Last year, the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS was the first smartwatch with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100. The same platform with co-processor, the Snapdragon Wear 4100+, arrived just over a year later recently in Fossil’s Gen 6.
Instead of the Cortex-A0 based QCC1110 on the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ Mobvoi networks the Snapdragon Wear 4100 with its own co-processor and wants to speed up app launches, among other things. The working memory is 1 GB. A bit more than 4 GB of 8 GB ROM remain for apps and user data.
In standby, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS, like the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS and the TicWatch Pro 3 LTE activates an FSTN display, which ensures the permanent display of date, time and pedometer, while consuming little energy.
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is operated via the touchscreen and two side buttons, one of which can launch an individually assigned app.As usual for Wear OS smartwatches, speakers and a microphone for Google Assistant are installed, as well as NFC for Google Pay.
In addition to stainless steel, fiberglass and nylon are now used for the casing. Mobvoi put the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS through several tests according to the military standard MIL-STD-810G and promises high resistance to shocks, sunlight, extreme temperatures and negative pressure. The 22 mm (~0.87 in) interchangeable wristband made of Fluoroelastomere is also more durable than the usual silicone ones.
Sensors so far have included accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer. Mobvoi
adds a compass and renews the optical sensor: The HD-PPG sensor now additionally measures blood oxygen saturation and watches out for irregular heart rate rhythms.
Our intro picture shows the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS on the left and the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra 4Gon the right, which is expected in November and whose band Mobvoi uses a material mix of leather and silicone.
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The test device has WearOS 2.26 installed and Google Play services 21.18.16. The security update is from May 5, 2021. There was no update during the test period, on the recently tested Fossil Gen 6, the software was already more up-to-date with Wear OS 2.3.2 and a security update from July 1, 2021.
The smart watch is connected to the smartphone via Google’s Wear OS app, alternative watch faces are installed and up to 10 of the 15 widgets can be selected. More watch faces can be found in the additional Mobvoi app from the manufacturer, which is also available for the iPhone like the Wear OS app.
The Mobvoi app connects to Strava, Runkeeper and Google Fit or Apple Health on the iPhone if desired. Beyond the synchronization of fitness and health data, the Mobvoi app imports the screenshots that can be taken with the smartwatch, as well as audio recordings created with the Tic recording app. A web service transcribes the audios if required, but only in English or Chinese.
The TicWatch Pro 3 displays the apps either as a list or in a grid. Besides TicRecord, Mobvoi installs its own apps with breathing exercises, noise control and health monitoring. Spotify is preinstalled for music, and we could also install YouTube Music. According to Google, YouTube Music is only available on selected smartwatches like the Mobvoi smartwatches of the Pro 3 line, the TicWatch E3 and the Fossil Gen 6 will run. They will all also receive Wear OS 3.
Music tracks could be downloaded and saved in Spotify as well as in the YouTube app, but both providers require a subscription. Without a subscription, the user’s own songs that were previously uploaded via the web portal could be saved on YouTube. Playback is via Bluetooth and not via the integrated speaker.
Other tools installed include a calculator and weather information from the weather.com portal.
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS supports Bluetooth telephony. It initiates calls or accepts them on request and conducts the call either via speaker and microphone or a Bluetooth headset connected to the watch. Alternatively, you can reject the call or answer it with a predefined text message.
Messages from social networks are displayed including emojis and pictures.
Google Assistant starts after a long press on the upper button or when you swipe to the right on the touchscreen. In addition, Google Translator is installed on the TicWatch Pro 3.
Over the course of the day, the fitness tracker monitors the level of activity, sends prompts to move if necessary, counts the steps and uses them to determine the approximate distance traveled as well as the calories burned. The smartwatch clearly displays the collected data both for the current day and as a weekly overview.
While it independently analyzes heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and the effect of stress (via heart rate variability), it only measures the ambient noise via the integrated microphone when the Tic noise app is opened.
