TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS
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The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is a great smartwatch with a decent amount of power, that is only slightly let down by the fact that it's stuck using WearOS 2.0. It has excellent speakers, incredibly accurate tracking, and battery life that lasts for days on end even with those advanced sensors running 24/7. While it doesn't get along all that well with iOS-based devices, paired to an Android smartphone it gives you all of the features that you'd expect from a decent smartwatch.
- Brand: TicWatch
- Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
- Color Screen: Yes
- Notification Support: Yes
- Battery Life: 48-72 Hours
- Operating System: WearOS 2.0
- Onboard GPS: Yes
- Offline Media Storage: Yes
- SIM Support: eSim Only
- Display Size : 1.4-inch AMOLED, Gorilla glass
- Water Rating : IP68
- Smartphone Music Control: Yes
- Battery: 577mAh
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE via eSim
- Health sensors: Yes
- Dimensions: 47 x 48 x 12.2mm
- Weight: 22g
- Great battery life while 24-hour tracking is enabled
- High-quality speaker
- Very unique fatigue and mental/physical energy tracking functions
- Irregular heartbeat warnings
- Stuck using WearOS 2.0
- Doesn't work well with iOS
- No ECG monitoring
Wearable tech is a great sign of the future. Even if we have yet to find AR glasses that won’t make you look like a complete weirdo, it’s nice to know that the trusty smartwatch has a firm grip on society. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is the flagship product from Mobvoi and the latest in their line of WearOS smartwatches. It promises to be the only WearOS device to be using the powerful Snapdragon 4100 chipset with Mobvoi's own dual-processor system to deliver unparalleled performance, but can the device give titans like Apple or Samsung a run for their money?
The only way to find out is to take a long hard look at the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS.
Excellent in Design but Limited by Carriers
The first thing we really need to note about this smartwatch is the fact that it does feature GPS and LTE capabilities, but at least in the UK, these functions are only available on the Vodaphone network and their eSims. The watch itself doesn’t feature a physical sim card slot, so if you’re not on Vodaphone already, you’ll need to take out a second phone plan with them to use all of the watch’s features.
That aside, the Pro 3 Ultra GPS is clearly designed to be a top-of-the-line smartwatch, offering a premium finish from the leather strap to the ridged edges and buttons. The overall build quality matches the price point of around $300, and in general, it feels incredibly sturdy. It also has an IP68 rating, so you can leave it on in pretty much every situation, from washing up to swimming, without worrying it’ll break. Not only that but the Pro 3 Ultra features an upgraded secondary screen to save battery life, that can also be customized with different background colors to make it easier to read depending on your needs.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: Sterling Battery Life Without Losing Features
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS also offers some of the best battery life you’ll find on a smartwatch. It runs for around 2 to 3 days even with 24-hour tracking, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi all turned on. There are some features that do run the battery down much quicker, but for general use, the watch lasts a stunning amount of time on a single charge without having to compromise on its features too much. If you’re really in a bind, you’ll find that the essentials mode strips down most of the other features, but can run the watch for over a month without stopping.
Under more standard day-to-day use, the watch fairs very well. All of the important features of a smartwatch are here. You can check and clear your notifications with ease, you can access weather and news information, and of course, monitor health statistics such as your heart rate and sleep schedule. We’ll talk more specifically about tracking accuracy a little later, but suffice to say, when it comes to using a smartwatch in your everyday life, this watch performs incredibly well. For the most part, the 4100 chipset and dual-processor setup seem to be worth every penny you pay for it. That’s not to say that there aren’t some occasional stuttering issues, but they mostly occur during setup or when you need to restart the watch for some reason.
The built-in gesture navigation function works quite well with flicking up and down to scroll through notifications taking almost no time to get used to. The actual difference between flicking up and flicking down is minute, but somehow the watch doesn’t seem to have any trouble at all when it comes to telling what it is you want it to do. Even the shake gesture to close applications or notification screens registers 9 times out of 10, which is shocking considering how much this particular gesture just feels like flailing your arm around.
Tracking Accuracy and TicHealth Apps
In terms of health information and body tracking, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra features an uncomplicated but effective array of different sensors. There’s an HD PPG sensor to cover your heart rate, an SpO2 blood oxygen level sensor, and a low-latency off-body sensor—which is part of the reason that 24-hour monitoring doesn’t take too much of a toll on the battery life. These sensors combine with a suite of Tic apps to monitor your body and collate data into varying different forms, all neatly compiled in the TicHealth app. The watch can even give you warnings if it detects an irregular heartbeat, or if your heart rate hits a critical point during exercising.
