Mobvoi decided to combat one of the biggest issues with today's smartwatches - price. The TicWatch E2 is a sub-$150 wearable with all of the features you'd expect from a smartwatch that costs twice (most times, even more) as much as its viable rivals.
Mobvoi has quietly become a player in the Wear OS space. Not from releasing high-end smartwatches either. By releasing smartwatches that are actually rather inexpensive. The new TicWatch E2 is no different in that matter. It just launched about a week ago, and it is the cheapest Wear OS smartwatch on the market right now, with a $149 price tag. But where the next cheapest Wear OS smartwatch is close to $300 (talking original MSRP, not discounts), one has to wonder if Mobvoi skipped out on some features to hit that price point?
The TicWatch E2 has been on our wrist for about a week now, and it has been mostly a good experience, though there are some bad spots too. Let's talk about the TicWatch E2 and see if it is worth the $149 price tag that Mobvoi is asking for it.
The TicWatch E2 sports a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, in a 46mm casing. It is also about 12mm thick. Mobvoi says that the thicker casing is to hold the larger capacity battery, which is rated at 415mAh. The straps are interchangeable here, any 22mm watch strap should fit perfectly fine on the TicWatch E2.
Under-the-hood, you'll find the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, instead of the newer Snapdragon Wear 3100. There is also the usual 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, that we see on virtually all Wear OS smartwatches.
Mobvoi did make these waterproof, and are rated at 5ATM. Meaning that you can take these into the pool and even use it to track your swimming. There is a heart rate sensor available, but there is no NFC support for Google Pay.
In the box
Mobvoi has included the TicWatch E2, along with a charging dock and a user manual in the box. And that's it. Mobvoi did not even even include a wall charger to plug the charging dock into. Which is one of the corners that the company cut to be able to hit the aggressive $149 price tag. Though that is one corner that most people won't mind, as we all have plenty of wall chargers that have USB-A ports available.
Besides the thickness here, you can immediately tell that this is an "inexpensive" smartwatch. This is because the TicWatch E2 is completely plastic. The entire casing is plastic and even the underside, except for the charging ports and the heart rate sensor. However, the flip side of using plastic versus metal like the Misfit Vapor 2 uses, is the fact that the TicWatch E2 is actually very lightweight.
In fact, the TicWatch E2 is so lightweight, that I sometimes forget that it is on my wrist. And this is coming from someone that really doesn't wear smartwatches, and instead uses fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge 3. So there are a few trade-offs for using plastic over metal, and one that is definitely better.
With the TicWatch E2 casing being so large, however, the smartwatch looks huge on virtually any wrist. But on smaller wrists, it looks comically large. This is nothing new with smartwatches, but most companies do offer up smaller models as well these days. Mobvoi opted to just release the one size for the TicWatch E2 which is unfortunate for those with smaller wrists that may have wanted to pick this one up.
The straps that are included in the TicWatch E2 are black silicon straps. Normally, this wouldn't be too much of an issue. However, these straps are rather thick, but also short at the same time. Luckily, you can swap these out for other 22mm watch straps. Speaking of which, the lugs on this watch are somewhat small, but still make it super simple to swap out the watch straps. And given how uncomfortable the included straps are, most people will likely swap them out for something new.
One of the downsides to the silicon watch straps though, is the fact that they pick up dust pretty easily. That is bound to annoy some people. But the good thing, is that it is good for using during workouts, as it can handle sweat much better than a leather strap could.
There is just one button on the side of the TicWatch E2, which is used to open the app drawer or to go back. You can also press and hold to activate the Google Assistant.
If you read that the Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor was powering the TicWatch E2 and knew that the Snapdragon Wear 3100 was actually available, your first thought would likely be that Mobvoi is using an old and slow processor. Well that is technically right. But that does not mean that Snapdragon Wear 2100 cannot hang in 2019. The main difference between the Snapdragon Wear 2100 and 3100 is actually the co-processor in the 3100 to conserve battery life. So performance is actually mostly the same.
In everyday usage, the TicWatch E2 was able to perform about as you'd expect from a smartwatch. It wasn't lightning quick like a smartphone running the Snapdragon 845. But it was fast enough to handle animations with ease. The TicWatch E2 never really slowed down at all, or lagged, and that is good to see. Though having a bit more RAM, like a full gigabyte that the new Louis Vuitton smartwatch has, wouldn't hurt, the 768MB here is still plenty.
The display is actually one of the high points of the TicWatch E2, surprisingly. It's an AMOLED display with a 400x400 resolution. Meaning that you are getting a good looking display, and you won't be able to see individual pixels. On top of that, the AMOLED panel is going to help you save some juice when it comes to battery life. That's something everyone can appreciate, especially on a smartwatch that needs to be charged daily.
During the review period, we used the TicWatch E2 at auto brightness for the most part. Which did a good job at keeping the screen bright enough to read, but not so bright that it was blinding us. For a portion of the review period, we did also keep brightness on two, which was bright enough for everything except for direct sunlight. So if you are one looking to conserve battery life on your smartwatch, then that would be a good option.
The bezel around the screen is somewhat large though. The plastic bezel around the screen makes the watch look much larger than it should. Luckily, there is no flat-tire here for hiding the sensors needed for the display. So that it can stretch all the way to the raised bezels here. The good thing about having a raised bezel on a smartwatch, is that you are less likely to scratch or crack it if you hit it on something.
The TicWatch E2 is running Wear OS, and that right there could be a deal breaker for many people. Google just isn't sure what it wants to do with Wear OS right now, and it is definitely something that is noticeable. Though it has gotten a few redesigns in the past year that makes it a much better operating system. Like the changes to notifications - making it a single scrolling page and giving it a black background. Google did this because most smartwatches use AMOLED display, and the TicWatch E2 also uses one. So it conserves battery life as well.
