gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS Review

April, 2024 – It’s here!

Okay, I’m a bit late to the party. For better or worse Mobvoi have delivered on their promise and the TicWatch featured in this review is now running WearOS 3.5, with 5th Feb 2024 Android patch level.

Is it any good? Well I guess I’m going to have to play for a bit and let you know…

For more details: Mobvoi Blog – Important Guidance for Wear OS 3 Update

July, 2023 – The time is finally upon us for WearOS 3. Or is it?

Mobvoi have been stalling for months, while WearOS 2.x users slowly find their devices succumbing to bitrot. But there’s … not necessarily good… news. A beta programme has been announced, but you’ll need to bend over backwards for Mobvoi- committing to submitting continuous, detailed feedback and signing an NDA – in order to be a part of it.

What will you get in return? It doesn’t seem like much. It would appear that Mobvoi are trying to motivate a community they’ve left high and dry – so much so that they deleted their own community forums – into doing beta testing for their so-late-it’s-practically-almost-obsolete OS update.

The things I like about the TicWatch I reviewed here are still true, to a degree, but Mobvoi have shown such disregard for their users that I can’t in good conscience recommend them. Not only is this update too little, too late, but any chance you might have to preview it is marred by unnecessarily onerous terms that suggest it’s not even close to ready for prime time. It’s just OS update donkey work- they shouldn’t need beta testers, and if they do they should be forthcoming about reimbursing them for their time or potential loss of device functionality- not “submit to all these terms in order to maybe try the OS update we’ve been promising for months.”.

Mobvoi- at first I was disappointed. Now I’m upset. But I guess at least something is happening. There’s almost no chance I’ll get my hands on the beta, because I will not sign an NDA. I remain eager to update this review with my WearOS 3.x experience as soon as it’s available, though.

If you’re out there, Mobvoi, want some feedback, and are happy to waive your NDA requirements- I know how to use ADB 😘.

Jun 2023 – WearOS 3 Update

Despite months of vague promises Mobvoi has still failed to deliver on their promise of a WearOS 3 update for TicWatch Pro 3.

With various Google apps now being discontinued on WearOS 2.x, I can’t readily recommend this watch. Mobvoi have launched a Pro 5 with, you guessed it, WearOS 3. If you like the sound of the Pro 3 then… maybe give the Pro 5 a try. Their failure to support Pro 3, though, does not instil me with confidence that the Pro 5 will see support for the upcoming WearOS 4. Once bitten, twice shy!

Boy am I tired of typing “Pro”. There’s a Pro 4, too, y’know? My head is spinning. I feel maybe some more memorable and distinct codenames would have helped at this point.

The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is a great looking smartwatch running Google’s WearOS 2.26 and sporting an FSTN display that’s always-on at a mere fraction the battery cost of an OLED.

I’ve long been apprehensive of smart watches. I’m already glued to my phone and the last thing I need is more access to technology and another device battery to babysit. Mobvoi’s TicWatch, however, might have won me over.


— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 12, 2022

Unlike the flagship Smart Watches out there- the Pixels and the Apple Watches-, TicWatch doesn’t rely on its OLED display to lend it personality. It’s an unashamedly big watch with sleek, black styling and a striking retro-futuristic, always-on, ultra low power FSTN display. It feels lifted right out of my childhood. The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra is confident in itself- the OLED display and WearOS functionality could be completely removed and it would still be a good watch. Like Withing’s ScanWatch range, it’s a watch first and foremost and the smarts (though the ScanWatch has comparatively few) come second.

Must not get distracted must not get distracted

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 12, 2022

This watch-first philosophy is reflected not only in the bold and traditional design of the TicWatch, but also in its Essentials Mode. You can turn off the smarts altogether, leaving the watch in a battery-sipping endurance mode that gives you time, date, step count and battery life at a glance. In this mode the FSTN display can be handily back-lit on demand by the OLED mounted behind it. Using an OLED display as a backlight lets you emulate the cool green glow of a classic digital watch, or pick from a palette of colours. It’s a clever idea and the little personal touch it affords is welcome.

Even without Essentials Mode, a tweaked setup with minimal health tracking enabled will run you about four days, while still giving quick access to smart gestures such as mobile notifications and voice assistant.

The elephant in the room for TicWatch is its Wear OS 2.x heritage. Updates to the 3.x version of Wear OS have been vaguely teased, but the general consensus among users is that such an update is… unlikely. While it’s unfair for me to assert this as an absolute truth, Mobvoi haven’t exactly made any hard and fast promises ( As such I’d say that if 3.x matters to you, then sit this one out until Mobvoi release a new watch with it preinstalled, or an OS update.

