While complementary smart devices that pair with your Android phone are a dime a dozen, there really isn’t a singular device that stands out in the existing ecosystem. And by devices, we really mean smart watches. At the top end of the spectrum, one can always go with the latest smartwatch offering from Samsung, which is almost perfect if not for the sticker price.
The alternative would be sticking with Wear OS, Google’s own operating system for wearable devices. However, this path is one that is holding the Android wearable experience back, no matter how good the hardware Wear OS is built into.
With the new Ticwatch Pro, Mobvoi has done its best to throw in pretty much all the necessary features needed to make a smartwatch great. After all, the Ticwatch Pro is the company’s flagship device which packs in not only a 1.39-inch AMOLED 400 x 400 display, but a secondary LCD display as well. Both screens look incredible under bright sunlight, although the AMOLED screen here is not quite as crisp as compared to the one on the Samsung Gear Sport. However, it’s a small issue really, unlike on a mobile phone where one would spend a good deal of time staring at the screen.
We’ve a heart rate monitor, GPS, and NFC which is more than sufficient for one to bring the Ticwatch Pro out for a jog, and grabbing a drink at Starbucks paying with Google Pay. While packing in quite a bit of heft, the Ticwatch Pro is not quite as thick as other Android Wear devices out there. It has a solid matte polycarbonate for the main body, and a metal back containing the heart rate monitor. Aesthetically, this device is built to look good as a watch first, and smart device second. In addition, the straps are textured silicone on the inner side, while combining a layer of leather giving the Ticwatch Pro a rather premium finish.
Looking good is but only a small part of the game, and the Ticwatch Pro’s anchor feature is the dual AMOLED and FSTN LCD displays. When you’re not looking at the watch, the regular LCD displays showcases the most barebone list of information essential to any watch, like time, date, steps taken, heart rate and battery life. With the flick of the wrist or pressing of the physical button, you’ll be able to turn on the AMOLED screen.
By default, the Ticwatch Pro aggressively toggles between AMOLED to LCD screen in 15 seconds. This goes a long way in preserving precious battery life. In my tests with full on notifications, the watch was able to eke out two full days worth of battery before the watch moved into “essential” mode which is basically locking the watch into LCD screen mode sans everything that comes with a smartwatch.
In essential mode, the Ticwatch was able to chugg along for another three days before it was decided that it would be increasingly silly to wear a crippled, full featured device, just to test the limits of the battery life. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the watch was able to operate for another week or so. After all, Mobvoi touts a 30 day battery life if used in exclusively essential mode, but where’s the smart sense in that?
Charging the Ticwatch Pro comes in the form of a magnetic charging cradle that snaps on flat. It would be much preferred if the watch actually could charge at an angle allowing the watch to function as a bedside clock. Competitors have already caught on with such a need, thus Mobvoi could do better in this aspect considering they do have a similar product for their Ticwatch 2.
For all its wonder, the only thing holding the watch back hardware wise is the rather aged Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor.
Combine a dated processor with Android Wear OS and you have an experience that can be laggy and frustrating at time. In my own tests with the Ticwatch Pro, the device works perfectly fine for the most part. However, if you’re the type that might use the watch extensively, there is a good amount of noticeable delay especially once many notifications have stacked up. Swiping through the watch to read messages can become quite a hassle and you might give up halfway.
And with the presence of hardware buttons, it does come off as wasted potential considering that most of Wear OS is largely optimised for a touch experience. For the most part, the hardware buttons were mostly used to activate Google Assistant and Pay in which the latter feature is not available by default. Having to navigate a small screen to activate Google Pay and get it up and running is an arduous process no user should experience in this day and age.
Sadly, this issue falls mostly on Google’s end and less so on Mobvoi who have recently tried their best to roll out the best Android Wear OS device at an amazingly attractively price point.
If you’re in an urgent need to grab a top of the line smartwatch at the present moment, the Ticwatch Pro remains a solid recommendation. However, if you can hold out for a while longer, we’re pretty sure an updated device is in the works with Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2500 so you just might want to gun for that instead.
The Ticwatch Pro can be purchased from Mobvoi’s website for USD249.99 (SGD340) with free international shipping.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
For Android enthusiasts, the Ticwatch Pro is a textbook example of how excellent hardware can be held back by subpar software. Despite this, Mobvoi has been able to craft a solid product in their range of devices and we cannot wait to see what is up their sleeves next.