“The Ticwatch Pro has two displays and twice the battery life of other smartwatches; but with half the performance we want.”
- Clever dual-screen tech is useful
- Essential Mode really does extend battery life
- GPS, NFC, and heart rate sensor welcome feature additions
- Competitive price
- Wear OS frustrates
- Masculine design
- Slow performance
What do you do if you want a smartwatch that doesn’t need charging every day? You buy a hybrid smartwatch. But Mobvoi — the Chinese brand behind the Ticwatch smartwatch series — has an alternative solution for you. It’s called the Ticwatch Pro, and it runs Google’s Wear OS, along with two screens and some clever tech to maximize standby time from the battery. That’s right, it’s the first time a company is telling us that adding another screen will see us charge a watch less than usual.
Sounds like nonsense, right? No, it’s not. Mobvoi’s screen tech gamble has paid off, and we’ve been wearing the Ticwatch Pro for a week to see if the rest of the watch can match the impressive battery life.
Before we get into the battery and screen tech, let’s talk about what’s important — design. Almost all companies making touchscreen watches struggle with this, yet it’ll be the prime reason we buy a particular watch. The Ticwatch Pro is considerably better looking than the Ticwatch E, and from certain angles, there is a vague resemblance to the Tag Heuer Carrera Connected — it’s the top and bottom sections on the bezel that do it.
The silver bezel on our review model looks great, and is attached to a reinforced nylon body — which feels like a textured plastic — and a metal back plate. There is an all black version that’s even more subtle. There are two oversized buttons on the side, which control the Wear OS software.
The strap is leather with a silicone underside, which is exceptionally comfortable, sweat resistant, decently attractive, and it will be more durable over time. It did pick up some stains from suntan lotion we had on when wearing it. It’s quite slim, and makes the body look larger than its real size. On the back of the watch is a heart-rate sensor and the magnetic charging connector. The 45mm body is big, and it stretched across my wrist so the strap fell sharply down the side.
How does it look when it’s on? The Ticwatch Pro is understated in a slightly dull way, and it doesn’t have any visual flourishes that catch the eye. It’s very normal, and therefore goes with most outfits. We don’t consider this a negative, but if you’re looking for a flashy smartwatch to show off, the Ticwatch Pro may not satisfy.
There are two screens on the Ticwatch Pro, stacked on top of each other. The lower screen is a 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 pixel OLED panel that shows Google’s Wear OS, and above it is a special Film compensated Super Twisted Nematic (FSTN) LCD panel that shows the same basic information you’d expect to see on Wear OS’s Ambient display. Except it does so while sipping power, rather than gulping it. When used together in a normal manner, you cannot tell there are two screens. Neither obscures or affects the other. You simply think it’s a single screen making the magic happen.
The dual-screen technology on the Ticwatch Pro is a genuine reason to buy the watch.
The LCD screen is very cool. It shows the time in big, classic digital style, along with the date, step count, and a battery life meter. It’s easily viewable indoors and in regular daylight, but there is no backlight, so it’s tough to see it in the dark and in direct sunlight. It’s always-on, so there’s no wait to see the time. Tap the screen or raise the watch towards you, and the OLED screen activates to show Wear OS. There is no extended wait time as the screens switch, and it’s no different to switching between ambient mode and the main watch face on a single-screen Wear OS watch.
Activate the Ticwatch Pro’s secret weapon, called Essential Mode, by open the app drawer and tapping on the Essential Mode app. Wear OS then shuts down, and you’re left with the LCD screen on its own. Like this, the Ticwatch Pro’s battery will last 30 days on a full charge, but we found switching between the two modes good for lengthening the battery life up to about four days. We’d activate Essential mode at night, maximizing the battery life. Huawei also includes a similar power saving mode on the Huawei Watch 2, but it does not use a second screen.
Using the Ticwatch Pro’s OLED screen is the experience you expect — it’s bright and colorful, with strong contrast and tones — and isn’t any different to any other Wear OS watch we’ve used recently. While setting the screen brightness to automatic is best for battery life, it does look more vibrant and alive with the brightness set to maximum.
The dual-screen technology on the Ticwatch Pro is a genuine reason to buy the watch, and not the pointless gimmick it could have been.
Software and performance
Inside the Ticwatch Pro is the familiar and aging Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor with just 512MB of RAM. Like many Wear OS watches, performance is barely average, and we experienced frustrating slowdowns and pauses, particularly after the watch had been woken up. Patience is needed to use the Ticwatch Pro on a daily basis, as it doesn’t zip along, and Wear OS is long-winded to wade through.
Patience is needed to use the Ticwatch Pro on a daily basis.
We primarily used the Ticwatch Pro connected to an iPhone, as apparently one in three new Wear OS watches connected to an iPhone in 2017 according to Google, but we did use it connected to a Moto Z3 Play Android smartphone as well. The Wear OS app for iOS is similar to the Android version, but with fewer features.
