Android Central Verdict
The one-of-a-kind cardiovascular health features on the TicWatch GTH Pro, along with great battery life and low price, make this a compelling fitness tracker. However, the poor notification system and usability quirks could be a turn-off for some.
Great battery life
Lots of watch faces to choose from
Advanced heart health monitoring features
Comfortable to wear
Taking an Arty reading can be finicky
Alarms are frustrating
Poor notification support
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People have many reasons why they might want to have a smartwatch or fitness tracker. Aside from checking the time, one of the most popular reasons is monitoring various health metrics. Mobvoi, the company behind the TicWatch lineup, which runs Wear OS, has updated its fitness tracker from last year, running custom RTOS software with a new sensor for the TicWatch GTH Pro that aims to give even further insight into your health.
While the new TicWatch GTH Pro has a similar name to the other wearables in Mobvoi's catalog, nearly nothing about this watch resembles those devices. But that's okay, because this watch has a different goal and audience in mind — not to mention a much lower price than many competitors and more advanced health features. I've spent the better part of a month with the TicWatch GTH Pro, and I'm ready to let you know if it's worth getting your heart set on it or not.
TicWatch GTH Pro: Price and availability
Mobvoi released the new TicWatch GTH Pro on March 1, 2022, with a $100 price tag. The wearable is available in a single color — Meteorite Black — and only one size, a 20mm black rubber strap. You can purchase the TicWatch GTH Pro at Amazon or directly from Mobvoi for the same $100 launch price.
TicWatch GTH Pro: What's good
At first glance, the TicWatch GTH Pro is identical to the original TicWatch GTH from last year. The same Apple Watch-like design has a single button on the side and a standard 20mm watchband. The sensor layout looks slightly different on the backside, with the heart rate, SpO2, and skin temperature sensors all still there but in a redesigned enclosure. The only way to tell them apart when the watches are on is by looking at the side with the button on it.
Here, the most significant change becomes apparent — the side photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor. This is the second PPG sensor on the TicWatch GTH Pro, with the first residing on the back where other excellent fitness trackers traditionally place one. The two PPG sensors work in tandem with algorithms based on cardiovascular expert ATCOR's proprietary SphygmoCor technology.
The unique TicWatch GTH Pro feature is called Arty, and it even has a cute heart character to accompany it. Arty, the dual PPG sensors, and the specialized algorithms are designed to provide more in-depth information about your cardiovascular health. Taking a reading with the GTH Pro is easy enough: Launch Arty on the watch, put your index finger over the side sensor, and wait while the 10-second countdown finishes.
|Header Cell - Column 0||TicWatch GTH Pro|
|Dimensions||43.2 x 35.2 x 10.5mm|
|Display||1.55in (360 x 320 px)|
|Battery||260mAh, up to 10 days of use, 2hrs to recharge|
|Sensors||Side PPG Sensor, Accelerometer, PPG Sensor (measure heart rate, SpO2 levels, respiration rate over wrist), Skin Temperature Sensor|
|Water resistance||Swim, 5ATM|
The watch will analyze the information and give you an Arty Score, ArtyAge, eCAP (Exercise Capacity), HSX (Heart Stress Index), and TruHR. The goal of the results is to give you helpful information to help you better understand your heart health. Mobvoi and ATCOR recommend testing twice daily at the same time of day, generally first thing in the morning and right before bed.
The Arty Score combines various arterial parameters into a comprehensive score that is easy to understand and track over time. TruHR aims to provide you with a very accurate heart rate measurement calculated similarly to an electrocardiogram (ECG) that you might get on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. The HSX score measures the load placed on your heart due to stiffening arteries. Your eCAP score measures blood flow to your heart's inner muscle. Finally, the ArtyAge conveys your arteries' health compared to your biological age.
The Arty feature isn't an automatic reading but rather one you'll need to initiate if you want to take advantage of it. All measurements taken on the TicWatch GTH Pro, from Arty to the other fitness tracking sensors, sync to the Mobvoi app to see how you are progressing over time.
