- Handsome and versatile design
- Mobvoi Privacy
- Essential Mode
- Display struggles in direct sunlight
- Two-tone band takes getting used to
Between the sporty Ticwatch S and the cheaper Ticwatch E, Mobvoi has moved to corner the affordable Wear OS smartwatch market. With the new Ticwatch Pro, it's trying something a little different.
The big difference with Mobvoi's latest smartwatch this time is something it's calling Essential Mode, which uses dual screens in an effort to further battery life. Battery life is a hindrance of Wear OS, and not something that will probably be significantly improved until Qualcomm's new smartwatch chips roll out.
Read this: The best Wear smartwatches
But Mobvoi's idea is a new one. Does the dual-screen idea actually improve battery life, and can Mobvoi continue its run of good-looking, affordable Wear OS smartwatches? Read on.
Got any further questions about the Ticwatch Pro? Let us know in the comments section below.
Ticwatch Pro: Design
At first glance, it's clear to see that the Ticwatch Pro is aimed at being a more luxurious alternative to the S and E. The big giveaway here is the bezel, which is slightly reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner.
It's a nice touch of class that James Bond would be proud of. In fact, I actually wore the Pro for a wedding with a grey suit and, even if I do say so myself, it was a good look. This is definitely a smartwatch you can wear to a fancy event, a work meeting, or just going out for some ice cream. I couldn't say the same for the Ticwatch E.
That bezel, by the way, surrounds a 1.39-inch OLED display that is crisp and viewable. However, up against sunlight the display does struggle, making it sometimes difficult to read. But, that's not the only display on offer here, remember? There's also the FSTN display, which can be turned on at any moment.
This secondary screen doesn't display color, and only gives you access to a couple of important data points. The idea is to reduce use on the OLED display and hopefully save some battery life - but we'll dig into that in a bit.
With two displays packed in, the Pro feels a bit chunky. It's got a 45mm face and is 12.6mm thick. That's thick enough where your shirt sleeves might have some trouble covering up your watch. I suppose that works if you want to show it off, but otherwise it gets in the way. Suit jacket sleeves cover it fine.
That heft is also housing a whole bunch of technology. Not just the screens, but there's a 415mAh battery, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and a heart rate sensor. All of that is powered by the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip.
There's also the leather band - or wait, is that a leather band? At first glance it appears to be, but flip it around and you'll see ridges and a more silicone-looking material. It appears that the band with the Pro is a two-tone number that can both function as fancy on the outside and rugged on the inside.
As for buttons, there are two on the right side. The top button is the power button, which can be used to turn off the device, get out of Essential Mode (we'll get to that), and navigate to the menu. The bottom button is the function button, which can be used to shortcut to whatever app you'd like (by default, it's mapped to Mobvoi Fitness).
Overall, the Ticwatch Pro continues Mobvoi's streak as a good designer of smartwatches. It's a little bulky, but it still looks good enough to wear almost everywhere with everything but a long-sleeve shirt.
Ticwatch Pro: Features
The big feature on the Ticwatch Pro is Essential Mode. This utilizes the secondary FSTN display, which tags in to minimize usage of the more battery-consuming OLED display.
You can turn on Essential Mode in a couple of ways. You can head to the Essential Mode app and turn it on or you can map it to the function button. The third way to turn it on is via the Settings app, but this is the most fiddly way to do it.
So what does Essential Mode do? Think of it as a more powerful power saving mode. When it's on, the main OLED display goes to sleep and the secondary FSNT display is turned on. On that secondary display, you just get time and date, step count and heart rate. If you were to turn it on when your battery life is at 100% Mobvoi says you'd be able to hit 30 days of battery life.
It can hit 30 days of battery life because most of the big Wear OS features are turned off and you can't access them. Say goodbye to notifications and Google Pay and GPS and Google Assistant and apps.
That's one way for you to juice up your battery life should you need it. Essential Mode can be set so that it automatically turns on when your battery life hits 20%, 15%, 10% or 5%.
It's important to note that Essential Mode has to be turned off by you. This can be done by holding the power button for a couple of seconds. There's also a secondary use of that FSNT display that you could confuse for Essential Mode.
