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Just Cool Tech: TicWatch Pro 3 GPS Review

A Leap Beyond the TicWatch Pro 4G

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Welcome back to Just Cool Tech, our column dedicated to looking at tech that’s just plain cool, even if it lives outside the realm of PCs and gaming. Today, we’re looking at the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, a smartwatch that aims to deliver premium features and high-performance specs at a competitive price. MSRP on the GPS model comes in at $299 but includes a $30 discount coupon on Amazon as of this writing, positioning it just below the Galaxy Watch 3 and well below the latest Apple Watch. Is it worth a buy? Join us as we take a closer look!

Specifications

  • Current Price: $299 ($269 with instant coupon at Amazon now)
  • Retina AMOLED Display: 1.4” Retina AMOLED 454 x 454 + FSTN display
  • Color: Shadow Black
  • Material: Stainless steel+Plastic
  • Watch strap material: Solid silicone
  • Watch strap size: 22mm
  • Chipset: Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear™ 4100 Platform
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM
  • Battery Life: Smart Mode: up to 72 hours, Essential Mode: up to 45 days
  • Battery capacity: Minimum: 577mAh, Nominal: 595mAh
  • GNSS: GPS+Beidou+Glonass+Galileo+QZSS
  • NFC: Payments with Google Pay™
  • Speaker: Yes
  • Mic: Yes
  • Vibrator: Yes
  • PPG Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
  • Accelerator: Yes
  • Gyroscope: Yes
  • Ambient Light Sensor: Yes
  • Barometer: Yes
  • Buttons: 2
  • Water and dust resistance: IP68 and pool swimming suitable
  • Charging dock: Input?5V1A?USB type A?
  • Watch Size: 47x48x12.2mm
  • Weight: TicWatch Pro 3 GPS 41.9g

Mobvoi has been climbing the smartwatch ladder for several years now, out to make a name for itself as a premiere brand in the space. When I reviewed the TicWatch Pro 4G LTE back in 2019, I was a newcomer to the space and didn’t know quite what to expect — like many of you, I had been bombarded by screeching ads for low-cost watches from sites like Wish. Thankfully, the TicWatch Pro 4G was impressive, delivering a solid user experience, excellent battery life, and plentiful fitness support with its built-in array of sensors. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, so when Mobvoi announced its latest watch, the TicWatch Pro GPS, complete with overhauled hardware, there was a definite curiosity and eagerness to see what they would deliver within the wearables community.

Upgraded Internals

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is a big upgrade from the 4G LTE thanks to its new Snapdragon 4100 processor. This mobile SoC allows the watch to be all-around faster and more responsive while also preserving battery life. Mobvoi quotes a 150% increase in GPU performance, 85% to CPU and Memory, and 25% more power saving. In practice, navigating the watch feels much more fluid. Animations are faster, processing times for voice input and Google Assistant are faster, and launching apps is faster. I’ve never felt the previous models were that poor but after using the GPS model, it would be hard to go back. This model also brings with it 1GB of system memory and 8GB of onboard storage, double that of the 4G LTE model. 

Despite the improved internals, Mobvoi has also managed to slim the GPS model down a hair and reduce its weight. It comes in at 12.2mm thick, a 0.4mm reduction, and 41.9 grams. It’s a small difference but since the watch face itself is rather large, shaving down the other dimensions is an important quality.

Display and Battery Life

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS uses a large 1.4-inch dual-screen AMOLED/FSTN display. This sizing does make the watch rather large, so it won’t be a great fit for smaller uses that prefer something more subtle but does make the watch more usable. It features a resolution of 454 x 454, which is enough to easily read text and to make graphics appear crisp and detailed. That’s particularly meaningful in both the integration with your phone’s notification system as well as the plentiful options for watch faces. 

That dual-layer screen is the TicWatch Pro’s most iconic feature and one of its biggest differentiators against the competition. The primary display is a bright AMOLED which looks great, even in direct sunshine. The top-level display is an FSTN, which is similar to the readout on a normal digital watch. When the watch isn’t in use, the AMOLED turns off, leaving the simpler FDTN behind to display the date, time, pedometer, and second counter. Turning your wrist turns on the new backlight (finally making the basic display visible in the dark) and tapping it turns on the AMOLED. 

This design allows the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS to offer excellent battery life. Under the hood, it features a 595mAh battery and Mobvoi quotes 72 hours of battery life in Smart Mode and 45 days in Essential Mode (just the FSTN display). These claims turn out to be true. Even enabling its different 24-hour monitoring of pulse, blood oxygen, and stress I was still able to get three days between charges, which bests battery life reports on both the Galaxy Watch 3 and Apple Watch Series 6. Note that I didn’t have either of these to test myself. 

The only downside to battery life and charging is that the TicWatch still uses a proprietary charger. It’s small, so easy to throw in a bag for a quick top-off on the go but you’ll be stuck buying another if it ever gets lost or damaged. A bigger issue is the lack of wireless charging. Having yet another cable to plug in is cumbersome and at this point, it’s a pretty big missing feature. 

Health Features and Daily Life

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS uses Google’s WearOS platform and is filled with sensors to support your healthy life. It has an accelerometer and gyro capabilities to support gestures and pedometer functionality, as well as sleep tracking. The underside of the watch also features sensors to check your pulse and blood oxygen level. Onboard mics can also give you an eye on the decibels of your current surroundings. And, of course, this model features a GPS tracker to map your runs without the need to carry your phone with you. 

This functionality is provided through Mobvoi’s set of Tic apps — TicExercise, TicBreathe, TicPulse, TicSleep, TicOxygen, and TicZen. You also have access to Google’s native WearOS apps, though I think Mobvoi’s are substantially better. The sensors are able to track on-demand or be set to gather health data at regular intervals which are then stored and graphed on the device. The watch also ties into Mobvoi’s dedicated app. This provides more detailed data and insight.

I’m not an athlete, but I’ve appreciated the extra insight the watch has provided into my health. Enabling 24-hour tracking gives me a much fuller picture of myself than I was able to have before, particularly when it comes to managing stress. Likewise, the built-in goal setting and gamification of movement is actually pretty motivating. After setting my daily goals, the watch will send reminders if I’m falling behind. I also use a separate app to remind me to drink enough water, which has been helpful throughout the day. 

Living with the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS has been nice. I had gone without a smartwatch for most of a year and being able to check notifications on the fly has been nice, especially working online where I may not want to pull my phone out in the middle of a meeting. The improved processor has also made replying to messages with voice-to-text more reliable. The only downside is that enabling notifications causes anything vibrating your phone to also buzz the watch, which can be irritating for apps that send notifications regularly.

The health features are largely a win, though I do question the accuracy of the pedometer. When setting the device up, you provide your height and weight, but the Pro 3 GPS always seems to count an unusually high number of steps. This makes me question whether it’s also overestimating elsewhere, but so far this is the only area that seems to be too high. Overall, however, I find it to be a useful companion that encourages me to get up and move more throughout the day and gives me insight into the impact of my exercises. 

Final Thoughts

The TicWatch Pro 3 GPS is a great smartwatch. For the money, it offers improved battery life over much of the competition and excellent performance thanks to the new Snapdragon processor. There are some sacrifices to keep the price affordable, like the lack of wireless charging or rotating crown, but overall this is a solid buy, especially at the currently discounted price.

8.0Great
Pros
  • Fast and responsive
  • Excellent battery life
  • Solid array of sensors, including GPS for phone-free runs
  • Plentiful RAM and Storage
  • Crisp AMOLED Screen
Cons
  • Proprietary charger
  • No wireless charging


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight