TicWatch GTH review: Mobvoi's budget health watch tested

Mobvoi's cheap square smartwatch offers some useful health tracking skills
TicWatch GTH
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The TicWatch GTH is Mobvoi's second budget smartwatch that again swaps Google's Wear OS for its own software to help keep you using it for longer than a day or two.

It joins the TicWatch GTX that launched at the end of 2020, which didn't exactly wow us, particularly when Huami's legion of Amazfit smartwatches are offering so much at the cheap end of the smartwatch market.

The GTH's big play is in health monitoring. While it doesn't have the same kind of regulatory approval that Apple, Fitbit or Samsung has for keeping tabs on your heart or blood pressure, it can track temperature, respiration rate, heart rate to offer a window into how your body is doing.

TicWatch GTH: Price and alternatives

The £69.99 price sees it jump up from the cost of the GTX and puts it in and among smartwatches like the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini, Amazfit Bip U Pro and the Xiaomi Mi Watch Lite.

There's been some pretty big breakthroughs made with health monitoring on the top end smartwatches, so could a watch like the GTH do the same for budget watches? We've been living with it to find out.

Here's our full verdict on the TicWatch GTH.

TicWatch GTH: Design and screen

TicWatch GTH Design and screen

The GTH puts a square smartwatch on your wrist that quite frankly, isn't all that exciting to look at. It's a 43mm metal watch case that only comes in black and measures in at 10.5mm thick. That's partnered up with 20mm TPU band that is interchangeable and uses a traditional watch buckle to make sure you can get a nice secure fit.

It has the look and feel of an Amazfit Bip and is at least feel well built, you're just not get something that feels all that smart or stylish.

There's just one physical button that's used for waking up the screen and held down to shut the watch down. Most of your interactions lie with the touchscreen display, that doesn't quite fill up the front of the case with a generous amount of bezel both above and below the display.

It's 1.55-inch, 360 x 320 TFT display, which can't be set to always on and you can adjust the brightness. It's a good quality screen, but just a shame it's not the AMOLED kind that we are starting to see around this price range. Colors are a little muted and it's not a screen that's exceptionally sharp. Visibility is good enough in most conditions and better suited to glancing at it indoors.

You could pay an extra £10 and get an AMOLED screen on the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini or even get a cheaper fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrid like the Honor Band 6 that offers more in the screen department.

If you want to take it for a swim, you're in luck. It's slapped with a 5ATM water resistant rating making it safe to swim with and submerge it up to 50 metres depth. Though you can't shower with it or place it under soap or hot water.

TicWatch GTH: OS and smartwatch features

TicWatch GTH OS and smartwatch features

The GTH like the GTX, runs on an RTOS operating system and not Google's Wear OS. RTOS watches tend to put the emphasis on performance and battery life over features like app support and rich communication support.

It's paired and set up with the Mobvoi companion phone app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. Our testing time was using it with an Android phone. The on-watch software is fine to interact if a little laggy when scrolling through screens. Mobvoi's phone app is still a bit messy and buggy as well and still appears to pick up non-TicWatch smartwatches we've paired up to our phone previously as connected devices.

On the watch, there's all simple gestures in play here to reveal notification stream, shortcut settings like adjusting screen brightness and turning on the do not disturb mode, Swipe left and right and you'll get to the widgets showing off health data and smartwatch features like weather forecasts.

TicWatch GTH weather widget

The smartwatch features on board here aside from weather updates are made up for viewing notifications and controlling music playing on your phone. You can also change watch faces and create your own faces, which is done from inside the companion app. We had some issues syncing over watch faces in our time with it though.

Mobvoi continues its quirk of displaying notifications in an odd typewriter-style font. It's still unable to display full notifications on a single screen with a tap letting you read the rest of the notification. It certainly doesn't feel like the most polished approach to this smartwatch staple.

Its abilities as a smartwatch are basic, and the functionality is pretty basic too. The far from slick notification support is the most disappointing aspect here as it feels like that's one feature Mobvoi should really nail over everything else.

TicWatch GTH: Health monitoring

TicWatch GTH health monitoring

Mobvoi calls the GTH a health partner on your wrist and that's because it has included sensors that promise to offer some potentially really useful insights As we've mentioned though, these features don't come with any sort of FDA approval, so these aren't for medical use, but for fitness and wellness purposes.

Jump into the TicHealth app and you'll find apps like TicPulse, TicTemp to check skin temperature and TicOxygen to measure blood oxygen levels.

TicPulse is the place to go to check real-time heart rate and see maximum and minimum heart rate readings. Real-time heart rate readings were generally in line with a heart rate monitor built into a clinical grade pulse oximeter and a heart rate monitor chest strap. It was similar story for daily maximum and minimum readings here too.

TicWatch GTH skin temp

It also seemed to deliver respiration data and blood oxygen measurements in line with a pulse oximeter and the breath tracking available on Garmin's watches. That data is monitored continuously as well as offering on the spot measurements.

TicTemp signals that the GTH has an optical sensor capable of monitoring skin temperature 24/7 and with on the spot measurements. Unlike the bad performance we experienced with the skin temperature sensor on the Amazfit GTR 2e watch, things seem to be a lot more reliable with the GTH, though there are still issues.

