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Rugged and premium build quality
Excellent 4G connectivity
Snappy, reliable performance
On the pricey side
Clunky proprietary apps and integrations
Unfriendly setup process
This is a seriously capable watch with a ton of features, but with a price that’s just a bit higher than expected.
The Ticwatch Pro is a 4G/LTE-capable watch that actually presents a fair number of upgrades from the step-down Bluetooth model in the same line. As a brand Ticwatch has set its sights squarely on the budget level of the market, opting for good-enough smartwatch performance at a more-than-good-enough price. With the lesser models, you’ll pay a really low price point but make some sacrifices in functionality. With the Pro 4G model, there are no sacrifices to be seen from our perspective, but you’ll also be paying near-Apple prices.
If you’re looking for a solid, premium smartwatch, with tons of functionality, reasonably good battery life, and the full expandability that comes with the Wear OS ecosystem, this could be it. I ordered one and wore it around NYC between workdays and workouts, nights out and nights’ sleep. Read on to see what I think it does well, and what it could do better.
Unlike most of the other flagship smartwatches on the market, there is only one size and color available for the Ticwatch Pro 4G: Black on black. If I had to choose a color to go all-in on, black is the most versatile, so this isn’t likely going to be that polarizing. But if you’re someone who prefers the option for a more traditional silver or a classier rose gold, then this won’t work for you.
The watch looks really rugged and definitely leans in an industrial direction. The thick, black casing has cool glossy accents along with bezels, and hatched, textured metal around the very edges. There are two buttons on the right, and the bezel has even been designed to look like a faux spinning watch dial with labeled numbers and hash marks. This all serves to give the device a natural, watch-like look. The silicon band that comes stock on the watch carries the utilitarian look through with hatched lines that run along the entire length of the strap.
The watch looks really rugged, and definitely leans in an industrial direction. The thick, black casing has cool glossy accents along the bezels, and hatched, textured metal around the very edges.
The other aspect of design with any smartwatch is what the display can do. Because this is a Wear OS device, you’ll have some options with the watch face, but the most unique-looking feature here is the secondary “layered” display that Ticwatch has touted as a key feature. There are functions for this, but visually, this top layer serves as a unique take on the “always-on” display.
Unlike some other watches that just dime the screen and use the main display to show a limited amount of always-on data, the Ticwatch Pro actually features a separate, LCD layered on top of the main AMOLED screen that shows some key features. I’ll get into what the use is for this, but the simplistic display that defaults when the watch face is “off” actually serves to make this watch much more natural, instead of just showing a plain black circle like most wearables.
There were a couple wrinkles when actually setting up this device, and while that may not seem like a huge deal, at a nearly $300 price point, I was hoping it would be a much more seamless process. To be fair, the Wear OS walkthrough was pretty standard and easy to tackle. Once the Google account has been loaded in, however, there’s an added step of having to download Ticwatch’s dedicated app. Mobvoi, Ticwatch’s parent company, is the app administrator, and it’s through this app that you access the Ticwatch-specific health stats and unlock some more info about the watch itself.
It was when I tried to get the 4G LTE service up and running that I ran into issues. First off, this is a Verizon smartwatch and operates with the 4G LTE FDD network. It employs an eSIM that only works with Verizon, so you need to activate a new line. However, because this isn’t an Apple Watch or even a more mainstream Wear OS device, it took the Verizon rep a long time to work out how to get the watch activated. It required me digging into the watch settings and pulling out complicated ID and eSIM numbers, reading them out manually, and having the Verizon rep activate on their end. To be fair, this isn’t something you’ll have to do more than once, but at least initially, be prepared to stay on the phone for a little while.
One of the truly defining features of this smartwatch is its feel and quality. The case is made of polyamide and glass fiber, and the bezel is made of knurled stainless-steel. Ticwatch keeps the weight low by opting for an aluminum back cover. The silicon watch band has a really nice, soft feel, and isn’t nearly as sticky as some of the more fitness-oriented wearables out there. It’s a 45mm casing, so it is a little large, but at under 50 grams in weight, it’s remarkably light for the amount of tech that’s in here. This all makes for a really comfortable watch that’s easy to wear, provided you want a watch face as big as this.
The build quality and durability here is actually what impressed us most. The watch just feels rugged, and because the display opts for Gorilla Glass, it’s likely to not easily chip or crack. Ticwatch has loaded in IP68 water resistance, which technically means that it can be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes without issue. This also means it should be swim-friendly, making it a great fitness wearable for those who want to easily count swim laps (though, we’d have liked to see deeper water tests here).
The case is made of polyamide and glass fiber, and bezel is made of knurled stainless-steel. Ticwatch keeps the weight low by opting for an aluminum back cover.
Ticwatch has even gone ahead to include a Military Standard 810G level of ruggedness, which means it has been tested to withstand temperate shock between -30 and 70 degrees Celsius, 57kpa of pressure, 44 degrees Celsius of solar radiation, 95 percent humidity, and sand and dust coverage. There’s even a small speaker underneath the watch case that vibrates small amounts of water and moisture out of the casing when it builds up. This is an exceedingly long list of durability distinctions, and as someone who is pretty clumsy with their tech sometimes, I can give this my personal stamp of approval.
Customizing the look and feel of the display itself is pretty easy here, as Ticwatch has loaded in about a dozen stock watch faces into the watch itself. However, if you want to open up the compatibility to more watch faces, it requires going through the play store, which is just an extra step I didn’t think was necessary when Ticwatch could just have loaded in more watch faces automatically. Though Ticwatch doesn’t provide multiple colors for this watch, the band is attached via the standard watch spring rod, so thankfully it is easy to find new bands. The band measures around 22mm in width, which is pretty standard for a watch of this size. I did find it tricky to get the stock silicon band off the watch because the band material is so stiff and tightly fitted to the casing, but once you do get it off, it’s nice to see that you don’t need to buy a proprietary band to customize this wearable.
