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TicWatch Pro S review

A new TicWatch that probably doesn’t need to exist

TicWatch Pro S
(Image: © TechRadar)

Our Verdict

As a replacement for the TicWatch Pro 2020 and a cheaper alternative to the impressive Pro 3, the Pro S is an okay Wear OS smartwatch. It’s just one that’s not going to really change your thoughts on Google’s indifferent platform. It’s nice to see those Mobvoi app extras and largely the same Pro 3 design, but you’d be better paying a bit more for the newer processor tech and the extra software features you’ll get on the Pro 3.

For

  • Similar design to TicWatch Pro 3
  • Adds new health and fitness apps
  • Nice collection of watch faces

Against

  • Old chipset
  • Misses new UI look
  • Iffy heart rate accuracy

Two-minute review

The TicWatch Pro S is a cheaper version of the TicWatch Pro 3 and is essentially a replacement for the TicWatch Pro 2020, which launched, well, in 2020. The S seems to stand for sport, though Mobvoi offers a similar classic watch-style design as its other Pro watches and keeps the same hybrid strap that featured on the Pro 2020.

It still offers everything you’d expect from a watch running Google’s Wear OS too. That includes payments, the ability to download apps, and access to Google Assistant.

On top of the Wear OS smarts, Mobvoi is offering its own apps, letting you track sleep, monitor hearing and generate richer fitness insights like VO2 Max scores.

It uses the same sized dual-layer display as the Pro 2020, which means you can use it in full smartwatch mode and an Essential mode, which will turn the screen black and white, but can still show you heart rate and step count data along with the time.

The software is powered by a Snapdragon 2100 Wear chipset, which is a couple of generations older than the 4100 processor found inside of the TicWatch Pro 3. It does boost onboard storage to 8GB though, to bring it in line with other Wear OS-packing smartwatches.

Performance-wise, it works fine, though it lacks the new-look app UI that featured on the Pro 3, and obviously misses out on those performance and battery boosts the Wear 4100 clearly offers on the pricier TicWatch.

The addition of Mobvoi’s suite of extra health and fitness apps are welcome, on the whole though the tracking accuracy feels best suited to casual fitness folk, with the heart rate monitor struggling to offer reliable data at times. If you can get a good, secure fit, then you might have more luck getting something more reliable.

That missing 4100 chipset means you miss out on the efficiency improvements made on the battery front with the Pro 3. You can expect to get at least a couple of days use from the S in full smartwatch mode though and much longer if you use the more basic Essential mode.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Pro S is another Wear OS smartwatch that does an okay job but is inevitably held back by Google’s software. The price difference between the Pro 3 though feels like if you can afford to spend more and you’re a fan of the TicWatch range, then we’d say go for that watch instead.

If you want a better sports tracking performance at around this price, you could look to the Apple Watch SE or the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 for a better all-round experience.

TicWatch Pro S price and availability

  • Out now in the US and UK
  • Costs $259.99 / £222

The TicWatch Pro S is available now priced at $259.99 / £222. It’s not available in Australia just yet, but we anticipate it’ll be around the same AU$435.99 price tag that’s currently attached to the TicWatch Pro 2020. The TicWatch Pro 3 in comparison costs $299.99 / £289.99 / AU$449.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

  • 1.39-inch, dual-layer display
  • 45mm case
  • IP68 water resistance rating

Mobvoi’s Pro range has always been about aspirations to put a classier smartwatch on your wrist. So, nice smart straps, high-quality case materials, and overall giving you that feel of something that doesn’t scream that you live in gym gear most of the day.

You’re getting a 45mm watch case that’s available in black or silver and is made from carbon fiber. That measures in at 12.6mm thick, giving it an identical look and feel to Mobvoi’s Pro 2020 watch.

That’s combined with the same removable 22mm hybrid leather strap that gives you the option of a more formal look on the exterior, while the underside features a silicone finish to make it a better fit for exercise.

