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Review: The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra makes a great watch even better

Even without Wear OS 3 at launch, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is still a winner.

When it comes to current Wear OS smartwatches, picking which one to buy can be tricky unless the product's name is Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Because Google and Samsung have partnered up to develop a new version of the wearable platform, currently, only Samsung has access to Wear OS 3. But, it doesn't mean it's the only watch worth considering. In fact, I returned my Galaxy Watch 4 for many reasons, one being that I liked my TicWatch Pro 3 so much. Still, the new TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra has me changing devices once again.

Mobvoi, the company behind the TicWatch brand, is known for making small incremental changes year over year to its product line — the Pro 3 Ultra is no different. However, just because these are small changes, doesn't mean that they aren't quality improvements. Where the Pro 3 made meaningful refinements to the overall design of the Pro 4G, the Pro 3 Ultra keeps those changes and adds some new tricks to earn its place on my wrist.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS

Bottom line: The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra keeps everything good from the previous version and makes it better. Its refined design houses a new customizable backlight for the top display, fresh software features for the TicHealth suite, and more durability. While Wear OS 3 is lacking today, it will receive the update in 2022, making this an excellent smartwatch for your wrist — if it can handle the watch's large size.

The Good

  • Excellent battery life
  • Dual-display feature is improved
  • Great performance
  • Refined design
  • Very durable
  • Wear OS 3 coming in 2022

The Bad

  • No Wear OS 3, yet
  • Sleep alarm in the TicSleep app is buggy
  • Haptic motor could be stronger
  • Might be too bulky for some people

$300 at Amazon $300 at Mobvoi

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: Price and availability

Mobvoi announced and launched the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra on October 13, 2021. The watch is available in one color: Shadow Black. At launch, the device is available on Amazon and through the Mobvoi website for $299.99.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: What's good

While I have used many smartwatches over the years from various brands, the TicWatch Pro series is the one that I keep going back to. There are three reasons that I typically use one of these watches as my daily driver: battery life, performance, and screen visibility. With each release from this lineup of Wear OS watches, Mobvoi has found a way to add value to the product continually — and the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra keeps that going.

The Pro 3 Ultra isn't an earth-shattering departure from prior devices in the lineup, nor is it going to shake up the smartwatch space. However, it will retain a spot on the list of best Android smartwatches, thanks to the updates that have been made over the original Pro 3.

Category TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS
Dimensions 47 x 48 x 12.3mm
Weight 41g
Materials Stainless steel, high-strength nylon with glass fiber
Corning Gorilla Glass
Watch band 22mm Fluoro Rubber
Battery 577mAh
Display 1.4-inch, (454x454), 326ppi AMOLED
Colors Shadow Black
Operating System Wear OS 2.32
Memory 1GB RAM
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
Mobvoi dual processor system
Speaker ✔️
Microphone ✔️
Water and Dust resistance IP68
Pool Swim
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0
Location GPS
Sensors NFC
Gyro Sensor
HD PPG Heart Rate Sensor
SpO2 Sensor
Low Latency Off-Body Sensor

Comparing the specs to the TicWatch Pro 3, nearly everything is the same across the board. But, upon close inspection — there are some helpful changes. Firstly, the design of the casing has been tweaked to raise the display up ever so slightly to make it nearly flush with the top edge of the bezel. Thankfully, the watch as a whole is nice because the included 22mm rubber strap is a bit on the boring side.

Speaking of the bezel, it's received some revisions too. It now has a two-tone finish of gloss and matte with the outer edge has a bit of knurling, making me wish I could rotate it like a Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, but I can't.

The design changes to the TicWatch Pro 3 were good over the prior version, but the Pro 3 Ultra is even better.

Sticking with the exterior of the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, the watch has retained the IP68 dust and water resistance, but it has become more durable. With a new military certification of MIL-STD-810G, the Pro 3 Ultra is now capable of withstanding even more abuse when out on your adventures.

