A great smartwatch that’s easy to recommend to most people, the TicWatch Pro 5 excels in battery life and fast charging while its hassle-free Wear OS experience feels great to use on a daily basis.
- Outstanding battery life
- Wear OS 3 is finally on a TicWatch
- Fast charging
- The secondary FSTN display is always welcome
- Not the most stylish of smartwatches
- Included watch faces are hit and miss
- No Google Assistant
- Up to 80-hours of battery life:Extend this with Essential Mode
- FSTN Display:Secondary screen sits above the AMOLED panel
- Updated design:New rotating crown and push button
After a notable hiatus, Mobvoi has come back to the smartwatch market with the impressive and thoughtful TicWatch Pro 5.
TicWatch wearables have been something of a mixed bag. I have to give parent company Mobvoi some credit for keeping the Wear OS dream alive with a steady output of devices over the years, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed some of the features that they’ve brought to market, including the additional FSTN display last seen on the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra.
However, Mobvoi is also responsible for some significant low points in the Wear OS saga, including the best forgotten TicWatch C2 Plus, and that’s before mentioning that the company’s most recent wearables still haven’t received that long promised Wear OS 3 update, which is particularly embarrassing given that, at the time of this review, Wear OS 4 is on the horizon.
Potentially as a result of this identity crisis, Mobvoi has taken over a year off to develop its next-gen wearable which has skipped the number 4 entirely, opting instead to be known as the TicWatch Pro 5. After spending several weeks with the device, I can say that that extra time at the drawing board has paid off with Mobvoi putting together one of the best Wear OS watches to date.
Design and screen
- Embodies TicWatch’s usual industrial aesthetic
- New rotating crown and push button
- FSTN display is great for outdoor use
If there’s one thing that hasn’t seen a major upgrade, it’s the design of the TicWatch Pro 5. Given that, at first glance, it looks identical to the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, anyone who’s had any experience with the TicWatch line will know exactly what to expect here.
Between the silicone watch strap and the chassis, the Pro 5 jumps between deep blacks and darker greys which makes it feel less like an eye-catching fashion accessory and more like a smartwatch that’s been designed to blend in with Batman’s suit of armour. It won’t be for everyone, but I don’t mind it too much, particularly as I don’t expect much else from Mobvoi in this department.
The only place where you’ll find even a splash of colour is in the button layout which has been changed this time around to feel a lot more like the Pixel Watch. On the upper-right hand side you have a textured push button that can show you your most recent apps with one press, while two presses will pull up the Google Wallet.
Just below that button you’ll find the new rotating crown, which not only works well when scrolling through menus and options, but it also bears a red ring that feels as if it’s been poached directly off the Apple Watch. It’s one of those rare moments when a company appears to wear its aspirations on its sleeve, or rather, I am.
The trade-off for the largely uninspiring design is that the TicWatch Pro 5 boasts military-grade durability, as well as water resistance up to 5ATM (50 metres). I’ve accidentally knocked the Pro 5 several times over the course of this review, but there are no noticeable marks to be found anywhere. It’s a sturdy device and one that I would have no qualms with taking on a hike or a camping trip.
The TicWatch Pro 5 has a slightly bigger screen than its predecessor, toting a 1.43-inch AMOLED display (over the 1.4-inch variant on the Pro 3 Ultra), and for the most part, it’s excellent. The screen is large enough that I never found any bits of text difficult to read, and it was even hassle-free to use the onscreen keyboard when necessary. The screen isn’t the brightest when viewed outdoors, definitely not against the likes of the Apple Watch Ultra, but the Pro 5 has a returning feature that is still an absolute ace in the hole: a secondary FSTN display.
This low-power display sits atop the AMOLED panel and displays key metrics like the time, your step count and heart rate, all while being super easy to read outdoors. The backlight also makes a return in case you want to look at this secondary display in darker environments.
One major upgrade to the FSTN display is that it will now project a different backlight colour to correspond with your heart rate zone during a workout, so you can immediately gauge your performance without needing to dive into any menus, similar to the Myzone MZ-Switch. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – the FSTN display is such a killer idea that I don’t know why other companies won’t implement something similar into their wearables, particularly as Mobvoi continues to expand its capabilities with each new watch.
