TicWatch Pro 2020 review: A minor upgrade that falls behind rivals

What's so different? Not a whole lot.
TicWatch Pro 2020
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is the smartwatch successor to the first TicWatch Pro that Mobvoi launched back in 2018.

For the 2020 edition, it's sought to improve things on the performance front to help Google’s Wear OS run smoother. It’s also making tweaks with the design to make it tougher and also a better fit for exercise.

Priced at $259, the Pro 2020 sits above Mobvoi’s budget duo the TicWatch E2 and S2. It comes in cheaper than the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE, which has the desirable feature of letting you live untethered to your smartphone – something you can't do on the 2020 Pro.

That pricing also puts it in and around the likes of the Apple Watch Series 3 ($199) and Android watches options like the Fitbit Versa 2 ($199). It’s also a cheaper option than most of the Fossil Group stable including the likes of the Skagen Falster 3.


It also makes it far more expensive than the Huawei Watch GT2e and Amazfit GTS.

The updates do seem pretty minor, so do original Pro owners really need to make the upgrade? Is it one of the best smartwatches for the price? We’ve been spending time with the Pro 2020 to find that out. Here’s our full verdict.

TicWatch Pro 2020: Design

TicWatch Pro 2020 main

When Mobvoi launched the first Pro, it saw a departure from its previous sporty smartwatches. The price crept up and it tried to offer something that had a more classic watch feel about it. To a certain degree it achieved that, and it’s more of the same with the 2020 edition.

In terms of what has changed on the design front, there’s actually not a lot to report.

You’re still getting the same sized 45mm watch case, which is available in black and silver. It still measures in at 12.6mm thick and has that big bezel surrounding the same 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 resolution touchscreen AMOLED display. That display though is quite challenging to read in bright sunlight, even with the screen cranked up to full brightness.

There’s also a FSTN display to create the dual-layer setup. That’s designed to give you more watch time, which we will delve more into in the battery section.

You still get that same interchangeable 22mm hybrid leather strap, that offers something more classic-looking on the outside and softer silicone material on the inside making it more suitable to use for exercise. We put it to the running test, and can confirm that while it doesn't look like it should be anywhere near a treadmill, it was fine to wear and get a little sweaty. Just remember to take it off when you jump in the shower after.

TicWatch Pro 2020 comparison

TicWatch Pros compared: TicWatch Pro 2020 (left) and TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE (right)

What is new is that it’s been certified to have military standard 810G durability. How appropriate or necessary that is for a smartwatch that looks more like it belongs in an office meeting than out on a hike is clearly up for debate.

It’s also been slapped with the same IP68 water resistant rating as the first Pro, though it’s not recommended you jump in the pool with this. With that leather strap, that’s probably not a good idea anyway.

It’s still a bit of a chunky beast and that big bezel means there’s nothing subtle or understated about it either. Is it a nice-looking smartwatch? It still feels like a watch made by a tech company and you’ll definitely find nicer design flourishes and slimmer cases on smartwatches that cost less or just slightly more. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Huawei Watch GT2e definitely spring to mind here.

When you sit it next to the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE, it certainly feels more hulking on the wrist even if they do measure in the same case-wise and in thickness. The 4G/LTE has toned things down on the bezel front and has a silicone strap as opposed to this hybrid leather one.

It’s a watch you certainly know is on your wrist. If you like chunky watches, it's going to have some appeal. The overall look just feels like sporty and traditional watch elements mashed together. The result is something that’s neither one or the other.

TicWatch Pro 2020: Wear OS

TicWatch Pro 2020 Wear OS

Like all of Mobvoi’s smartwatches, the Pro 2020 uses Google’s Wear OS and plays nice with iPhones and Android phones.

All of those core Wear OS features are in place. There's the ability to view notifications, access Google Assistant and the ability to download apps from the watch. There’s also Google Pay here too, which is always a nice feature to see ticked off.

To keep things running, Mobvoi has taken the interesting decision to upgrade some internals and not others. So it’s beefed up RAM to 1GB up from 512MB. Though it’s stuck with the same Qualcomm 2100 processor instead of opting for the newer 3100 processor currently found on most, if not all new Wear OS smartwatches.

TicWatch Pro 2020 notifications

We didn’t really highlight any performance issues with the first Pro. While it’s disappointing not to see it packing the latest processing tech, there’s been no issues with it. There’s hasn't been any horrible laggy moments scrolling through screens or apps that are slow to launch.