The performance of this watch is likely one of the reasons you’ll be looking at it in the first place. Because it is the top-line flagship from Ticwatch, the manufacturer has loaded in a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor with 1GB of on-board RAM. This gives the watch plenty of power to tackle all the apps you’ll need, and because of that, swiping through the display and using apps feels snappy and responsive.
The 1.39-inch AMOLED display is 400x400 pixels and looks really bright and really vibrant. There’s 4GB of on-board storage so you can bring music and media on to the device, too. The extra power on-board also helps with the Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, as we saw very few hiccups with connectivity between our phone and the device. What was extra-impressive here is the 4G LTE connectivity. Because the device has its own SIM, you won’t need your phone nearby to receive notifications, but it can be connected to your phone’s number either way. I actually answered some phone calls, and the speaker and microphone on the watch were really clear and really loud.
The manufacturer has loaded in a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor with 1GB of on-board RAM. This gives the watch plenty of power to tackle all the apps you’ll need, and because of that, swiping through the display and using apps feels snappy and responsive.
The on-board sensors are also pretty impressive here. There’s a PPG heart rate sensor that was really accurate and responsive, and uses 24-hour heart rate monitoring. There’s an accelerometer and gyroscope for sleep and activity tracking, plus an e-compass for directional uses. All of this is really well inter-connected with the TicMotion tracking on-board. However, because the Mobvoi app is a quirky, third-party app, there were some slight issues with UX.
Mobvoi touts that this watch gets 2 hours of battery life, all things considered. I put this watch through as close to heavy use as I could muster, and I can verify that you’ll get at least that much. However, some of the Ticwatch’s marketing materials peg the battery life at 2–5 days, with the caveat that you use “Essential Mode”. Essential Mode is a really interesting point on battery life, because on paper it’s a cool idea, but in practice it isn’t super, well, practical. This mode puts the watch into a highly limited state where you basically just see your steps, the date and time, and your heart rate.
The watch also defaults to the top-layer LCD, shutting off the AMOLED entirely. It makes sense, because OLEDs are notorious for sucking battery life. Essential Mode is a really cool idea, because it somehow maintains heart rate monitoring and step counting, and Mobvoi claims that if you only use Essential Mode, you can squeeze up to 30 days of battery life. To enter Essential Mode, you just toggle it on the quick settings menu, but to get out of Essential Mode again, you actually have to reboot the entire watch. This is a frustrating factor because it makes it a lot less convenient to use Essential Mode as a temporary battery-saving measure.
The dual-layered display technology available on the Ticwatch Pro is arguably the most interesting extra feature, and I loved how it made the “always-on” display thing a real, standalone mode. I also found that all the data connectivity worked seamlessly.
As far as extra features go, there’s really only the Ticwatch Health features. And these go hand in hand with the software quirks I mentioned above. The Mobvoi app is perfectly passable, but when compared with full OS compatibility offered on Apple Watches, and the more robust features for something like a Fitbit and its app, it was pretty limited. There are some interesting health graphs you can pull up, including a daily comprehensive line chart, regular heart rate zone breakdown (including a 7-day history), and even abnormal heart rate warnings. These aren’t as robust as Apple’s latest FDA-approved options, but it is cool to see Ticwatch trying to innovate.
Because the accompanying software seems to be translated from another language, though, it is a little annoying to get used to. With that said, you’ll get all the tracking you need here. And, if you want to track other specific things with different apps, you’ll have the Wear OS store at your disposal. One last thing to note, which may be a bit obvious, is that because the Ticwatch Pro operates with Android Wear, there are some quirks when pairing with iOS notably that iMessage notifications and other things that Apple defaults to proprietary software, can be a bit hit or miss.
The list price for the 4G LTE model of the Ticwatch Pro is $300, and as far as I can tell, you won’t get much of a discount from this price point. When compared with the $400–500 range of flagship Apple Watches, and similar price points with more mainstream Galaxy Watches, this is a little high in our opinion. To be fair, Mobvoi has made a name for themselves as a wallet-friendly brand, both with Ticwatches and the Ticbuds, the Bluetooth earbud alternative. To see them reach so close to flagship price points makes me think they’re misunderstanding their place in the market. That said, it is a really capable watch, with solid connectivity, and ultra-premium build, and an interesting dual-screen function that isn’t seen anywhere else.
Ticwatch Pro BT: You can save a few bucks if skipping the 4G LTE and Gorilla Glass, and getting less on-board RAM are okay with you. You’ll still get that dual-screen and a solid build here, though.
Apple Watch Series 3/4: The step-back Apple Watch models will give you much better software integration and the option for 4G LTE, all at a similar price point. If you use iOS this might be a better bet.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: The latest Galaxy Watch Active has a better software integration/experience for a similar price point.
A solid smartwatch with 4G LTE connectivity.
The Ticwatch Pro LTE is a really solid smartwatch, there’s no doubt about that. There’s a snappy processor, the full spread of Wear OS apps, and some unique health and display features. Plus, the battery life reaches slightly above Apple and other main competitors. But, you’ll have to sacrifice the brand recognition, the solid UX that comes with it, and the resale value inherent with a better-known brand. But if build quality and a unique smartwatch are your main focus, this is definitely an option to consider.