Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review in a nutshell: Believe the hype; the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is a fast Wear OS watch with all the perks. It might not look mind-blowingly cool, but the watch offers plenty of features and unique performance solutions (i.e. ULP Display) that will surely please some smartwatch fans.
Mobvoi's latest smartwatch, the TicWatch Pro 5, has been teased for what feels like forever (we called it an Apple Watch killer in a recent article). The excitement is understandable: it's the first WearOS smartwatch to house the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip, which is said to provide smoother performance and longer battery life.
If you have ever used a WearOS watch, you know those are some lofty claims; however, based on my, the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 lives up to the hype. The processor is super fast, and the watch is chock-full of Google apps and features even some of the best smartwatches can't match. Well, they might, but for a lot more money.
Building on the similarly-impressive, affordable Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3, the TicWatch Pro 5 is a force to be reckoned with, and the only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because of the lacklustre look (not build; that's pretty good, too) of the watch: it looks more boring than it actually is. There is much to unpack here, so let's get right into this Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review!
[First reviewed May 2023]
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: price and availability
The Google Pixel Watch costs the same at RRP. However, the Pixel Watch hasn't got the same advanced chip as the Ticwatch Pro 5. The Mobvoi's new wearble is cheaper than the Apple Watch Series 8, which sells for £419/$399/AU$629. For the best prices, check out the price widgets at the top and bottom of this Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 review.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: specs
- Weight: 44g (without straps)
- Case: Metal, 7000-series aluminium and high-strength nylon with fibreglass
- Lens: Corning Gorilla Glass (anti-fingerprint)
- Strap: Solid Silicone (Interchangeable, 24mm)
- Display: 1.43“, 466 x 466 pixels, 326ppi, Always On Display OLED (plus ultra-low-power display option)
- Chipset: Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 Wearable Platform
- Memory: 2GB RAM/32GB ROM
- GNSS: GPS+Beidou+Glonass+Galileo+QZSS
- Battery: 628 mAh (typical)
- Water rating: 5ATM, Open Water Swim/MIL-STD-810H
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: design and build quality
Let's get this out of the way: the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 looks plain vanilla. It's similar to the Pro 3 Ultra GPS but does away with the 'outdoor watch' bezel and replaces it with a more basic, black variety. To quote my fiancee, the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 looks like one of those watches you can win at a fair using the crane machines. Ouch.
It's a shame because the TicWatch Pro 5 is a seriously impressive watch. The 1.43" OLED display has a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels and 326ppi density, and it's bright and easy to read in most lighting conditions. There is also an ultra-low power mode, which is this bare, grey watch face that displays the essential info without draining the battery (much more on this later).
The watch case is made from metal, aluminium and plastic and has a good heft to it (it isn't heavy, though). The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 is built to MIL-STD-810H standard and is said to be Open Water Swim capable (water-rated to 5ATMs). Despite the 'military standard' build, the TicWatch Pro 5 looks more like your average smartwatch than one of those rough-and-tough outdoor watches such as the Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar.
One of my main griefs with the TicWatch Pro 3 was its crown button, which, although it can be rotated, doesn't actually do anything. Luckily, the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5's rotating crown moves content around the screen. Plus, there is another push button above the crown that essentially provides the same function as the push button on the Apple Watch Series 8 (and other Apple Watches, too): it provides access to the most recently used apps when pressed once and to the Wallet app when pressed twice.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: new features
The most important new feature, so to speak, of the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 is the Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 Wearable Platform it was built on, which I already talked about but is worth mentioning again.
The new chip offers 50 per cent more power, twice as fast performance and a 30 per cent smaller size compared to the Snapdragon WearTM 4100 used in most wearables these days. Thanks to the new chip, the apps load faster, and the watch connects to smartphones smoother without sacrificing battery life.
Other new features include the updated Ultra Low Power Display (ULP Display), which I found quite handy on the Ticwatch Pro 3. This grey overlay displays basic information when the screen isn't active; think of it as a poor person's always-on display. (this probably isn't the right way to describe it.) Now, the ULP Display lights up differently in workout mode, from green to red, based on the zone your heart rate is in.
And while we're on the topic of workouts, the Ticwatch Pro 5 has improved its recovery time and VO2 max estimations. Plus, you get a compass, barometer and multi-GNSS (single band).
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: performance
I'm not the biggest fan of Wear OS, to say the least. In fact, I think it's one of the least polished wearable platforms due to its often clunky app support (you usually have to use the Wear OS app as well as whatever app the hardware manufacturer has), sluggish performance and confusing app system. Of all the issues, I was always most frustrated with the lack of responsiveness of Wear OS watches – the operating system ate up all memory but gave nothing back in return.
