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TicWatch Pro 3 review

The TicWatch Pro 3 is a good Android smartwatch, but its activity tracking features leave a lot to be desired

TicWatch Pro 3 review
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Our Verdict

The TicWatch Pro 3 works well as a stylish Android smartwatch, but anyone who’s more than a casual athlete will be disappointed with its activity tracking.

For

  • Price
  • Good battery life
  • Smooth Wear OS integration
  • Robust smartwatch capabilities

Against

  • UX is not intuitive
  • Bulky design
  • Subpar activity features
TicWatch Pro 3: Specs

Size: 47 x 48 x 12.2mm
Weight: 1.5 oz
Color: Shadow Black
Display: 1.4-inch Retina AMOLED 454 x 454
GPS: Yes
Heart rate monitor: Yes
Battery life: Up to 3 days in Smart Mode; up to 45 days in
Essential Mode
Water Resistance: Up to 5 ATM (swimproof)
Mobile payments: Google Pay
Music Storage: No

While probably better known for its budget smartwatches, Mobvoi has branched into higher-end devices such as the TicWatch Pro 3. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform in an effort to deliver better battery life and performance than previous TicWatch offerings, and elevate the watch to the same level as some of the best smartwatches from Samsung and Apple.

As a smartwatch, the TicWatch Pro 3 works quite well, with easy Wear OS integration and notifications that are prompt but unobtrusive. But, as this Ticwatch Pro 3 review will reveal, it’s not the best when it comes to fitness. 

TicWatch Pro 3: Price and Availability

The TicWatch Pro is available as of Sept. 24, 2020. The device costs $299 and is also sold in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The watch only comes in black, with a black silicone band with orange stitching. From a distance, the strap could pass for leather.

TicWatch Pro 3: Design and Display

The first thing you notice about the TicWatch Pro 3 is its size. While smaller than the TicWatch Pro 4G and the TicWatch Pro 2020, it’s still 47mm wide, 12mm thick, and 1.5 ounces. It’s the largest watch I’ve ever worn, and it takes up nearly my entire wrist. It feels less like a smartwatch and more like a traditional analog wrist watch, but with a 1.4-inch and 454x454 pixel display, the TicWatch Pro 3 is easy to read at a glance.

TicWatch Pro 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The right side of the watch features two large buttons, which bring up different menus depending on how long you press them. The top button serves as the power and back button; it also launches Google Voice and brings up the app menu. The bottom button launches the TicExercise app and the settings menu. This functionality isn’t particularly intuitive, so you may need to need to read the instructions before using the buttons.

When you’re sitting at work, the TicWatch Pro 3’s size isn’t a big deal. But the device can be uncomfortable at times. While running, I had to tighten the strap to keep it from moving, and that left a bit of a rash on my wrist. The watch is also a bit too much to wear to bed for sleep tracking.

TicWatch Pro 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As for the watch face display, the TicWatch Pro 3 has two. In its always-on display, the watch uses black numbers on a gray background and shows date, time, step count, and heart rate. While it’s a bit busy, it’s nice to see this information at a glance. And while it’s also a bit boring, it’s not likely to clash with your outfit, and its minimalism helps the TicWatch Pro 3’s battery last up to three days. A slight movement will activate a backlight, though in the sun or a well-lit room this doesn’t do much. 

Tapping the watch face brings up a secondary Retina Amoled display, which also shows step count, heart rate, and battery life. This particular face can be customized with accent colors such as blue or red. From here, you can swipe down to see your notifications or left to access your Tiles, which are selected during setup. 

TicWatch Pro 3: WearOS

The TicWatch Pro 3 runs Google Wear OS. After you create an account through the Mobvoi mobile app, you’re directed to the Wear OS app to finish setup and pick your Tiles. The default Tiles are the Wear OS heart rate and step counter, Google Calendar, and weather. (Yes, there’s a second heart rate and step counter, in addition to the ones on the watch itself. This is a recurring theme with the TicWatch Pro 3.)

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you need an app that you didn’t make available as a Tile, you can hit the top button on the side of the watch twice to bring up both Wear OS apps and Mobvoi’s apps. I appreciated this, since it meant I didn’t have to use the Mobvoi app on my phone to add access to these features on the watch. In fact, after setting up the TicWatch Pro 3, you’ll only really need the Mobvoi app to look at your activity data if you use TicExercise.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some apps are native to the watch, including a timer and various fitness programs, while others are embedded with Wear OS, such as Google Translate and Google Pay. My favorite was the flashlight, which helped me unlock the front door in a dark stairwell more than once. 

