When it comes to smartwatches, I’ve generally used one that’s slightly more sophisticated than a FitBit. For two reasons. One, I don’t own any Apple devices, so an Apple Watch isn’t for me. Two, my skin is allergic to literally every watch band I’ve ever put on. It turns red and itches after maybe a day of wear. So I’ve used one only while I’m exercising for counting steps. The past two weeks, I’ve been trying out the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS ($210) with the Wear OS By Google operating system. And I’m surprised to say, I really like it.
It’s been out for a while now, and has received generally positive accolades. The first thing I noticed was that it has one screen with two display layers. There’s a monotone, low-power “off” screen that tells you the time and date. It’s so dark you would think you wouldn’t be able to see it anywhere. But in reality, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, I think it’s super easy to see in even bright sunlight as it glows where needed. Kind of a cool concept, actually. Then there’s the bright-and-colorful regular AMOLED, 1.4-inch Gorilla Glass display that’s very good, as well. The watch is armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 platform and Mobvoi dual processor system, is designed to meet the military grade standard for toughness, and supports five GNSS location services. Thus, it will help you plan routes and offer guidance along the way. Its battery charge lasts up to 45 days per charge in “essential” mode. It’s health-oriented, so it can track your vitals with real-time 24-hour heart rhythm, and on-demand fatigue and energy levels so you can train smart. The built-in barometer provides constant altitude information, as you can track cumulative elevation gains and losses during a hike. The fluoro rubber band is durable and strong, but also soft on skin. It’s a high-density material that resists heat, oxidation, oil and chemicals.
I’ve downloaded several apps. Most of them work well – and no, you don’t need to keep it paired to your smartphone via Bluetooth after pairing the two devices. But if you want to take phone calls and read text messages on your wrist, it seems you need to. I tried multiple phone calls on it several times and it worked pretty well. The people I was talking to said it sounded like I was in a tunnel if my mouth was more than two feet from my wrist, but if I moved my arm closer to my mouth they said it was loud and clear. On my end, it sounded surprisingly great. I also downloaded an app to let me open and close my garage door from the watch — it worked spotty, though. GPS was consistently well, though, offering turn-by-turn written directions while I rode my bike. For health, I love that the watch measures my steps and heart information. It’s nice to know it’s there. Although I haven’t used it to gauge my sleep – I don’t like wearing watches to bed – it has the capability to track REM stages. One other cool app that’s included is TicZen that continuously monitors your stress throughout the day, producing a stress score to offer insights into your mental wellbeing. And the TicBreathe guided breathing app helps you find your inner peace.
I realize there are several good Google smartwatches out there, and this one is really decent for the money. Honestly, it’s a lot like having a completely new phone on my wrist. Which is pretty amazing — as long as the band doesn’t cause a rash.