TicWatch Pro 2020 Review: Upgrades Improve This Smartwatch, But It Is Still Not An Entirely New Watch

TicWatch Pro 2020 Review: Upgrades Improve This Smartwatch, But It Is Still Not An Entirely New Watch

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is more of an incremental update rather than a larger and a more wholesome update that we were expecting. This costs a whole lot more than the Oppo Watch. And from where I am sitting, the TicWatch Pro 2020 isn’t a whole lot better.


Vishal Mathur

Smartwatches have, for no fault of theirs, not been getting as much attention as they should have. Mostly because we haven’t been stepping out of our homes. The usual activity routine is significantly curtailed for many. We aren’t going to office. And we aren’t really going out for a bit of me-time on the weekends either. So, where do you really wear a smartwatch? That being said, the world will reopen soon. It is only a matter of time. And the good old smartwatch on your wrist will only become as relevant again, as it always was. Since you got one. For those who are still contemplating making the leap into the smartwatch world, or someone who is looking to buy a new one, your choices are between the Apple Watch (but not for Android phone users), the very competent Samsung Galaxy Watch line-up and if it’s a Google Wear OS (formerly called Android Wear) watch that you’d prefer, it’s pretty much the Oppo Watch and nothing else. That is where Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 2020 wants to get stuck in and genuinely be another option for you.

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is an upgrade to the TicWatch Pro which has been around for a while now. There are certain spec sheet improvements, but on the whole, the template remains the same. The TicWatch Pro 2020 is priced at Rs 23,999 (45mm) and that means it costs a lot more than the Oppo Watch which is priced around Rs 14,990 (41mm size) and Rs 19,990 (46mm size). Do the new features do enough to justify the price tag?

Design: Depends On How Slim Your Wrists Are

As far as the design goes, it is still the chunky watch that we have seen before as well. For those of you who may have slim wrists, this may seem a bit larger than ideal, but for most, this should work well enough. The metal body sees generous use of carbon fiber as well. For instance, the lower half of the watch body is carbon fiber, while the underside (the part that resides on your skin) is made of metal. There is no doubt this is a well-built watch and it’ll not get bothered if you accidentally brush your hand against the door frame or the table edge. These are also believed to be Italian leather straps—though I am no expert at leather, but there is no doubt they feel high quality. I wouldn’t be able to say how well they withstand the test of time, because I will not be using the TicWatch Pro 2020 for that long to be able to judge for myself.

The TicWatch Pro 2020 has the IP68 rating, which means it has the dust and water proofing that you need from a wearable that has to weather the elements too—be it a dusty and warm summer day or a sharp shower on a monsoon evening.

It has to be said that while the TicWatch Pro 2020 goes for the more industrial and butch look, it is in sharp contrast to the more refined and premium curves that Oppo has gone for with their first generation Oppo Watch. Almost Apple Watch-esque, and that I refer to in the most positive way. The TicWatch Pro 2020 is 12.6mm thick, which does add a significant composition to why it looks chunky. That being said, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or heavy to wear—the trick is to strap this up properly leaving a bit of breathing space between your skin and the buckle and not having it too tight.

Display: The Magic Of Two Screen Layers

This is where the biggest upgrade has happened. This 1.39-inch AMOLED display is now complemented by a much lower power consuming FSTN LCD display. What that basically means is that by default, the AMOLED display is powered on. You get the full range colour display, which is quite vivid and can get very bright too—this is the default mode. These basically sit as a layer—the FSTN display at the top and the AMOLED below it. Looking at the TicWatch Pro 2020 as you would normally, you’d not realize there are two display layers here.

Switch to the Essential Mode by long pressing the lower key on the right-side spine of the watch and selecting the option from the power menu switches you to this lower power screen. This sticks to the basics—tells you the time, the date, your heart rate and your activity status such as the number of steps walked. The idea behind this is to extend the battery life significantly by powering down the display that comparatively drains more battery to ensure you don’t need to to reach for the charger. Perhaps even for days.

Battery: A Case Of Two Halves

Mobvoi claims that the TicWatch Pro 2020 will last between 2.5 days when you use the AMOLED display. And if you switch to the Essential Mode, the watch can last you up to 30 days on a single charge. From what I have experienced, the TicWatch Pro 2020 lasts just a bit longer than a day when used as you would use a smartwatch—with its range of health tracking and notification options enabled. Mind you, I was using this with an Apple iPhone, and that by default limits some of Wear OS functionality as a whole. That being said, leaving this in the FTSN display mode did mean this lasted close to 15 days with the battery reducing from 100% to 45%. If you persist, it will get close to the 30-day mark the company claims.

I had noted in my Oppo Watch review that it gets you through three full days of normal wearing from morning till evening, which will be great news once you start to step out of home regularly. It also isn’t an LTE watch and relies on Wi-Fi or your phone to get the connectivity it needs. There is also the power saver mode which turns off all the non-essentials and sticks to the time display, basic health tracking such as the steps and the heart rate sensor logging.

Wear OS Experience: Maybe Oppo Was Right In Taking Charge Of Things

With the TicWatch Pro 2020, you get the standard fare Wear OS goodies. There are a whole bunch of watchfaces that you can keep changing to stay entertained. There is a jumble of swipe gestures that you will take getting the hang of, if you aren’t a Wear OS user already. There are a bunch of apps that you can download for the watch. And well, a wide range of fitness tracking options including the heart rate monitor that you would have now come to expect from pretty much most smartwatches worth the effort.

Yet, the Wear OS experience on the TicWatch Pro 2020 is very different from what we saw on the Oppo Watch. I had noted in the Oppo Watch review that Oppo has customized the Wear OS on the watch, quite in line with expectations. This brings some customizations, such as icon packs, fitness apps overlays and a breathing app, for instance. Everything, as a result, felt very slick and nicely rounded off.

It is a tad perplexing that Mobvoi has stuck with the older Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 instead of bumping that up to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip. We have seen the performance benefits of the latter in the Oppo Watch, with the much quicker app load time, slicker interface transitions and significantly better battery life being the highlights. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 still chugging along, the TicWatch Pro 2020 doesn’t feel any different in terms of the usage experience as the TicWatch Pro. Look, let me be clear—this isn’t a slouch, and there are no pauses or lags that make you wonder what the world is coming to. But it just doesn’t feel like an upgrade in the sense that you would expect from a new smartwatch in 2020.

The Last Word: Not Enough Of An Upgrade

The TicWatch Pro 2020 is more of an incremental update rather than a larger and a more wholesome update that we were expecting. To be honest, it makes us wonder why Mobvoi actually didn’t go the whole hog with this. There is no denying the fact that the TicWatch Pro 2020 is competent, as a smartwatch. A lot of the experience is limited by the Wear OS platform, which Google has promised to fix—that includes faster app load times and better resource management as part of the forthcoming updates. Even if all that doesn’t matter to you, the price tag surely would. This costs a whole lot more than the Oppo Watch. And from where I am sitting, the TicWatch Pro 2020 isn’t a whole lot better.

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