Wear OS integration is handy, as it offers access to a range of third-party applications such as Strava, Uber, GrubHub, and Shazam. However, it also means that there are redundant versions of a number of apps on the TicWatch Pro 3, especially for activity tracking.

TicWatch Pro 3: Health and Fitness Features

The TicWatch Pro 3 comes with updated sleep and heart rate monitor (HRM) features. During a workout the TicWatch Pro 3 will provide frequent notifications if your heart rate is getting too high (which happened when I ran up a long hill). At rest, you need to tap the heart icon on the watch face to collect a reading, as heart rate data isn’t updated continuously on the watch face. 

In addition, there are new embedded apps for measuring blood oxygen saturation, stress, and completing breathing exercises. TicZen, for example, will monitor heart rate variability, or the time in between heartbeats, and bring up breathing exercises from TipBreathe if the watch senses that you need to reduce your stress level. Meanwhile, TicOxygen will measure blood oxygen saturation, and the TicWatch Pro 3 offers the option to track this over time.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The most interesting of the new apps is TicHearing, which, similar to the Apple Watch 6, will measure environmental noise to help protect your hearing. With an IP68 rating, the watch can be used for swimming for short periods of time.

This is an impressive suite of fitness apps. But Wear OS also has many of the same apps, and the redundancy is a bit confusing.

You can use either Wear OS or Mobvoi’s TicExercise to track activity and heart rate, and there are two apps for breathing exercises. You also get two step counts as well as two different daily step goals: Wear OS sticks to 10,000 steps per day, while TicWatch Pro 3 will adjust the number based on previous step counts. This didn’t matter to me, as I’ve been a runner for a long time, but it could be a challenge for someone looking for a smartwatch to help them plan an activity routine.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As a running watch, the TicWatch leaves a lot to be desired. Using either TicExercise or Wear OS, the activity screen would time out after a few seconds. If the Always On feature is set to off, then the black-on-gray display will come back. In TicExercise mode, this shows a variety of run stats — distance, pace, elapsed time, heart rate, and step count — but the screen is too crowded to be truly useful. In Wear OS mode, this simply defaults to the black-on-gray watch face and shows no running stats at all.

TicWatch Pro 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If Always On is set to On, the activity screen for both apps will stay on the watch face, but the data won’t continuously refresh as it typically does for activity tracking. In TicExercise, the watch face appears frozen— you need to hit the Power button or tap the screen to see your stats in real-time, and that data will only appear for a few seconds before timing out. (The longest you can set the TicWatch Pro 3 face to remain on before timing out is 15 seconds.) In Wear OS, the clock will continue to run and the distance will continue to update, but the clock will only display the time in minutes and the mileage is measured only in tenths of a mile. Again, you need to hit the Power button or tap the watch face to see real-time stats.

TicWatch Pro 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

To pause a workout — whether you use TicExercise or Wear OS, or whether Always On is on or off — you need to tap the watch face, swipe to the Pause button, and then tap Pause, all before the screen times out. This is a frustrating user experience, especially compared to Fitbit or Garmin devices that will pause a workout with a single push of a button. 

Both apps provide a good workout summary. TicExercise will calculate average steps per minute, and Wear OS will provide a heart rate graph. In both cases, you can see this right on the watch without waiting for data to be uploaded to the respective app. But it doesn’t make up for the lack of insight mid-workout.

Mobvoi’s TicMotion feature will automatically detect movement when you run, walk, or bike, which can save you the trouble of using either TicExercise or Wear OS and seeing the activity screen disappear. This feature is off by default, and turning it on will drain the battery faster than usual. The TicWatch Pro 3 may work for casual or low-impact exercise, but if you’re a serious runner or cyclist, the activity features are likely to disappoint. On most of my runs while testing the TicWatch Pro 3, I ended up tracking my time using the digital clock and not the activity apps.

