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Mobvoi TicWatch Pro review (update: now you can get it 20% off)
The TicWatch Pro is a smartwatch for those who want style and battery life at an affordable price. While the Mobvoi brand doesn’t have the glamour or appeal of more established brands like Guess or Tag Heuer, the Pro offers style and function at a considerably lower cost than other Wear OS options right now.
Let’s find out if it’s really worth it in our TicWatch Pro review.
Update (9/30/19): Right now you can get the TicWatch Pro for 20% off. The TicWatch Pro usually retails for $249.99, but Android Authority readers can save when they use promo code AAPRO20, courtesy of Mobvoi.
The TicWatch Pro is bulky, there’s no getting around it. Mobvoi was clearly going for more classic style, mirroring something you might see in high-end luxury watch brands. That said, there are quite a few features here not seen in other Wear OS devices, so it makes sense that it might be slightly thicker in its first generation.
The watch has five-minute markers painted along the metal crown. This is mostly useless, since most digital faces have those markers built in, and a lot of people will probably use a digital-style face anyway. However, it makes the watch look more like a traditional luxury option, and many people probably wouldn’t be able to tell you were sporting something a little smarter.
The watch’s main housing is plastic — no doubt a decision made to shave a few dollars off the manufacturing costs. This was the only part of the device that felt cheap, as back of the watch and the lugs protruding from its right side are made of metal.
The watch band has leather stitching, which makes it look fairly luxurious, but only on the top. The underside of the band is made of silicone. Some might be put off by the exclusion of a pure leather band, but I quite like this decision. It assured me I wouldn’t need to worry about sweat discoloring the material on a hot day.
The TicWatch Pro actually has two layers of screen. The top layer is an LCD panel, specifically a Film Compensated Super Twisted Nematic (FSTN) one. This LCD technology is transparent when off, revealing the OLED display underneath.
This actually solves some common problems with smartwatches. Using the FSTN display while in a resting state allows the user to quickly glance at the time without needing to activate the OLED panel, which significantly boosts battery life.
There are three different display modes for this watch:
- Essential mode forces the watch to only use the FSTN display, and will extend battery life by up to 30 days. This mode displays the time, date, step count, and heart rate, and is useful if you’re not planning to use the WearOS features much. You can easily switch into Smart Mode with a toggle in the apps area, or by long-pressing the bottom lug.
- Smart mode makes the watch work like any other WearOS smartwatch. It uses the OLED display underneath the transparent LCD one. The FSTN display actually makes the screen slightly dimmer than other smartwatches in this mode. It’s usually fine, but you may have some trouble with menus in direct sunlight. Mobvoi says you can get around two days of usage if you leave the watch in smart mode, but I highly recommend leaving it in the hybrid mode for better battery life while you’re not using WearOS features.
- Hybrid mode uses the FSTN display while the watch is in an idle state, displaying the time, date, step count, and battery life. This is the mode you’ll want to leave the watch in most of the time — it offers the greatest battery-life-to-usability ratio. In this mode I got about five days of use, though this shrunk to three days after I used the watch to track a run.
The phone will also automatically switch to Essential mode when the battery is low, which should extend the life of the watch by a couple of days. It makes it very hard for your watch to actually die without you noticing just how low it is. We’d all love our watch to remain a watch even when all the fancy features don’t have enough juice, and the FSTN display helps with that.
At its core, this is a Wear OS smartwatch, with all the benefits Google has to offer, like access to third-party apps, watch faces, and fitness tracking. The TicWatch Pro also packs a few uncommon extra features.
The TicWatch Pro has all the features you might want in a smartwatch.
It supports NFC, so you can use things like Google Pay just by tapping your watch to a point-of-sale terminal. This feature requires a lock screen on your watch, which is a strange requirement (but secure). The ability to tap your watch to pay for things is just one more way smartwatches can make you rely on your phone less, which is nice.
The TicWatch Pro is also IP68 water and dust resistant. No one wants to take their watch off every time it starts raining. You could even technically take this in the shower with you. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, though — protect that leather.
Built-in GPS means you can go running without your phone and track your progress. The watch has a few different exercise programs, but they really just track your time and distance. If you want to get serious about running, an app like Strava has much more functionality, and syncs to your phone once you’ve re-connected.
However, with its bulky frame, this already isn’t the most fitness-friendly design out there anyway. If you’re looking for something a little more fitness-oriented, check out our list of GPS running watches and fitness trackers.
1.39-inch touchscreen FSTN LCD and OLED Displays
400 x 400 resolution
1:1 aspect ratio
1,000-nit maximum brightness
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100
Mixed modes: ~14 days
Smart Mode: Up to 2 days
Essential mode: Up to 30 days
Storage / Memory
4GB / 512MB
Case and buckle: aluminum and plastic
Strap: Leather / Silicone
Sensors and components
Accelerometer, Gyro, Magnetic Sensor, PPG Heart Rate sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Low Latency Off-Body Sensor, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth: 4.2 / Wi-Fi: 802.11bgn 2.4GHz
IP68 (up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 mins)
Call, text, calendar, email, music control, and much more
Case dimensions: 45mm x 12.6mm
Black , Silver, Multiple band options
The Mobvoi app
The app will display your steps, active minutes, and hours walked on the main device tab, but the other tabs are only useful if you have other Mobvoi products — mainly the company’s smart home utilities. The Routines tab is used for setting up automation in your home, with the Store tab placed conveniently beside it. It feels like Mobvoi only made the app to sell you more products, so feel free to avoid it.
Should you buy it?
At $249, the TicWatch Pro is a pretty great option in the Wear OS ecosystem. It might not have the branding of something like Tag Heuer or Guess, but it’s loaded with a ton of features you’ll want in an everyday smartwatch. The silicone-leather band design is great for people who want to look classy and work out on occasion.
The dual-screen technology is quite innovative, and I hope other smartwatch manufacturers start to take notice. When I’m not actively using Wear OS I love having the low-powered LCD screen display the time and my step count, and it’s nice to be able to jump into Google’s ecosystem whenever I need it.
Qualcomm hasn’t updated its smartwatch chipset in over two years (that will change soon), and Mobvoi has done a great job of circumventing Wear OS’ battery life issue. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that will last more than a couple days, give this thing a look.
The TicWatch Pro will be exclusive to Amazon Prime members until August 15. If you want this watch but don’t have a Prime account, you’ll have to either wait it out or sign up for a trial.
So that’s it for our TicWatch Pro review. What are your thoughts on the TicWatch Pro? Is this the smartwatch you’ve been waiting for? Let us know in the comments below!