The Ticwatch S exceeds expectations for a cheap smartwatch. It’s well designed, a pleasure to use, and packs in a surprising amount of features for its price. It supports a number of features you’d expect from a fitness tracker as well as most of the things you’d hope to find in a smartwatch.
It may not be a household name yet, but Chinese company Mobvoi has quietly been making moves worthy of your attention.
Founded by ex-Google employees, with interesting work in AI and one of the few wearable success stories on Kickstarter, it’s now launched its TicWatch S and E smartwatches into what is already a very crowded market.
Themselves Kickstarter-funded projects, the two watches are very slightly different versions of the same watch, with the S (sport) having a strap tailored towards more active use as the GPS is located in the band to give more accurate readings.
If you’re in the market for a sporty new Google-powered wearable that won’t break the bank, you’ll want to read on.
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Ticwatch S Complete Review
Price and availability
- Launch price: $199.99 (around £150, AU$250)
- Available from Mobvoi and other retailers
- Available now in US, UK and AU
The Ticwatch S is available direct from Mobvoi and other third-party retailers – including Amazon if you’re in the US – at a recommended RRP of $199.99 (around £150, AU$250).
For comparison, the Ticwatch E is $159.99 (around £120, AU$200), so if you’re not wanting the sporty styling and improved GPS performance of the S, you can save yourself a further few pennies.
The Ticwatch S is available in three different colors; Knight (black), Glacier (white), and Auora (green).
The Ticwatch S has a circular 1.4-inch OLED display, sitting within a brushed chrome-looking bezel emblazoned with bright green numbers and dots, that stop it from looking bland, and give it a sporty feel.
The bright green is a very definite style choice, and it feels interesting to have such a strong choice for a bezel seeing as one of the chief selling points of smartwatches is the ability to change the watch face to suit your personal style. That said, it’s not uncommon for smartwatches to adopt this style.
Continuing the sporty styling is the strap, crafted out of TPU – a durable composite made from soft silicone and hard plastic, which is breathable and hard-wearing. The strap blends nicely with the color and dimensions of the main body of the watch, and feels very high quality.
It fastens using a metal clasp, with two additional loops keeping any surplus strap tidy, stopping it from getting caught on your top mid-run. It’s at its most comfortable when worn in the ‘wrong’ position for heart rate tracking (directly on the wrist), but still wears well higher up the wrist.
The body of the Ticwatch S is 13mm thick, which is relatively thick for a smartwatch.
It’s a good couple of millimeters thicker than the Apple Watch 3, and a little thicker than the Samsung Gear S3, which does mean it doesn’t slip comfortably under a jacket sleeve, but it’s been designed in such a way that it doesn’t feel bulky on your wrist.
Sitting to the side of the screen is a protruding plastic surround for the Ticwatch’s one button.
The small plastic element has a green arrow on it, harking back to the adjustable bezels of diving watches, but on the Ticwatch it is all fashion, no function.
That’s because the bezel is entirely fixed, meaning the control of the watch relies entirely on the use of the touchscreen, which not only means you need dexterous digits, but also have to deal with a fingerprint covered screen.
The screen is a capacitive multi-touch display made from a scratch resistant glass, which works very well but in our experience was very fingerprint hungry which is a shame, because otherwise it’s a real beauty to look at.
Thankfully smartwatches on the whole seem to have abandoned the ‘flat tire’ approach to display that left a straight black line on the bottom of a round screen, and we’re happy to report that the Ticwatch S utilizes the whole screen.
It doesn’t even have a black bezel before you get to the physical bezel like the Fossil Q Venture.
As mentioned, the screen is a 1.4-inch OLED, with a resolution of 400 x 400, giving it 287 dots per inch. The outcome of this is that there is great clarity on the little screen, meaning you can have intricate designed watch faces that really sing.
It has the option to adjust brightness, font size, and watch face, with a number pre-loaded and the almost limitless options available on the Google Play store.
There is also the option to have always-on display, which will affect your battery life, but means you don’t have to fully wake the watch up in order to see essential bits of information like the time and date.
What’s nice about the Ticwatch S is that (depending on which watch face you’ve chosen) you’re able to choose what information the complications show. The choices are too many to list here but include date, step count, battery life, diary, alarms, weather, and many many more.
Specs and interface
The Ticwatch S uses an Mediatek MT2601, 1.2GHz dual-core chipset, paired with 512MB of RAM. Those are very similar specs to the LG Watch Style, just swapping out the Snapdragon 2100 chip.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip is more commonly used in wearables, powering not only the LG Watch series, but also the Asus ZenWatch 3, and the Huawei Watch 2.
We were a little nervous that the cheapness of the Ticwatch was because of using a cheap chipset, but were impressed with its processing potential.
A single press of the button on the side brings up the menu that allows you to select from a number of pre-installed apps, and those chosen by you. The opening of the menu is swift, and scrolling through menu options is smooth and well animated.
The Ticwatch S runs on Android Wear 2 and Google’s operating system is beautifully integrated in the smartwatch. This was something of a concern, as this is Mobvoi’s first foray into using the OS, but it’s a shrewd move, and well executed.
One of the most impressive things about the watch, and a feature we found ourselves using a great deal is the Google Assistant. Mobvoi specialises in human-machine interaction and voice recognition so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that its voice recognition is good, but it is really good.
As an Android Wear device it’ll come as no surprise that the Ticwatch S will work best with Android devices, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work with an iPhone.
As long as you’ve running iOS 8 (or newer) on your iPhone, or an Android Device running 4.3 or later you’ll be good to go.
There will be certain apps that exist within the Google ecosystem (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Assistant) that you’ll potentially be more familiar with if you are already an Android user that will make the transition to using Android Wear pretty seamless.
Given that it’s the sporty model of the Ticwatch, we were expecting big things from the Ticwatch S when it came to fitness, and the results were a mixed bag.
In terms of app support for fitness, the Android Wear ecosystem really holds its own.
There is a dedicated Ticwatch app that you’ll be able to download onto your phone which will give you a very basic health center, that shows your time walking, time active, and amount of active hours you’ve had that day.
It definitely feels under-developed, but we think that it’s actually pretty clever not to sink too much time and effort here as the other apps available are already so good.
Battery life on smartwatches is typically pretty unimpressive, and the Ticwatch S is no exception in this.
Mobvoi claims that it has a battery life of 48+ hours, but we were only able to eke this sort of life out of it by turning the brightness down to its lowest, turning ‘always-on display’ off, and not using it for anything more than checking the time.
Realistically, you’ll get a day and a half out of it with moderate use, one day if you’re also using it for fitness, which considering it’s the ‘sport’ version of the watch is a little disappointing, although perhaps not surprising.
The Ticwatch S packs a surprising amount of features into a durable package at a price that is well below what you’d expect from such a sophisticated smartwatch.
The battery life is underwhelming, and the sports features are a let-down for something selling itself as a ‘sports edition’ but that didn’t stop us being impressed with this wearable.
One of the most impressive things about the Ticwatch S is the voice integration. Dictating a text message was so swift and accurate, it made us actually want to use the feature. The Ticwatch S may have a budget price tag, but it feels anything but.
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Team BeTechful Nigeria