Ticwatch Pro

CAN THE FANCY FOURTH DE­VICE FROM THIS MOB-FUNDED, MASS MAR­KET SMARTWATCH COM­PANY MAKE IT IN THE BIG LEAGUES?

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ JOEL BURGESS ]

THE TICWATCH SPORT (S) and Ex­press (E) that we fea­tured in the last is­sue of TechLife cham­pi­oned the pow­er­ful yet af­ford­able bal­ance that made Mob­voi the crowd­fund­ing suc­cess story it is to­day — but the com­pany’s lat­est smartwatch is chang­ing up this suc­cess recipe by launch­ing a new de­vice in the pre­mium smartwatch space. The fancy Ticwatch Pro flaunts its su­pe­ri­or­ity with a thick metal bezel and a phys­i­cal time dial help­ing to frame and en­hance the hun­dreds of cir­cu­lar ana­logue and dig­i­tal watch faces on of­fer. This div­ing-watch look adds a touch of class, but also quite a bit of weight — some­thing that to­day’s smart­watches still have way too much of, if you ask us. This Ticwatch crown jewel weighs in at a hefty 77g (the Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 3 alu­minium ver­sion weighs just 26.7g, in con­trast) and it’s strapped in place by a hy­brid sil­i­cone and leather strap that grips well dur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and also man­ages to look pro­fes­sional. All this comes with an im­proved IP68 wa­terand dust-proof­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion to en­sure the watch can go wher­ever you do without fear of the el­e­ments.

SMARTWATCH SCREEN­ING

The 1.39-inch AMOLED dis­play is the Pro’s most pro­moted fea­ture, since it adds an ad­di­tional LCD screen for dis­play­ing es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion — like the time, date and steps you’ve taken — in or­der to dra­mat­i­cally save on power us­age. The com­pany likes to spruik a 5–30-day bat­tery life, which is a bit of a stretch since we never ac­tu­ally got more than 2 days out of it; if you plan to ac­tu­ally use it for fit­ness track­ing and the oc­ca­sional voice com­mand, don’t ex­pect to see any­thing more than av­er­age smartwatch bat­tery per­for­mance. The ‘power sav­ing’ LCD screen is also re­ally hard to read in any con­di­tion but full di­rect sun­light, and it makes the watch look like a thick and cheap ‘90s dig­i­tal watch when in this ‘es­sen­tial mode’. More­over, the proper full-colour smartwatch faces are far more at­trac­tive and ex­cep­tion­ally well de­signed, of­fer­ing a num­ber of di­verse and good-look­ing themes that don’t sac­ri­fice on on-screen in­for­ma­tion.

IN­TER­FACE THE MU­SIC

There’s no doubt­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of An­droid Wear OS 2 back in March was a big step for­ward from ear­lier it­er­a­tions of Google’s watch OS. The Ticwatch Pro runs that re­vamped OS on a Qual­comm Snap­dragon Wear 2100 chipset, which was re­leased way back in 2016 but is still a big step up from the last stock An­droid Wear smartwatch we tested (the gen 2 Mo­torola Moto 360). These two fac­tors make the Pro feel ex­cep­tion­ally re­spon­sive, and Mobovi’s back­ground in voice recog­ni­tion means all the Ticwatches are par­tic­u­larly adept at util­is­ing the Google As­sis­tant.

The Ticwatch Pro has two phys­i­cal side-mounted but­tons that launch ei­ther the app drawer or a cus­tomis­able app of you own choos­ing. The ad­di­tional cus­tom but­ton is a key perk over the sin­gle-but­ton S and E mod­els, al­low­ing you to put your most reg­u­larly-used app front and cen­tre. Be­ing able to quickly ac­cess func­tions is one of the most im­por­tant fea­tures on smart­watches and this two-but­ton sys­tem is def­i­nitely an im­prove­ment on other Mob­voi watches, but others still ar­guably do it more

THE FANCY TICWATCH PRO FLAUNTS ITS SU­PE­RI­OR­ITY WITH A THICK METAL BEZEL AND A PHYS­I­CAL TIME DIAL HELP­ING TO FRAME AND EN­HANCE THE HUN­DREDS OF DIG­I­TAL WATCH FACES ON OF­FER.