There have been improvements recently. I enjoyed using the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 3, which somehow made Wear OS work. The performance was much better, and it didn't ask me to use the Wear OS app every two seconds to change settings. Overall, I was impressed with the Ticwatch Pro 3 and only really minded the lack of personality of the wearable.
The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 takes this experience to the next level. Thanks to the new Snapdragon wearable platform, interactions are buttery smooth and make sense. The operation is Apple Watch-esqe, with the rotating crown now fully functional and the secondary button allowing you to browse 'recent' apps. It's all straightforward to operate and easy to get used to.
The only small grief is the occasional short loading time when the watch has been inactive for a while. Occasionally, you'll need to input the four-digit PIN to start up the watch, and it'd load for a few seconds before showing you the watch face. Not a massive hindrance, and I assume this is something to do with the watch going into power-saving mode to conserve battery. You can check basic stats on the ULP Display anyway.
Speaking of the Ultra Low Power ULP Display: it's back. I quite liked this feature on the watch's predecessor, and I'm glad to see the ULP Display is back. I appreciate some people prefer MIP displays because they are always on, unlike AMOLEDs that only activate when you flick your wrist. AMOLEDs often have always-on modes, but these chew up battery instantly.
With the ULP Display, you get the best of both worlds (kind of). You get access to essential information, such as time, date, heart rate, steps taken, etc., on the ULP Display, and if you want more, you can activate the AMOLED screen and see all the apps and more. This is a clever system that seemingly pleases everyone, although it's not perfect for sure.
For one, the ULP Display isn't easy to read in broad daylight, especially during workouts. I went on a couple of runs wearing the Ticwatch Pro 5, and although I appreciated the colour-changing effect of the ULP Display, it made it hard – if not impossible – to read my stats on the go. You can turn off the ULP Display in the settings so that you see the AMOLED screen during workouts, but it also disabled it elsewhere.
There are tons of apps on the Ticwatch Pro 5. You get all the essential Google apps – Wallet, Maps, Play Store, Youtube Music, etc. – and also third-party (e.g. Spotify) and Mobvoi-specific options. You'll recognise the latter because they are like standard apps but with 'Tic' added to the name. You have TicCare, TicCompass, TicExercise, TicHealth and so on. Hilarious.
If anything, it feels like there are too many apps on the watch. I know you don't have to use them all, but finding the one you're looking for takes a while. You can always opt for using the push button to see your most recently used apps, but especially because all Mobvoi apps are named Tic-something, they are right at the bottom of the main menu. Not always helpful.
That said, thanks to the fast processor and intuitive layout, locating apps isn't a burden. You can quickly scroll through all options using the watch crown, tap on the right icon, and off you go. You also get the Wear OS tiles, which I don't often use, but I appreciate some people might. You can access these by swiping left or right from the main watch face.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: battery life
There are two distinct groups of AMOLED watches these days: ones that have a decent battery life (e.g. most Huawei watches) and those that don't (Apple Watch and Pixel Watch). The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 belongs to the former group and can deliver up to 45 days of battery life in Essential Mode and up to 80 hours in Smart Mode.
As always, Essential Mode is pretty useless for tracking anything but time, so I doubt many people will use this unless you're in a situation when you can't charge the watch for longer periods of time, e.g. you're on holiday. 80 hours in Smart Mode isn't too bad, though, and will allow you to use the Ticwatch Pro 5 for around three days in between charges.
In any way, you can always use the quick charge function to top up battery level. 30 minutes on the charger can replenish up to 65% of the battery life. I found it funny how the fast charging is displayed on the Ticwatch Pro 5: the battery percentage is displayed up to two decimals (e.g. 34.87%), making it look like the energy is quite literally rushing into the battery.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: verdict
Wear OS has been struggling for years, mainly due to processors not being powerful enough to handle the operating system. Mobvoi has been on the case to make it work, maybe even more so than Google itself, and offered a viable solution in the form of the TicWatch Pro 3.
The new Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 Wearable Platform finally makes Wear OS work as it should. It offers effortless operation and fast loading times. Plus, the TicWatch Pro 5 has the most important Google apps on board, unlike Google's own Fitbit Versa 4 or Fitbit Sense 2.
Unlike those, though, the TicWatch to 5 is anything but instantly recognisable. It hasn't got the sleek attitude of the Apple Watch, nor the quirky charm of Fitbits. It's not hardcore enough to attract the diehard Garmin crowd, nor is it sexy enough to pose a threat to the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
Maybe this unremarkableness is what makes the TicWatch Pro 5 work. It's almost all substance and no style. And there is a market for those kind of watches. Not everyone like flashy wearables, and those people will like Mobvoi's latest watch.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review: also consider
I made tons of watch recommendations above, but there is one more I would recommend, especially if you're a Samsung Galaxy phone owner: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. It pairs up beautifully with the existing ecosystem and will provide a fantastic experience while looking great too. Read Jennifer's full Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review.