Features and performance
- Wear OS 3 finally comes to a TicWatch
- First watch to use the Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 chipset
- Great overall performance
With the TicWatch Pro 5, Mobvoi is finally able to embrace Wear OS 3 for the first time, and while it’s absurdly late to the party (the Galaxy Watch 4 was the first to market with the software back in 2021), it’s still great to see the pairing nonetheless.
The UI is very similar to what you’ll experience on the Pixel Watch, and that’s to say that Wear OS 3 is much nicer to use than its predecessor. Unlike previous TicWatches, the Pro 5 doesn’t immediately feel out of date as soon as you take it out of the box.
What helps to solidify this feeling is the fact that the Pro 5 is the first smartwatch anywhere to feature the new Snapdragon W5 Plus Gen 1 chipset. Mobvoi claims that the performance is 2x faster than that of the previous Snapdragon Wear 4100 Plus, and while that’s tricky to quantify precisely on a smartwatch, I will say that the TicWatch Pro 5 is impressively smooth during everyday use.
Jumping between menus and apps isn’t quite as fast as what you’ll find on the Apple Watch, but against other Wear OS devices, the TicWatch Pro 5 is definitely among the fastest out there. It all goes a long way towards making the Pro 5 feel like a smartwatch that I actually want to use regularly, instead of something that is only a temporary placeholder until I return to my Apple Watch. With that said, however, the TicWatch Pro 5 doesn’t work with iPhones unfortunately, so iOS users will miss out here.
The internal storage has also seen a bump from 8GB to 32GB, which is great if you like to store playlists from Spotify or YouTube Music locally for offline playback during a workout. The selection of included watch faces is a little hit and miss – the majority are too rigid and complication heavy for my liking, but you do have an abundance of alternatives available via the Google Play store (I’m currently using the Concentric watch face that mimics the one found on the Pixel Watch).
When you’re away from your phone, the TicWatch Pro 5 is capable of connecting to all five of the major satellite services independently, which is great if you want to track an outdoor walk or run. I found the wait time to connect to be respectable, at an average of seven seconds, and while the actual route tracking largely does a decent job of showing where you’ve been after the fact, it’s far from best in class. At one point the TicWatch seemed to think that I had taken a quick dip in the Thames while out on a lunchtime walk through London’s Southbank.
One glaring omission from the TicWatch’s bag of tricks is the Google Assistant. Admittedly, this issue seems to stem from Google as part of a wider Wear OS issue, and even with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, there are several steps you need to take to get Google Assistant up and running – but for the TicWatch Pro 5, it’s nowhere to be seen. Because of how much the TicWatch gets right, it’s not the worst thing, but it definitely meant that I was reaching for my phone when I wanted to set a few quick timers while cooking.
- Tons of tracking options via TicExercise
- Outstanding HRM accuracy
- Sleep tracking could use a little work
Because of its high-level of durability, the TicWatch Pro 5 naturally lends itself to being a reliable fitness tracker on paper, and Mobvoi has made sure to capitalise on this with its suite of in-built fitness apps.
For starters, the TicExercise app, which lets you select which workout type you want to track, has a ridiculous number of options. From cardio to weightlifting, I’ve yet to find a noticeable gap in TicExercise’s options, so you’ll be more than covered on that front. Automatic workout tracking has been exceptional throughout the test period, and the TicWatch has even picked up on my morning walk to the station more consistently than my Apple Watch.
There’s also a pared-down version of Samsung’s BioActive sensor labelled ‘One-tap measurement’ but while the former offered up some surprisingly detailed stats, including your BMI and body water levels, the later is focused on just your heart health by analysing your heart rate, blood oxygen, respiratory rate and stress levels simultaneously. Still, it’s a handy tool to have during stressful moments of the day, as it can help you to keep a closer eye on how day-to-day stress might be affecting your heart.
If you want a more detailed look at all that information and more however, there is the Mobvoi Health app. Despite the fact that it could probably be made to look a little sleeker, it still manages to offer up plenty of insight post-workout and it does a good job of explaining what all of its fitness jargon actually means with well-written definitions.
