(Pocket-lint) - Mobvoi's line of TicWatch models is getting more and more multifaceted by the day. There are watches of all styles and at a wide range of price points. The GTH, on review here, looks to bring normally premium sensors to a much lower budget range.
We've been using the TicWatch GTH daily, stacking it up against the stiff competition (including some of Mobvoi's own alternatives), and here's how we think it fares.
The TicWatch GTH isn't the first smartwatch we've tried that feels more like a fitness tracker in disguise, and it won't be the last.
So if you're hoping for loads of controls and integrations, this might not work for you. If, however, you're focused on getting solid activity tracking and a really decent range of different monitoring options, then it presents a solid package.
It'll look a decent amount like a pricier watch on your wrist, but won't be able to serve up a truly premium experience, in particular due to its lacklustre display. But at this price there's still plenty to like.
- Competitive pricing
- Proper strap
- Fool's gold design
- Generic to look at
- Mediocre software
- Underwhelming display
A design you've seen before
- Square-format design: 43.2 x 35.2 x 10.5mm
- 1.55-inch LCD display, 360 x 320 resolution
- 20mm interchangeable watch strap
- Finish: 'Raven Black' only
- 5ATM waterproofing
- Metal case design
Taking a quick glance at the TicWatch GTH prompts a fairly common observation in the smartwatch market right now - it looks a heck of a lot like an Apple Watch. Sure, there are clear differences, but the overall look on the wrist is very much one that could pass for one of Apple's superb watches.
Of course, that might mean it doesn't get too many points for originality, but there's something to be said for a design that looks sleek and premium without the associated cost, and we're impressed with the GTH's look and feel.
It's got a smooth glass display with slightly curved edges, a metal casing, and a single button to the right of the screen for some control - again, it might look like Apple's Digital Crown, but there's no turning it here. The majority of controls are instead touch-focused, with swipes and motions taking you through menus.
The strap is also more impressive than we'd expected, with a proper metal clasp to buckle with, coming together to further contribute to a decent feeling on the wrist - especially given how slim the watch is.
However, once the watch is on the wrist, that impression is slightly let down by a display that feels more in keeping with the GTH's price tag. It's a fine enough screen, but fairly low resolution and missing the AMOLED vibrancy that the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini manages for an almost identical price, for instance.
You'll see the pixels plenty often, in short, which can look a bit sub-par, and led us to generally pick blockier watch faces to make up for the resolution. There are also fairly sizeable bezels that are noticeable thanks to those LCD-derived blacks not being the darkest going.
Again, for the price this is a very decent screen and about what you'd expect, but it's nothing that'll particularly impress if you've tried many other smartwatches out in your time.
Fitness tracking and sensors
- 7-10 day battery life
- Heart rate monitoring, SpO2 sensor
- Sleep tracking and skin temperature sensor
If the screen might leave you feeling slightly disappointed, it's pretty obvious where Mobvoi has made up for it - the emphasis here is on sensors, and the TicWatch GTH packs in more than most budget smartwatches can match.
There's the expected heart rate tracking, which performs solidly and in our testing matched up broadly to what we recorded on other devices. But Mobvoi has also included SpO2 tracking (to measure your blood oxygen levels), which is a feature only just arriving on far more premium models.
Even the Apple Watch only just got SpO2, and even then you're only in luck if you go for the Series 6, not the SE, so this is an impressive addition for Ticwatch. That said, it's also one that most people will not necessarily use all that regularly, as much as it can add more context to your understanding of your fitness.
Similarly, a skin temperature sensor can give interesting extra detail to your records but didn't end up being something we checked regularly - there's a reason heart rate tracking is so dominant, in essence, because it's the most useful.
Sleep tracking is on board as well, if you're happy to wear the GTH overnight, and again matched up to a decent degree with the data we got from the standalone Withings Sleep Analyzer.
The one thing that's missing is onboard GPS. Instead, the GTH relies on your phone's GPS, and while that's once again forgivable at this price, it would have made for a more complete offering and made it easier to embark on a workout without your phone in tow.
It's all tied together by battery life that's impressive enough - you'll get anywhere from a week to 10 days without needing to charge, and it only takes a couple of hours to get fully juiced up, so it's also a far cry from the nightly charging routine that an Apple Watch forces you into.
- Mobvoi app for customisation and fitness tracking
When it comes to the software side of things, the TicWatch GTH performs about how you'd expect it to - this isn't the snappiest-feeling watch we've used by a long stretch, and slightly laggy touch inputs are the norm.
Mobvoi's operating system is simple, though, and with only a few options you won't find yourself getting lost in menus and submenus. It all works as it should and you'll find quick jobs like starting a workout or checking the weather are reliable and easy to achieve.
In terms of smart features, though, you're really limited - to the point where the TicWatch GTH gets closer to a fitness tracker than a genuine smartwatch. You'll be able to control music playback on your phone using the watch, but there's no chance of loading up tunes direct for on-the-go listening.
Notification support is here, but it's also extremely limited. You can see notifications and read them, which is its own challenge given how they're displayed, but there's no way to respond or take any action as a result without picking up your phone. On top of that, the way these notifications display is frankly ugly, using a font that looks straight out of 1995.
On your phone, though, is the other half of the picture - the Mobvoi app, which lets you check your records and customise your watch faces (since there are only four on the GTH out of the box). The app itself is a mixed bag - you'll get to the records and settings you need to, but it's far from the smoothest companion around.
You can see your heart rate history and activity records, as well as metrics like sleep tracking and more, but these can be a little slow to load and aren't always the clearest in order to make sense of them. However, given that it can feed its data directly into the likes of Apple Health, Google Fit or Strava, you might not be too fussed.
It makes for a software experience that can't match the premium look that the TicWatch GTH is shooting for - but, again, in the context of its actual price we don't feel too harshly about it at all.
An interesting proposition compared to the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini, though the GTH's more lacklustre screen is a shame. But if you're looking for stacks of sensors, without parting with stacks of cash, then TicWatch makes for an interesting proposition here. It's got much of the design right, it just needs finesse across all its features.