TicWatch Pro 4G LTE Review – So it’s time to give the people what they want, even though in my view this smartwatch does a lot of the opposite. Style is crucially important to a smartwatch, more so than a smartphone that most people will put in a case. And the TicWatch Pro 4G LTE just kind of feels like it has a split personality there.
It has this finely textured knurling and minimal bezel markings like a dressy watch. But a blocked plastic and metal casing and generic rubber wristband more suited to a fitness tracker. And man, Mobvoi’s refusal to include a rotating side button really twists my hairspring.
A rotating crown makes a massive difference in how easy Wear OS is to use. And on a TicWatch it’s an especially big shame to miss it. Because remember, this is the company that back in 2017 brought us the Tickle Strip. One of the most exciting wearable interfaces ever. I’d of loved it Mobvoi used those close Google contacts, it’s always talking about, to figure out a way to make this work with Wear OS. But instead, we just get two buttons and a touch screen, it’s just kinda weak.
Okay, let’s talk about somethings this watch gets right, cause there are quite a few. I feel like I’ve spoken this dual-layer display to death. But I’ll never get tired of saying what a great idea it is. When other smartwatches wanna give you an always-on display, they have to it using minimal power.
So it’s usually a dim or low contrast watch face that’s tough to see in sunlight. A display like this, with the LCD places atop the OLED. Gives the TicWatch Pro the most readable, outdoor watch face you can get. Unless you want a huge Casio or a pricey Garmin. And when the watch’s battery dies, which it does often, stay tuned for that. That LCD is economical on the power that it keeps telling you the time, your heart rate and step count for up to a month.
The speaker is new, and it’s nice and loud, so talking to Google Assistant on your wrist is easier than on wearables. And alarms have a real alarm, to go along with the vibration. MIL-STD-810G and IP68 water and dust resistance mean you probably don’t need to worry about hurting this thing. Unless you’re climbing up a volcano or something.
And while the watch is built around the old Snapdragon 2100 platform. Instead of the newer 3100, you barely notice it. All you really need to make Wear OS seems to be a gig of ram, which is present and accounted for here. Also, keep in mind most of the 3100’s improvements are designed for watches running an always-on display. TicWatch sidesteps this, thanks to its dual-layer watch face.
The real claim to fame here is to the suffix on the brand name, this is one of the only Wear OS watches you can buy with its own 4G LTE radio. I’ve been using it on Verizon, the exclusive carrier in the United States for about 12 days. And you know, it does what you’d expect. You can make and take phone calls, send and get text messages and get notifications when you wanna leave your phone at home.
When the speaker isn’t loud enough for you, as it wasn’t when I was tryna take this conference call out in public. You can pair a Bluetooth headset to watch and that works well too. Mostly this functionality is useful on runs or walks, and the Tic exercise sweet is pretty handy for those also. I enjoyed mapping my cross-town treks using the built-in GPS. Which locked on quickly and seemed accurate.
Careful though, that kind of exercise will burn more than calories. I found that used the GPS in concert with the LTE ate about 20% battery per hour. And you know, even if you never touch the exercise stuff. The TicWatch Pro 4G has worse battery life than it’s predecessor in my testing.
Last year’s model reliably got me three days per charge, this one is almost always down to 50% by the end of the first day. Mobvoi likes to advertise this as one of the most extended-lasting Wears OS devices. But that’s only if you switch it to the Essential mode I called out before. Which takes all the smart out of this watch. It’s kinda like saying you have the longest-lasting electric car. But you’re not allowed to drive it, you’re allowed to turn on the radio. In reality, it’s just another one to the two-day smartwatch, and that’s a shame.
My principle beef with the TicWatch Pro 4G LTE, it solves the wrong problem. Most of us weren’t asking for a Wear OS device we could use without our phone. We wanted a watch that would fix the problems with Wear OS. Like that short battery life or the inconsistent responsiveness or the abundance of forgettable hardware designs.
You might say that most of that lie with Google, and you’re right. But you only need to look as far as my Fossil Gen 5 review to see a company that’s actively working on its own solutions to platforms shortcomings. While bringing much more attractive hardware that’s built on the latest silicon.
Wear OS continues to be my preferred wearable platform, despite its flaws. And I think we’ll soon get to the point where a Wear OS watch that costs $300, plus an extra $10 a month for 4G. Will actually be worth it. But this hypothetical, future smartwatch, it isn’t the TicWatch Pro 4G LTE.
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