TicWatch Pro 3 review: powerful specs but fitness lags

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The TicWatch Pro 3 is the latest addition to Mobvoi’s collection of Wear OS smartwatches, and it packs some big improvements.

For starters, it’s one of the first smartwatches to launch with Qualcomm’s new Wear 4100 processor, which should make Wear OS snappier with better battery life.

Mobvoi has refined the look of its priciest smartwatch, added new sensors like SpO2 and more of its own apps to compliment Google’s ones.

Those changes and new features come at a greater cost than the previous Pro, with the Pro 3 priced in at $299.99.

The Pro 2020 cost $259. That’s Apple Watch SE territory, and also puts it up against the likes of the excellent Oppo Watch and Skagen Falster 3.

We’ve been living with the TicWatch Pro 3 to see if Mobvoi is back on track with its latest Wear OS watch.

TicWatch Pro 3: Design and screen

TicWatch Pro 3 showing display

The Pro is considered the classy option of the TicWatch family and that doesn’t change with the Pro 3.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem that far removed from the look of previous Pros, but there’s reasons to be cheerful about some of the changes made.

You’re getting a stainless steel case with two physical buttons matched up with a 22mm interchangeable silicone band that now features yellow stitching.

It gives the illusion of something more elegant, but it’s well-suited for working out .

There’s that ring bezel that surrounds the touchscreen display, that slimmed down on from the one on the Pro 2020 and gets even skinnier on the Pro 3.

The case size has jumped up considerably from a 45mm one to a larger 47mm option, but manages to make it slimmer than its predecessor, now measuring in at 12.2mm thick.

TicWatch Pro 3 vs Pro 2020 vs Pro 2019

TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE (left), TicWatch Pro 2020 (centre) and TicWatch Pro 3 (right)

We thought previous Pros were quite chunky beasts, but the Pro 3 certainly changes that. The slimmer bezel allows more room for a larger 1.4-inch, 454 x 454 resolution display. That’s an upgrade on the 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 featured on the last Pro.

It’s a great quality AMOLED screen that offers good brightness and has certainly improved when viewing it in bright sunlight.

Mobvoi still employs its dual layer screen technology that adds an FSTN display to the AMOLED one. The idea is that the less power hungry FSTN display can be put to use in scenarios where you might not need to wake up the display, such as when you just need to know the time or your daily step counts.

TicWatch Pro 3 low power FSTN display

It’s also used during workout tracking to let you see basic real-time data without waking up the display. Raising your wrist activates the backlight on the FSTN display and a further tap will wake up the AMOLED screen. It actually works surprisingly well and anything that can improve battery performance can only be a good thing.

The case and band combined come with an IP68 water resistant rating, which means this watch is suitable for swimming, though only if you’re doing that in a pool. It’s also good for jumping in the shower with.

Overall, the changes on the design front are welcomed. While we’ve been critical of Mobvoi trying to satisfy those who demand something that’s both fit for exercise and looking good outside of the gym, this certainly strikes a better balance.

TicWatch Pro 3: New processor performance

TicWatch Pro 3 menu screen

Like every other TicWatch that has launched so far, the Pro 3 once again uses Google’s Wear OS to provide the smarts. That’s powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor accompanied by 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage.

The Pro 3 is one of the first smartwatches to benefit from Qualcomm’s new processor tech, which once again promises big performance and speed improvements. 85% improvements in those departments compared to the last Wear processor. For the Pro, it’s a big generational leap from the Snapdragon 2100 processor featured in the Pro 2020.

But what does that mean for us in the real world? We powered up the last two Pro models to compare launching apps and using some key apps to find out how much has changed. What we found is that there’s less of a lag when swiping through screens and launching apps seems snappier. The difference in performance is definitely more noticeable compared to the Pro 2020.

Is it anything groundbreaking? Not really based in our time with it. It’s certainly a step in the right direction and Mobvoi needed to upgrade its internals just to get it in line with other Wear OS watches.

Where we really think those improvements are made is with the battery life, which we’ll get into later.

