Honest Review: TicWatch GTX review

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Compared to Mobvoi's rivals, the TicWatch GTX could be a simple smartwatch

Mobvoi has switched from Wear OS to the TicWatch GTX's own in-house operating system, which has allowed it to push down the price and offer great battery life.

You can display updates, track your health, sleep and workouts with the Ticwatch GTX. A heart rate monitor is also available, and it promises to give you a week-long battery life.

So, may the TicWatch GTX knock its perch off the Bip S?

To find out, we've been living with the budget watch option. Our thorough verdict here.

TicWatch GTX: Design and screen

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When you pay a little over $50 for a smartwatch, it is normal to think about the standard of construction.

With its most affordable watches, Mobvoi has already proven it can make something durable and well-built, and that's what we'd say about the GTX.

While the round, black metal case and removable 22mm TPU band are not the most exciting smartwatch to look at, they are a good match and it definitely doesn't feel budget or cheap in any way.

It's a pretty wide one, with a 48mm case that even broad wrists can dominate. This is going to please a lot of women, but it's definitely not unisex.

There's a good black bezel around the touchscreen and it's a millimeter thinner than Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 at 11mm wide.

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On the right side of the case, you have two physical buttons which will drive you into the main menu. The bottom one provides a shortcut to the monitoring of workouts or other modes to which you want easy access.

Your optical heart rate monitor that can be used for exercise and ongoing tracking is around the back. As a kit, it's been slapped with an IP68 water resistance ranking that Mobvoi finds safe to go swimming with.

When it comes to the computer, things feel a little more expensive, although it's not as bad as we planned. You get a TFT monitor with a 1.28-inch, 240 x 240 resolution, so you'll notice a bit of a departure from the displays on most TicWatches.

It's washed out a little and there's still a little screen lag to deal with. Overall though, it's been a good enough experience. In general, outdoor visibility was perfect and you still get a good pop of color on data screens and watch faces in particular.

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TicWatch GTX: OS and smartwatch features

 

We're having something Mobvoi calls freeRTOS instead of Google's Wear OS to take care of all things tech. It's an operating system which is also not Android-based. The best way to explain the app is to say that it is all the bits applied to WearOS by Mobvoi.

Some components that sound like WearOS are still there, but now the TicWatch app is front and center. You can swipe down from the watch face to access settings or swipe up to see your notification stream. For stuff like heart rate monitoring or exercise tracking, you can swipe left or right to see widgets.

You also get into the main menu screen with the top physical button where you can find access to applications that we've seen on TicWatches before. So TicExercise, TicPulse, TicSleep and TicHealth are here. Music sensors, a stopwatch, timer and weather alerts are also found.

 

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The fundamental category is core features such as notification support, allowing you to access alerts and then remove them after read. We found that mid-sentence notifications will split, so they are not perfectly designed for the display.

While they can not be accessed during a workout or added as a widget, music controls work fine.

We'll dive into the health and fitness-centric apps below, but from the Mobvoi companion app, you can also tinker with watch settings. It's here that you can add new watch faces, but having them synced over to the watch is quite a slow process.

Unsurprisingly, on the GTX, Mobvoi has stuck to the fundamentals. It seems that what makes the cut is in working order. You'll probably get on with the GTX if you are able to survive without games, purchases, more actionable updates, a microphone or speaker and richer music features.

TicWatch GTX: Fitness and sports tracking

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Many of the applications on the GTX are based on fitness tracking, and Wear OS TicWatch devices are familiar with them.

There are only two sensors fueling those applications. To count steps, allow sleep tracking and track outdoor activity, there is an accelerometer. There is no GPS or linked GPS built-in, which means that you do not expect precise distance monitoring.

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You get a heart rate monitor as well, with a dedicated widget on the watch. You can't take measurements on the spot, so when you're working out, you can see it in real-time.

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You have a handy widget to view your progress for everyday exercise and fitness monitoring, and you can venture into the phone app to see your steps mapped out during the day alongside distance traveled and 24-hour heart rate readings.

In general, regular step counts over the same distance were around 1,000 steps below another exercise tracker.

Continuous heart rate readings, along with a chest strap sensor, were significantly higher than the Garmin and Polar watches we compared with.

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Step tracking compared: TicWatch GTX (left) and Polar Vantage V2 (right)

We want to tell you about sleep monitoring, which promises to break down the phases of deep and light sleep and track the heart rate. We actually never obtained any valuable information. We didn't get any sleep data on most nights or very small segments of sleep data. If/when this is resolved, we'll update, but at the moment, we have nothing.

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You need to go to the TicExercise app when you want to track your workout, where you can find a list of activities like outdoor running, cycling, jump rope, swimming, basketball, rowing and climbing.

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Run tracking compared: TicWatch GTX (left) and Polar Vantage V2 (right)

We expected precision on the GTX to be fairly inaccurate with no GPS, and that's exactly what happened. Every run we did came up short on it.

On the watch itself, the exercise monitoring experience is also fairly easy. You will see the length of the exercise, heart rate and burning calories. Your lot is that. During the race, you can't even see the distance you traveled. You will be able to see the distance when you sync it to the smartphone, but that's just about it.

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HR tracking for indoor rowing compared: TicWatch GTX (left) and Polar Vantage V2 (right)

The heart rate monitoring accuracy was not perfect for us either, along with distance accuracy problems. It reported substantially lower average heart rate and maximum heart rate readings during runs and indoor rowing exercises.

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Bottom line, you'll be left frustrated if you're hoping you can rely on this sensor to keep tabs on effort levels during workouts.

As compared to a sports watch, its power here is as a fitness tracker, simply because it doesn't have the sensors or the accuracy to do the latter. The issue is that the lack of sleep tracking and slightly off phase tracking also make the GTX difficult to recommend on that front.

TicWatch GTX: Battery life

The GTX has a battery life of 200mAh, which promises to deliver up to seven days of daily use and ten days of switching on to power saving mode. We would conclude that those numbers seem accurate.

We didn't see any particularly alarming battery drop off day-to-day, but battery life status is not shown with a number annoyingly. So having a sense of knowing how much you have to play with can be challenging. With alerts on, the computer at near full brightness and monitoring three or four workouts a week, we got those seven days.

The Bip S offers up to 15 days of normal use and 40 days of simple use to bring it into perspective with other notable smartwatches in this price range. With the Bip S, we seemed to get about a week, so based on our research, the GTX seems to fit that.

It takes about two hours for you to get back to 100 percent when you run out. So when you need to power up, it is not a fast charger.

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