I have found myself in a place where, after forty years, I am suddenly a fan of fine timepieces. I don’t know exactly why it happened but I do know when. I was in Newport on vacation with the family and I happened across a watch that turned my head. It was then and there that I caught the bug that has now turned into a bit of an obsession. I don’t have the most impressive collection in the world but I have amassed a little more than a dozen watches and I really love my little watch family. I would like to expand into some more luxurious models like say an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch but I’m not quite at that level, yet.
All that to say, the techie in me collided with my newly found watch obsession and I decided that it was high time that I give Wear OS another go. Last year, I gave Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE a try, and overall, it wasn’t a horrible experience but the subtle nags of Wear OS combined with the outdated Snapdragon 2100 chipset left me with a less than desirable taste in my mouth for smartwatches in general. The most impressive thing about the TicWatch line is the dual-layer display that helps the smartwatch gain battery life that’s better than just about every Wear OS device on the market. My biggest problem with the Pro 4G/LTE was that it simply wasn’t responsive or intuitive enough for me to forgive its quite boring, all-black design. That said, last year’s model is still well-built. It just feels more like an oversized fitness tracker that does a lot of stuff it just didn’t do anything really well other than keep a charge.
TicWatch Pro 3 GPS
For 2020, Mobvoi brought their A-game with one of the first Wear OS devices powered by the highly-anticipated Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 chipset. (This isn’t the 4100+ but that’s totally find and I’ll let you know why in a minute.) This is a long-term review as I have been using the TicWatch Pro 3 for a couple of months so that I can get a real feel for using Wear OS consistently over a decent period of time. I’ll break down all of the good and the not-so-good about the new watch from Mobvoi a little further down the page but for those of you that want the hands-on, here’s my review of the 2020 TicWatch Pro 3 GPS from Mobvoi.
Here’s the short story. The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS isn’t the sharpest looking Wear OS device on the market. As a matter of fact, it’s very plain and unassuming but Mobvoi tweaked the aesthetic just enough to take it from the sport-watch look of the previous model to a timepiece that can be worn in a variety of settings. For me, that’s simply icing on the cake because – as I mentioned in the video – I have amassed a decent little collection of wristwatches. What I want in a smartwatch is a really good Wear OS experience and that is exactly what Mobvoi has delivered.
The update to the Snapdragon 4100 chipset gives the TicWatch Pro 3 a decided edge on most other Wear OS devices thank’s to Mobvoi’s dual-layer 2.0 display. The layered displays give the TicWatch 2-3 days of battery life with ease. I consistently get 4+ days on a single charge and that is a very uncommon achievement in the land of Wear OS. Combined with 1GB of RAM, the TicWatch just moves around more smoothly than any other smartwatch that I’ve tried. That’s especially apparent when you’re using the Google Assistant. On the last TicWatch, the Assistant was a burden to use. Response times were painfully slow and it made Google’s helper all but useless and that’s a feature that I actually WANT to use on my smartwatch. The TicWatch Pro 3 fixes that. The Assistant is snappy and results are offered up quickly and consistently. Win.
The other thing that really won me over with the new Tic Watch is all of the great health-oriented features that come with Mobvoi’s suite of applications. You get just about everything that you could want from a fitness-focused wearable. You’ll find training sessions that can help you enhance your calm with TicBreathe, decibel monitoring with TicHearing, and a whole lot more. I found that the sleep tracker was very accurate and gave me some valuable insight into my sleep patterns. There’s even a blood oxygen saturation sensor. This is very useful when you’re working out but even more important now as we find ourselves still in a pandemic. One of the more critical conditions caused by COVID-19 is reduced O2 levels in your body and the TicWatch can help you keep an eye on that without having to go out and buy a standalone sensor.
If you’re waiting for me to point out the “bad” about this watch, I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait a bit longer. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t sworn off my analog timepiece collection but there is very little that I can find about the TicWatch that I do not like. If anything, I’d love to see Mobvoi team up with a larger mainstream watchmaker and produce a more refined-looking model but that would also mean paying the premium price that comes along with more luxurious timepieces. However, as I said in the video, I have fancy watches if I feel like wearing them. If I want a well-rounded, durable Wear OS watch with great battery life and an experience that’s well above average, the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is the best thing going right now and it only costs $299. That’s less than many of my traditional timepieces. Just saying. Speaking of durable, this watch is IP68 rated and you can feel safe taking a quick dip into the swimming pool when you’re wearing it. You probably want to avoid saltwater but that goes for just about any type of electronic device.
I would also recommend that Mobvoi consider adding a rotating crown or capacitive touch between the buttons on the next model. The way Wear OS is designed, navigating through applications, settings, and notifications scream for a scrolling option and that’s the one feature that TicWatches seem to avoid for some reason. I’d also like to see an LTE version make it over here to the states but that will likely happen sooner than later.
The overall design of the TicWatch? I’ll give it a solid 7 out of 10 because Mobvoi could easily make this watch an eye-catcher without adding much to the cost. So far as the software experience is concerned, The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is getting a solid 8.5 out of 10 from me. If you ask me, this watch is the bar that other Wear OS makers should be aiming for when it comes to an enjoyable, user-friendly smartwatch experience. This is exactly why the TicWatch made my Gear of the Year list and why it is my number one pick for the best overall Wear OS watch you can buy right now. Here’s a rundown of the key specs and where to find the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS.
TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Specs
- 1.4” Retina AMOLED 454 x 454 + FSTN display
- Shadow Black
- Stainless steel+Plastic
- Solid silicone band 22mm
- Snapdragon Wear™ 4100
- 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM
- 577mAh battery
- $299 MSRP
- IP68 and pool swimming suitable
- Ambient Light Sensor
- built-in speaker
- heart rate sensor
Watches in the video
TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, TicWatch Pro 4G, Morphic 92 Red/Black. I buy my watches from various shops but I do have a subscription to WatchGang and I highly recommend it for someone wanting to get their feet wet with some new timepieces at a very reasonable price. You can check it out here.