Results from Arty are interesting. Now, I didn't go to a doctor to verify the data or scores, but I did see a change in the measurements over time. From starting my testing in early March until now, I can see improvements in the numbers that coincide with changes I made to my diet and fitness regimen. It can be encouraging to see the score getting better over time. But maybe my favorite motivator was seeing my arterial age remain lower than my actual age.
Other health-tracking features available on the watch are heart rate, sleep, blood oxygen, and steps. You can view your daily progress from the watch, but you'll need to hop into the Mobvoi app on your phone to see your past readings. This data can also sync with Google Fit, Runkeeper, Strava, and Arty if you'd like.
On the TicWatch GTH Pro itself, you can use the quick toggles to change the 1.55-inch display's brightness; turn on the flashlight, DND, or power-saving mode; find your phone; or go to the settings page. The latter only lets you adjust display brightness, reset, power, and see the device information. You'll have to open the mobile app for other settings adjustments or viewing your tracking history.
The app has toggles to enable automatic heart rate, blood oxygen, skin temperature, and respirate rate monitoring. It also has the setting to enable or disable tilt-to-wake for the display, as there is no always-on display option. It's also how you set the alarm, but I'll get more into that in the next section.
Other options in the Mobvoi app are to enable sedentary reminders and notifications. Mobvoi has also added a section in the app with lots of watch face options. On the TicWatch GTH Pro, there are only a few options to choose from, but the app currently has 121 different options. Ranging from seasonal to basic and silly to serene, there will be an option for everybody. Some even have moving elements, like the live wallpapers you'll find on some Android phones.
Wearing the watch daily is comfortable, which is good when wearing it for sleep tracking and because you may not take it off for nearly ten days to recharge it. When it does come time to charge the TicWatch GTH Pro up, you'll use a proprietary magnetic charger that can get the watch from zero to one hundred in about two hours.
Much of the long battery life is thanks to the RTOS software. This type of software shows up on many devices like the OnePlus Watch and the excellent Amazfit smartwatches like the T-Rex Pro. These watches run a customer version on a base RTOS software, and all of them have great battery life. Using this kind of OS also means that the hardware doesn't have to be the most powerful to operate smoothly and fast. But there are some downsides too.
TicWatch GTH Pro: What's not good
One of my favorite watches is the Wear OS-backed TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra from Mobvoi, and in general, I prefer smartwatches over fitness trackers. While I have a few reasons for this preference, one primary reason is their notifications. Of all the RTOS devices I've used, each has delivered a less than enjoyable notification experience.
When updating the original TicWatch GTH to the new model, notifications richness didn't improve, but the appearance has. Previously the text looked like it came from a 1993 PC; now it at least looks modern. Unfortunately, notifications aren't actionable and don't sync with your phone in real-time.
When a notification hits your phone, your watch will buzz you immediately. However, clearing one from your phone doesn't clear it from your watch or vice versa. It's not a major issue, but a long list of notifications on your watch that doesn't go away unless you scroll down and clear them out is kind of annoying. Though, I'd be less frustrated if I could at least reply to a message when it arrives.
Worse, the TicWatch GTH Pro only shows notifications from a limited number of supported apps. You can toggle those apps on or off in the Mobvoi app, but you can't add new apps to the list.
While we're talking about the Mobvoi app, it tends to be a bit delayed or hesitant to update with info from the watch. Sometimes it takes me going into each category and swiping down to get it to pull data from the TicWatch GTH Pro. But perhaps the most annoying thing is that the only place you can set an alarm is within the Mobvoi app.
On the watch, there are apps to check the weather, start a workout, see your health metrics for the day, see your last night's sleep record, open music controls, start a timer, and use a stopwatch. But no alarm. Requiring me to get my phone every time I want to set the alarm is obnoxious.
The other issue with alarms on the TicWatch GTH Pro is that it will only vibrate five times then stop on its own. Mobvoi has told me that it is working on improving both data syncing and the alarm feature.
