Samsung Galaxy Watch vs. TicWatch Pro: Which should you buy?

By | 17th August 2018

These watches compete with each other on nearly every level.

If you're looking for the best Google Wear OS has to offer these days, the TicWatch Pro is where it's at. But if you're not totally sold on the "All Google, All The Time" experience, there are other great options available. The most recent option is Samsung's new Galaxy Watch, a continuation of the popular smartwatch design that used to have the Gear branding on it.

Not sure which of these two watches are for you? Let's compare!

More than a little similar.

Samsung Galaxy Watch vs TicWatch Pro: Hardware

While TicWatch isn't a brand with a ton of recognition yet, the watches produced under this brand have a history of being considerably less expensive than its competitors without sacrificing hardware or features. While the TicWatch E has received loads of attention for being the cheap powerhouse it is, the Pro model really demonstrated what this company was capable of when approaching higher-end consumers.

Its premium sport chassis features a layered display, combining a beautiful 1.39-inch 400x400 resolution AMOLED display with an FSTN LCD display to offer always-on functionality and high-contrast usability in direct sunlight. It's also packing a heartrate monitor, NFC payment chip, and the ability to make and receive phone calls thanks to the onboard microphone and speaker. For a 45mm watch that only stands 14.6mm thick, this is an impressive bit of hardware promising a ton when it comes to battery life when you need it.

Samsung's display is also always on, but instead of a high contrast mode, it opts for a full-color display at all times.

As impressive as the TicWatch Pro is, the Galaxy Watch competes in several critical ways. The slightly smaller 1.3-inch AMOLED display comes it at 360x360 resolution, but the difference is hardly noticeable on either the 46mm or the 42mm body Samsung has made available. Samsung's display is also always on, but instead of a high contrast mode, it opts for a full-color display at all times. It's also a full 1.6mm thinner, but only really noticeable when you set the watches side by side. There are no NFC payments onboard this model, but it does offer a wireless charger instead of the magnetic one you find on the TicWatch Pro.

Where Samsung does gain a clear advantage is the ability to boast waterproofing down to 5 ATM and a MIL-STD-810G durability rating. That means you can dive casually with this watch and bang it up quite a bit with no consequences. The same can't be said of the TicWatch Pro, which only claims an IP68 ingress rating.

While not available on the standard models, Samsung is also planning to offer an LTE model for full cellular standalone support later this year. What effect that will have on the 5-day battery claims Samsung has made for its Galaxy Watch isn't yet clear, but it's a feature you aren't going to find with any TicWatch model.

Convenience over performance?

Samsung Galaxy Watch vs. TicWatch Pro: Software

Google's Wear OS is a stripped down version of Android optimized for the wrist. It packs a lot of cool gesture controls and makes a ton of the apps on your phone play nice with the round display on your wrist. And it comes deeply integrated with Google Assistant and the notification system on your Android phone, which is great if you regularly rely on either to get through your day effectively.

Samsung's Tizen is a very different kind of OS. It's been optimized for the wrist in ways Wear OS has not, and products with this OS on board typically boast superior battery life thanks to those optimizations. Apps on the watch come from Samsung's store instead of Google Play, but there are quite a few of them to choose from and the integration with apps on your phone has improved quite a bit over the last couple of years.

While the Galaxy Watch and the TicWatch Pro are both incredibly capable watches with a ton of useful features, there's a substantial price difference between the two.

Comparing these platforms really comes down to options and integration. Wear OS has the greater volume when it comes to available watch faces and apps, while also being better integrated with Android itself, but there are limits to how useful "more" is in this context. I don't find the selection of apps for the Galaxy Watch limiting in any way. In fact, some of the available options are downright impressive for a watch. These are full-on action games and apps for streaming from your home security cameras that work without ever touching your phone. While you don't always get the full range of notification interactions you'd normally get from Wear OS, things like replying to text messages and stopping navigation work great already.

At the end of the day, choosing between Wear OS and Tizen is choosing between a platform that is super integrated with Android but not as efficient as it could be and a platform that is fantastic as a standalone or a connected smartwatch but not as integrated with Android as it could be. Saying one is better than the other really just depends on how you use your phone.

Sometimes price is a really big deal

Samsung Galaxy Watch vs TicWatch Pro: Which should you buy?

While the Galaxy Watch and the TicWatch Pro are both incredibly capable watches with a ton of useful features, there's a substantial price difference between the two which needs to be addressed. You can get a TicWatch Pro from Amazon right now for $250, but the 46mm version of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is going to run you a full $100 more. That's before you look at the added cost of an LTE model, which brings the price up to $380 before you start paying for data each month. If you want an LTE watch, this is clearly the one to get, but if you just want a good smartwatch for your Android phone this decision is way less clear.

See at Amazon

It couldn't be more clear the best bang for your buck is the TicWatch Pro, but that doesn't make the Galaxy Watch any less impressive for what it is. And if you don't like 45-46mm watches because they are too big, the 42mm Galaxy Watch is going to be a much better option for you anyway.

Pre-order at Samsung