TicWatch Pro 3: Sleep Tracking

Sleep tracking on the TicWatch Pro 3 works well, providing a breakdown of light sleep and deep sleep, a picture of your heart rate while sleeping, and a “sleep efficiency” rating based on how long you slept vs. how long you were lying awake. You can see this information right on the watch without using the Mobvoi app, though sleep data is also available on the app.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, the watch did count as “sleep” the time on a weekend morning while I was still lying in bed but no longer asleep, which skewed my sleep and heart rate numbers a bit. There’s also no option to adjust your metrics in the Mobvoi app, which is a feature available on Fitbit devices.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The bigger issue is that the watch isn’t comfortable to wear to bed because it’s so bulky. Plus, if you have to get up in the middle of the night, the sudden movement will cause the watch face to briefly light up. This is barely noticeable during the day, but in a dark bedroom, you very well could wake up your partner or pet. I had to cover my wrist as I was getting out to bed to make sure I didn’t light up the room. Putting the watch in Essential Mode will turn off the backlight, while allowing you to continue to track sleep — provided you remember.

TicWatch Pro 3: Smartwatch Features

The TicWatch Pro 3 works well as a smartwatch. Syncing with Wear OS means you’ll get the same notifications on the watch that you typically get on your smartphone. TicWatch will vibrate, but the notification won’t pop up; you have to tap the watch face and then swipe up to read it. I liked this feature, since it meant that notifications weren’t intrusive even if, say, you get many text messages in rapid succession.

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The TicWatch Pro 3 does allow you to make and answer phone calls on your wrist, without using your phone. This is a convenient option, but it will automatically put you on speaker, so it may not be optimal if you’re in public. The text message and email reply options are better, as you can enter responses using voice commands, emojis or a QWERTY keyboard with AutoComplete. 

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

TicWatch Pro 3 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Basic smartwatch features such as a timer, calculator, and flashlight are available as native apps, while Wear OS integration provides access to the library of apps from Google, including Google Pay for mobile payments. This lets users get started with the TicWatch Pro 3 right away without having to stop and download basic functionality, then take their time to find the apps they want to customize the device. One challenge is music; as a Wear OS device, the TicWatch Pro 3 doesn’t have a native app for storing music, so if you like to listen to music when you run, you’ll need to use Spotify or YouTube Music paired with your phone. 

According to Mobvoi, the TicWatch Pro 3 is one of the first watches to use the Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, which is meant to deliver higher performance than older smartwatches. The TicWatch Pro 3 delivers on that front - there is no lag when switching screens or scrolling through menus, the watch picks up a GPS signal in seconds, and the watch battery doesn’t need to be charged every day.

TicWatch Pro 3: Battery Life

According to Mobvoi, one of the other benefits of the Snapdragon 4100 chipset—as well as the TicWatch’s dual displays—is that the TicWatch Pro 3 will last up to 72 hours on a single charge in Smart Mode. In my experience, the watch lasted nearly two days on a full charge. That included two workouts that were a total of two-and-a-half hours, using GPS; an hour-long run drained the battery from 26% to 20%. That’s on a par with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and better than the Apple Watch, which requires a recharge every day.

The TicWatch Pro 3 also comes with an Essential Mode, in which the device can go for up to 45 days without needing a charge. In Essential Mode, the watch will track time and date, heart rate, sleep, and steps, but all other features are turned off. You can set the watch to automatically enter Essential Mode when the battery level hits 5%, which will give you access to basic functionality until you can get to your charger.

TicWatch Pro 3: Verdict

The TicWatch Pro 3 does most of what you’d expect from a smartwatch very well, whether it’s giving you a glance of your calendar, providing notifications, or making phone calls. However, some of the features are redundant, with separate apps from Wear OS as well as Mobvoi for a number of health and fitness activities.

If you’re in the market for a stylish smartwatch running Wear OS, then the TicWatch Pro 3 is a viable option. But the watch’s size, weight, and redundant options for activity tracking mean that you may want a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 if you’re in the market for an Android smartwatch built for fitness.

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  • Jlawou
    Great review. I've been using this watch for a week now and agree with everything you said. There are some bags but as a smartwatch it is fantastic.
    As a runner I have not been happy with the fitness offerings the watch provides but I have found a solution on Google Play. The app Sporty Go! has been a great addition to the watch. Allowing me to pair an external heart rate monitor and the Stryd foot pod. With the screen set to always on you get real time stats on the watch that are completely customizable. You can also customize the bottom button to do several things like start/stop run, pause/resume run, skip music track etc.
    Speaking of music, it's is a disappointing problem but more so on WearOS than Mobvoi.
    Reply