Thanks to the signature dual-display feature that all TicWatch Pro watches have, the Pro 3 Ultra can last up to 72 hours on smart mode and 45 days in Essential mode. If you're unfamiliar, Essential mode shuts down nearly all typical functions of a smartwatch in an effort to extend battery life. However, you will still get sleep tracking, step tracking, heart rate monitoring, and of course, time. This mode will utilize only the LCD top display, so you can still have great visibility while using very little battery.

Battery life is one of the best features of the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra.

In the month I spent with the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, the battery life was great. I regularly got three days of use between charges with 24-hour heart rate monitoring and blood oxygen tracking, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sleep tracking, notifications, and even a workout or two. Exercises that use GPS for tracking, like a bike ride or an outdoor run, can pull that down closer to 2-2.5 days. I also leave the tilt-to-wake off since that is usually done just to check the time and the top display does that for me.

Something that makes checking the time even better is a fantastic feature introduced on the TicWatch Pro 3 — a backlight to the top display. While we still cannot customize the data that is shown on this screen, the Pro 3 Ultra does bring along the ability to pick from 18 different colors for that backlight. These colors are surprisingly vibrant and can make the visibility better in different lighting conditions on top of just being plain fun.

The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra also adds some helpful features to its health and fitness suite. Though you won't find an ECG sensor in the smartwatch, Mobvoi can now detect IHP/AFib. Using the onboard heart rate monitor and some new software, the Pro 3 Ultra can notify you if an irregular pattern is detected. You can view this information in the Mobvoi app or directly from the watch.

Also new to the Pro 3 Ultra is fatigue assessment. Utilizing the information gathered from the sensors in the watch, the software analyzes heart rate variability (HRV) and can help you visualize your mental fatigue and energy levels. Reviewing this info can help you to recognize trends and potentially make changes in your lifestyle to improve your overall health. I did find that it was pretty on point with how I was feeling and what results from the watch said.

The performance of the TicWatch Pro 3 has been wonderful. Thanks to the Snapdragon 4100 processor and the 1GB of RAM, the watch was fluid and handled all the tasks I threw at it. While it isn't running the 4100+ chipset that can be found in the new Fossil Gen 6, Mobvoi is adding its own hardware to compete with that processor.

The difference between the 4100 and the 4100+ is that the latter has a co-processor to help extend the battery and handle the less power-intensive tasks. Mobvoi is including an in-house co-processor to accomplish similar results. According to Mobvoi, its chipset runs up to 2.0GHz, whereas the Qualcomm version is capped at 1.7GHz. Mobvoi's also allows for Bluetooth 5.0 instead of the 4100+'s Bluetooth 4.2

As I said in the intro to this review, buying a Wear OS smartwatch in 2021 is a tricky prospect because of the current situation with the operating system. As it stands today, there is only one smartwatch in the world that has Wear OS 3 on it. But, The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, Pro 3, and E3 will get the update in 2022. When exactly that will happen is still a mystery. At least some of the apps that were once held onto for Wear OS 3 have made it to Wear OS 2 devices, like YouTube Music.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: What's not good

Well, because nothing in this world is perfect, there is room for improvement, and as much as it's great that Wear OS 3 will be coming to the TicWatch Pro 3 — it's not here now. If you need to have the latest software, this could be a deal-breaker, and it could become an issue if developers continue to develop only for the new OS leaving older watches and even the Pro 3 Ultra in the lurch.

Something else that needs some work is the sleep alarm feature in the TicSleep app. While TicSleep itself works great for automatic sleep tracking, the alarm, and feature that is designed to wake you up based on where you are in your sleep cycle does not. You set up your sleep goals in the app, the time you plan to go to bed and wake up, then the watch will start to vibrate to begin waking you up. Once TicSleep senses you aren't in a deep sleep, it will sound.

I don't like waking to the sound of an alarm, and when that alarm can't be shut off it's even worse.

