistas should note that it’s not precisely an elegant buttoned-down look. One nice thing about the Pro 3 Ultra is that it doesn’t appear to be a smartwatch unless you look closely.

I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch Series 7 recently, and I found the more traditional ergonomics of the TicWatch to be a nice change of pace, with actual buttons to push and a round face. I showed the Pro 3 Ultra to some friends, and opinions were divided. Some like the “un-smartwatch” look of the model, while others found it clumsy-looking.

The watch’s 47mm casing is made of stainless steel, nylon, and fiberglass, and attaches to a 22mm rubber strap. You can use any 22mm strap, but the GPS model I own only comes in black. The LTE model has a slightly more expensive-looking brown leather strap.

As much as I like the outdoorsy look of the Pro 3 Ultra, I found using the physical interface confusing. I also own the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which has a similar dial to the Mobvoi. But the Samsung dial allows you to move through software features. On the Mobvoi, the dial is just ornamental.

The Pro 3 Ultra has a 1.4-inch, full-color AMOLED display. I found this screen bright enough to be easily used even in full daylight. But the one neat trick about the Pro 3 Ultra is that it’s got a second always-on FSTN screen that doesn’t use much power and allows you to glance at the time. I found this feature to be truly useful, and it made me realize how much I used my smartwatch as just a watch.

Choose your OS

A man wears a A TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra on his left wrist.

I spent time using the Pro 3 Ultra with a Google Pixel phone running Android and my iPhone 12 Pro Max. I tend to use my iPhone as a daily driver, so it was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much by using Apple’s OS with the Mobvoi.

I never had any connection problems with my Pro 3 Ultra when using Google’s Wear app that I downloaded from the Apple store. Setting up the app was as easy as tapping a few icons. Keep in mind that using Wear OS with an iPhone does have its limitations. You can’t interact with notifications, for example. In practice, though, I found that I didn’t miss being able to interact with my watch. It was handy to receive notifications on my wrist, and I responded by turning to my phone.

Mobvoi offers its iOS app, which provides some basic functionality that replicates much of what Google’s Wear OS app does. It shows you your physical activity, such as heart rate data and blood oxygen levels. The activity apps were easy to use and seemed to track my biking and running workouts adequately.

You can download apps from the Google Play Store. The Pro 3 Ultra also comes loaded with some handy apps baked in, including fitness basics like step counting, exercise measurements, heart rate, and a blood oxygen monitor.

I tested the blood oxygen and heart rate monitors and got similar values to the Apple Watch Series 7. I did note, though, that the blood oxygen levels seemed to trend higher on the Pro 3 Ultra than on the Apple Watch. The step counter on the Mobvoi exactly matched the number of steps shown on my Apple Watch during recent long walks.

Heart rate tracking also seemed to match the performance of my Apple Watch. The Pro 3 Ultra quickly picked up my heart rate, and the range during a bike ride was similar to Apple’s product.

Battery and charging

A man wears a A TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra on his left wrist.

Coming from the Apple Watch 7, the battery life on the Pro 3 Ultra was stellar. I used the wireless charger supplied with the watch to top it up in about two hours. The charger is just a chunk of black plastic and doesn’t do much to show off the good looks of the Pro 3 Ultra. The cable is also a little awkward to position on a nightstand, but at least it matches the minimalist design of the Mobvoi.

I got more than a week’s battery life out of the Pro 3 Ultra with regular use. I attribute the excellent battery to the dual-display design, which means that instead of the full-color display, I was mainly glancing at the time with the secondary display.

Price and availability

The Pro 3 Ultra costs $300 and is available through the Mobvoi website and other major online retailers.

Like, not love

After spending several months with the Pro 3 Ultra, I can say that it’s one of the best smartwatches I’ve ever tried. I love this watch’s rugged design and comfort, and its fast processor and bright display make it easy to use. Battery life, especially compared to the Apple Watch, and even the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, is jaw-dropping. You can get comparable battery life, without the extra faces (but with some awesome exercise metrics) with something like the Garmin Venu 2 Plus.

Unfortunately, Wear OS works best with Android devices. I wish Apple made a round watch with as remarkable battery life as the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. Until then, though, I’m sticking with my Apple Watch 7. But if you’re an Android user, the Pro 3 Ultra is a terrific addition to your wrist.

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