TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS specs
Price: $299 / £289 / AU$463
Size: 48 x 47 x 12.3 mm
Display: 1.4 in, 454 x 454 pixels
Weight: 1.45 ounces
Processor: Snapdragon Wear 4100
Battery life: 3 days (Smart Mode); 45 days (Essential Mode)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, NFC
Voice Assistant: Google Assistant
Compatibility: Android, iOS
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS might not be the most noteworthy Wear OS smartwatch on the market, but it impresses where its competitors lack: battery life. Smart design, bright display and solid fitness tracking help round-out this smartwatch.
In the peak of outdoor sports watches, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS tries to fit in with a substantial size, military-grade durability rating and thorough GPS connectivity. But it puts an emphasis on endurance — this smartwatch lasts up to 45 days with certain settings enabled.
Regrettably, the software doesn’t run as smoothly as you might see on Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 or the Google Pixel Watch, which both have the latest version of Wear OS 3 (this TicWatch is eligible, but hasn’t yet been updated.) Still, it’s one of the best smartwatches I’ve tested this year, and you can read why in the full TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review below.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: Price and availability
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is available now and costs $299 / £289 / AU$463. It only comes in one configuration, which is a color called Shadow Black with a 47-millimeter display.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra review: Design
Mobvoi markets the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS as a rugged smartwatch designed to keep up on outdoor adventures. While it doesn’t look as sporty as the Apple Watch Ultra or even the Garmin Instinct 2, it has the 47mm size and sturdiness you’ll find on several of the other best GPS watches.
By comparison, the Apple Watch Ultra measures 49mm, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro measures 46mm and the standard Garmin Fenix 7 measures 47mm like this TicWatch. For me, all these watches tend to feel a bit bulky, but I think those with larger wrists will find the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra fits comfortably.
The watch is made to withstand tough conditions, with IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications against elements the average wearer might face. This includes open water, rocky terrain and intense heat or cold. I didn’t test the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra in these conditions, though I felt assured knowing it could be knocked around without sustaining damage.
A raised bezel helps protect the 1.4-inch, full-color AMOLED display. The display impressed me with both its bright screen and always-on mode. Not only did the “awake” mode read clearly in sunlight, but the always-on setting is something I particularly liked. It transforms into a FSTN (Film Compensated Super-Twisted Nematic) display, which not only lets me see the time at glance but helps preserve battery life and lends itself to the watch’s outdoorsy aesthetic.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review: Wear OS features
The TicWatch Pro 3 is a Wear OS watch, so you can download third-party apps like Spotify, Strava and Adidas Running. And while it ships with Google Assistant, you can download some other Google apps like Google Maps and Google Translate. It’s not as fully integrated with Google as the Google Pixel Watch, but that’s to be expected.
Still, the interface is similar to the Pixel Watch’s and other Wear OS watches, with tiles you can swipe through on the main display and an alphabetical list of apps you can scroll through by pressing the top side button. At times, I found navigation to be a bit buggy — I would open an app and it would instantly close out, or there was a bit of lag while swiping between tiles. This is something that I’ve experienced before with watches running the previous-gen version of Wear OS. I would hope to see Wear OS 3 solve these quirks, and the software should upgrade by the end of this year.
And one advantage the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS does have over the Pixel Watch is that it’s compatible with Android and iOS, so I was able to test out the smartwatch using my iPhone. It even mirrored my notifications from my iPhone. The number of smartwatches that work with both mobile software systems seems to be dwindling, so I like to see that TicWatch devices still provide flexibility; however, calls only work when the device is paired to Android phones, so there are some limitations based on your smartphone you’ll need to consider.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review: Fitness tracking
TicWatch uses proprietary fitness tracking that leverages the Pro 3 Ultra GPS’s health sensors. It packs continuous HD PPG heart rate and SpO2 sensors, which both monitor your metrics during activity as well as overnight for sleeping. Now, there is a way to sync some of this data with Google Fit, but the process is a bit convoluted. I would plan on familiarizing yourself with TicWatch’s health apps if you were to get this watch.
TicExercise has support for over 100 different exercise types, ranging from the basics like running and swimming to more specific movements like planks and squat jumps. What’s more, there’s auto-detection for run, walk, or bike which I found particularly helpful. After about 10 minutes of walking, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS began tracking my activity with retroactive metrics. It counted my steps both when I was or wasn’t working out, too, of course,
Side-by-side with the Pixel Watch, the TicWatch’s GPS connected a bit more slowly, though on walks the two watches measured the same distances. This would be important if you’re taking the TicWatch on adventurous excursions; however, I couldn’t find a track back feature which is a long-term mapping fixture on Garmin sports watches, and something that’s coming to the Apple Watch Ultra and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review: Battery life
Battery life is a major perk of the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS compared to Pixel Watch, Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch. In my experience, it lasts about three full days with normal use, including fitness tracking, sleep tracking and a few hours of GPS use per day. In Essential Mode, which is a battery-saving setting that switches on the FSTN display, the smartwatch can actually last up to 45 days.
When you compare the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra to the best Garmin watches or the best Fitbit smartwatches (like the new Fitbit Sense 2) the battery life may seem lackluster. Similarly, certain Amazfit watches can last weeks on a full charge. But considering the degree of smart features on the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS, comparing the battery performance to more mainstream smartwatches makes sense.
TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS review: Verdict
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is one of the best smartwatches for Android and iOS you can buy now, though it’s particularly good for those who care about battery life and gravitate towards a rugged design. The software might leave you wanting, but luckily a full Wear OS 3 update should be on the way by the end of 2022 to improve some of the bugs and Google integrations.
At $299, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is also more affordable than many of the outdoor sector-centered smartwatches you’ll find on the market now. The Apple Watch Ultra costs $799 while the Garmin Fenix 7 starts at $699. If you want something similar for less, the $199 Amazfit T-Rex 2 might be a good choice, though you’ll sacrifice third-party apps and other smart features.
I could also make a case for waiting to buy the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS until Wear OS 3 becomes available, but otherwise, this smartwatch is a viable choice for those who want a well-rounded smartwatch experience right now.