When you look at the smartwatch market you really only need to look at the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear lineup to know what’s good. There are hybrid watches, some great third-party options from companies like Fitbit, and a handful of decent Wear OS options. However, for years now Google’s wearable platform has just been… boring.
Really, that comes down to a few things that I’ll get to in a bit, but I think a company has finally discovered how to stand out, and it’s Mobvoi with the Ticwatch Pro.
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There are two main points when it comes to the Ticwatch Pro, and they both come back to the battery life. We’ll discuss that in more detail later, but the thing I want to focus on for now is the display. Or rather, the displays. Mobvoi has packed two displays stacked on top of one another on the Ticwatch Pro.
At the core, the Ticwatch Pro has a 1.39-inch 400×400 OLED display, nothing out of the ordinary for Wear OS. On top of that, though, is an FSTN LCD display which is transparent. When not in use, this display is (just about) invisible, letting you use the OLED display underneath. The idea for using two displays comes back to the question of how to extend the battery life as much as possible.
Mobvoi explained to me ahead of the Ticwatch Pro’s launch a bit about why it designed this watch as it is. Essentially, it comes down to what the company could actually control. Since Google makes Wear OS, it couldn’t do much to the software to extend the battery life, and there’s not much that can be done with the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset either. So, it all came down to the display.
That resulted in the hybrid option of the Ticwatch Pro. The standard OLED display lets you use Wear OS as anyone generally would, but when the watch is idle, the FSTN display kicks in to display only crucial information and conserve power.
On paper, it’s an amazing idea, and in practice, it works really well. There are some slight cons, though. For one, switching back and forth isn’t quite instant. I often find the watch taking a second or two to bring up the OLED display when a notification comes in, and that’s a shame. It can probably be fixed in updates, though. Another slight annoyance is that having the extra layer seems to make the OLED display a bit fuzzy. It doesn’t affect usage, but it’s noticeably not as sharp or bright as other smartwatch displays. Speaking of brightness, the OLED struggles a bit outdoors at times, but the FSTN display absolutely destroys the competition here.
BATTERY LIFE & CHARGING |
Everything on the Ticwatch Pro, though, comes back to the battery life. In short, it all succeeds. This is the best Wear OS device when it comes to battery life, hands down.
Mobvoi claims 2 days when using the “Smart Mode” which switches back and forth between the two displays. This is absolutely accurate, as during my testing I’d end the first day around 60%, leaving plenty of power for a full day two. In one instance, I was actually able to pull an extra half-day before “Essential Mode” kicked in.
In “Essential Mode,” Mobvoi claims up to 30 days on a charge. For obvious reasons I wasn’t able to fully test that, but based on my usage, I’d say it’s absolutely accurate. The mixed usage estimate of 5 days also seems easily achievable.
I can also happily say that charging this watch isn’t a pain either. While it doesn’t use wireless charging like I wish all smartwatches did, the magnetic charging puck is a breeze to use. The strong magnet keeps the watch in place and there’s never a concern that it’s going to fall off or become misaligned.
Outside of the battery life and display, however, you’re still getting a pretty solid smartwatch. The Ticwatch Pro has a design that reminds me of the LG G Watch R from years ago, and it’s a design that still looks good today. It’s sporty enough for casual and even active use, but, especially in the black/silver colorway, classy enough for other situations.
The watch measures in at 45mm which, admittedly, is going to be too bulky for a lot of wrists. However, I think there’s a good balance here between the size and what you’re getting. The materials are nice as well, with stainless steel on the bottom and around the bezel, and a “hard nylon” material making up the rest of the body.
Another nice touch is the addition of a speaker. This is one of just a select few Wear OS devices with a speaker on board and while it’s tinny and not great, it works decent enough for phone calls. There’s also a heart rate sensor on board which is always great to see. A nice note is that this sensor even works when using “Essential Mode.”
The inclusion of NFC is also a huge deal. With it, the Ticwatch Pro can make contactless payments anywhere Google Pay is available. Very few Wear OS watches at any price point pack this feature, so it’s a huge selling point, and in my testing, it works really well (although the app is slow to load).
SOFTWARE & PERFORMANCE |
As for software, Wear OS is on board here, as I’ve mentioned a few times already. Like Mobvoi said, they can’t change much when it comes to Google’s wearable platform, meaning you’ll have a pretty standard experience here as well. There are a few Mobvoi apps pre-loaded, but they’re entirely optional and don’t get in the way.
Performance is a place where I feel Wear OS devices have struggled a lot, and the Ticwatch Pro is pretty average here. It’s not blazing fast, but it’s also not slow and full of lag. There are definitely some issues from time to time when the watch wakes up from sleep which probably stem from the dual-display trick, but overall it’s pretty solid with little to complain about.
As for the band that comes with the Ticwatch Pro, it’s a bit of a tough one to explain. Right off the bat, I can say it won’t be for everyone, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Underneath, the band is made from silicone, but the top portion is leather. This gives a premium look while still being a solid band for “active” use.
Unfortunately, it’s just a bit uncomfortable to me. Mobvoi is supposedly going to offer a bunch of variants of this band including a gorgeous black/orange combo (which I will own), but you might be better off picking up another option if comfort is key. Luckily, any 20mm band should work.
FINAL THOUGHTS |
Wear OS is a land of repeats. The software is the same everywhere. The specs are the same everywhere. Sure, there is some incredible hardware out there that you won’t find on any other platform, but eventually, it just gets kind of boring, especially when they also all share the same battery life.
At the end of the day, the Ticwatch Pro is the best Wear OS device, and I don’t think anyone would argue that. After a couple of weeks of usage, though, I can honestly say this is also one of the best smartwatches, Wear OS or not. Sure, it might not be taking on the Apple Watch’s throne any time soon, but I’d easily recommend this to anyone on Android looking for a good option.
WHERE TO BUY |
The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro retails for $249 in black or black/silver. Sales are open now through Amazon and will open at more retailers in August.This post was originally published here