My experience with the 2.26 OS version has been largely positive, but it remains unclear how long it might be supported for, and the promised battery life and performance gains in 3.x are… tantalising.

I wanted to give no quarter to the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra during my tests. I set it up with an iPhone as its companion device. While this excludes some WearOS apps which require Android counterparts, most features worked as I would expect.

Setup & GSuite

While setting up the watch on iOS went relatively smoothly. Pairing with the Wear app works just like you’d expect.


— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 12, 2022

I soon ran into trouble with my Google account when trying to set up contactless payments (Google Wallet) and encountering a Google “Account Action Required” error message. This was enormously vague, and I went on something of a wild goose chase trying to fix it. I tried installing the defunct “Google Apps Device Policy” app which did nothing.

Google Apps Device Policy showing in the Google Play store on WearOS. The image is circular, reflecting the watch’s circular screen. The app is installed so there’s a big “Open” button and an “Uninstall” just visible underneath.
The only thing the app does is throw up a screen reading “Network error. Please try again later.”
It’s information for the Device Policy app, it reads: “This application allows administrators to enforce policies on how your mobile device is used to access work information. If you are using Gmail or Google mobile apps for…” the text trails off here, cut off by the bottom edge of the screenshot.

I had quite an adventure getting things like Google Wallet working on the TicWatch due to my GSuite account. One of the rabbit holes I fell down was “Google Apps Device Policy.” An app that’s available in the Play store but that - as far as I can tell - is obsolete and broken.


The trick seems to be setting up a password or pass pattern and then going to GSuite Admin and change Devices -> Mobile and endpoints -> Settings -> Universal Settings -> General -> Mobile Management to OFF. This seems to prevent my “corporate” Google account from messing with settings on my personal device.


One of the first things I noticed about the TicWatch 3 was the lack of crown rotation support – both the top and bottom crown will rotate with a little friction and no real tactile feedback or detents – but there’s no hardware in the watch to translate that rotation into an input. When first using the TicWatch 3 I intuitively tried to rotate the crown in order to scroll through apps and menus. Doing so with my finger is – fine – but doesn’t feel natural, and it’s an awful lot more difficult to see what you’re scrolling through on a tiny screen when your finger is in the way. The lack of crown scroll support is probably my biggest bugbear with the TicWatch 3 Pro, and since touchscreens are infamously finicky when wet it does make me wonder how truly ready for adventure it is. Fortunately I’m not very outdoorsy or adventury so such claims are a little lost on me.

As such the two crown buttons serve only as buttons and allow you to navigate into and out of features and, with a long press, trigger actions such as Google Assistant and an app of your choice. All other interaction is done via the small touch screen and most buttons are big and bold to facilitate this. Menus – such as system settings – include bold icons and a sizable margin on the left-hand side and a margin on your right. This works well to give you somewhere to place your left-hand index finger for scrolling a watch worn on your right hand, and slightly less well for the opposite. For the duration of this review I wore TicWatch on my right-arm, using my left-thumb for the bottom crown and reaching over with my left index finger for the top crown. I will probably keep this setup, since it allows me to dual-wield (yes I am that absurd) the Withings ScanWatch and the TicWatch 3 since they each have their own strengths.

In some cases I found myself typing on a tiny, onscreen keyboard and was pleasantly surprised at just how responsive and accurate it was. Typing short search terms in Play Store, for example, is fairly easy. I would not want to try typing anything substantial, though, since I had to be slow and deliberate to avoid accidentally pressing adjacent keys- an accurate touchscreen can only do so much with bad finger placement!


Despite testing a few fitness trackers in the past, I’ve tended not to use notification functionality at all due to their small and limited screens being somewhere between inconvenient and outright unusable for reading text. Not so with TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. If I were to recommend this watch for one feature (FSTN display 80s nostalgia feels notwithstanding) then it would be for the big, bright OLED being thoroughly excellent for getting a good summary of – or sometimes even a complete read of – an email or text notification.

While I was previously resistant to letting more of my mobile phone experience encroach into my life, I tend to keep frivolous notifications disabled and find that the important ones- such as a note to pop the kettle on from D- can be read and actioned much more effectively from the TicWatch. This is especially true if I happen to be washing dishes or otherwise unable to interact with my phone.