All-in-all the tracking has proven to be accurate most of the time, though the Tic suite of apps does take a little longer than we’d like when it comes to synchronizing your information with the Google Fit app. Speaking of which, several Google Fit apps come pre-installed and offer very similar functions to the Tic apps, but with the key difference that Fit doesn’t offer a sleep monitoring application. If you want all your data to go straight to your Google Fit account reliably you’re going to need to download a third-party sleep app that will typically drain your battery life much quicker, or you’re going to need to create a Mobvoi account to activate your TicSleep apps and sync the data across.
That said, it might actually be worth creating a Mobvoi account, as the extra benefits of the purpose-built suite of applications are pretty impressive. As well as the aforementioned heart irregularities, the TicHealth app monitors your long-term health trends and gives you feedback on your levels of fatigue and burnout based on your sleep and stress levels. Even more interestingly, the app does a decent job of measuring your physical energy level separately from your mental fatigue level, a feature that, as far as we know, is completely unique to Mobvoi’s suite of health apps.
Surprisingly, A Media Powerhouse
Although it seems unlikely that these uses were intended by the designers of either the TicWatch or WearOS, it is actually possible to watch videos and listen to music directly on the Pro 3 Ultra itself. Applications like Nav Explorer allow you to use FTP to move video and music files onto the watch, while Sun Player can both play video and audio files from the watch as well as cast them to various devices like Smart TVs or Chromecasts. Of course, when it comes to video files you almost certainly won’t want to watch them directly on the device itself, but it’s nice to know that the option is there.
Another great thing about the watch is the quality of the built-in speaker. While it’s not likely to win any awards on its audio reproduction quality alone, the sound is more than good enough for quietly listening to music or to clearly hear what someone is saying when making a call on the watch itself. Microphone quality isn’t top-notch necessarily, but it is at least clear enough for people to understand what you’re saying while on a call, and the same goes for a voice memo. In fact, with the Mobvoi app installed, you can instantly sync your audio recording to your phone, and have them transcribed into notes with an hour of free transcriptions thrown in.
As Ever, Let Down by WearOS
Unfortunately, when it comes to music streaming there’s not too much to be happy about here. The only real service available is Spotify, so if you use a competing service like Amazon Music or Tidal, then you’re going to need to keep using your smartphone to listen to music. Even if you do use Spotify, the built-in app really acts more like a glorified remote, rather than a fully-featured wearable version. In fairness, this is probably more of an issue with WearOS than it is with the watch specifically, but it is an important note and a real shame when the speaker on the watch is so decent too.
If you’re up to date on your wearable tech, then you’re probably aware that WearOS comes with a fair few problems of its own. The biggest problem is that it’s just not been moving forward fast enough. While this is a truly great smartwatch, it is still stuck using WearOS 2.0 which has long been neglected by Google and app developers.
There is the promise of WearOS 3.0 just over the horizon, and the newest version seems to finally be kicking off some of the dust from Google’s boots, but the new update won’t even be coming to the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra until later on this year. When? We don’t exactly know: all that Google has said is that it will be at some point in early-to-mid 2022. Until then, we’re stuck using outdated software with very few available apps.
Not iOS Friendly, Either
There’s also another glaring issue that might come with using the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra and that’s related to the smartphone you own. It’s no secret that Android and iOS devices don’t always mix, in fact, most Apple devices don’t mix well with non-Apple devices. Despite some headway in that area over the past few years, things still aren’t great when it comes to mixing and matching, and the Pro 3 Ultra is no exception to the rule. There are so many features that just don’t work if you pair the watch with an iPhone insatead of an Android-based device.
When connected to an iPhone, you can’t make calls or texts using the watch at all. On top of that, it is constantly disconnected from the WearOS app, which is especially annoying if you lose your phone a lot since the find my phone function doesn’t work once your phone disconnects itself. You also can’t use the media controls most of the time on an iPhone. They do show up sometimes, but it’s relatively hit and miss, a bit like the connection between the two in general. If you’re using an iPhone, you’re probably going to need to think twice about whether it's worth a little over $100 saving by getting this instead of an Apple Watch. Spoiler: it's not.
Is the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS Worth Your Money?
Overall, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is a great device for the money, that is let down only slightly by a lack of frequent updates to the operating system. The build quality matches the price point well, and you really feel like Mobvoi was trying to bring you a premium experience with this smartwatch. The accurate tracking, much-improved secondary screen and incredibly impressive battery life make it a good choice for any Android user who wants a high-quality smartwatch without going directly to Google or Samsung, but iPhone users will want to think twice. Just remember, you’ll have to wait until mid-2022 before we finally get our hands on WearOS 3.0, but the wait might be worth it.