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Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro review: Low-cost watch tracks artery health, but can we trust the data?

Today, all watches have wrist-based heart rate sensors and other sensors designed to provide you with data on your overall health and wellness. The newest Mobvoi watch adds a second optical heart rate sensor focused on measuring the health of your arteries.

Today, all smartwatches have optical heart rate sensors on the back, while many have additional sensors to measure other bodily metrics. For the past several weeks, I've been testing something new in the wearable space, the Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro, which has a second heart rate sensor on the right side that works with CardieX technology to measure the health of your arteries. The TicWatch GTH Pro provides you with an Arty score that is billed as a measure of your overall heart health.

The TicWatch GTH Pro is available for just $99.99 in Meteorite Black with a black silicone watch band. There is no GPS receiver onboard, you cannot install third-party apps, and smartwatch functions are very limited. The affordable wearable is primarily focused on health and wellness, but lacking in other areas we typically see in a smartwatch which makes it less capable as a primary wearable.

Like

  • Inexpensive
  • Solid construction
  • Advanced heart health metrics
  • Comfortable for 24/7 wear

Don't Like

  • Weak magnets on charging cable
  • Limited functionality beyond health measurements
  • Laggy animations
  • No integrated GPS
  • Inconsistent readings

Hardware

The Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro is a rather unremarkable wearable with a simple black square form factor, small color 1.55-inch LCD panel, basic black silicone band, and a single side button. The display is a touchscreen so that primary navigation of the watch is performed with taps and swipes on the display. The colors look fine, the display is clear, but it is not as responsive as other wearables, and scrolling quickly shows a bit of lag.

There is a fairly consistent black bezel around the viewable display, with the glass face curving down into the flat edges of the bezel. The aluminum material then curves down the bottom edges into the flat back. It's not a particularly unique design, but it does feel well constructed and is comfortable on your wrist.

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On the right side, we find a single button that is used to turn on the display and takes you back to the primary watch face when pressed when in any other app or utility. Below this button is the second PPG heart rate sensor. When performing an Arty measurement, you are directed to lightly place a finger from your other hand on the sensor.

Standard 20mm watch bands are found on the top and bottom of the watch with quick-release pins. While the included band is plain and basic, you can easily swap it out for any band you desire, and there are hundreds of affordable options on Amazon.

The charging cable has a small magnetic end with two contact points that match the gold contact points on the back of the watch. The magnetic connection is not very strong, so I had to be careful to position the watch and charging in order to keep the charging connection intact.

Specifications

  • Display: 1.55-inch 360x320-pixel resolution, TFT touch
  • Materials: Aluminum watch case. TPU quick-release 20mm watch band
  • Water resistance: 5 ATM
  • Connectivity and sensors: Bluetooth 5.1, side PPG sensor, PPG sensor on the bottom, accelerometer, skin temperature sensor
  • Battery: 260 mAh battery with a rated life of 10 days. Two hours to charge.
  • Dimensions: 43.2 x 35.2 x 10.5mm and 44 grams (with silicone band)

What is Arty?

When I was approached about trying out the watch, the first question I had was, "What is Arty?" Arty heart health is powered by ATCOR technology, with more details in this PDF.

The Arty Score combines heart and health scores, so you get one score to use for trend analysis. Other values measured and provided as part of the Arty Heart Health platform include eCAP, ArtyAge, HSX, and TruHR, so let's look a bit closer at these measures:

  • eCAP: Your exercise capacity measurement provides an indicator of blood flow to the inner muscle of your heart. Most of my measurements were in the 85% to 95% range, and for this measure, higher is better.
  • ArtyAge: This is a measure of the stiffness of your arteries, and your goal should be to make sure that this is always lower than your actual age. I need to test this more since my readings over two weeks ranged from 20 to 60 years old. I'm 53 and appreciated seeing a 20-30 year range at times, but I was discouraged by the 60-70 year range that appeared a couple of times, and it's not clear how one can obtain a consistent reading here. I understand that taking measurements at the same time every day may provide more useful trend analysis, but so far I did not get much value from this particular metric.
  • HSX: The heart stress index measures the extra load on your heart due to the stiffening of the arteries. A lower value here is desired. My readings ranged from 20% to 80%, which is too large of a range to help me understand my heart health.
  • TruHR: This is reported as a more accurate true heart rate reading, similar to the accuracy obtained from an electrocardiogram. My readings were fairly consistent here, ranging between 45 to 51 bpm.
  • My overall Arty scores ranged from 62 to 92, with most of the scores in the 75 range. A higher score is better for Arty, with 75 or higher labeled as excellent. Increasing exercise, weight reduction, and other lifestyle improvements should increase your eCAP and lower your HSX while raising your overall Arty score. I am working to lose 20 pounds and exercise more, so I will continue to track and check my Arty score trends.

