Just Cool Tech is a new series we will run from time to time that will spotlight or review gear that may be outside the world PC gaming and content creation but still interesting to tech-lovers. For organization’s sake, it will appear under the “Hardware Reviews” tab but, as always, only articles that saw “review” in the title should be considered as such.
Welcome to Just Cool Tech, our new special series where we take a close look at tech that’s neat to read about and fun to own. Today, we’re looking at the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE Smart Watch. Featuring the latest version of Android Wear OS, it offers full notifications with easy voice or text replies, fitness tracking, WiFi, Bluetooth, and 4G/LTE connectivity for when you want to leave the phone at home. We’ve spent two weeks with it and this is what we think.
- Current Price: $299.99 (Official Site, Amazon)
- Dimensions (mm):45.15 x 52.8 x 12.6
- Colors: Black
- Watch case: Polyamide & glass fiber, stainless-steel bezel, aluminum back cover
- Screen glass: Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Watch strap:Silicone (interchangeable), 22mm
- Operating system: Wear OS by Google
- Phone compatibility: Android, iPhone
- Platform: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
- Memory: 1GB RAM; 4GB ROM
- Display: 1.39" AMOLED (400 x 400 px) + FSTN LCD
- Network: 4G LTE FDD
- Connectivity: BT v4.2+ BLE, WiFi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
- GPS:GPS + GLONASS + Beidou
- Sensors: PPG heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, e-compass, ambient light sensor, low latency off-body sensor
- NFC payments: Google Pay via NFC
- SIM: Preloaded SIM
- Military Standard 810G: Withstands temperature shock of between -30C to 70, operational between -20C to 55, 57kpa pressure, 44C solar radiation, 95% humidity, salt fog, sand and dust, shock
- Waterproof rating: IP68 + pool swimming suitable
The world of smartwatches and fitness trackers is ever expanding. Speaking from experience, it can be hard to figure out which option will actually meet your needs. For the last year, I’ve been stuck in decision paralysis unable to settle on a watch that would deliver exactly what I needed it to without breaking the bank. As an Android user, you can spend anything from $30 to more than $300, so how do you make sure you’re actually going to get what you want?
The answer, for me, came down to providence. I read the reviews, watched YouTube videos, and wrestled with myself over just waiting for Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch. Instead, I stumbled across a brand new version of the TicWatch Pro, a watch which won lots of acclaim when it first released but had been out for several years. Enter the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE.
The TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE is a full-featured Wear OS smartwatch with a few neat tricks up its sleeve. Its most defining feature is that it uses dual screen technology to increase battery life. When you’re not looking at it, which it senses by the turn of your wrist, it switches to Essential Mode. This disables the battery-draining AMOLED screen and switches to a standard digital interface raising the battery life to 30 days with heart rate and footstep tracking. If you’d rather use the AMOLED all the time, the battery lasts about two days depending on how heavily its used.
As the name implies, the core addition to this revision is the built-in SIM card to activate the TicWatch Pro on the Verizon 4G/LTE network. This process is quite easy and, yes, will require an additional monthly subscription from Verizon. Once it’s turned on, however, you can pair set of bluetooth headphones directly to the watch to easily take and make calls and use text messaging on the go. The Play Store also features several media streaming services, so you can play Spotify on your run without having to have a bulky phone in your pocket.
The usefulness of this feature is going to vary from user to user but it’s a good bit of extra connectivity nonetheless. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 which I’m forced to hold in my hand when I run. It’s nice to be able to leave it at home without sacrificing my music. At the same time, if you’d rather not use LTE, it will still pair to your phone and use WiFi just as easily. The range is good enough where you could easily set you phone next to your machine at the gym without losing functionality. It’s also worth noting that leaving 4G/LTE on all the time cuts battery life down to a single day.
The main reason I wanted a smartwatch, though, is so I could check notifications on my wrist without pulling my phone out of my pocket. I’m a school teacher by trade but have a second job as an Editor here and freelancer writer around the web, as well as acting as a Children’s Pastor for my church, and father of three. All of that means I have a lot of messages coming in and that I need to be available in the event of an emergency with my kids. Being able to look at my wrist to quickly see if it’s an emergency is both useful and necessary.
I was also impressed to see that it didn’t need WearOS versions of the apps to send notifications or even let me reply to them. I found that if the app allowed me to reply in the notification tray of my phone, it would also let me reply through the watch. There’s a tiny keyboard with Swipe gestures for sending text or you can use Google to translate voice-to-text. It works surprisingly well for such a small device.
Using the TicWatch Pro 4G is simple and intuitive. The watch uses a touchscreen interface that allows you to swipe between screens. There’s a brief tutorial when first beginning to use the watch that answered every question I had. Like an Android phone, you can swipe down to get to a settings menu where you can change wrist gestures, force Essential Mode when you’re low on battery, adjust vibration settings, and the like. Thanks to the jump to a full gigabyte of RAM, everything is snappy and responsive.
Also like a phone, there’s a Play Store app where you can download new apps and watch faces. Many of these are free, which is also nice to see. There are lots of exercise apps available, as many users will consider it for exactly this purpose, but my favorite is easily Zombies, Run! If you’re a runner and have never used this app on another device, you owe it to yourself to get it a try. There’s nothing more motivational than being chased down by a horde of zombies when you just grabbed supplies for your camp.
The game selection is limited, but I was happy to see 2048 make its appearance as a quick time waster.
I’ve also found the built in health and fitness features to be quite motivating. The watch actively monitors your heart rate and uses its built-in sensors to monitor your movement. If you’ve been sedentary for too long it will remind you to get up and move. There are built in exercise trackers that seem to work quite well. The only area where I questioned its accuracy was with the pedometer. I’ve discovered that I move my hands a lot when I talk (and obviously playing with my kids), which causes my steps to become a bit high. Interestingly, I can’t make it count up when I try to move my wrist. It happens seemingly when I’m not looking, which is a puzzler.
If you’re in the market for a smartwatch, the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE is a solid choice. At $299, it offers good battery life, smooth responsiveness when swiping and navigating menus, tons of customization, and the excellent dual-screen design. I also really liked that you could customize one of the two side buttons with a custom command, like summoning Google Assistant. If you’re a runner that doesn’t want to carry your phone with you, the 4G/LTE through Verizon is a big addition that frees you up for more comfortable runs. I would easily recommend this watch to anyone in the market. I did everything I needed and more.
- Excellent notification system that allows you to reply in multiple ways
- Tons of customization
- 4G/LTE connectivity through Verizon
- Intuitive navigation that’s lag-free
- Dual-screens for extra battery life
- Still rather costly
- 4G/LTE has a big impact on battery life
The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.