What problems did we encounter? It’s Wear OS rather than the Ticwatch Pro at fault here, because the same issues were replicated on another watch. The included Google Assistant rarely works with voice commands on the watch; Wear OS refuses to keep a Wi-Fi connection unless you turn off Bluetooth, making updating the watch a pain; and the Bluetooth connection is flaky.
Even during the tutorial, the interface is annoying and slow to respond. Notifications come through in a long list, and despite ensuring the app is set to deliver all notifications, the watch wouldn’t always do so, with Apple Mail being the worst affected. Mobvoi insists on recommending another app of its own in addition to Wear OS to install on the phone. It requires registration, and controls some of the watch’s health and fitness tracking features. We preferred to use Google Fit.
Mobvoi has priced the Ticwatch Pro very competitively.
There are only three alternative watch faces included and they aren’t very inspiring, so we were pleased to add another from the Google Play Store. However, on iOS it only loads the Play Store with a Wi-Fi connection.
The Wi-Fi and Google Assistant problems did not occur when connected to an Android phone, but the performance was still poor. The software is in dire need of an overhaul from Google, and the feature set is limited and hobbled when connected to an iPhone.
Fitness, health, and GPS
The Ticwatch Pro is a fully-featured smartwatch, with both a heart rate monitor and GPS built-in. Neither will do the battery life any favors when used for any length of time; but there is some offset here thanks to the dual-screen system. What’s more, the sensors are all available when the watch is in Essential Mode, and Mobvoi has indicated it will add support for them in a future update. The more we keep the watch in Essential Mode and the less we have to use Wear OS, the better.
NFC is also onboard for Google Pay use, which is activated with a double-press of the lower watch button. Accuracy was in-line with other heart rate monitors we tried, including the Apple Watch. The step count appears to overestimate, and when compared to an Apple Watch worn on the other wrist, the Mobvoi watch was already at 480 steps when the Apple Watch was at 320. The Apple Watch’s step counter is comparable to other fitness trackers, and we consider it accurate.
Price, warranty, and availability
The Ticwatch Pro costs $250, or 220 British pounds, and is an Amazon exclusive until September. Only Amazon Prime members are able to buy one until August 15.
Mobvoi provides a one–year warranty with the watch, covering it against defects. Claims will result in either a replacement or repair, but the warranty doesn’t cover wear and tear, misuse, or the battery.
Brilliant screen technology, the excellent Essential Mode, and a head-turning price can’t alter the fact the Ticwatch Pro’s Wear OS software and performance don’t reach expectations.
What are the alternatives?
Mobvoi has priced the Ticwatch Pro competitively. For the iPhone owner, it’s $100 less than the cheapest Apple Watch Series 3, but on par with buying an Apple Watch Series 1. For Android owners, it’s $50 less than our recommended pair of either the Samsung Gear S3 or Huawei Watch 2, or any of these other Wear OS watches. It’s also around $100 less than our preferred fashion watches, such as the Diesel On-Full Guard and the Emporio Armani Connected. The $160 Mobvoi Ticwatch E, which has all but NFC inside, should be a consideration.
Despite the low price, the Ticwatch Pro has an excellent feature list, which often puts people off the fashionable options. The design is masculine though and the body is large enough to look very big on anyone with small wrists. We’d recommend looking at the Kate Spade Scallop if you’re looking for a feminine smartwatch.
We preferred using the Ticwatch Pro in Essential Mode, which turns it into a glorified watch and step counter. The Casio G Shock GBA-800 does this for $120 with a battery that will last for five years, and any number of hybrid smartwatches are better looking, don’t need recharging, and still deliver basic notifications. The smartwatch world is hyper-competitive, so don’t spend your money lightly.
How long will it last?
The Ticwatch Pro has an IP68 rating so will resist most forms of submersion in water, outside of taking it swimming, and the body feels like it can withstand a few drops. Treated properly, it will last for years; but the weak points are the software and the battery. The battery has a finite lifetime before it starts to deteriorate resulting in shorter times between charges. Similarly, the software — which isn’t great now — will only be supported by Google for a set period of time.
Provided you keep these aspects in mind, the Ticwatch Pro will still last for several years. However, we are expecting updated Wear OS hardware before the end of the year, which may offer improved looks, performance, and battery life. If you’re not in a hurry to buy one, there may be some very tempting propositions on sale in the next months. These new devices have the potential to very quickly make the Ticwatch Pro feel much older than it does now.
Should you buy one?
If you’re going to pair the Ticwatch Pro with an iPhone, then no. It’s not the Ticwatch Pro that’s to blame, it’s more Wear OS, because it provides a very poor user experience compared to the Apple Watch. We do recommend it if you’re using an Android phone, though, because Wear OS is more cohesive when connected to Google’s mobile operating system. While Wear OS still frustrates on Android, it’s still a more pleasant experience all round.
We love the dual-screen technology that genuinely extends the battery life, and found the watch to be a great companion when left in Essential Mode, even though we didn’t receive notifications. If you’re looking for a Wear OS smartwatch for your Android phone right now, and cannot wait, then the Ticwatch Pro’s low price makes it a solid choice.
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