I reviewed 2 Android smartwatches. This is the one I’d buy

The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, showing different watch faces.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (left) and Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

After reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, I decided to swap immediately to the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5. The reason was simple: until the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic came along, the latest Ticwatch was my personal top Android smartwatch and the best performer you could get. I wanted to find out if could retain this title, as I’d really loved wearing the Watch 6 Classic.

I’m a week into wearing the Ticwatch Pro 5, I’ve learned plenty, and — crucially — I think my overall opinion about which one of these smartwatches I’d personally buy has changed.

The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s comfort is off the charts

A person wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.
Galaxy Watch 6 Classic Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

You get the most amount of benefit from a smartwatch if you wear it all day and overnight. But to do this, not only does the functionality have to make it worthwhile, but the smartwatch has to be comfortable. Really comfortable. Between these two, I’m absolutely sure only the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic provides true 24/7 wearability without compromise.

The Ticwatch 5 Pro’s strap is to blame. It’s a floppy, rubbery thing that doesn’t look very nice and feels even worse. It gets hot and sweaty during the day, let alone at night, and I usually end up taking the watch off mid-evening because it’s annoying. It lacks breathability and, for me personally, is either too loose or too tight. It’ll vary from person to person, but I don’t think it’s good enough on a smartwatch that costs $349 — the same as the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist.
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Perhaps I’m too particular about wearables and straps, but I don’t think so, as when they’re well-designed, I have no problem with wearing them all the time. The Apple Watch Series 8 with the Sport Loop band is a good example, and the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is another. I happily wore my Watch 6 Classic review model for the duration of my time with it and never had any need to take it off due to comfort issues.

The hybrid design with an eco-leather top, a rubber underside, dual keepers, and just the right amount of flexibility removes irritation — making it simple to get the right fit. It’s not just one of the best smartwatch straps I’ve worn, it’s one of the best watch straps of any type I’ve worn. I think the way it fits in with the lugs makes a difference here too, and the Ticwatch Pro 5’s big 24mm strap size gives you less choice if you want to change it for something else.

Samsung succeeds with its choice of materials, too, with the stainless steel case, sapphire crystal, and ceramic case back feeling high quality and expensive. The Ticwatch Pro 5 can’t compete and even has a plastic case back, which really lets it down. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic comes in a beautiful polished stainless steel finish and a rather plain black, while Mobvoi has introduced a new Sandstone color recently for the Ticwatch Pro 5. There’s a choice of case sizes with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, which you don’t get with the Ticwatch.

The Ticwatch Pro 5 is so fast

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the menu.
Ticwatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

While I am more than happy wearing the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic all day, when we turn to performance, the Ticwatch Pro 5 is much faster and more fluid, and I put it all down to the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 processor. The Mobvoi smartwatch is the first — and still the only model — to use Qualcomm’s chip, and it really impressed me when I reviewed it originally.

Its ultra-fast, super smooth performance can put the Exynos W930 chip in the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic to shame at times. While it’s definitely not slow, it does stutter more than I think a smartwatch released today should, and it’s not quite as instantly reactive as the Ticwatch either. The Qualcomm chip gives the Ticwatch Pro 5 a fluidity I usually associate with the Apple Watch, and that’s very high praise indeed.

The Ticwatch Pro 5’s battery life is amazing

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the backlit secondary screen.
Ticwatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’ve been wearing the Ticwatch Pro 5 for four days now, and although I haven’t tracked my sleep due to the comfort, I have had all-day health monitoring active and have tracked a couple of workouts too. The battery has an astonishing 50% remaining. This is superb efficiency, and the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic can’t get close. I’d have recharged it at least once already.

A lot of the Ticwatch’s long battery life comes from the second screen, which overlays the normal full-color screen with a simple LCD to show the time and other information. It’s the ideal solution to not wanting a black screen on your wrist and also not wanting to sacrifice battery life at the same time. Not having to worry about charging the Ticwatch Pro 5’s battery for a week at a time (with normal use) is a huge deal, I just wish it was more comfortable to wear for longer periods.

