Is affordability and increased battery life a better swap for quality?
Question: is increased battery life and affordability a better swap for quality? This unique new smartwatch seems to think so. Here’s our verdict
When a company moves from making entry-level smartwatches to top-end wrist real estate, it can be quite a risk, but that’s exactly what Chinese AI company Mobvoi is doing. A new entrant on the wearable space, Mobvoi’s been making waves with its wrist innovations and now it has unleashed the TicWatch Pro. Aimed at being the affordable top-end to its current Wear OS (née Android Wear) offerings, the Pro’s main selling points are price and big battery life.
The Pro’s quoted battery life is five days (mixed use) to 30 days (Essential Mode), thanks to dual display tech that extends usage. Battery life drops to two days if you use the watch exclusively in Smart Mode. Basically, there are two 1.39-inch screens layered on top of one another. There’s the 400x400 OLED display, with ace resolution for the size that ensures text is legible and the pixels are barely visible. But it doesn’t fare well in bright sunlight, washing out colours and making the time harder to read.
There is, however, the inclusion of that second screen. It lies in wait above the other – a transparent LCD layer – and comes to life whenever the other screen is off. This secondary, low-powered display still shows the time, date, your step count, the watch’s current battery level, and even your heart rate, with one touch
of a button. It’s a simple version of the Pro aesthetic, but it does mean you’re getting more out of the battery than you would on the Apple Watch.
In reality, the smart screen lasts around two days, but it can limp on using that LCD display for another week or so - just without most of the actual smartwatch functionality and the pretty watch faces. Plus, that low-power screen just doesn’t look attractive, making the TicWatch Pro feel cheaper than it should, especially considering its aesthetics elsewhere.
You see, despite the price tag, this feels like a premium product. It’s a blend of matte black plastic and a brushed metal bezel, paired with a hybrid strap that wraps a heavily textured silicone underlay with a fine layer of leather. Comfortable, flexible and remarkably light, the Pro looks and feels expensive. It’s just a shame that the size of the body won’t appeal to all. Some of us love a big watch, but the TicWatch Pro is massive, thick and definitely not subtle. The majority of people we showed it to weren’t a fan of its size, and for slimmer wrists it looks almost ridiculous. It doesn’t help that there are two sizeable metal hardware buttons on the right-handside, which you use to navigate the watch in between swipes and prods of the touchscreen.
All that heft packs in a lot of features, thanks to the fact it runs on Wear OS. It’s incredibly easy to set up, the software is easy to use and there are plenty of apps available. There’s a plethora of highly customisable faces to choose from too, and it supports Google Pay. You can even programme the lower of the two buttons, which we assigned to toggle Google Pay. Unlike the Samsung Gear Sport, for example, the TicWatch Pro doesn’t take advantage of the Wear OS support for a bezel or buttons, so this button is fairly handy. It’s just a shame that the software on the watch can often stutter and lag as you move between notifications or apps—it’s never quite as smooth as you’d hope.
It’s also frustrating that you need to use a combination of the Wear OS and Mobvoi apps on your phone to make the most of everything the TicWatch has to offer. Mobvoi doesn’t add much to the Wear OS experience, and the app is particularly limited, but its activity tracking provides useful data. The Mobvoi app (iOS, Android) shows your progression across steps, exercise and active hours in a series of rings, with the aim of closing all three by the end of the day.
It’s not designed specifically as a fitness tracker, so the software isn’t going to provide highly detailed exercise breakdowns, but it’s enough for those who aren’t fitness freaks. We used it at the gym several times and found it more than substantial in terms of recording our workouts, especially in the accuracy of its heart rate tracker. Though if you’re looking for advanced tracking, you’ll need to be looking at a Garmin.
OS Wear OS Display dual, AMOLED (400x400) and FSTN Size 45mm Battery two-30 days (depending on usage) Water and dust resistance IP68 Heart rate Yes Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Works with iOS, Android The Pro’s dial is available in silver or matte black, with a strap to match
The strap’s design means it’s business on the front and totally sweatproof on the back