Smartwatches, through no fault of their own, have not received as much attention as they should have. Especially since we didn’t get out of our house. The usual activity routine is significantly curtailed for many. We’re not going to the office. And on the weekends we don’t really go out for a little me-time. So, where do you actually wear a smartwatch? That said, the world will open again soon. It’s only a matter of time. And the good old smartwatch on your wrist is only going to be as relevant as ever again. Since you have one. For those still considering making the leap into the smartwatch world, or anyone looking for a new one, you can choose between the Apple Watch (but not for Android phone users), the highly competent Samsung Galaxy Watch. series and if it’s a Google Wear OS (formerly called Android Wear) watch that you prefer, it’s pretty much the Oppo Watch and nothing else. That’s where Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 2020 wants to get stuck and really want to be another option for you.
The TicWatch Pro 2020 is an upgrade to the TicWatch Pro that has been around for a while. There are certain improvements to the spec sheet, but overall the template remains the same. The TicWatch Pro 2020 costs Rs 23,999 (45mm) and that means it costs a lot more than the Oppo Watch which costs 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 for the design, it’s still the chunky watch we’ve seen before too. For those of you with slender wrists, this may seem a bit larger than ideal, but for most this should work well enough. The metal bodywork also sees generous use of carbon fiber. For example, the bottom half of the watch case is made of carbon fiber, while the bottom (the part that sits on your skin) is metal. There’s no doubt that this is a well-built watch and it won’t bother you if you accidentally run your hand against the door frame or table edge. It is also believed that these are Italian leather belts, although I am not an expert in leather, but they undoubtedly feel of high quality. I can’t say how well they stand the test of time as I won’t be using the TicWatch Pro 2020 for that long to judge for myself.
The TicWatch Pro 2020 is IP68 rated, which means it has the dust and water resistance you need from a wearable that also needs to endure the elements, whether it’s a dusty and hot summer day or a sharp shower on a monsoon night. .
It must be said that while the TicWatch Pro 2020 goes for the more industrial and rugged look, it stands in stark contrast to the more refined and premium curves that Oppo has gone for with their first-generation Oppo Watch. Almost Apple Watch-esque, and I’m referring to that in the most positive way. The TicWatch Pro 2020 is 12.6mm thick, adding important composition to why it looks thick. That said, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable or heavy to wear – the trick is to fasten this properly and leave a little breathing room between your skin and the buckle and not let it be too tight.
Display: the magic of two screen layers
This is where the biggest upgrade has taken place. This 1.39-inch AMOLED display is now complemented by a much lower power consuming FSTN LCD display. What that basically means is that the AMOLED display is enabled by default. You get the full range color screen, which is quite vibrant and can get really bright too – this is the default mode. These actually sit as a layer: the FSTN screen on top and the AMOLED below. If you look at the TicWatch Pro 2020 as you normally would, you wouldn’t realize that there are two layers of display here.
Switch to Essential mode by long pressing the lower key on the right back of the watch and selecting the option from the power menu will take you to this lower power screen. This stays with the basics: tells you the time, date, your heart rate and your activity status, such as the number of steps walked. The idea behind this is to significantly extend battery life by turning off the screen which consumes relatively more battery so you don’t have to reach for the charger. Maybe 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 Essential mode, the watch will last up to 30 days on a single charge. From what I’ve experienced, the TicWatch Pro 2020 lasts just over a day when used as you would a smartwatch – with its array of health tracking and notification options enabled. Mind you, I was using this with an Apple iPhone, and that by default limits some of the Wear OS functionality as a whole. That said, leaving it in FTSN display mode meant it lasted nearly 15 days, reducing the battery 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 helps you get three full days of normal wear from morning to night, which will be great news once you get out of the house regularly. It’s also not an LTE watch and relies on Wi-Fi or your phone to get the connectivity it needs. There’s also the power-saving mode that turns off all the non-essentials and sticks to the time display, basic health tracking like steps and heart rate sensor logging.
Wear OS experience: maybe Oppo was right to take the lead
With the TicWatch Pro 2020 you get the standard Wear OS goodies. There are a whole host of watch faces that you can keep changing to keep you entertained. There’s a jumble of swipes that you’ll get to grips with, if you’re not already a Wear OS user. There are a number of apps that you can download for the watch. And well, a wide variety of fitness tracking options, including the heart rate monitor you’ve come to expect from pretty much most smartwatches now, is worth checking out.
Still, 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 adapted the Wear OS on the watch, completely in line with expectations. This entails some customizations such as icon packs, fitness app overlays, and a breathing app for example. Everything felt very smooth and nicely rounded.
The final word: not enough of an upgrade
The TicWatch Pro 2020 is more of an incremental update than a bigger and healthier update we were expecting. To be honest, we wonder why Mobvoi hasn’t been on this the whole time. There is no denying that the TicWatch Pro 2020 is competent as a smartwatch. Much of the experience is limited by the Wear OS platform, which Google has promised to fix, including faster app load times and better resource management as part of the upcoming updates. Even if none of that matters to you, the price tag certainly would. This costs a lot more than the Oppo Watch. And from where I sit, the TicWatch Pro 2020 isn’t much better.