Tech review: Sleek Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 2020 is good value for money

The TicWatch Pro 2020 makes a pretty good fitness watch with its built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer and gyroscope.
The TicWatch Pro 2020 makes a pretty good fitness watch with its built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer and gyroscope.PHOTO: MOBVOI

About two years ago, I reviewed the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro and found the sleek-looking Wear OS (by Google) smartwatch to be great value for money.

The refreshed version - the TicWatch Pro 2020 - is now here and it comes with a 1GB system memory, twice that of its predecessor's. In other words, apps should run smoother and more responsively.

The new model should also be more durable. In addition to having the same IP68 rating (water resistant to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes) of its predecessor, it has gained the US military standard MIL-STD-810G for ruggedness.

This means it can withstand huge temperature fluctuations and is resistant to sand, shock and up to 95 per cent humidity. It is operational from -20 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius.

Apart from these upgrades, the 2020 model looks exactly like its predecessor. Still available in black and silver (version tested), it looks like a classic timepiece with its round watch face, big bezel and aggressive lugs. The silver bezel has markers in five-second intervals, giving it a sporty look.

There are two silver buttons on the right side of the watch at the two o'clock and four o'clock positions. The top button is the home button that lets you access apps and also works as the return button. The bottom button is a shortcut to tracking workouts like running and walking.

While it might be a tad disappointing to see the lack of design changes, there is no reason to fix something that is not broken. Apple has not really changed the design of its Apple Watch for nearly half a decade, and it is still selling like hotcakes.

Furthermore, the smartwatch feels premium with its bezel and rear cover made of stainless steel. The watch case is made of hard nylon that is reinforced with glass fibre. Perhaps the only criticism is the large 45mm watch case, which might not suit those with slimmer wrists.

The smartwatch also retains its predecessor's unique hybrid strap, which has silicone on the inside surface and leather on the outside. The black leather exterior gives it a formal look, while the silicone interior repels perspiration and prevents discolouration of the leather. I like that one watch strap suffices for all occasions instead of having to swap watch straps between work and workouts.

Like its predecessor, the 2020 model features a dual-layer display with a transparent LCD display on top of a round 1.39-inch (400 x 400 pixels) Oled screen. The LCD display shows the essential information of time, date, steps taken and battery life when the smartwatch is idle.

When you raise your wrist, the Oled screen is activated for you to access the Wear OS smartwatch functions. I find the operation to be much smoother and faster than with the previous model.

But the LCD display still does not have backlight, making it hard to read under both dim lighting and bright sunlight. But the automatic screen activation is helpful when you are carrying heavy groceries as you can read the time without raising your wrist.

The TicWatch Pro 2020 makes a pretty good fitness watch with its built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer and gyroscope. In terms of steps tracking, I found its readings to differ from those of my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4 by only 5 per cent.

Taking it for a run over my regular 5km route, I found its distance tracking reading to be over by 100m. But its heart rate readings were pretty close to what I was getting from the Apple Watch.

On the downside, the 2020 model uses the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chip when a new Snapdragon 3100 is available that is supposed to provide better battery life.

But the battery life remains on par with that of its predecessor. With it constantly connected to an Android smartphone, it lasted four days with a 5km run logged in.

If you already have the TicWatch Pro, you don't really need to upgrade. But if you are looking for a Wear OS smartwatch, this 2020 model is worth considering.

FOR

- Sleek-looking smartwatch

- More rugged and smoother performance than its predecessor

- Great value for money

AGAINST

- Design remains unchanged from the original

- Uses an older chip

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $399

CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0, Near Field Communication, Wi-Fi

WATER RESISTANCE: IP68

WEIGHT: 77g (with hybrid strap)

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4/5

BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5

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