When paired against the Myzone MZ-Switch as a dedicated chest-worn heart rate tracker, the TicWatch Pro 5 handled itself surprisingly well. During an hour-long session on an elliptical machine, the Pro 5 handed back the exact same peak and average heart rate recorded by the MZ-Switch. It was a similar story on the cycling machine, this time with only a discrepancy of 1 BPM at the peak heart rate, which again is quite impressive and I’d have no issues with relying on the TicWatch Pro 5 for heart rate accuracy.
Sleep tracking was also similarly impressive, although not quite to the same extent. For instance, when compared against the Whoop 4.0, the TicWatch did manage to calculate the same amount of sleep, give or take a few minutes, but the deep dive data for sleep stages was at a massive discrepancy against what the Whoop strap was telling me. This won’t be an issue for everyone, given that both devices were largely espousing the same advice based on the sleep registered, but if you absolutely need to know the details of your circadian rhythm, then you’ll be better off with the Whoop or even the Oura Ring 3.
- Next-level battery life that puts the competition to shame
- You can expect up to five days of use
- Fast charging from 15% to full in just an hour
If it isn’t obvious, I’ve already been wowed by the TicWatch Pro 5, but it just so happens that I’ve saved the best for last. Prior to this review, the last Wear OS watch I used was the Pixel Watch which, despite having a lot going for it, absolutely fumbled when it came to battery life. The TicWatch Pro 5 on the other hand absolutely decimates the competition in this regard.
Mobvoi claims that you can get 80-hours worth of use on a single charge which makes the 18-hour claim of the Apple Watch 8 seem paltry by comparison. What’s more impressive is that this claim seems to be fairly on the mark. In my experience, I’ve managed to wear the TicWatch Pro 5 for 72-hours, with multiple workouts and sleep tracked, notifications and NFC payments, and there’s still 22% left in the tank.
Of course, just to be on the safe side, 22% is about the point where I’d want to charge the watch back up again, but I see no reason why it absolutely couldn’t hit that 80-hour mark. As an added benefit, you can even instruct the phone to move into ‘Essential Mode’ when the battery hits 5% which turns off almost all major features, leaving you with just the FSTN display and all the core metrics you’ll find there.
If you’re going away for a long weekend and you’ve forgotten to pack your charger, you could even swap to Essential Mode right away and you’d more than likely be covered for the duration of your trip (so long as you don’t mind doing without all the usual smartwatch trappings for a while).
Charging has also been given a bump to complement the long-running battery life. I was able to get from a 15% battery to the full 100% in just slightly over an hour, which is really handy if you’re in a rush. Even better is the fact that the TicWatch was at 79% after just 32-minutes of charging. The fact that Mobvoi has been able to reach this level of longevity on a smartwatch, alongside super fast charging, is something to be commended and really needs to be recognised by other companies in the same market.
Should you buy it?
You want the best long-lasting Wear OS watch:
It might not be as stylish as the Galaxy Watch 5, but the TicWatch Pro 5 offers one of the best Wear OS experiences to date, in part due to its super long battery life.
You want a stylish Wear OS watch:
Of all the things the TicWatch Pro 5 has going for it, style isn’t one of them and it’s easily bested by the Pixel Watch and Galaxy Watches in this area.
After years of trying to compete with the never-ending supply of Wear OS watches on the market, Mobvoi has finally cracked the secret code and delivered a wearable that not only sits among the best Wear OS watches right now, but does a handful of things better than any smartwatch I’ve tested yet.
The long-lasting battery life absolutely flies in the face of the Pixel Watch and Apple Watch 8, while the secondary FSTN display offers a genuine solution against watches that see their longevity plummet when toggling an always-on display, like with the Galaxy Watch 5.
There are still a few issues to be worked out with Wear OS, and the watch itself isn’t exactly the most compelling on the design front, but the TicWatch Pro 5 does so much right that it’s an easy one to recommend for almost anyone in need of a reliable smartwatch right now.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main tracker during the testing period
Heart rate data compared against dedicated heart rate devices
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No, the TicWatch Pro 5 is not compatible with iOS and so it cannot connect to an iPhone.
No, the TicWatch Pro 5 utilises a proprietary charger that is included in the box.
Yes, the TicWatch Pro 5 is the first TicWatch to use the Wear OS 3 platform.