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Mobvoi’s wearable is an undeniably capable watch that’s held back somewhat by the shortcomings of Google’s WearOS.
Unfamiliar with the TicWatch name? We have a feeling that you’re not alone. The TicWatch wearable line comes from Mobvoi, a name that hardly boasts household status outside of its native China. You will, however, have heard of the company that makes WearOS, TicWatch’s operating system: that’s Google.
The TicWatch Pro 3 was launched in September 2020, with limited fanfare compared to other top-of-the-line watches from brands like Samsung, Apple and Huawei. But we’re always keen to give the underdog a shoutout at RadioTimes.com – and we’re also interested to see how the TicWatch Pro 3 operates with a brand-new Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor.
Read on for our in-depth review of the TicWatch Pro 3. We dive into everything you need to know about this lesser-known flagship wearable: price, design, ease of setup, battery life and plenty more. If you’re weighing up your options, don’t miss our Apple Watch 6 review and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review.
For a list of the very best wearables, don't miss our best smartwatch article. We also like to keep a keen eye on the latest price drops on wearables, so make sure you check out our pick of the best smartwatch deals too.
In a nutshell: the latest TicWatch is a solid, if imperfect wearable whose greatest strength, we’d say, is that it doesn’t scale the exorbitant price heights of rival flagships from Apple and Samsung. The range of features is undeniable reliable, but Google’s WearOS system doesn’t offer the smooth sailing of other platforms.
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The TicWatch Pro 3 is the succeeding wearable to the TicWatch Pro. (No, there wasn’t a TicWatch Pro 2. No, we have no idea why either.) It builds on its predecessor's performance with a new processor – Snapdragon Wear 4100 – and a slightly slimmer watch face.
The TicWatch Pro 3 offers a range of features and functions.
The standard version of the TicWatch Pro 3 has an RRP of £220.40, while the cellular/LTE model has an RRP of £280.49. You'll find the lowest prices available online directly below.
This is one that we were in two minds about. The TicWatch Pro 3 is noticeabley, cheaper than flagships like the Apple Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, but that puts it at the same level as the Apple Watch SE.
Let’s be honest: most people will want a wearable from Apple on their wrist, rather than one from, erm, Mobvoi. But the Pro 3 trumps the Watch SE with the included blood oxygen sensor, which is still advanced tech.
Ultimately, the TicWatch Pro 3 is a wearable that showcases Google’s WearOS: a platform that doesn’t quite shine like Apple’s watchOS and Samsung’s Tizen. But if you already own a Google device, you may well take to the latest TicWatch.
The TicWatch Pro 3 is a large, bulky, black smartwatch with a raised, circular watch face. You’ll find traditional dials on the right-hand side of the face and a traditional-looking bezel that has numbers on it.
The watch face is sizable, with a diameter of 47mm and a depth of 12.2mm – it will feel like a decidedly chunky addition to your wrist. That said, it’s also surprisingly light at just 41.9g. The Pro 3 has a black silicone strap with contrast stitching, which gives the Pro 3 something of a luxury feel – that’s important for a wearable of this price. There are leather and nylon straps available to purchase online, which start at £14.99.
The two right-hand dials also function as buttons to compliment the touchscreen face. We found that both are highly responsive, with great load times. That’s no doubt down to the 1GB of RAM and the all-new Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor.
We were also pleased to discover that the TicWatch Pro 3 has a bright and clear touchscreen OLED display and one that has over 1,000 personalisation options – so we’re pretty confident you’ll find one that appeals to you. The navigation, we’ll admit, does take a little getting used to, but it’s explained well in an intro tutorial.
As a whole, the TicWatch’s functions performed well. We found that notifications were relayed clearly and that highest-priority apps can be added as ‘tiles’ – these are easily accessed when swiping the home screen to one side. We appreciated that the time is still displayed when the smartwatch isn’t in use (something not at all common in wearables, even at this price point). We also took an immediate liking to TicHearing, which monitors noise levels and includes the audio version of Google Translate: speak a phrase into the watch, and it will provide an instant written translation. A handy tool next time you’re abroad and trying to order at a restaurant – whenever that might be.
However, there’s some feature overlap, with various TicWatch and Google apps offering the same functions. For example, TicPulse and Fit Heart Rate both monitor heart rate, while TicBreathe and Fit Breathe both offer breathing guidance. Of course, too much is better than too little – but it doesn’t feel particularly streamlined, and you get the slight sense that the TicWatch is suffering from an identity crisis.
The navigation process feels that bit less intuitive than those of other smartwatches – Samsung’s probably being the leading example – but fortunately, there are plenty of mini-tutorials to help guide you. We guess that Google phone users will feel most comfortable with the TicWatch Pro 3’s UI.
The TicWatch Pro 3 has two different modes, which have a substantially different battery life. While the Smart mode setting offers a maximum life of 72 hours, if you set this wearable to Essential mode, it will potentially last up to 45 days.
Yes, that’s one heck of a difference. Since you won’t benefit much from a smartwatch that’s constantly set to the lower-power Essential setting, it seems unlikely you’ll get a month and a half’s use out of the Pro 3. We suspect you’ll toggle between them regularly instead. We were pleased to discover that in Smart mode, the battery life did indeed last close to the advertised time. And bear in mind that the maximum lifespan of 72 hours is still an impressive four times greater than Apple’s flagship wearable, the Apple Watch 6. Just saying.
The TicWatch Pro 3 comes in a smart matte black cuboid packaging. It feels high-end, without quite getting to luxury. Hey, we’ll take that.
Included inside is the watch face with the strap already attached, along with a one-piece charging cable that’s of a seriously generous length in comparison to other wearables we’ve tested. As is the norm these days, you’ll have to bring your own plug adaptor to the part.
We were pleased to find that pairing the Pro 3 to the app on our smartphone was quick and easy – it synced quickly with our Google account (as you should expect from a Wear OS phone, after all). Signing up for apps was a straightforward, well-signposted process. We appreciate being told that an installation process will take 5 minutes rather than being kept in suspense with an anonymous loading wheel.
Altogether, the setup process was a stressless 20 minutes.
The TicWatch is a reliable if faulted wearable, and one that’s held back by the shortcomings of WearOS. But it’s also notably less pricey than flagship smartwatches from Apple and Samsung while still offering some advanced health and fitness tech.
Mobvoi could well end up dazzling the Western market just as Huawei has – for now, this wearable is something of a wallflower. It feels like one that might turn up in the sales in months to come – at a slightly lower price, it will become a far more attractive proposition.
Overall star rating: 3.6/5
The TicWatch Pro 3 is available from a limited number of retailers online. We always keep an eye on the latest price drops on wearables.