TicWatch Pro 3: WearOS and smartwatch features

TicWatch Pro 3 smartwatch features

As for Wear OS, there’s something very familiar, but also a bit different about its presence on the the Pro 3. You still have features like notification support, NFC for Google Pay and a built-in speaker and mic that brings to life Google Assistant support and a useful voice note app. You also get a mix of Google and Mobvoi apps.

When you jump into the app drawer, Mobvoi has ditched the traditional Wear app list UI, now grouping app icons in two that you can scroll through. It’s much nicer to use and is similar to the approach seen on the Oppo Watch.

Notifications are just swipe away from the main watch screen and it’s a similar story for Google’s Assistant where its usefulness still pales in comparison to the experience from a phone or smart speaker.

TicWatch Pro 3 showing the hand washing reminder

You’ve got a nice pick of watch faces, largely made up of analog-style ones that are best suited. Those faces are customisable and you can hunt out more faces in the watch face center in Mobvoi’s companion phone app. You can of course find more in the Google Play Store too.

Something that set Mobvoi’s smartwatches apart from other Wear OS ones is the additional apps it includes on top of Google’s. This time it’s adding more, largely aimed at those who care about monitoring their health and fitness.

First up is TicBreathe, which is an app to load up when you want to perform some breathing exercises. It’s not hugely different though to what we’ve already seen from Google, Apple and Samsung.

Next up is TicZen, which is essentially a stress tracking app where it builds in access to the TicBreathe app described above if you’re find out your stress levels are high.

TicWatch Pro 3 SpO2 failing

With the addition of the on trend SpO2 sensor, Mobvoi has added a the TicOxygen where you can take on the spot blood oxygen measurement, see daily highs and lows if you enable continuous monitoring and view trends over time.

We tested it against a pulse oximeter and found data consistent. Though we did struggle at times to get a reading on occasions. What it maybe lacks explaining why this data is useful and maybe some insights into the data. It’s something that Huawei does a good job on its watches with similar features.

A new app clearly inspired by Apple’s Noise app is TicHearing, which measures the noise in your environment to make sure you’re not exposing your ears to unsafe levels of noise.

We’ve generally appreciated the inclusion of Mobvoi’s own apps to balance out what Google offers. What we’d like to see with apps like TicOxygen and TicHearing is to bring some context to the data to give it greater value and reason to measure or monitor.

TicWatch Pro 3: Sports tracking

TicWatch Pro 3 sports profiles

Along with all those extra health and fitness apps Mobvoi has added it still offers all of the same sports and fitness tracking features it’s included in previous Pro watches.

That includes its TicExercise app to track workouts, TicHealth and TicSleep to cover 24/7 activity tracking along with Google’s suite of apps. You can also head into the Google Play Store directly from the watch to search for third party apps too.

We’ve focused our attention on Mobvoi’s own additions, which on the whole offer a good tracking experience, though can be lacking from an accuracy point of view.

Running

TicWatch Pro 3 running data comparison

Run tracking compared: TicWatch Pro 3 (left and centre) and Garmin Forerunner 745 (right)

While the built-in GPS on the previous Pro kept us hanging around to pick up a signal, things on that front have thankfully improved. It definitely locks much quicker.

For accuracy, the sample run above gives you a good idea of what we saw with in general with run tracking. The distance tracked was generally always off compared to a dedicated running watch, which did mean data was skewed for metrics like average pace and cadence.

Swimming

TicWatch Pro 3 swimming data
Swim tracking compared: TicWatch Pro 3 (left), Garmin Forerunner 745 (centre) and Form Swim Goggles (right)

When you get off land in the pool, things don’t actually get much better from a tracking perspective. When you’re ready to swim, you’ll select your pool length and it will lock the screen to prevent it from being interfered with in the water.

The watch will switch to the FSTN display mode where you can see workout time and some other metrics that you’ll quite frankly have to squint to see. The visibility of the display isn’t great underwater, so you’ll need to wake it up to use the AMOLED display instead to get a better sense of real-time data.

When our swim was done, we thought the entire workout had been tracked. A quick look at the data suggests that definitely wasn’t the case. It recorded just twelve lengths from a 80 swim despite recording the correct workout duration. So overall, it feels like another TicWatch that’s falls short with its sports tracking.

