The original post can be found at https://www.reddit.com/r/WearOS/comments/sknki3/ticwatch_pro_3_ultra_4glte_experiences_with_my/
After owning and being extremely happy with the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS for a year, in the very first days of 2022 I decided to upgrade to the eSIM variant of the new TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra LTE model. Here are my experiences after the first month:
Ultra vs last year’s TWP3
The good news: TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra keeps everything I loved about last year’s model:
- totally worry-free battery life
- everything smooth and snappy thanks to performant SoC and sufficient RAM
- huge, well-readable screen in a light body
- standard bands, inexpensive customizations
- good set of custom software replacing the disgrace Google Fit is
- unique secondary FSTN screen which extends battery life even further
The even better news: Ultra improves in some key areas
- slightly improved look, I think the new striped bezels look stunning
- improved heart rate sensor, noticeably better accuracy and a couple of new (software?) features like fatigue tracking and AFib warnings (without a major battery hit!)
- improved durability – too early to comment, but 14 months with the previous model I never had any issues
- improved, more colorful and more customizable essential mode
- improved health tracking software
It’s nice to have all of these, and the presumably extended software support over my previous TicWatch, but for me the promise of a totally standalone phone replacement option is what pushed me over the edge to make the upgrade.
eSIM, multiSIM plans, QR codes vs carrier codes
Before getting the watch I researched the topic of course. Your carrier has to offer eSIM service. Mine does (T-Mobile/Telekom HU). Three options:
- if your phone is capable, switch to eSIM and move the eSIM between the two devices as needed (my plan includes 10 transfers annually for free, which means I could switch to using my watch 5 times, then switching will cost 2×$0.90) – sadly my phone is not eSIM capable
- new separate plan for the watch – the obvious trouble with this solution is incoming calls and messages which need to be forwarded, also there is no automatism in forwarding
- multiSIM = same number for two devices – I ended up choosing this option, though this turned out to be the most expensive, since my base plan has unlimited data, which makes multiSIM cost almost double
After enabling multiSIM you have to request an eSIM code. They give you a single-use QR code. I will get back to this later…
eSIM activation in an unsupported country: possible, here is how
You can activate the eSIM in the TicWatch using the Wear OS app on your phone. If an eSIM capable watch is paired, you should see the following options either on the main page or under Advanced settings:
Well, neither appeared for me. For obvious reasons: notice the screenshot shows “Vodafone”, and I am on “Telekom”. Turns out, Mobvoi only registered “Vodafone” for Wear OS in Europe (as I understand). But there’s a way! If you can get your hands on a Vodafone SIM card and have a dual-SIM, not region locked phone (by miracle I do!) you can actually activate the eSIM in the TicWatch. Here is how:
Step 1. First I had to get my hands on a Vodafone SIM card. I actually had one, but turns out Vodafone HU doesn’t play. It has to be from one of the supported countries (UK for sure, and maybe Spain and Germany). It costs almost nothing btw, I ordered mine from eBay VODAFONE PAY AS YOU GO SIM CARD OFFICIAL SEALED 4G NANO MICRO SIM 3 in 1 DATA
Step 2. Put the Vodafone SIM in the main slot (1), and your own SIM in slot 2,
Step 3. Set the Vodafone SIM as preferred for calls, text, data (it doesn’t have to have an credits on it!):
(notice it says Vodafone HU, but it’s the UK SIM card)
Step 4. I was prompted to reboot the phone
Step 5. And true miracle, the desired menu items appeared:
Step 6. I tapped on “Set up”
Step 7. The QR scanner started up, then in true Google Wear OS fashion it immediately crashed and I was taken to the following screen:
Step 8. No problem, I actually expected this (you can expect everything to fail when it comes to Wear OS). I used this QR scanner app to convert the QR code into string format, which looks like this: LPA:1$rsp-0003.oberthur.net$4DMWB-6NMFC-5BR24-92V8U (don’t try, I changed a few characters)
Step 9. From here all went smoothly:
(Notice they recognized Telekom HU correctly, since I had that SIM in the secondary slot of my phone)
- I only needed the Vodafone UK card for the setup, I removed the SIM since then
- In fact, you only need an unlocked dual-SIM phone for the setup. Since eSIM data is retained between factory resets, you can activate eSIM in the watch using a friend’s dual-SIM phone, then factory reset and pair the watch to your own phone, and it is going to work
- Furthermore, if you live near me, you are welcome to contact me, I will be happy to help you activate your TicWatch 🙂
After the bumpy, but successful start, I could start the carefree life of a true Inspector Gadget, with fully standalone connectivity on my watch:
- Calls work without a hitch. As long as one uses the Phone app on the watch (I also made successful calls with Bubble Cloud’s contact bubbles)
- Calling using Google Assistant brings up the well known, and very informative “I cannot do that anymore” message.
