Review - TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS

A while ago I did get to review the TicWatch GTH Pro... an activity tracker that seemed to hit the right notes, but because it was tied to Mobvoi's own app, I was more frustrated than elated.

Well, TicWatch makes a watch that is Android's Wear OS, so I was excited to try out the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS.  

Rumours are floating that a new, even better, watch is coming; but after reviewing this one for the past few weeks, I'm not sure how that's possible.

Let's check it out.

First up, let's discuss specs and get those out of the way.  The watch is currently on sale with Mobvoi for $240USD, which is about $300CAD.  Not too bad a price point for a very nice watch.  I paid that probably for my LG G Watch back in the day and this is so beyond what that was.

  • 1.4" 454x454
  • Snapdragon Wear 4100
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • NFC for Google Pay
  • IP68 / MIL-STD810G

That's a lot of features for just a watch.  I'm most excited about the NFC, but I'll get to that.  It also has all the sensors for heart rate and whatnot to measure your health and GPS for activit tracking.

First up, we gotta charge it up and set it with the phone.

This is probably the first, and only, downer for me.  The charger is a magnetic little piece that has 3 prongs and connects to POGO pins on the back of the device.

Now, most watches work something like this.  Some proprietary type of charger/connecter.  This has held up well for while I've used it, however, I've noticed from my old G Watch, that sweat and the pins usually don't get along after a year.  So it'll be something I'll keep my eye on.  At least with the Casio the port to connect to is not on the backside, making contact with skin.

While it's charging, I look over the device and see something else that catches my eye - a speaker.

Now, ideally, this was just designed for it to be used as an 'answer your call from your watch' type speaker, or it also plays a chime (on top of a vibration) for notifications you receive.

No matter how I tried, I just couldn't find a way for it to play its own music or watch mini videos on.  I know how pedantic that sounds, but it's something I feel is 'missing' with this device.

It's going to buzz on my wrist, so I don't need a sound to warn me of a notification - and I'm no Dick Tracy to want to talk into my hand to have a phone conversation.

Ah well.

On the other side of the device we have 2 buttons.  

Sure, I've been used to 3 on my Casio, but I gotta admit, I really only used 1 most of the time.  So 2 shouldn't be a hampering.

The top one is used as a 'home' button and the bottom can be set up for a custom activity.

Once its charged, we go about setting it up.  And it's Wear OS, so we fire up the Wear OS app and walk through the simple settings.

As it finished, it needed to do a firmware update (not sure what) and I'm in.

You're using Wear OS, but they immediately can remind you that there is the Mobvoi health app, which you can use as a companion to the companion (Wear OS) app...

And I could have... maybe I should have, but to be honest, I'm not one to add things where it's not needed.

With Wear OS I can get access to Google Fit, and as I've already been using that, to install Mobvoi, and then try to make Mobvoi connect TO Fit would just seem redundant to me.

So, I didn't install it.

Which means, that in the watch, as I started to go through it, there were a ton of TicX type apps.  TicSleep, TicZen... I felt like Robin going through Batman's gadgets.  All of which were ... well, not useless, just redundant for me.  Fit monitors my sleep, Fit has a breathing app... Fit has blood measuring thing... and it tracks all my exercies.

Maybe, just maybe these TicApps would do each of their own jobs separately, better, but I'm not that much of a data nut to want super detail of everything.

So... I kept things 'Googley'.  The only difference between other Wear devices and this, is that for the app 'tray', in normal Wear, you have an arc of apps to scroll through, with Mobvoi 'launcher' it's a grid of 2 side by side you scroll up and down with.  You can change it [couldn't find it in the video, but it's Settings - Personalization then scroll down to uncheck "Mobvoi Launcher"] to have it behave like the others if you want.  The advantage is with Mobvoi, for some reason all the TicX apps are at the top and to reorder them you have to long press on one until everythings 'jiggling' and then drag an app where you want.  Kind of a pain as there'd be a lot to move around.  Set it to off and it's the default Wear launcher where it's all alphabetical and most recently used go to the top.

Again, not that I often go scrolling around for apps on my watch.  Mostly, I'm using things like the notifications (just swipe up), or checking the weather (hey, I set up a tile, so just swipe to the left) or start an activity (I can either customize the button, or use one of the quick tiles too).

Wear is so easy to get to a lot of basic items that you don't really need to muss about with it.

So, getting to use it for Google Fit, worked just like ... well, like it should.  It tracked pretty accurately my maps, my steps, meanwhile all syncing with Fit.  No extra apps to use.

One of the things I got REALLY excited for was that in the control panel (when you swipe down from the top) I saw a new button... Pay.  

Yes, this does have NFC, which means you can use it for Google Pay.  

In order for this to happen you would need to set a PIN lock screen.  Now that doesn't mean you have to do a PIN EVERY TIME your watch times out, this is a pretty smart watch.  It knows when it's on you and when maybe it's been taken off.  So only when it's been taken off and put on, that first time, that's when you have to put in the PIN.

Kinda neat I thought.

Unfortunately, for me, I can't use Google Pay because I'm with TD, and it's like the LAST Canadian bank to adopt Google Pay.  They've used Apple and Samsung for payments, but just not Google, and they get upset every time I ask.  I ask a lot.

So, I didn't get to test out Google Pay.

Another neat feature, one I'm used to with the Casio is the use of a 2nd display.  A sort of "always on display" that looks like a basic LCD watch display.  So, when the display isn't active, it shows that screen.

If you're concerned about battery life, you can put it in the "Essentials mode" where it just shows time and that basic information (no GPS tracking, no notifications, etc..) but then the battery can last WEEKS.

Speaking of the battery, I've found that it should last you about 50-60 hours of 'normal' use.  That's me using it for notifications, some responding, tracking moving around/steps and a few good bike rides a week.

In a typical day after 12 hours it's at 80%, and then at 16 hours it's at 70%.

Overall, I'm absolutely loving this watch.  It does everything my Casio does, and better ... it's much more fluid and responsive and it's like half as bulky.  

I used to have lots of people comment on "man that's a huge watch" to no comments with this, and it's doing all the same things.

The 2 small 'quirks' I had with it were:

The watch band I feel is slightly shorter than the Casio.  I didn't feel like there was a lot of 'extra' band sticking out after it's connected.  Minor issue, no big deal, just the little strap 'holder' after the clap isn't really gripping on to much.

The other was the vibration.  It's strong, but short focus.  So it almost could be missed sometimes.  I wish there was a way to slow the vibration frequency so it's not so high.  The only adjustments was to change the 'pattern' to be either longer or double it up.  It's actually a pretty 'loud' vibration, so neither were something I'd want to use to bring more attention to it.

Oh, and there was one more, but figured it out pretty quickly.

Noticed that when I first connected the watch to my phone, that there was an option I overlooked to 'use the watch to answer the phone'... which I didn't realize, but what it meant was that aside from the background BT connection with my phone, it was ALWAYS connected, like a headset or speaker.  I noticed it because the BT icon on my phone was showing the connected icon always, and it never would do that with others.

Turned off the 'Play Phone Voice call on watch' feature and the BT icon no longer showed that it was constantly connected.  I'm sure that helps with battery. [You're looking to go into SETTINGS / CONNECTIVITY / BLUETOOTH and scroll to the bottom to uncheck]

Again, overall, this is an amazing watch, for only $300 you get a ton of features in a pretty stylish looking watch.  It's not fancy, but it's not meant to be fancy.  It's super useful at a really good price.

I don't really see how the next model could really improve.