You’re getting a durable build, with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 on the display, and it carries a military standard 810G certification to handle extreme temperatures, pressure, shock and more. The IP68 water resistance rating means it’s one that shouldn’t technically be safe for swimming, though Mobvoi does include a pool swimming mode here.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Touchscreen aside, there are two physical buttons on the right side of the case and optical sensors around the back to complete what is essentially an identical watch to the Pro 2020.

It’s a nice enough looking smartwatch, though not the slimmest. It retains the characteristics of the TicWatch Pro 3, minus that watch's stainless steel case, but we were just hoping for something a little more compelling to wear and glance down at.

Things haven’t changed in the screen department either. There’s the same 1.39-inch, 400 x 400 AMOLED touchscreen display that’s overlaid on a secondary FSTN display to offer that Essential mode where you can view more basic data and get longer battery life as it doesn't draw as much power.

It’s a nice, bright, colorful display, but viewing angles can suffer a little in bright light, even with the screen brightness cranked to the max. You do have an always-on screen option here too, though that will inevitably have a noticeable impact on battery life.

Performance and software

  • Works with Android and iPhones
  • Runs Google Wear OS
  • Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset

Like all of Mobvoi’s smartwatches, the TicWatch Pro S runs Google’s Wear OS operating system and will work with Android phones and iPhones. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 2100 chipset along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. That’s double the storage of the Pro 2020, though with Google Play Music now missing in action, it doesn’t feel like a hugely useful upgrade right now.

The choice of a chipset that’s now a few generations behind the latest dedicated wearable one made by Qualcomm is an odd move. Particularly as Mobvoi introduced the Pro 3 as one of the few watches that runs on the newer 4100 setup.

Performance of the TicWatch Pro S isn’t bad in any really noticeable way, but there’s definitely a little more zip in the interactions on the Pro 3 in comparison that you do miss out on.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

With Wear OS on board, you can expect everything that Google has to offer right now on the smartwatch front. That means you get some good things and some not so good things. Staples like notification support work well enough, as does Google Pay, but Google’s suite of fitness apps are clunky at best and Google Assistant still feels like a work in progress on wearables.

Mobvoi seeks to make its presence felt here too, though it doesn’t include the new app UI it introduced on the Pro 3. So it’s the same standard Wear OS app drawer that we’re not the hugest fans of.

Mobvoi includes its TicBreathe, TicHearing, TicPulse and TicSleep apps as welcome alternatives to Google’s own apps to closely track your health and fitness, though you’ll need to download the additional TicWatch companion app to view that data, alongside the Wear OS companion app to get things all set up.

You do get multiple watch faces too and there’s a good bunch here. There’s your pick of both digital and analog, and unsurprisingly, given the look of the watch, the analog-style ones are a better fit here. That’s not to say there aren't some nice digital ones to cram with your data too.

TicWatch Pro S screenshot

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Fitness

  • PPG heart rate monitor
  • GPS + GLONASS + BeiDou + Galileo support
  • Tracks steps and sleep

That S does stand for sport and with the Pro S, you’re getting pretty much all you need here to make it a solid workout companion.

In terms of sensors, you’re getting the standard accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors to track indoor exercise, steps and enable sleep monitoring. There’s a PPG optical heart rate monitor, which you can use during exercise, to continuously measure heart rate and to track REM sleep stages when you wear it to bed.

There’s built-in GPS and additional support for BeiDou, Glonass and Galileo satellite systems to widen mapping support. You don’t get the blood oxygen tracking you will find supported on the TicWatch Pro 3, though.

You’ve got multiple ways to choose how you track your health and fitness data. Opt for Google’s Fit apps, choose a third-party app, or use Mobvoi’s own software. We opted to use Mobvoi’s own, which is a bit of a step up in terms of usability from Google’s. The companion app though needs some work.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As a fitness tracker, the TicHealth app gives you a simple watch display to track your steps, exercise minutes and active hours. Compared to Fitbit’s Sense smartwatch, daily step counts were within 500 steps and distance tracked was largely in the same ballpark. There are inactivity alerts to keep you moving during the day, but aside from that it’s all pretty basic on the activity tracking front.