When you're regularly using the Ticwatch Pro and you don't use it for a bit, the dual screens also take effect. The OLED display will sleep and the secondary display turns on. It looks very similar to Essential Mode, but it's not. Wear OS is still chugging along in the background, getting your notifications and easy access to your apps and services. This too is supposed to help battery life, though it doesn't help as much as turning on Essential Mode.
For the most part, it's hard to tell that these are two separate screens and switching between the two screens works effortlessly.
As for the rest of the smart features, there's a good assortment. Obviously, Wear OS affords you an app store of familiar names. There's also Mobvoi's assortment of custom watch faces, though they're largely boring. Some nice watch faces with complications, but there's nothing truly interesting going on here.
What is wonderful is that the Ticwatch Pro supports Google Pay, so you can pay with your wrist. It also serves as a reminder that now enough Wear OS smartwatches have NFC payments, though hopefully that will start to change. Google Assistant is also on board, and while it was a tad unresponsive at first due to a strange bug, it worked well after a couple days.
Mobvoi has also loaded an app called Mobvoi Privacy onto the Pro. The app is basically an easy way of letting you access and request your data. So instead of burying these functions on a website or in the settings, Mobvoi is putting it front and center in an app.
It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but in a world where data breaches and scandals seem to be a monthly occurrence, it's nice to see a company is willing to put it all in an easy-to-understand app rather than hide it in menus.
The Ticwatch Pro is filled with some wonderful smart features. It's about as fully baked as you can expect at this point, with the only missing feature as LTE. Though it's possible there might be a cellular version in the future.
Ticwatch Pro: Health and fitness
Heart rate: Ticwatch Pro top; Wahoo Tickr X chest strap bottom
Mobvoi has done a good job putting together its health and fitness suite. All of it is available to see in the Mobvoi app in the Health Center, which will give you some deja vu if you've opened up the iPhone version of the Apple Watch's Activity app.
Regardless, the companion app here is well designed and easy to navigate. It's quick to get into some of the metrics you can look at, though there's nothing big and detailed here - this is a world away from Garmin Connect.
The Ticwatch Pro has a heart rate sensor and GPS, which makes it a good partner for going on an outdoor run. You'll be able to choose from outdoor run, outdoor walk, indoor run, cycling and free style, which is armed with a weight icon. No swimming here, sadly. It's not built for the pool.
You're definitely going to get your calories, steps, exercise minutes, active hours, distance and heart rate. Accuracy is another story. Again, despite the name the Pro isn't here to replace your Garmin.
That said, in testing GPS performance was solid, mapping things out about as well as an Apple Watch Series 3. It did tend to take a little longer than the Apple Watch to get a lock, but not enough to be a huge irritant.
As for that heart rate sensor, it did well enough for most folks. The max heart rate it got for me wasn't too far off from the Wahoo chest strap I tested it against and neither was the average heart rate. Where it fell off was that it had a hard time catching up as I alternated from a light jog to a faster run to a sprint and then back down to a fast run, back up to a sprint and then down to a jog. To no surprise, this thing isn't going to be good for HIIT training.
Where the Wahoo gave me typically smooth graphs, the Ticwatch was more erratic. So yeah, if you're looking for something for more intense workouts, the Pro isn't for you.
Ticwatch Pro: Battery life
The purpose of the dual screens is to extend your battery life to two days, and it feels like the Pro's success should rest on its battery performance. On previous Ticwatch's, we tended to get a day to a day and a half if we really stretched it, so what we're really getting is about a half a day for dual screens.
And, well, for the most part the Ticwatch Pro felt like it had as much juice as other smartwatches. There was a day, filled with notifications, where I went to bed with about 36% left. There was another day where I finished with about 75%.
I did manage to get through two days, but that time was only once. While the dual displays does seem to help battery life, it doesn't seem to make as big of a difference under intense usage, especially if you're using GPS.
One morning I went for a run with GPS (with heart rate tracking) and by the time I got home I was at about 79%. What we didn't get to test out was whether Essential Mode gave the watch 30 days of life. The Pro certainly has better battery life than other smartwatches, but it's not a difference that makes it an outright purchase over another smartwatch.
How we test