TicWatch Pro 3: Fitness tracking and heart rate accuracy

TicWatch Pro 3 fitness tracking

Turning our attention to fitness tracking, it’s a bit of a mix bag in terms of performance as well. For step tracking, data ranged from being comparable to a Garmin smartwatch, but on some days it could be 2,000 steps out.

But aside from the odd erratic day, it lined up well to comparison devices.

TicWatch Pro 3 sleep data comparison

Step tracking compared: TicWatch Pro 3 (left and centre) and Garmin Forerunner 745 (right)

For sleep tracking, you do have Mobvoi’s TicSleep app on board to review your most recent sleep data and then you’ll need to head into the Mobvoi app to see it closer.

What we found with sleep tracking is that it had a particular quirk of breaking up sleep into two parts. It may have been a point where we had briefly woken up or been stirred, but we simply weren’t up walking around to suggest to the watch that the sleep tracking should stop.

TicWatch Pro 3 sleep stages

Sleep tracking compared: TicWatch Pro 3 (left and centre) and Garmin Forerunner 745 (right)

The data never really tended to match up with the Garmin sleep tracking we tested it against.

It largely was in the same ballpark for sleep duration, but aspects like sleep breakdown were never really close. We’re by no means saying the Garmin is more reliable, though saying we took just a minute to fall asleep was far from the case in reality.

For heart rate monitor accuracy, it’s kind of what we’d expected to find. It’s good in places, but others not so much. Below is heart rate data taken from a run against a MyZone chest strap monitor.

Without comparing the data we know that from glancing down at our wrist during a run that the Pro 3 generally posted higher heart rate readings. It seemed to get things right with average readings, but it then posted higher maximum readings.

TicWatch Pro 3 heart rate data vs garmin

Heart rate during exercise: TicWatch Pro 3 (left) and MyZone heart rate chest strap (right)

When you’re not exercising, you can monitor heart rate continuously, letting you see average resting heart rate data along with maximum and minimum readings for that day.

TicWatch Pro 3 heart rate analysis

Daily heart rate tracking: TicWatch Pro 3 (left) and Garmin Forerunner 745 (right)

What we found was that on the spot readings were generally identical to a Garmin sports watch and a chest strap monitor, though at times could also be 5-10bpm out. That seems to be reflected in the daily data we captured with resting, max and minimum readings seeming a bit off.

This performance could be down to a range of things like fit, the sensor and the general number crunching. We’d think it’s probably a mix of things that makes the Pro 3’s sports and fitness tracking credentials a little questionable.

TicWatch Pro 3: Battery life

With the larger case, Mobvoi has been able to up the battery capacity too with a view to improving battery performance.

It’s grown from 415mAh up to a 577mAh one that’s designed to deliver up 3 days in full smartwatch mode and up to 45 days when in Essential mode that switches to the FSTN display mode.

The last Pro managed to muster up 2 days and we’d definitely say improvements have been made in terms of what you’ll get in full smartwatch mode. With a little bit of careful management you can get three days battery life with sleep tracking.

However, features like sports tracking and putting GPS to use do still have a significant drain on battery. A forty minute run knocked the battery by just short of twenty percent.

There are more power hungry features here like continuous SpO2 monitoring and tracking activity everyday will have an impact.

Though it seems Mobvoi in general has made noticeable improvements here.


TicWatch Pro 3

By Mobvoi

The TicWatch Pro 3 is the upgrade we wanted the Pro 2020 to be. It’s made welcome design changes that result in a far better-looking smartwatch. It’s got that performance boost thanks to Qualcomm’s latest tech and the software extras are great to see too. The icing on the cake is the battery improvements. It still struggles in the sports and fitness tracking department, but overall it feels like a step in the right direction. It’s the kind of watch Wear OS has needed and if you care about pure smartwatch features over sports tracking, it comes recommended.


  • Slimmer design
  • Nice UI and app additions
  • Improved battery life
  • Pricier than last Pro
  • GPS drain on battery
  • Iffy sports tracking

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