When it’s time to go to bed, the TicSleep app gives you a nice overview on the watch, breaking down your most recent night’s sleep with some insights and a sleep efficiency rating along with data like sleep duration.

Accuracy-wise, it did a pretty good job of recognizing when we’d fallen asleep and offered similar awake and REM sleep stages to other devices. There was a little more disparity in the numbers in the deep and light sleep recorded, but sleep tracking in general did a good job.

When it’s time to track your exercise, you need to head to the TicExercise app, which you can also quickly launch by pressing the bottom physical button on the watch. There are 13 modes in total and that includes running (indoor and outdoor), cycling, pool swimming, rowing machine, mountaineering and yoga.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

For outdoor runs, GPS distance tracking was slightly off from a Garmin watch but not in an alarming way. Heart rate accuracy though was wildly off, by as much as 20bpm at times. It felt partly that this was down to a fit that we could never get to sit snug and tight enough to generate something more reliable.

For 30-minute indoor rowing sessions, things were better on the heart rate accuracy front, with a difference of 3bpm for average and maximum heart rate compared to a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor. In a HIIT workout, we were back into double-digit differences for heart rate with a MyZone MZ-Switch heart rate monitor chest strap. So it’s clearly a better fit for some activities than others.

Additional apps you have at your disposal here include TicBreathe to turn to for some guided breathing, and TicPulse to keep tabs on heart rate, though we found again heart rate readings were 10bpm above a chest strap and an Apple Watch.

There’s also the TicHearing app, which is a take on Apple’s hearing app and uses the onboard microphone to help assess the level of noise you’re exposing your ears to.

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life

  • 2-5 days in smartwatch mode
  • 30 days in Essential mode
  • 2-30 days in mixed usage

Mobvoi has stuck to the same 415mAh capacity battery used on the Pro 2020, giving you potentially up to five days when you’re using it in full smartwatch mode. When you factor bringing the FSTN display and Essential mode into play, you can push things to weeks, but you obviously do have to live a far more restrictive smartwatch life.

In our time with it, we found the TicWatch Pro S lasted two days much like the Pro 2020. When you factor GPS tracking into your day, that will inevitably have an impact on how much battery you have to play with.

For a 45-minute run, we saw the battery drop by 8%. We also found that when we thought we might have enough to get through another night of sleep tracking, we ended up with the display switching to that Essential mode.

When it is time to charge, there's a cradle that clips onto the back of the case, and it will take about an hour and a half to get you from 0-100% when you do run low.

Should I buy the TicWatch Pro S?

TicWatch Pro S

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

You want a watch that looks like the TicWatch Pro 3
Stainless steel case and a slightly more prominent bezel aside, the Pro S is pretty much a spitting image of the Pro 3 for less money.

You like the TicWatch software
Mobvoi’s new apps for monitoring health and fitness are a better fit than Google’s ones even if the companion app needs a bit of work.

You want a good fitness tracking experience
For tracking steps and monitoring sleep, the TicWatch Pro S offers a reliable experience, and it's easy to view your stats on the watch too.

Don't buy it if...

You like slim smartwatches
Like the other TicWatch Pro smartwatches, there are slimmer watches available. So if you don’t like chunky watches, this might not be one for you.

You want big battery life
Battery performance in full smartwatch mode hasn’t improved beyond the two days its predecessor the Pro 2020 delivered, and nor does it match the better battery performance you’ll get from the Pro 3.

You want the best Wear OS experience
The TicWatch Pro S has an older processor than the TicWatch Pro 3 and lacks some of that wearable's software flourishes, so it's not as good a way to experience Wear OS.

First reviewed: April 2021

Michael Sawh

Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specialises in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he has written for publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men's Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff. Michael is a keen runner and swimmer and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.