- Text messages are a little trickier. For this I had to install Google’s Messages app on my Samsung phone, which is a major step back, but who texts nowadays? Especially in this part of Europe, where we still have to pay per message.
- Of course Google Assistant on the watch will appear to start to prepare the message, but fail spectacularly, because it is Google and because it is Wear OS.
Anyway, it’s still very empowering! Incoming calls and messages work automatically. I set “Mobile” (under “Connectivity”) on the watch to “Automatic”, and the connection will switch to “LTE” as soon as the watch ever gets moved out of Bluetooth/Wifi range. This works very well!!!
Internet access: Assistant, Store, Samsung Browser, Keep, Youtube music, Translate, Maps
Other things which work impressively well: everything that needs internet access just works!
- Google Assistant is surprisingly quick. It works extremely well. Commands are processed in an instant. Of course only those which don’t break. But I was able to ask for various information, set timers, alarms, control smart home devices. When (and if ever!) Google fixes Assistant on the watch, this can really be the real muscle!
- the other jewel is the new Samsung Internet Browser. Did you know it works on all Wear OS, not just their own? And it works incredibly well in standalone mode! Even the tile with quick links to pages like Gmail and Facebook etc.
- Other Google services also work as expected: Play Store, Keep, Youtube Music, Translate, Maps.
Of course with my unlimited data plan I feel like a king. But even with more limited data, these can be life savers.
The weakest link: Notification access / Google Cloud Sync 🙁
All sunny so far. But here come the dark clouds… (pun intended!) In real Wear OS / Google style — this could be some local issue on my phone, but I am having trouble getting notifications on the watch without Bluetooth connection. In theory this is what Cloud Sync is for. But it doesn’t work. The phone app will say “Connected” (as opposed to “Connected via Bluetooth”):
But nothing works:
- Settings in the Wear OS app have no effect on the watch
- Third party apps don’t communicate with their phone/watch components
- Notifications don’t come through
- Interestingly the only thing that works is the battery level display in the Mobvoi app. This gives a glimmer of hope!
I researched this topic as well. Others seem to have problems with Google’s Cloud Sync too. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the Wear OS app on the phone: no cigar. Re-pairing the watch: no cigar. The only solution I found was to clear data for Google Play Services:
Unfortunately doing this will also make it necessary to pair the watch again. And what’s worse, it is only a temporary solution. It broke again within a few hours. I paired the watch 3-4 times, then gave up. Maybe Google will fix this (add it to the long list of things we have been waiting for since the beginning of time).
But, in that short time it worked, Cloud Sync was magical: you only need to make sure to keep your phone turned on and connected to the internet, and every notification, app, service worked beautifully even from far away. Maybe it’s only me, something is messed up with my Android 12 phone or Google account. Hopefully I find the cause and a more permanent fix. I can only promise to keep you posted.
Battery life: the bottom line
Note, this is an extreme case, but it is very reassuring to have a fully operational communication device on my wrist that will last a full 24 hours if I need it to replace my phone.
In my opinion only a TicWatch Pro has the battery capacity to pull this off!
- Do you have experience with standalone LTE connectivity?
- Does Cloud Sync work for you?
- Ask me anything about the watch, I’d be happy to share other experiences