Mobvoi's TicWatch lineup has been one of the longest-running brands of smartwatches to run Google's Wear OS. Perhaps the most popular model has been the TicWatch Pro series. I have owned every model in the lineup and am excited to see what Mobvoi does with the TicWatch Pro 4 — should we get one.
The most recent smartwatch in Mobvoi's Wear OS lineup was the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra from October 2021. This watch has spent the most time on my wrist since I got it and is still my preferred wearable. As we see new devices get released and Wear OS 3 continue to get teased for devices not made by Samsung, I have high hopes for the next Wear OS watch from Mobvoi and have come up with four things I want to see in the TicWatch Pro 4.
There's no denying that these watches have been chonky. One trait that has been consistent since the first TicWatch Pro from 2018 has been bulk. Big lugs where the watch band connects, large accents on the case, and a big display. The devices in the Pro series are thick, but they are also bold in the other hardware design elements.
To be clear, though, I don't want the display to get smaller. While the TicWatch Pro devices are still on the bulky side of the spectrum, Mobvoi has been making strides to make them less so. While the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra got a slightly smaller footprint, it's still too large for many wrists.
In looking at perhaps the most obvious competitor, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, the 46mm is the largest model Samsung offers, and it is smaller in nearly every dimension. Both the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra and the 46mm Galaxy Watch 4 Classic offer a 1.4-inch display, but Samsung packs it into a case that is 45.5 x 45.5 x 11.0mm with a physical rotating bezel. Mobvoi's watch comes in at 47 x 48 x 12.3mm for comparison.
Every millimeter counts when something is small enough to fit on your wrist, and the TicWatch Pro 4 could use a trim. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic shows that it can go a bit smaller and still maintain a large display. The TicWatch Pro series is well-known for its excellent battery life, thanks to the dual-display technology that Mobvoi employs. So long as that feature stays put, even if the battery must shrink a little to reduce the overall case size, the TicWatch Pro 4 will remain the battery life king.
Customizable secondary display
Let's keep the subject on that secondary display that the TicWatch Pro lineup is famous for. I appreciate the design change we got with the Pro 3 Ultra, but I want more. Since the first TicWatch Pro, I have wanted the ability to enable other stats from the watch to show on the transreflective LCD display.
With the Pro 3, Mobvoi added a backlight to the display, which I greatly appreciate. On the Pro 3 Ultra, the backlight got a nifty feature in which it can be a color other than white. However, aside from the light color, there is no customization available for the top display. As it stands now, the display is locked to show only the date, your steps taken, seconds, and a simple battery status indicator.
When using the TicExercise app, the top display will show stats for your workout. You'll get elapsed time, heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned, and the time when on a run. While it's unfortunate that it's only the TicExercise app that can take advantage of the display, it is understandable due to the specialized hardware. However, I should be able to customize the display with information that is common to the device.
I want to have the option to turn on heart rate for the top display. Maybe be able to see how much time has elapsed on a timer, a stopwatch readout, or an indicator that I have an alarm set. Perhaps even an indicator that I have notifications. These are just a few ways I'd like Mobvoi to open up customization of the top display for the TicWatch Pro 4.
Alternative device navigation
While I never got the chance actually to use one of the original TicWatches, something that stood out for me in reading and watching reviews was the unique navigation feature. Of course, the watch was sporting the typical touchscreen for scrolling through notifications and reading messages, but the oddly named Tickle Strip really stood out.
Once Mobvoi switched to Wear OS from its in-house OS, the Tickle Strip was M.I.A. This feature worked similar to using the Digital Crown on an Apple Watch, the rotating crown of the Skagen Falster Gen 6, or the rotating bezel of Samsung's Galaxy Watch 4. The Tickle Strip was a capacitive area on the watch's side that you would "tickle" to scroll through information on the display.
These devices have a touchscreen for navigating the watch, but using an alternative method can make reading the info on the display easier because your finger isn't in the way, and it keeps smudges off the screen. A physical rotating bezel on Samsung's watches has been around since the Galaxy Watch 2, but Samsung introduced a capacitive version with the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
That same concept is on the new Galaxy Watch 4 and has proven to be a competent secondary option for getting around the watch's UI. Bringing back the Tickle Strip from the original TicWatches adds a useful feature on the Pro 4, putting another feather to the cap of an already impressive lineup of watches.
Something that is impossible to avoid is recharging our devices, and smartwatches tend to require the annoying task more often than our other electronics. While the line of TicWatch Pro wearables are some of the best Android smartwatches and do better than most Wear OS watches when it comes to battery life, even these devices require charging. But when it comes to charging, these smartwatches could use a boost in speed.
Mobvoi has always opted for a magnetic charger with POGO pins to power up its wearables. While this is a simple solution, and it gets the job done, their watches have never been known for fast charging speeds. To recharge my TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra from zero to 100 takes well over two hours. However, these aren't the only watches that suffer from slow charging times. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is significantly slower with its truly wireless charging option.
The direction that I'd like to see the new TicWatch Pro 4 take would be the way of Fossil's Gen 6 devices. While these wearables will not win the overall battery life battle with the TicWatch Pro series, they take the cake when it comes to recharging speeds — against all smartwatches.
Fossil revamped the charging contacts on the back of its Gen 6 watches for better durability, but the new charging coils significantly improved the speed. After only about 30 minutes of charging time provides plenty of power to get the watch through a full day of use. I'd love to see the TicWatch 4 go this route, that is, if it's not possible to go down the Galaxy Watch 4 route — only with faster wireless charging.
My 2022 smartwatch excitement is building for what is possible this year for the TicWatch Pro 4. Along with the improvements I have discussed above, one that lingers is the Wear OS 3 elephant. While we still only have one device, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, running the new software, it will undoubtedly arrive on other smartwatches. That would include some older wearables and some new hopeful devices like the Galaxy Watch 5 or the long-rumored Pixel Watch.
Though Mobvoi has released rehashed versions of older watches with minor updates in the past, the Pro series is a set of devices that deserves to continue pushing the envelope of what smartwatches can do. I want to see the company find ways to enhance the TicWatch Pro wearables' features further and not be afraid to go out and add exciting new features.
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