Mobvoi uses the HD PPG sensor for IHB (Irregular Heartbeats) and AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) monitoring and issues a warning when atrial fibrillation is detected.
If the pulse rate exceeds or falls below the previously set limits, a warning is also issued, and the occurrence also appears in the daily log. During training, when the pulse rate naturally increases, you can optionally disable monitoring.
We compare the oxygen saturation estimated by the HD PPG sensor of the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS with the result of a medically certified pulse oximeter in 10 measurements. The sensor proves to be reliable: The two agree more often than average, a total of four times, and the average deviation is just one percentage point. The largest deviation is 3 percentage points.
We compared the pulse rate recorded by the optical sensor with the recording of an electrical heart rate sensor from Polar while jogging. As we often observe with wearables, the curve of the heart rate sensor shoots up too much at the beginning and continues to rise even when heart rate and pulse actually drop on a descending track. Only after about 10 minutes does the measurement settle and move, albeit fluctuating, on the level of the heart rate sensor.
When activated, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS regularly records heart rate and blood oxygen saturation at night. It also determines the sleep phases and their respective proportions over the entire sleep duration.
The TicWatch Pro 3 has detection for walking, running and cycling. For active tracking, the TicExercise app provides 21 workout modes to choose from, including running and cycling each indoors and outdoors, swimming, yoga, Pilates, badminton and table tennis. Before high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you put together your own selection from 10 exercises such as mountain climbers or burpees and determine the duration or number of repetitions. However, the sports tracker does not count repetitions independently.
The following screens show an example of a log of the Watch and the Mobvoi app after jogging.
The recorded route from the run log cannot be exported or enlarged. We installed Strava for analyzing the GPS accuracy.
The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS was used for jogging twice. At the same starting point, where other wearables are ready after half a minute at the latest, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS only signaled its readiness after 1 to 2 minutes.
It then recorded the route accurately and covered almost the same distance as the equally reliable Venu 2s from Garmin.
In the browser tests, the Mobvoi watches are ahead of all other smartwatches tested so far, but the test device does not top them. Mobvoi was silent about the dual-chip system for a long time, but it has released some data in the meantime. According to that, the system clocks up to 2.0 GHz, higher than the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platform in Fossil’s Gen 6 (max. 1.7 GHz). This explains why the Fossil watch does not reach the same speed.
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If you use the smartwatch with the conventional always-on display, the battery lasts for about 1 to 1.5 days like in other Wear OS smartwatches. If you deactivate the "display always on" option in the Wear OS settings, the FSTN display with lower energy consumption is used in standby. In this setting, the battery lasted almost three days in the test. In another run, GPS was enabled for three quarters of an hour and shortened the period significantly; with otherwise comparable usage, the battery only lasted a bit more than 2 days in this run.
Charging the 577 mAh battery takes an unusually long time of just over 3 hours.
As indicated at the beginning, "Ultra" does not refer to a longer runtime. Rather, the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS was given this designation for its robust casing, which has been tested according to military standards. This makes it even more suitable for outdoor activities than its predecessor, which is also supported by
the new compass and the precise route recording. However, the time it took to locate the watch in the test could already put other runners with faster GPS systems out of sight. It cuts a good figure as a sports watch with 20 training modes.
It is not surprising that Mobvoi still relies on the Snapdragon 4100 without a co-processor: For one, Mobvoi follows a different concept for an economical standby mode with its dual display. For another, Mobvoi’s dual-processor system achieves a higher performance, as the benchmarks attest.
Switching from one of the two Mobvoi Pro smartwatches from last year is unlikely to be worthwhile. Unless you have a special interest in the extended health monitoring.
Nevertheless, the improvements are of course welcome, especially since Mobvoi does not set the MSRP higher than the predecessor. Its market price was 45 Euros (~$52) cheaper at 254.99 Euros (~$297, Amazon) at the end of testing.
The RRP for the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is 299.99 Euros (~$349). You can also get it for this price at Amazon. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra with 4G, which is expected in November, will be 359.99 Euros (~$419).