THE INBUILT GPS SEEMS TO BE AC­CU­RATE ENOUGH FOR FIT­NESS TRACK­ING WITH FULL SPEED AND HEART RATE BREAK­DOWNS OVER A MAPPED EX­ER­CISE ROUTE.

ef­fi­ciently, such as the ro­tat­ing bezel on Sam­sung’s Gear smart­watches, or the three short­cut but­tons on Fit­bit’s Ionic.

WEAR­ING US DOWN

Wear OS still isn’t per­fect, ei­ther, and it can ac­tu­ally feel poorly de­signed in places. We don’t un­der­stand how two out of the four swi­peable home screen ac­tions (the most im­me­di­ate and pri­ori­tised short­cuts) are ded­i­cated to swap­ping watch faces, for ex­am­ple. That’s like re­plac­ing the back, home or vol­ume but­tons on your smart­phone with two short­cuts to the app store. Un­less you’re a shop as­sis­tant try­ing to sell the watch by be­ing able to show the de­sign ver­sa­til­ity, there’s no need for these func­tions to take the same level of pri­or­ity as, say, quickly be­ing able to ac­cess your no­ti­fi­ca­tions or set­tings.

WATCH­ING YOUR HEALTH

While we were pleased to see the Ticwatch Pro up­graded to IP68 wa­ter­proof­ing, the soft­ware didn’t in­clude any wa­ter-based ex­er­cise track­ing at the time of writ­ing. In fact, with only five ex­er­cise op­tions, the over­all fit­ness track­ing of­fered by Mob­voi’s smartwatch and phone apps are a lit­tle more lim­ited than we’d like. You can cir­cum­vent this some­what by us­ing Google’s Fit app, and the ex­er­cises that Mob­voi does in­clude are tracked com­pre­hen­sively, but it’s a shame there’s no sup­port for any wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties. The inbuilt GPS, at least, seems to be ac­cu­rate enough for fit­ness track­ing with full speed and heart rate break­downs over a mapped ex­er­cise route.

WRISTY BUSI­NESS

The Pro’s smartwatch/GPS combo gives it the grunt to run Google Maps right off your wrist, which means you can go al­most any­where without need­ing to keep an eye on your phone. Also hav­ing ac­cess to apps like Google Keep, Face­book Mes­sen­ger and a cal­en­dar will al­low you to use the Google As­sis­tant to dic­tate notes and mes­sages, or cre­ate events and reminders that you can get no­ti­fi­ca­tions for (or edit) on your phone or PC later. You can even Shazam some­thing right from your wrist, an­other neat fea­ture that helps bal­ance out Wear OS’s lim­i­ta­tions.

For us, the two big fea­tures that we use reg­u­larly enough to jus­tify the ef­fort of charg­ing a smartwatch ev­ery other day are the fit­ness track­ing and the wrist based pay­ments. The NFC re­quired by the lat­ter is a fea­ture ex­clu­sive to the Pro se­ries of Mob­voi’s range, and re­lies on Google Pay to man­age the fi­nan­cial side of things. Google Pay doesn’t have a built-in short­cut yet — which is an­noy­ing be­cause, most of the time, the only rea­son you’d use your watch to pay for some­thing would be if it was faster, and open­ing the app drawer and scrolling to Google Pay takes way longer than pulling out your credit card or phone. You can, of course, map Google Pay to the one free short­cut but­ton, but it’ll mean sac­ri­fic­ing what­ever app you had al­ready con­ve­niently placed there. Per­haps they should have con­sid­ered set­ting this fea­ture to a swipe ges­ture...

While Mob­voi sells the Ticwatch Pro di­rectly to Aus­tralia from the com­pany’s main web­site, they’re cur­rently pegged at US$250, which equated to roughly $340 at the time of writ­ing. For a full-fea­tured smartwatch, that’s pretty com­pet­i­tive, al­though you can get the Fit­bit Ionic for $20 more or a Sam­sung Gear S3 Clas­sic for just $40 more, so it does have some com­pe­ti­tion. There’s a lot to like about the Pro, but it’s not quite the same value propo­si­tion as other Ticwatch it­er­a­tions and there are a few fea­tures that just aren’t per­fectly suited to a pre­mium smartwatch.

While the Ticwatch Pro’s ac­tiv­ity track­ing op­tions are lim­ited, the depth of in­for­ma­tion makes it good for walk­ers, cy­clists and run­ners.

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