Don’t expect any great changes here from what we’ve previously seen on TicWatches. That includes Mobvoi including its Tic suited of health and fitness apps to use instead of Google’s ones. There’s also a bunch of watch faces with a mix of traditional and digital options to choose from. Unsurprisingly, those options veer more on the side of traditional watch-style faces.

We’ve spoken a lot about Wear OS and our thoughts on the platform. The fact is it’s good in parts and not so much in others. The TicWatch Pro 2020 doesn’t change our opinions. Features like music controls, Google Pay impress, while others like Google Fit and a not all that responsive Google Assistant disappoint.

The presence of Mobvoi's own TicWear apps though do make it a far nicer experience as far as tracking fitness and exercise is concerned.

TicWatch Pro 2020: Sports and fitness tracking

TicWatch Pro 2020 sports

While its exterior doesn’t scream get in the gym with me, Mobvoi has included everything to make it double up as a sports watch.

There’s built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and of course Google’s suite of Fit apps already installed. You do also have the TicWatch health and fitness apps too as mentioned, though you need to download the separate Mobvoi phone app to make use of those. You can of course download third party apps from the Google Play Store too.

Google’s Fit software definitely makes a bigger impression in terms of its fitness tracking skills. Now with the addition of a dedicated Google Fit Tile (widget) and watch face, it’s a much nicer way to glance over daily Move Points and Heart Points.

We found ourselves actually using the TicWatch equivalent to these apps more. The TicHealth widgets show off elements like steps and exercise time and felt better optimised for that watch display.

From an accuracy point of view, step tracking was pretty much in line with a Garmin watch and at the most around 300 steps out from the Garmin.

Mobvoi recently announced its TicSleep app for sleep tracking, which is only available on its Pro watches as it apparently has enough battery life to make it useful. Though the app isn’t preinstalled weirdly, so you’ll need to download it from the Google Play Store if you want to monitor your sleep.

TicWatch Pro 2020 vs Fenix 6

Run tracking compared: Garmin Fenix 6 (left) and TicWatch 2020 (right)

Its sports tracking skills are much in line with what we got on previous TicWatches. For things like GPS tracking accuracy, it labours trying to find a GPS signal.

We had to wait a fair few minutes before it picked something up. For just over a 30 minute run, it clocked us at 3.9 miles compared to the 4.02 miles tracked by a Garmin Fenix 6. So accuracy is not too bad.

The heart rate monitor seems to fall into the bracket of sensors that are good on the spot measurements, but not perfect when you ramp up the intensity. On a series of indoor and outdoor runs. It tended to be 5bpm off a Polar H9 chest strap for average and maximum readings.

It did produce some odd spikes in heart rate during very steady workouts too. If you want something to measure effort levels during exercise, it's not a great fit based on our experience.

TicWatch Pro 2020: Battery life

TicWatch Pro 2020 battery life

Mobvoi has stuck to the same 415mAh capacity battery that should give you 2 days in Smart mode and 30 days in Essential mode. It also says a mix of those two modes should give you anywhere from 2-30 days.

That smart mode relates to using in normal smartwatch mode as you’d expect. The Essential mode switches to the FSTN display mode letting you view watch basics like time, date, and fitness tracking stats. There’s no access to those other Wear OS features. Basically it’s a not so basic watch mode.

In smart mode, we typically managed to get just about 2 days, with one 30 minute workout a day, but it was a push. A 30 minute outdoor run using GPS knocked around 9% off the battery.

From having the watch on 100% battery from around 9.30am, it usually hit around 60% at around 11pm. It does seem to retain enough battery to make use of the sleep tracking support for at least a night.

When you have finally run out of battery, dropping it on its charge cradle and getting from 0-100% takes around a 1.5 hours.



TicWatch Pro 2020
By Mobvoi
The TicWatch Pro 2020 makes such modest improvements, it's hard to understand why Mobvoi didn't just wait until it had something more exciting to offer, but the Pro 2020 still a good looking and feature-rich smartwatch. However, for the price you could get you something like the Garmin Venu or an Apple Watch Series 3 – and even the Huawei Watch GT2e looks a better proposition. In other words, the Pro 2020 feels a little left behind.

Hit
  • Well-built for the price
  • Useful hybrid straps
  • TicHealth apps
Miss
  • Not much different from first Pro
  • Screen visibility issues
  • Heart rate monitor not great for exercise