Testing the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE from Mobvoi
After the TicWatch Pro, about a month ago Mobvoi also introduced a 4G/LTE model of this smartwatch series to the German market. Mobvoi is a Chinese company that is a market leader in the AI segment, but back in 2015, it had already introduced the first TicWatch. More than 100,000 TicWatches were sold in the first six months.
With the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE, now Mobvoi introduces a smartwatch with eSIM functionality that can also receive messages without the smartphone nearby. However, currently Vodaphone is the only network provider available, and you have to add the so-called Multi-SIM Option for about 5 Euros (~$5.51) a month to the existing mobile network contract. We received a test unit of the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE from Mobvoi and will run our brief test on this.
A large case and a high-quality impression
The black case made from polyamide and fiberglass with its revolving stainless steel bezel offers a very high-quality impression and is also rated as dust and waterproof with its IP68+ certification. The 1.39-inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 400 x 400 pixels, and there is also an extremely energy-efficient FSTN LCD used as a secondary display - but more on this later. For the watch glass, Mobvoi uses Gorilla Glass 3. The watch is also certified to the military 810G standard, which means that it can withstand temperature fluctuations between -30 °C and 70 °C (-22 to 158 °F), pressures of 57 kPa, 95% humidity, salty fog, shock, sand, and dust.
There is a green sensor light for heart-rate measurement on the back. The round case measures 45.15 x 52.8 mm (~1.78 x 2.08 in), with a height of 12.6 mm (~0.5 in). Compared to the large and square Apple Watch Series 5 with 44 x 38 mm (~1.73 x 1.5 in) and a height of 10.7 mm (~0.42 in), the TicWatch Pro looks even more bulky, and it is just within the limits of what would still feel comfortable on a normal wrist. Unfortunately we are missing the option for a leather watch band that was still offered with the standard TicWatch Pro without 4G/LTE, but thanks to the special quick-release spring bars, the silicone band can be easily replaced by any 22-mm watch band without any special tools.
The heart of the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE is a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 with 1GB of memory, so at least the memory has been improved compared to the standard TicWatch Pro. While at this point - particularly since 2019 - there are more smartwatches on the market with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, whose main characteristic is the reduced power consumption mainly through various power-saving modes, Mobvoi has grappled extensively with exactly that subject. So the user of the TicWatch Pro does not need to worry about battery life, as we will report below.
4G/LTE is also onboard
In order to use the eSIM for the Ticwatch Pro, you have to first install the Mobvoi app on your smartphone, allowing you to scan the QR code on the Vodafone welcoming letter. This will register and activate the eSIM in the TicWatch Pro, which runs Google's Wear OS but which is also supposed to be compatible with Apple's iPhones, and the watch will be able to connect directly with the mobile network. In addition to directly receiving messages on the watch, this will also allow you to make phone calls using the built-in microphone and speaker.
However, 3G and 4G LTE are not the only options for going online. If the smartphone is within Bluetooth range, this connection is used preferably. The smartwatch supports Bluetooth v4.2 + BLE. You can also configure a WLAN connection (WiFi 802.11 b/g/n) on the watch.
A good battery life due to a multi-layer display
Of course the kind of connection also has an effect on the battery life of the 415 mAh battery. In our practical test, the watch lasted the longest using the pure Bluetooth connection to the smartphone. The watch lasted for a full two days, without any need for recharging during the night. With the Bluetooth connection deactivated and going online only via the mobile network, the watch always had to be recharged overnight. Even though Mobvoi has decided for the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, rather than the current Snapdragon Wear 3100, the manufacturer made some effort to make the watch easily last at least through a whole day of everyday use without any problems.
In order to do this, a multi-layer display is used: the AMOLED color display for active use and the monochrome FSTN-LCD for the always-on display, which only shows the most necessary information such as the time, date, heart-rate, step count, and battery level. It is always on and easily readable showing digital digits, similar to an old Casio watch. The LCD is extremely energy efficient, so that the manufacturer specifies a runtime of 30 days for this secondary display. The combined use of both displays results in a power consumption that is optimized significantly.
Intelligent fitness mode
In addition to using the numerous smartwatch apps on Google Play, the Wear OS operating system from Google allows you to choose among many different watch faces and also supports Google Assistant. The watch offers a PPG heart rate sensor, acceleration sensor, gyroscope, e-compass, light sensor, and an off-body sensor with a low latency. It also comes with the NFC technology, allowing you to make contactless payments via Google Pay. Several in-house fitness apps from Mobvoi are preinstalled, and you can also access the Google Fit apps and of course the Google Play Store.
During our test, the heart-rate sensor remained active for 24 hours, even during the night. The pulse curve is stored and displayed on the watch as well as transferred to the Mobvoi app on the smartphone, as soon as it comes within range. There, you can also evaluate the recordings in detail, such as the heart rate of a whole day, steps counted, and calories burned. During the heart rate measurements the smartwatch is able to detect from the movements of the user, whether the user performs high-powered athletics, a relaxed warm-down run, or work in the office.
Correspondingly, there is a listing of the user's activity modes with their specific time periods.
During the test, the 24-hour measurement of the heart rate worked very well, and the battery really lasted for the whole day in 4G/LTE mode - with Bluetooth operation without 4G, it even lasted for two days. The watch snaps into the magnetic charging station and can be recharged using the contact points on the back. Furthermore, we liked the quality of the workmanship, which is very high, and the included soft silicone watch band is comfortable to wear. The design of the multi-layer display with the two different display modes helps to be able to show the time even after a very active day, although it is only on the monochrome display. During "standby," the TicWatch is also in power-saving mode and only "wakes up" when you turn your wrist to face upward. From time to time, this only worked with a little delay, which was slightly annoying.
The differences between the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE and the standard TicWatch Pro without eSIM functionality are small. While both of them use the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100, at least the newer model offers 1GB of RAM instead of 512 MB. Since we only had the 4G/LTE model for our test, we were unable to do a direct comparison, but according to some user reports, the simple TicWatch Pro responds slightly slower than the TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE.
The 4G/LTE version of the TicWatch Pro is currently available for about 300 Euros (~$331; $299 in the US), but on Amazon you will currently only find it on the international Amazon.com page, while the standard TicWatch Pro without eSIM is also available on Amazon.de for 235 Euros (~$259).