It’s easy to tap and wake TicWatch, then swipe up through historic notifications. In my case this includes new smart Thermometer readings, Mail, Reminders and Messages. I could also answer phone calls via the watch, but these would pick up on my phone itself so I couldn’t talk through the watch speaker/microphone.

Unfortunately things like Eufy security notifications – since there’s no WearOS app to support them – serve only as an indication that someone has been spotted and do not let you view any sort of imagery on the watch itself.


Integrated speakers are incredible for the size of the thing, clear and loud. And I mean loud. Around the house I haven’t needed more than 50% volume.

I tried using Wear Casts (a podcast app that runs *on* WearOS) and it will sort-of work (and be very, very listenable) but the slow Bluetooth internet connection made it impossible to stream podcasts on the go.

The Story Of A House: A Sleep Story for Kids
A pill-shaped bubble reading “Little Stories for Tiny People: Anytime and…” a little bars icon suggests it’s the status of a playing podcast episode.
Podcast app on TicWatch (WearOS) showing a Little Stories For Tiny People episode entitled; “The Story Of A House: A Sleep Story for Kids.” The play/pause icon suggests it’s playing or loading.

WearCasts was an interesting find on TicWatch (Pro 3 Ultra). The only WearOS on-device, stand-alone podcast player I could find. It’s quite obvious why this is the case- the Bluetooth connection just isn’t up to snuff for streaming episodes. I found that setting the watch to use WiFi while charging and sticking it on the charger made it quite usable, otherwise streams would fail to start or stall often.


Connecting to the charger enables WiFi which makes playing podcasts in Wear Casts much more viable. If you like to listen to a podcast in bed, and have your watch charger on the bedside table it serves as a minimal, distraction-free alternative to your phone.

Using the podcasts app on my iPhone still gives me controls on the watch, which is handy.


Getting Google Assistant controlling my lights was straightforward enough- I had to install the Google Assistant app on my iPhone, sign in to the same account, and add my TP-Link Kasa devices. A long press of the top crown fires up Assistant, and commands like “turn the kitchen lights off” work as you would expect. Additionally “clean the house” fired up the Eufy x8 RoboVac, although “clean the living room” just gives a jokey reply. This is a Google problem and not a TicWatch problem.

When the slow, Bluetooth-first connectivity is not throwing a spanner in the works, it’s like having a Google Home on your wrist, but not quite as full-featured as an Android phone.

What’s missing is navigation – it’ll say “Okay, let’s go.” but will display “There has been an error.” on the screen. Since the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS includes a GPS – it’s right there in the name – it would have been nice to gain turn by turn directions on the watch itself. I strongly suspect this is a feature that would work better with Android- but this is an iPhone house, darn it!

I also couldn’t play music or place phone calls and – not for want of trying – “Ok google” detection didn’t seem to work for me. The music is relatively understandable since the watch uses a slow Bluetooth connection for data most of the time and streaming audio would require switching to battery sapping WiFi- as I found with the podcasts app.


I was pleasantly surprised by the battery life. It’s not the weeks of some rather simpler health trackers, but the FSTN display works wonders for extending what would be barely a day of battery into three or four days of moderate use. During my tinkering with the podcast app, Google assistant and daily – sometimes quite frequent – notifications I observed at least 3 days of continuous use.

Last few days battery drain on the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra. Not using essentials mode here, but the FSTN display has always-on time. You can see exactly where I started trying to stream podcasts ??

And a slight dip where it was getting hammered with security camera notifications.

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) October 15, 2022

Leaving the TicWatch Pro 3 lying around for a couple of weeks – we’ve just had a newborn, I’ve been distracted! – will see the battery deplete in roughly six days and the watch auto-fallback to Essentials Mode where it continues to display the time and date using the final 5% battery capacity (or whatever threshold you configure.) The downside of Essentials Mode is that you can’t switch in and out of it quickly- exiting requires the WearOS system to fully boot up again- so you can’t readily use it as, for example, an extremely battery efficient silent mode without then having to boot up and unlock your watch afterwards.

Water Resistance

The TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra GPS is rated IP68, I tested it under running water from a tap, and from a shower but since – despite the “Pool Swim” on Mobvoi’s store page – IP68 isn’t necessarily a guarantee that it’s suitable for swimming I didn’t test further (I also very rarely swim… I’m a stereotypical geek to a fault, but at least I skateboard!). I found a few ex TicWatch users online who had their watch fail due to water ingress, so I’ve reason to be apprehensive about conducting further tests until I’ve experimented with every little feature this watch has to offer- and, one can hope, Wear OS 3.x if it ever arrives.