    The broad range of values in the ArtyAge and HSC metrics during my usage made these two metrics rather useless. A longer term test, with readings conducted at the same times on subsequent days, is warranted to determine if the watch is accurately calculating these values for me or not. There are very few articles online about this watch and none that go into the accuracy of the specific metrics listed above.

    mobvoi-gth-pro-1.jpg

    Matthew Miller/ZDNet

    Watch software

    The watch runs a custom RTOS (real-time operating system), which is one reason that it exhibits such good battery life. When the display is first turned on, your selected watch face appears. Press and hold on to the watch face to then swipe left or right to select from one of five available watch faces installed by default. After connecting with the Mobvoi smartphone app, you can then view, select, and install watch faces found in the watch face center, and there appear to be hundreds of options available.

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    Swipe down on the watch face to reveal quick control buttons. These include options for toggling on/off do not disturb, power saving mode, find my phone, flashlight, brightness, and settings. There are very few settings on the TicWatch GTH Pro, including brightness, restore, power off, etc. The quick control display also shows the day, date, phone connection status, and remaining battery life.

    Swiping left or right on the watch face moves you through various screens that show you the weather, heart rate, respiration/skin temp/blood oxygen level, workout activity options, sleep data, and summary activity info (three stats and three color bars).

    Another option for navigating the device (it seems like too much is going on here) is to press in on the right-side button from the watch face. A list of options appears on the watch, including Notifications, TicExercise, TicHealth, Arty, TicSleep, Timer, Stopwatch, Weather, Music Control, and Settings. 

    Notifications are very basic, with no option to respond to any notification that appears. TicExercise provides the ability to start, monitor, and stop 14 different workouts on the watch. There is no integrated GPS, so if you want to track the details of outside activity, then you need to connect to the GPS in your connected smartphone.

    Workouts available for tracking include outdoor run, outdoor cycling, skipping rope, swimming, walking, rowing, freestyle, mountain climbing, indoor run, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, indoor cycling, and yoga. It's a rather eclectic mix of workouts with no customization options for what data appears on the watch while performing your activity.

    The watch's primary function is to measure your arterial health, which takes place when you select the Arty activity. Once you choose this option, a green light on the right side PPG sensor illuminates, and you are directed to place a finger from the hand opposite the one with the GTH Pro mounted on it so that a reading can be taken. Hold your finger in place for 10 seconds, a countdown appears on the watch, and then your metrics will be captured and analyzed.

    Smartphone software

    In order to take full advantage of the Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro, you need to install the Mobvoi app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. After installing the software, create an account or log in to an existing account and add the GTH Pro as a new device. The main Home screen in the Mobvoi app will then show your weekly active minute goal, three primary activity metrics, Arty score plot, exercise summary, sleep summary, heart rate, SpO2, and skin temperature data. The type of data shown on the home panel can be customized with the manage items button.

    On the device tab, you can access the watch face center, smart mode settings, other settings, Arty score report, smart reminder, and the workout beta option. Workout in the Mobvoi app can be used to initiate an outside run, walk, or cycling activity with your phone's GPS tracking your path.

    Third-party connectivity with Apple Health, Google Fit, Strava, Runkeeper, and Arty can be managed on the Me tab of the Mobvoi software. Weekly and monthly health reports can also be viewed from the Me tab.

    Daily usage experiences and conclusions

    I find all of the data captured by wearables today to be fascinating and personally find the trends useful for motivating me to improve my health through longer sleep sessions, more frequent exercise, and a bit healthier eating. The Arty data is interesting, and I would love to see other wearables adopt it or something similar to provide more accurate health metrics, but with a couple of the metrics giving me inconsistent readings I'm not convinced that the GTH Pro is the right wearable for helping me improve my health.

    As much as I want to gauge my Arty health over a longer period of time, the Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro is too limited in other smartwatch functions for me to wear it as my only wearable. I have been wearing it on my other wrist while my preferred wearable, generally a Garmin watch or Apple Watch 7, occupies my other wrist. I'll continue using it on one wrist for another month to see how my scores look but I would love to either see Mobvoi include this on a future Wear OS watch or see other companies incorporate the technology.

    The TicWatch GTH Pro is priced at just $99.99 so it is not too high even with limited capability beyond heart health measurements. It is not an FDA-approved health device, but that is not critical since most smartwatches are not certified and are still useful for indications of health issues that can further be diagnosed by a medical professional.

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