TicWatch Pro aims to tackle smartwatch battery life with an always-on second screen | Apps & Software

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The TicWatch Pro, a unique new Wear OS smartwatch that squeezes two screens into its face, is available now to Amazon Prime members for $250 (£220 or AU$370). The watch is from Mobvoi, a Chinese company focusing on AI that also makes budget smartwatches and smart speakers like the TicHome Mini.

The double screen is what makes this watch special. It’s got the sort of colorful OLED screen you see on most smartwatches, layered directly under a traditional LCD screen. The former screen handles normal data readouts while the latter one handles always-on time display. (It’s an FSTN — film compensated super-twisted nematic display — LCD screen like those found on 1980s-era digital watches and pocket calculators, not the modern-day LCD screens found on TVs and phones.)

The second screen is actually a transparent layer, activating when the smartwatch OLED turns off. It replaces the “always-on” mode that’s on Wear OS watches by default, or can be booted up in a separate “Essential Mode” that makes the watch a basic, low-powered fitness tracker. When the main watch display is off, the reflective LCD turns on, turning the TicWatch Pro into a big Casio watch of sorts that tells time, steps and heart rate.

The goal, of course, is better battery life. Google’s Wear OS watches (formerly Android Wear) tend to last around a day. Other smartwatches, like the Amazfit Bip, can last two weeks easily, and have always-on screens, but cut corners on the phone-like features. By splitting the difference, Mobvoi’s dual-screen approach promises to last anywhere from 5 to 30 extra days, thanks to that energy-sipping LCD screen. But the watch is comparatively big and thick as a result.

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The second display: a reflective LCD layer, like an old-school Casio watch.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Yeah, it’s weird. And Google’s already readying a next generation of Wear OS smartwatches this fall that should have better battery life, so you probably want to wait for those. But, the TicWatch Pro’s crazy multiscreen idea is an interesting spin on how to solve the mediocre battery life on smartwatches — or turn touchscreens into always-readable panels on other gadgets or appliances that need to sip power. 

I have one here at CNET that I’ve started wearing. Stay tuned for more impressions soon. I have no idea yet if it’s a good Wear OS watch. But it doesn’t seem nearly as practical, or as affordable, as the Amazfit Bip, which costs a third as much.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Specs:

  • Size: 45mm by 12.6 mm
  • Displays: 1.39-inch 400×400 OLED, and FSTN display
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100
  • Storage: 4GB
  • GPS
  • NFC and Google Pay
  • Optical heart-rate sensor
  • 415 mAh battery
  • IP68 water resistance

http://www.cnet.com/


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