Watch Apps

I wasn’t able to find many Play Store apps that I found especially useful, and browsing the store – both on the watch and via the website – was surprisingly tricky. Google’s Watch Apps section of their Play Store website is worse than useless- amounting to a set of lists you need to sift through to find anything. On-device Play Store at least has search functionality, but discoverability of new apps is not great. Since I tested with iOS a few apps requiring Android app counterparts were also unusable to me. They are marked with “Requires Mobile App” but it’s not always obvious if that counterpart app is available on iOS or not.

I didn’t really give the TicWatch health apps a fair shot- it feels like WearOS 3.x might obsolete third party efforts with FitBit.


The TicWatch ships with a variety of health tracking apps from Mobvoi, they seem to be quite good and include things like continuous heart-rate tracking – at the expense of battery life – and, as you might expect, the standard step counting. The step counter will also show in endurance mode on the FTSN display, which is pretty handy if you value keeping track of your activity. Fitness and health reports can be viewed via the Mobvoi mobile companion app. The Mobvoi app doesn’t seem to integrate with iOS Health, however, at least it wont send data *into* health, it appears to be able to pull it out.

Companion App

Since the TicWatch is both a WearOS and a Mobvoi device you might normally find yourself juggling two companion apps- the Google “Wear OS” app and the “Mobvoi” app. Even on iOS these work more or less as you would expect.

The “Wear OS” app takes charge of setting up the watch, configuring which apps can send it notifications, changing the OLED watch face, picking the Calendar it will display and various other sundry configuration.

The “Mobvoi” app marshalls health data from the various TicHealth apps, lets you download watch screenshots to your local photo storage, browse a “Watch face center” where you can buy alternate watch faces and install a glut of freebies, and configure some TicHealth related settings- namely TicPulse’s “Heart Health” which is not available in the UK due to some regulation or another.

The app is a little rough around the edges and feels a little superfluous when Wear OS should – and largely does – take care of most of these things itself. The Watch face center is actually pretty handy, however, since browsing and purchasing watch faces through the Google Play store is an absolute chore. There are more than enough free watch faces to establish that you’re not being fleeced, though information dense fancy ones (such as the Multifunctional series) will set you back $2.99. “Installing” a face will launch the Google Play store on device where you have to hit “Install” again, not the most fluid experience. Weirdly, trying to install “Tank Battle” (a little 8-bit inspired retro arcade watch ace) launched the store page for “Saintpatrick” (an offensively twee green vomit of loosely Irish celebratory clip art) so uh… yeah that’s what I mean by “a little rough around the edges.”


It’s fair to say that the TicWatch is not exactly bloated. Mobvoi’s software services are required for the FSTN display overlay to function, for entering Essentials Mode, exfiltrating screenshots you’ve taken on the watch (though I recognise this feature is useful mostly for reviewers) and so forth.

It does come with TicHealth apps, which have some overlapping functionality with Google’s Fit software. You can disable these via ADB over WiFi fairly easily starting with the secret knock to enable “Developer Options” that Wear OS shares with its Android sibling.

On TicWatch you can go to Settings -> System -> About and tap “Build Number” until it says “You Are Now A Developer.” The rest, I’m afraid, is up to you. I will, however, gently remind you that the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra’s USB cable is *power only* and thus you’ll need to enable ADB over WiFi and the relevant settings to force the watch to maintain a WiFi connection while charging. This is all fairly straightforward, and I’m going to assume if you’re interested in debloating a not-very-bloated watch you’ve probably got some idea what you’re doing.


While the disappointment that TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra might never receive a Wear OS 3.X update is palpable, the watch – as is – remains a very good value proposition. It does battery longevity better than many of its competitors and the FSTN display it uses to accomplish this is a striking, stylish and nostalgic feature in itself. I found the watch to be great for notifications and occasional Google Assistant use (in fact it’s much easier to talk to the watch than try to shout across the room to our seemingly teenaged Google Home and its selective hearing.) The lack of scroll functionality when turning the crown is a shame, and I can’t help but feel Mobvoi have left a very wide door open here for an improved, Wear OS 3.X successor. It remains to be seen if and when that will happen, though, so in the meantime if you can get the TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra on sale it’s sure to be a blast!

Monday, December 19th, 2022, Health, Timepieces.