The Carlyle was nurtured by the elite of society, took swimming lessons, went to the best schools, gets chauffeured around and has the nicest clothes.
The TicWatch didn’t have that kind of privilege. Instead, the TicWatch couldn’t afford swimming lessons, went to normal schools, took the bus and wore clothes bought at a thrift store.
Yet at the heart of it all, both watches have the same genes. Both have a similar-sized display, both share very similar levels of functionality and both use the Wear OS smartwatch platform.
And when both of them negotiate for their compensation, the Carlyle will ask for 50% more than the TicWatch.
Both watches use the Wear OS platform that allows you access to Google’s excellent suite of apps including Google Maps, Keep and Translate. It also allows you to use Google Assistant which is a superior speech-to-text input system as well as a great task assistant.
Both watches also use Google Fit, which allows you to track your workouts and sleep patterns.
Both watches also have an integrated GPS which is perfect for people who enjoy exercising while having access to GPS data and not having to bring a smartphone around.
You can also make calls from both watches as they have a speaker on an Android phone. That’s where the similarities end.
On an iPhone, my tests showed that the TicWatch Pro you can’t use the Phone app nor can you answer calls. You can receive them, accept or decline them, but you will be answering the calls on your phone.
On the Fossil Carlyle, you can receive calls but not make calls from the Phone app if your smartwatch is paired to an iPhone.
Back with an Android, both offer passable sound quality and OK microphone quality in a call. You’ll be able to get by in a noisy room but the person on the other end might not like hearing so much background noise.
Having a speaker also means that you can also hear sound notifications, rather than just having a vibrate mode. Being able to take calls from your wrist is a useful convenience when your phone is hard to access, such as when it’s in another room or deep in your bag.
The Carlyle is fast. It’s the one Wear OS watch that does not lag, stall or hang, and if we look at the specifications of the watch, the difference in hardware is significant.
Not only does the Carlyle have a modern Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, it also has 1GB of RAM, which makes this an excellent Wear OS smartwatch. Not until I used the Carlyle did my opinion of the Wear OS as a sluggish performer change.
The TicWatch Pro, unfortunately, does not have these advantages. The TicWatch Pro uses a four-year-old Snapdragon Wear 2100, the 3100’s predecessor, and it also has half the RAM as the TicWatch Pro.
Therefore, the TicWatch Pro would be what I consider the “average Wear OS experience.” It’s sluggish at times, will hang on you for a few seconds once in a while, and might frustrate you. That’s OK though, you do get used to it.
Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle
Battery Life and Display
Both watches offer good battery life for the daily user. If you’re the type of smart device user who expects to charge them daily, then both of them would deliver reliable performance even if you use them extensively for the whole day.
The TicWatch Pro comes with an ingenious dual-layer display where they have layered an LCD screen above a full-colour AMOLED display. The watch uses the power-saving LCD screen for the always-on display.
Notably, the LCD screen performs very well even in bright sunlight. In the Carlyle, you are more or less resigned to waking up the watch so that it can turn on the backlight.
The Carlyle’s display is much sharper than the TicWatch Pro. The TicWatch Pro looks like a 720p screen whereas the Carlyle looks like a 1080p screen. But the TicWatch Pro’s screen is also a little bigger.
The watch faces offered by Fossil (left on the screenshot), in my opinion, look better as they are more varied, from cool and expressive watch faces to more practical ones. TicWatch’s offering tend towards being more practical.
Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle
Fitness functions, water resistance
Both watches can track your heart rate and can log your workouts for you.
The key difference between them is that you can take the Carlyle into the pool and that is backed by Fossil’s guarantee that all smartwatches with a heart rate sensor is “swimproof.” That is even further reinforced by the warranty which protects against water damage.
The TicWatch Pro does have an IP68 water resistance rating but you can’t find the final word on whether you can take it into a pool. Rumours abound online but TicWatch provides no assurance.
Winner: Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle
The one downside with the Carlyle is that its strap can be more slippery. The Carlyle comes with a metal bracelet with a clasp while the TicWatch Pro comes with a strap with a genuine leather top and a treaded silicone bottom.
The Carlyle is a lot more difficult to adjust on-the-fly because you will need tools to modify the length of the bracelet. This is a major inconvenience with the watch — that you’ll have to use your own inventiveness to find a way to modify the length of the bracelets. I used pliers and a stiff paper clip to modify the bracelet.
And sometimes you don’t get it right with its length. Where it might be OK for daily use, if you suddenly play tennis or any sport with a lot of jerky, high-power sudden movements, you might find the Carlyle’s grip to less reliable than the TicWatch Pro. A loose watch also means that you will not get reliable heart rate readings.
The TicWatch’s simplicity and dynamism beats the Carlyle’s elegant and classy bracelet in this case. Though being able to use the clasp and have it fit on your arm every time is also very efficient.
The price of the TicWatch Pro is $199 with a $50 coupon while the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle is $295. That means you’ll have to pay 50% more for the Carlyle as compared to the TicWatch Pro.
This is what economists call the law of diminishing returns. You don’t get 50% more features for 50% more in cost. The extra $100 you pay for the Carlyle means you do get better performance, swimming pool water resistance and a better display among other advantages, but you essentially get the same experience otherwise.
If the difference between them were $50, I would wholeheartedly say buy the Carlyle. It’s just a better watch and the convenience of a smooth experience cannot be beaten.
If you go swimming or do any water activities, then you can only buy the Carlyle. And if you are an iPhone user that wants to answer calls on your smartwatch, then you’ll need to get a Carlyle.
Otherwise, the TicWatch Pro offers good value and is a decent watch for productivity. It has a severe performance disadvantage and you must see that as the price of saving money.
The Carlyle is an amazing watch and can do everything better than the TicWatch Pro does. I’d buy it if it were on sale, and if I didn’t own a Samsung smartphone as that kind of money could buy me a Samsung smartwatch which integrates much better with phones of its own brand.