While that sounds nice, unfortunately, when using the feature, it doesn't shut off. Literally, the only way to get the alarm to stop sounding is to power the watch off. I don't know about you, but this is a horrible way to wake up. It wasn't just my watch; as fellow AC contributor, T'Shaka Armstrong had it happen too. When I asked Mobvoi about this glitch, I was told it "is an issue for Google Wear OS to solve." But at least you can still use the standard alarm app, and it works just fine.

As for the hardware side of things, I would like for the haptic motor to be better. While it does fine, it really is just — fine. One of the parts of the Galaxy Watch 4 that was great was its vibration motor. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra's haptic response could be tightened up.

The one thing that may be an issue for some is the size of the Pro 3 Ultra. While Mobvoi has been refining the design, it is still a large watch. At 48mm, it's going to be big for some people's wrists. I personally like the style and size, but I definitely don't have small wrists. The overall shape of the watch is more angular and may not appeal to everyone's personal preference.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: Competition

Products to consider when looking for a Wear OS watch in 2021 should be down to just a handful of devices. This is because currently, there is only one that has the latest Wear OS 3 software, and then those will get that software later. The TicWatch Pro 3 and E3 will get the update, but if you want to explore a device from another manufacturer, the Fossil Gen 6 lineup should be considered.

These are the newest devices from the watchmaker and feature the Snapdragon 4100+. Fossil has a wide variety of design styles to pick from some software features that add in different battery-saving modes. These watches also have Fossil's new charging technology that can quickly power that watch up to 80% in only 30 minutes. That's helpful, considering the battery life is only rated at 24 hours. The watches also don't have the same durability chops or the dual-display tech of the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra.

Then, of course, the other option to look at is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 devices. These not only have Wear OS 3 right now but also more advanced health features. There are two design choices, each with two size options. Both styles have a rotating bezel as an option for navigating the watch, but the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a physical rotating bezel instead of the capacitive version on the standard Galaxy Watch 4.

Samsung has packed a lot of health and fitness into its latest watches. You can get ECG monitoring, a BIA sensor for body composition analysis, and there's even hardware for blood pressure monitoring — though it's not enabled in the US. Worth noting is that some of these features require a Samsung phone to be fully utilized.

While the watch does run Wear OS 3, it does have a skin on top called One UI Watch that makes it look very different from other Wear OS watches. There are also some differences in the navigation of the OS as well as how notifications are handled.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want the best battery life on any Wear OS watch
  • You want a durable watch that has great visibility outdoors
  • You want a good performing watch
  • You want a watch that will be updated to Wear OS 3

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You have small wrists
  • You need to Wear OS 3 now

The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is a watch that will offer users the longest-lasting battery and great performance. Thanks to the dual-layer display technology and increased durability, the Pro 3 Ultra is perfect for those who spend a lot of time outside, whether for work or play. Though this watch will get Wear OS 3 in 2022, it doesn't have it right now, and that's frustrating.

4.5 out of 5

Mobvoi has done a great job of finding ways to keep improving its line of smartwatches by adding helpful features within the framework of the current Wear OS version it has available. The TicWatch Pro 3 UItra is a great example of a watch that gives great daily performance and matches that with category-leading battery life. For someone who is outdoorsy or likes to exercise outside, this is a fantastic smartwatch.

Its large size and lack of Wear OS 3 could be a sticking point for some users. Aside from changing physics, the watch size is what it is. But Wear OS 3 is coming to the watch next year and should bring even more improvements. The new health-monitoring features and the customizable backlight, along with design improvements, are what will be making the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra my everyday smartwatch.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS

Bottom line: The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra adds in fun backlight options for its signature top-layer display. Along with that change, the watch also picks up AFib monitoring and improved durability so it can be ready for you anywhere you need it to be.

$300 at Amazon $300 at Mobvoi

Source: androidcentral

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