Software here is all swipe based, until you want to get into the app drawer, which you'll use the single button on the side of the watch. Swipe down from the top reveals quick toggles like brightness, as well as a settings shortcut. Swipe in from the left reveals a Google Assistant feed, which populates with some information that Google thinks you'll need. This includes things like the weather and time to get home.
Swiping up from the bottom brings you to your notifications, which as mentioned already, it's just a single page. Making it easier to read on a smaller, circular display. Finally swiping in from the right gives you your fitness data. By default, it does TicHealth, which is Mobvoi's own fitness tracking app for the TicWatch series. But you can long-press on it and switch to Google Fit instead.
The Google Play Store is now on the watch itself (this is somewhat new, it came to Wear OS within the last year or so). Allowing you to find apps to install on your watch. Though, it is still going to be much easier to do this from the Wear OS app on your smartphone, since it does have the larger screen. There are a number of apps that are available, and this includes things like Google Maps, Twitter, Hangouts and much more. Of course, these are stripped down versions, so they aren't as robust as their smartphone counterparts.
It's also important to point out that there isn't a lot of space on this smartwatch, so you won't want to install a lot of apps. There is only 4GB of storage included, with just a little over a gigabyte actually available after the operating system takes what it needs.
The software was pretty fluid on the TicWatch E2, and that may surprise some, due to the older Snapdragon Wear 2100 inside. However, it is good to see that Mobvoi was able to keep the software smooth on this inexpensive smartwatch.
This is the main thing that most people use a smartwatch for these days, tracking their everyday fitness. Now TicHealth is included here, which is an okay app to use, but Google Fit is going to be a better option. This is because if you decide to upgrade your smartwatch and get a Fossil, LG or Misfit smartwatch, your TicHealth data won't be able to make the transition, since it only works on TicWatch smartwatches. Google Fit, on the other hand, is on all Wear OS smartwatches.
Google Fit also went through a redesign recently, and it is focusing more on health points and move minutes, rather than your step count. Health points are points you will earn for doing exercise, and the more your heart rate increases, the more points you'll receive per minute. Move minutes are just the amount of minutes you've spent moving. These are in a ring, to force you to close your rings everyday. These goals, of course, can be edited to your liking.
During the review, we found that the TicWatch E2 was pretty good at tracking fitness throughout the week. It was about on par with the Fitbit Charge 3 that I normally wear. Though it was a bit tougher to close the rings on Google Fit, compared to getting to the step goal I usually hit.
When it comes to Swim Tracking, Google Fit does not yet support the feature. So if you want to track your swimming, you're going to want to use the TicHealth app. The watch uses TicMotion to identify which stroke you are swimming with. Whether that's breast stroke, butterfly or something else. And it actually appears to be pretty accurate at determining the stroke.
Swim tracking is something that many smartwatches and fitness trackers have added in the past year or so. And surprisingly, the TicWatch E2 does a better job at tracking your swimming than the recent products released by Fitbit and Samsung - two companies who actually release fitness bands, as well as smartwatches. If you're a big-time swimmer, this is going to be the one to get.
The heart rate monitor on the TicWatch E2 worked. That's about all you can say. It's not going to be accurate, and that is because it is tracking your heart rate from your wrist and not your heart. If you want a more precise reading, you would need to get a chest strap. This isn't just an issue for the TicWatch E2 either, or just smartwatches. It's an issue for all fitness trackers, as measuring heart rate from your wrist will just never be 100-percent accurate.
Mobvoi says that you can get 48 hours of battery life out of the TicWatch E2 and its 415mAh capacity battery. To Mobvoi's credit, this is a larger battery capacity than most other smartwatches. But, 48 hours is being a bit generous. If you use this with the always-on display turned on, you will get a full day and that's about it. We unplugged at around 8AM and by about 11PM, it was down to around 30 to 40-percent depending on the day.
If you decide to turn off the always-on display, you can get it to last a bit longer, almost two full days but not quite. This is going to depend heavily on how you use your TicWatch E2 though. If you do a lot of fitness tracking - especially with GPS - then it's going to take a bigger hit on the battery.
The bottom line here, is that you can get a full day of battery life, and possibly part of a second day. If you want to use the TicWatch E2 to do some sleep tracking, you're going to need to recharge the smartwatch a bit before you head to bed. Or just let it sit on the charger all night.
The charging dock is actually another high-point of the TicWatch E2, surprisingly. The magnets on the dock are very strong, so that the TicWatch E2 won't disconnect overnight, which is also pretty important for a smartwatch. You don't want to wake up and find out that your smartwatch fell off of the dock and didn't fully charge overnight. It's a simple charging dock with four contacts on one side.
If we cut the price out of the equation for the TicWatch E2, it would seem that this is a pretty terrible smartwatch. For starters, there's no NFC here, it's a pretty cheaply built smartwatch and includes some uncomfortable straps. But when you put the price into the equation, this becomes a pretty impressive smartwatch for the price. It's $149 for the TicWatch E2, which is the cheapest smartwatch running Wear OS right now. As we mentioned already, the majority of the others are priced closed to $300, with many being around $500-$600.
There are a few corners being cut here, and if you don't mind missing out on some of those features, then the TicWatch E2 is actually a really good option for a lot of people. Many don't use Google Pay on their wrist anyways, especially if their phone already has Google Pay. So losing out on NFC isn't a huge deal. Though it is surprising that this has a heart rate monitor.
The TicWatch E2 is available from Amazon for $149.99, and if you are looking for a new smartwatch that won't break the bank, this is the one to buy.