TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Review

  • Battery: 577mAh
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
  • Screen: Dual-Display 2.0 –  1.4in Retina AMOLED (454 x 454px), FSTN
  • RAM: 1Gb
  • ROM: 8Gb
  • Bluetooth: v5
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Sensors: PPG Heart Rate Sensor, Blood Oxygen Saturation, Accelerator, Gyroscope, Barometer
  • NFC Payments: Yes
  • Size: 47mm x 48mm wide, 12.2mm thick
  • Waterproofing: IP68 (light swimming possible)

Launched in late 2020, the TicWatch Pro 3 is a major upgrade to Mobvoi’s smartwatch which previously had only benefited from minor improvements since it was originally launch in 2018. Almost every aspect of the watch has been updated for the Pro 3 model, making it one of the best Wear OS devices currently on the market, at an affordable price.

Screen

Mobvoi’s innovative, battery-saving Dual Display technology is what made the original TicWatch Pro stand out from the crowd, and that’s been improved for this model. The technology works by layering a very low power FSTN style screen (much like you’d find on a conventional digital watch) over the main AMOLED display, and when the watch is operating in “Essential Mode” the FSTN screen is used to display basic information (time, date, etc) while significantly extending battery life.

When the watch is operating in Smart Mode to provide access to your apps, the FSTN screen becomes completely transparent, enabling you to view the full color AMOLED screen beneath.

On the old TicWatch Pro, the FSTN screen didn’t have a backlight, which made it difficult to see in low light conditions, but that’s now changed so reading from the screen in Essential Mode should be easy no matter how dark it is.

This version now shows a little more information in Essential Mode too; time, date, battery status, heart-rate, daily step-count, and calories burned.

The main AMOLED screen has also been improved. It’s just slightly larger at 1.4in and it now offers Retina display quality with a pixel density of 454 by 454, making the screen sharper and more detailed than its predecessor. So, in all respects, the screen on this model is a big improvement over earlier TicWatch Pro versions.

Design

The physical design of the case has also been significantly updated (which did not happen on the TicWatch Pro 2020 upgrade). Overall it’s slimmer and about 30% lighter, and the bezel around the screen is noticeably smaller, giving it a sleeker and more subtle appearance than earlier models, with more of the watch-face occupied by the screen.

The two navigation buttons have stayed the same – one is for opening menus and backing out of apps, the other is a quick-access button that can be set to open up whichever app you prefer.

The strap has also been changed, and is now completely silicon. This feels like a step down from the earlier version which was leather on the outside and silicon underneath, but it still looks pretty good and the main advantage is that it’s now more suitable for swimming, which you couldn’t really do with a leather strap.

Battery

The battery capacity has been significantly increased to 5.77mAh, compared to 4.15mAh on the previous model, and combined with newer, more efficient hardware throughout the watch, the TicWatch Pro 3 now offers greatly extended battery life. You can expect anything up to 3 days of use in Smart Mode, but that’s not the full story.

Essential Mode automatically kicks in when the battery is running very low, to keep the watch operating for longer until you can recharge. But you can also manually switch to Essential Mode, so if you know you’re not going to be using any of the features in Smart Mode for a while you can switch modes to save juice and keep the watch running for even longer.

However you choose to use the watch, you’re going to enjoy much longer life between recharges than earlier models offered.

Fitness Features

Fitness tracking is one of the most popular reasons for getting a smartwatch, and the TicWatch Pro 3 offers a lot more to help with this. The biggest improvement is the addition of a blood oxygen saturation tracker, which is a useful measurement for overall fitness as well as an early warning indicator for various health problems. In combination with the heart-rate monitor, this provides a good overall assessment of your fitness.

The integral GPS tracking has been improved over the previous model, which makes tracking your outdoor activity more accurate. Waterproofing remains at IP68 level, which means light-swimming in freshwater is fine, but you probably shouldn’t go swimming in the sea or salt-water pools.

While you can use any of the fitness tracking apps available on Wear OS, Mobvoi provides its own suite of fitness and wellbeing apps, which are so good that a lot of users might not want to bother with third party ones. These include:

  • Sleep tracking
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Blood oxygen level
  • Automatic activity tracking
  • Environmental noise levels
  • Mental stress monitoring

So if you’re specifically buying this watch for health and fitness use, it’s got you well covered.

Connectivity

As with the previous model, WiFi and Bluetooth connections are available, but the major improvement here is an upgrade from Bluetooth 4.2 to 5.0. In practical terms this offers lower power consumption (again, improving battery life), faster data-transfer between connected devices, and improved audio quality.

As you’d expect from a premium watch, NFC is equipped to enable Google Pay contactless payments.

There are two versions of this watch. The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is the standard model reviewed here, which needs to be paired with a smartphone, and then there’s the TicWatch Pro 3 LTE which can be equipped with a SIM card to directly access 4G mobile data networks without being paired to a phone.

Operating System and Software

Being based on new hardware, the TicWatch Pro 3 is able to run the most recent version of Wear OS and should benefit from upgrades to the operating system throughout 2021 at least. This provides access to the full ecosystem of Wear OS apps, so you should be able to do whatever you want with this watch and not be limited by any technical constraints.

Hardware

The big news here is an upgrade to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, two generations newer than the 2100 used in all previous TicWatch models. This offers more performance, with four process cores compared to two, higher clock speed of 1700Mhz compared to 1200Mhz, and lower power consumption thanks to a new manufacturing process. Better performance, longer battery life, what’s not to like?

RAM is 1Gb (the same as the Pro 2020, and twice as big as the original Pro) while ROM expands storage capacity to 8Gb, compared to 4Gb on both earlier models.

Is it Worth Buying a TicWatch Pro 3?

The original TicWatch Pro was a great watch but, even following its update with the Pro 2020 version, it was built on an older platform that started showing its age and wasn’t able to keep up with newer Wear OS releases.

The TicWatch Pro 3 brings this device right up to date with a modern processor, design improvements, longer battery life, and all-round feature upgrades. It’s competitively priced and offers a smartwatch experience on a par with much more expensive rivals. With a rumored Wear OS update coming later in 2021, that will be better optimised for the Snapdragon 4100 processor, it’s likely that the Pro 3 will get even better in the near future.

Right now, this is the best Wear OS smartwatch you can buy.

What the Reviewers Said

TechRadar

Score: 4 out of 5

“The TicWatch Pro 3 is a quality smartwatch with three-day battery life, great speed, and a sleek design.”

Trusted Reviews

Score: 4 out of 5

“The Pro 3’s simple and easy-to-read dual display still remains a huge selling point, and the longer battery life allows the watch to go further than any Wear OS device before it, making it one of the best smartwatches from Mobvoi’s collection to date.”

Android Central

Score: 4.5 out of 5

“The TicWatch Pro 3 is easily the best Wear OS device out right now.”