When you take on the spot measurements, it'll quickly flash up a temperature reading and then proceed to try to take a measurement. We waited a minute and the gauge on the app flickers around but never generates a number.

TicWatch GTH health metrics

Health monitoring features on TicWatch GTH

It's more reliable it seems doing that monitoring in the background offering reliable average and maximum temperature readings. In the app, you can see readings plotted out on a graph and it'll note abnormal readings here too. It's neatly displayed though it could maybe benefit from outlining what a normal or abnormal temperature is as well.

Next up is TicZen, is a way to monitor stress levels letting you take heart rate variability measurements to generate a stress reading. There doesn't appear to be a way to review that stress data in the companion app and it takes what feels like a long three minutes on the watch to take a measurement. Other watches can generate those stress readings significantly quicker.

TicBreathe is your place to go to de-stress with guided breathing exercises. Once you pick the duration of the exercise, you'll be prompted when to inhale and exhale on screen. It doesn't offer anything drastically different from what we've already seen from guided breathing exercises on other smartwatches.

The GTH's health monitoring on the whole seems to work well. We had a few issues with taking on the spot measurements with some features, but the fact you can monitor this data continuously is the thing here. Mobvoi says these insights aren't for medical use, but they seem at least now to offer useful prompts that could help indicate that something is not quite right.

TicWatch GTH: Sports and fitness tracking

TicWatch GTH sports modes

While there's a big emphasis on health monitoring here, the GTH doesn't shirk its duties when it comes to tracking exercise and helping you stay active.

As a fitness tracker, it'll track steps, distance covered and calories burned with a dedicated screen on the watch to track progress and from select watch faces too. It can also automatically monitor sleep with a screen to show off your most recent night's sleep on the watch with more data found in the companion phone app. That's where you'll find a breakdown of sleep stages including REM sleep, sleep heart rate and blood oxygen during sleep.

TicWatch GTH step data

Step tracking compared: TicWatch GTH (left) and Garmin Venu 2 (right)

For daily activity tracking, it was generally within 500-800 steps of a Garmin fitness tracker we tested it against and offered similar distance covered with those steps too. You'll just get inactivity alerts as far as motivating you to rack up more steps throughout the day.

When it's time for bed, we found that period of sleep wasn't far off what was recorded by the Fitbit Sense. It also offered mixed data for sleep stage breakdowns and on occasions didn't record any awake time or REM sleep at all, with the latter tied to heart rate monitoring. Resting heart rate was extremely high as you can see in the screens below, so didn't feel like hugely reliable insights.

TicWatch GTH sleep comparison

Sleep tracking compared: TicWatch GTH (left) and Fitbit Sense (right and center)

The TicExercise app is where you can access the 14 sports modes at your disposal. That includes running (indoors and outdoors), swimming, indoor rowing and sports like football and basketball. Most of these modes offer to track duration and heart rate. Like the GTX, there's no GPS support here, so it's accelerometer based tracking for runs and cycles.

There's also TicMotion or automatic workout detection, for walking, running and cycling. It's a pretty sensitive feature that jumped into action just moments into walking somewhere displaying a prompt on the watch whether you'd like to start tracking it as an activity.

TicWatch GTH running comparison

As a budget sports watch, it's much of what we saw on the GTX. No GPS meant runs came up notably short against a Garmin running watch as you can see in the screens above. While it managed to capture the same maximum heart rate compared to a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap, the average heart rate data was considerably lower than the chest strap.

Heart rate data wasn't massively reliable for the indoor rowing and runs we did with it as well. This isn't a smartwatch you'll want to grab for sports tracking and something like one of Amazfit's similarly priced watches will offer you more in that department.


TicWatch GTH: Battery life

The GTH features a 260mAh capacity battery, which is larger than the 200mAh capacity one included on the TicWatch GTX. Mobvoi says it can deliver up 10 days battery life, which is around the same battery life promised on the GTX. That is entirely dependent on using the onboard power saving mode, which still gives you access to core features but dims screen brightness.

If you're planning to monitor heart rate, blood oxygen and temperature, monitor sleep and track workouts regularly like we did then you can expect to get around 5 days. It has the potential to get to 7 days and potentially 10, if you disable those health monitoring features, which can be done from the Mobvoi companion app.

When you compare that to what similarly priced smartwatches will give you, that's around about what you can get from the Amazfit Bip U Pro and Amazfit GTS 2 Mini, so it holds up well against the competition in the battery department.


TicWatch GTH
By Mobvoi
The TicWatch GTH isn't much of a looker, but it does pack an impressive array of sensors that crucially, unlike a lot of watches at this price, can be used to monitor aspects of your health 24/7. Some of that data however feels more reliable than others, and it's clear Mobvoi still has some to work to do perfecting the watch and off-watch software experience. The decision to ditch Google's Wear OS may well have improved battery performance, but there's still work to be done to convince us that what Mobvoi has swapped Google's OS for is the right direction to go in.

Hit
  • Well built, square design
  • Useful health monitoring data
  • Solid battery life
Miss
  • Continuous heart rate inaccuracies
  • Underwhelming notification support
  • Inconsistent sleep data