If you’ve used any of the TicWatch Pro models, you’ll know that the Dual Screen technology is one of its strongest selling points. Using a low-power LCD screen (like those found on conventional digital watches) to display essential information, so the more power-hungry OLED screen can be switched off when not needed, helps to give the TicWatch Pro a longer battery life.
Furthermore, the watch features an Essential Mode, which turns off most of the smartwatch features except the basics (time, date, step-count, heart rate, and sleep tracking) keeping the power consumption to an absolute minimum so you can squeeze even more life out of a single battery charge.
Up until now you’ve only had two options for using Essential Mode. You can either enter/exit the mode manually by selecting the option from the settings menu, or you can set the watch to automatically enter the mode if the battery reaches a certain level (5% by default).
But following the April 2021 Wear OS H-MR2 update, we have a new option which makes Essential Mode far more useful than ever before. It sounds simple – you can now set the TicWatch Pro 3 to enter and exit Essential Mode at specific times during the day, but this seemingly small tweak means we can now significantly extend battery life without sacrificing any functionality.
If you set the watch to enter Essential Mode during times when you know you’re unlikely to need any smart capabilities, every day, that’s going to automatically reduce power use between those hours without really changing the way you use the device. For most of us that probably means when we’re sleeping at night, which is a good 6-9 hours of power saving – but some people might even want to engage the mode for even longer, depending on their personal lifestyle.
You can find the new feature simply by looking for Essential Mode in the apps menu, and you’ll see the settings in there.
Using the watch in this way should give us even longer life from a single battery charge than the current 2-3 days. Sure, you could always do this before by manually switching in and out of Essential Mode, but it’s a hassle and a lot of people simply wouldn’t bother to do it. This new feature means it can happen on auto-pilot without ever having to think about it. And since sleep-tracking still works in this mode, you’re not losing out on any important features during this time.
We’re currently in the middle of testing how much battery life we can get from our TicWatch Pro 3 with Essential Mode set to automatically engage between the hours of 10:30pm and 7:30am, and will report our findings here as soon as we have an answer. It’s also worth remembering that this H-MR2 Wear OS update also included optimizations for the Snapdragon 4100 processor used in this watch, which should make the device even more power-efficient in normal use, so it’s going to be interesting to find out what kind of battery life we can expect from both of these upgrades.
While this is a welcome new feature, we think there’s room for improvement. At present the timer is fairly basic, since you can only choose a single time slot for entering and exiting Essential Mode, but it could be even more useful if you could choose multiple times to enter the power saving mode. For example, as well as using Essential Mode during sleeping hours, people might like to enable it at certain hours during the daytime when they know they won’t need smart-features.
It would also be nice to see this Essential Mode Timer added to previous TicWatch Pro Models, as it would certainly be a welcome new feature for owners who are still using those watches. While it’s understandable that those models probably won’t get the full Wear OS update, surely it’s possible to tweak the Essential Mode feature to include the timer option?