On the subject of apps, what you get on the watch is all you have. There's no app store or anything like that. If you like tracking your runs with Strava, you're out of luck. Though at least Strava is on the list of apps that can notify you on your watch.
While the TicExercise app on the watch does offer basic exercise tracking options, it is limited to 14 common workouts. So if your favorite exercise isn't available on the watch, you'll have to use the freestyle option, and your tracking results may not be as complete as you'd want.
The final issue I had while using the TicWatch GTH Pro was with the act of taking an Arty measurement. While the instructions and steps are simple enough, I rarely was able to get a reading on the first try without either needing to try again or being told that the results may not be accurate due to poor reading. I don't have small wrists or small fingers, yet many times I would get an error and be asked to try again because my finger wasn't covering the sensor completely — which it was. Other times, the device would finish analyzing the data and tell me I may want to try again for a more accurate measurement. But not say what I need to change to improve it.
The potential for the TicWatch GTH Pro and the Arty feature is high — especially considering the low cost. But the twice-daily manual readings for Arty can be tiresome when it is finicky to get a satisfactory reading. Plenty of people need detailed heart metrics, but they don't need the stress that goes with gathering that data. Especially as so many other health-tracking features offer automated readings that don't require any thought or effort.
TicWatch GTH Pro: Competition
The world of fitness trackers has many players, and the TicWatch GTH Pro is working to be more than just another step tracker. There are many choices at the $100 price point, but two that stand out as competitors are the Fitbit Charge 5 and the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini.
Fitbit has been in the fitness tracker game for a long time, and that's because it makes some of the best out there. One of its latest trackers is the Charge 5, which can track steps, sleep, heart rate, blood oxygen, take ECG and EDA readings, and last up to 7 days per charge. It also offers NFC for digital payments, and it has GPS built-in for tracking up to 20 different workouts. The Charge 5 does cost a bit more at $130, but it does have a few extra features missing from the TicWatch GTH Pro like a full-color screen.
If you prefer a watch-style fitness tracker rather than a band, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is worth a look for the under-$100 price category. This watch has a squared-off design similar to the TicWatch GTH Pro with a colorful 1.55-inch display. Like the Charge 5 and the GTH Pro, the GTS Mini has a 5 ATM water resistance rating. It also is capable of monitoring Heart rate, SpO2, Sleep, Stress, Breathing, and Female Cycles. There are 70 sports modes onboard and a dedicated GPS sensor for your fitness journey.
TicWatch GTH Pro: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You want to focus on keeping tabs on your heart and cardiovascular health.
- You want a fitness tracker that can offer in-depth health metrics for a low price.
- You want a fitness tracker that is comfortable and has good battery life.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want useable notifications.
- You like to mix it up with a lot of different exercises.
- You rely on your wearable as your alarm.
Someone getting started with their fitness journey or is a casual workout fan would get along great with the TicWatch GTH Pro. But anyone who is trying to keep a close eye on their cardiovascular health can benefit from this tracker. However, if getting notifications and taking action on them from your watch is important to you, the TicWatch GTH Pro isn't for you. Nor is it if you do a wide variety of workouts as the options on the watch are very limited.
The TicWatch GTH Pro is a great device for a good price from top to bottom as long as you have the proper expectations. Its design and health monitoring features would be impressive at a higher price point. The standard features like heart rate and sleep tracking are fine, but the addition of skin temperature and Arty help this device stand out. That is, if you can deal with redoing the Arty test a few times and bad notifications.
All in all, Mobvoi released an interesting device in the TicWatch GTH Pro. Some of my issues with it are specific to me as I prefer a different type of device. Other annoyances are due to the nature of RTOS. But at $100, for someone that wants a focus on heart health and casual fitness — the TicWatch GTH Pro is a solid choice.
Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro
The TicWatch GTH Pro has a lot to offer at a low price. While it has advanced heart health features and can show you some notifications from your phone, you won't be able to do anything with those notifications.
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