The TicWatch Pro 5 has been a long time coming. And after following an exhausting trail of teasers and leaks since last summer, we now officially have the new Mobvoi smartwatch on our wrists.
Thankfully, the wait appears to have been worth it - and there's plenty to dive into here.
The Pro 5 arrives as the first and only smartwatch to run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon W5+ platform, and it's also (a bit less impressively) the first of the company's smartwatches to support Wear OS 3.
The last-gen models are still in line for that long-overdue update, but, for now, the Pro 5 stands alone in this regard.
Some core elements have remained, such as the dual-display technology and lengthy battery life estimations, but Mobvoi has added plenty here that appear to put it among the top watches for Android users.
We'll be looking to deliver our final verdict on the TicWatch Pro 5 after more in-depth testing, but, for now, here are our initial impressions.
Though we'll reserve our final verdict for our full review, early testing of the TicWatch Pro 5 appears to suggest Mobvoi has delivered a legitimate contender here. Battery life appears to have jumped significantly, and performance has been boosted considerably by the inclusion of Snapdragon W5+. A lot still hinges on whether the activity tracking and health monitoring features prove accurate in our further testing, but we could be looking at the best Wear OS watch of 2023 here.
Design and display
Mobvoi has always kept things pretty simple with the look of the TicWatch Pro line, and it's the same story with the Pro 5.
This means it's difficult to get too excited about the look on the wrist, but, at the same time, there's definite value in a smartwatch with a design this broad.
We wouldn't necessarily credit it as being one of the most unisex designs out there, but it's certainly generic enough to wear for both formal occasions and your daily exercise.
It's also very comfortable on the wrist, despite the spec sheet suggesting the 50.15 x 48 x 12.2mm case would be pretty substantial.
A lot of that, we suspect, is due to the case material being aluminum and not stainless steel. So far, it's proved light enough to wear around the clock and also remain free from any bumps and grazes.
While the outer shell lacks some personality, then, Mobvoi has done a good job to add and upgrade some of its design features.
One improvement is the button layout. While the previous generation had a fairly pointy two-pusher array positioned at 2 o'clock and 5 o'clock, Mobvoi has instead opted for a rotating crown and streamlined button above for the Pro 5.
The rotating crown is a revelation, allowing you to speed through menus and notifications streams, and it doesn't suffer from the same lag we've found with other Wear OS watches with the same design feature.
Then there's the trademark TicWatch dual-display technology. We loved the company's innovative, power-saving approach to offering an always-on display in the previous generation, and it works even better here thanks to a couple of upgrades.
This Ultra Low Power (ULP) display now works with the rotating crown to display different tiles to users, meaning you can easily cycle through calorie burn, heart rate, and blood oxygen data without waking the OLED display up.
The main always-on screen still includes the time, step counts, day and date, battery level, and connectivity status, too, as shown above.
We're intrigued to see how the TicWatch Pro 5 design holds up after a couple of weeks, but we certainly approve of the direction Mobvoi has taken here. It doesn't feel like the most premium or outlandish smartwatch available at this price, but it's incredibly intuitive and easy to wear.
Wear OS 3 and Snapdragon W5+
While the design changes are certainly notable, it's the upgrades to the processor and software that are the Pro 5's most promising assets.
And judging from our first few days of use, performance is a considerable upgrade on the previous-gen Snapdragon 4100 platform - or, at least, is a much better fit for Wear OS 3.
We've not used an Android watch as quick to snap between menus as the Pro 5; it's finally like using an Apple Watch, where every touch results in an instant response.
There's no lagging when scrolling through notifications, apps open within 1-2 seconds, and details load without any real delay.
We've never found significant issues on TicWatch models that ran Wear OS 2, to be fair, but we have used Wear OS 3 devices with the old-gen Qualcomm processor that feel quite a distance behind this.
The upgrade to internals and software means the Pro 5 is now roughly in line with top-tier devices Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 or Google Pixel Watch, and Wear OS 3 itself continues to get better all the time.
We now have an app ecosystem that includes seamless Spotify and WhatsApp integration, with Google's own suite of apps - like Maps and Wallet - now infinitely more useful and easy to use than when we last tested a TicWatch.
We're semi-concerned about when (or even if) the Pro 5 will receive the Wear OS 4 update coming later this year, given how long Mobvoi has taken to get up to speed with Wear OS 3, but the early signs suggest that this is a highly competent smartwatch regardless.
Activity tracking and health features
Given we've only had the Pro 5 on our wrist for a few days, we're yet to really establish proper baselines or put it through our usual array of stress tests.
However, we will note that there are an absolute ton of new health and tracking features to dive into here.
Mobvoi has added recovery time estimates, VO2 Max predictions, Multi-GNSS, a compass, and a barometer for those who were hoping for a bump in workout tracking performance, while both open water swimming and trail running profiles have been added to a list that includes over 100 different activities.
The MIL-STD-810H design also suggests it should remain extremely durable, with 5ATM water resistance meaning it can withstand pressures equivalent to 50m depth.
An improved optical heart rate monitor is also being touted. Mobvoi suggests this should lead to improved health insights relating to blood oxygen, irregular heartbeats, and AFib, as well as general heart rate tracking.
A 'One-tap measurement' app also gives users a snapshot view of their heart rate, respiratory rate, stress levels, and blood oxygen, with sleep tracking also adding skin temperature and an array of sleep reports.
As we say, there are plenty of claimed improvements to get into here, and we'll be putting them all to the test over the coming weeks.
Battery life and charging
The TicWatch Pro line has always been one of the better performers when it comes to battery life, and the move to Snapdragon's latest platform appears to have yielded even more positives in this area.
Far removed from some of its Wear OS rivals that struggle to make it through 24 hours, the Pro 5 could wind up being the longest-lasting Android watch we've ever tested.
With default settings and moderate use, the daily drop-off has so far proven to be around 25-30%, which would see it far outlast both the Pro 3 Ultra model and more recent watches from Samsung and Fossil.
Charging is also breezy, with Mobvoi's claimed 65% bump from 30 minutes proving about right. It means you can allay any battery anxiety by quickly gaining enough juice to head out for an hour of running while listening to Spotify, so we're pleased with this one.
However, we should stress that we're in the early stages of all our battery testing.
It's very possible that the daily drop-off is significantly affected by changing the always-on display mode (default settings mean the Pro 5 use the ULP display), hammering the GPS in outdoor workouts, and tracking blood oxygen and the likes during sleep.
Again, though, as with other areas of the watch, the initial signs are very encouraging.
How we test