The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s rotating bezel beats the crown every time

A person wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.
Galaxy Watch 6 Classic Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The bezel rotates to make it easier to navigate screens and menus on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, and the crown rotates on the Ticwatch Pro 5 to do the same thing. The bezel is more ergonomic, easier to control, and more natural to use than the crown, which is a little more fiddly and less accessible. It may just be me, but I don’t like sometimes catching the hairs on my arm when I twist the crown either, something that doesn’t happen with the bezel.

I have found I just use the touchscreen more on the Ticwatch Pro 5 as it tends to be faster, but I usually used the bezel on the Watch 6 Classic. There’s nothing wrong with Mobvoi’s rotating crown, which is accompanied by some pleasing haptic feedback, but I tend to only bother with it when I scroll through messages. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s bezel is more generally useful.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 on a person's wrist, showing the side button.
Ticwatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The rotating bezel also makes the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic unique. It’s a Samsung-only feature in the smartwatch world, which made it ridiculous the company didn’t bother to use it last year, and its design and operation have been refined for its return. That said, I like the Ticwatch Pro 5’s bezel design, and it’s certainly less prominent than the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s, but Samsung has worked hard to make it a cool design feature in addition to its useful functionality.

Wear OS 3 is good regardless of the watch, but still not perfect

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and the Samsung Health app.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and Samsung Health Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google’s Wear OS 3.5 is installed on the Ticwatch Pro 5, while it’s Wear OS 4 on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. Both have slightly different appearances and design elements, but underneath it’s the same software. Samsung’s One UI Watch 5 is excellent, full of colorful Tiles and buttons which are easy to tap, and it’s always obvious what they do. The Mobvoi UI is a little more cluttered and less finger friendly.

Wear OS is much better than it used to be during the dark days when versions of Wear OS 2 were all we had. But it seems Wear OS 4 is less reliable than version 3.5, as the Ticwatch Pro 5 has consistently been better at receiving notifications, and the stability has been faultless. The same cannot be said for the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. But I prefer the design and logic of the Samsung Health app over Mobvoi Health, which isn’t as attractively designed or as user-friendly.

The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 and the Mobvoi Health app.
Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 and Mobvoi Health Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It would be easy to complain that the Ticwatch hasn’t received a Wear OS 4 update yet, but I’d be happy to wait for version 4.5 and let Google squash the bugs I assume are part of the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic’s problem, and improve reliability. For now, the Ticwatch Pro 5 doesn’t make me wonder if I’ve missed a message or call, but the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic does. It’s frustrating that Wear OS continues to be such a hit-or-miss affair, and I do wonder if the choice of processor has something to do with how each watch’s software reliability too.

At the moment, based on the software version I used with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, the Ticwatch Pro 5 has the more reliable, smoother, faster, and less frustrating version of Wear OS, but the design and operation aren’t as logical as Samsung’s user interface. Wear OS 3 is less fragmented than before — only one app is required, and setup is easier than ever — but the ability to customize the UI introduces its own problems, it doesn’t seem to be fully optimized for the various platforms available, and version updates still seem to bring back all those annoying Wear OS frustrations that should have been solved years ago.

Ticwatch Pro 5 or Galaxy Watch 6 Pro?

The side and bezel on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

It has been very difficult to come to a conclusion and decide which one of these two smartwatches I’d buy over the other. Both are undoubtedly the best Android smartwatches I’ve used in years, with few compromises or serious downsides. They are also much better purchases than the flawed Google Pixel Watch, which costs around the same.

It’s an even split of positives and negatives. The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 has longer battery life, an excellent second screen, faster and smoother performance, and more reliable software. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is far more comfortable, is made from higher quality materials, has a more logical app, and a wonderful rotating bezel. It’s a very tough call between them.

The side and bezel on the Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5.
Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

However, there’s one major benefit to picking the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic over the Ticwatch Pro 5, and that’s the choice of case size. One size does not fit all, and Samsung’s consideration in this area gives it the advantage over the Ticwatch Pro 5, as there’s a stronger chance it’ll suit more wrists and tastes. The 47mm Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is exactly right for me.

I’ve worn both these smartwatches for several weeks combined, and would now choose the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic as the one I’d wear long-term. None of its issues are deal breakers, and software updates should improve it over time, but personally, I’d always rather prioritize comfort over battery life. If you would prefer to swap these two factors around, the good news is the Ticwatch Pro 5 is an extremely close second to the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and still a top buy. But, for me at least, it’s the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic that will remain on my wrist.

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