Is af­ford­abil­ity and in­creased bat­tery life a bet­ter swap for qual­ity?

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

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.

Screen time

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.

Style mat­ters

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

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