Ticwatch E

The Mobvoi Ticwatch E is not the first great Android Wear smartwatch, nor is it the best-looking option available. It doesn’t even break new ground, but for such a low price, it doesn’t really have to. 

Available for $159 (£120, AU$202) and commonly lower through Amazon, this smartwatch is aimed squarely at casual users with equally casual budgets. Unlike the sport-focused Ticwatch S, this model is unassuming and simple in design, providing little more flourish than a Swatch analog timepiece in its IP67 water-resistant package. 

Coming at a time when the release of Android Wear 2.0-equipped smartwatches has slowed, Mobvoi’s low-end smartwatch ticks all of the boxes – something that big manufacturers seemed to have such a hard time achieving. Better yet, its low price tag more or less removes the biggest hurdle facing more expensive modern smartwatches.

Ticwatch E price and availability

Mobvoi's affordable Ticwatch E is widely available through its own web store, in addition to Amazon. Available in the US, UK and Australia, the company also ships to a range of countries, so it's worth checking if it can accommodate yours.

As far as how much it will cost you, the Ticwatch E retails on Mobvoi's store for $159 (£120, AU$202), though you can often find it going for a bit cheaper on Amazon. Currently, Amazon has the asking price for the E at $143 (£116, AU$199).

Design

The Ticwatch E doesn’t try very hard to make it known that it’s a smartwatch. Aside from the always-on display and the rather thick build, it’d be hard to sort this apart from a batch of analog watches. And that’s an admirable quality, one that we’re surprised can be accomplished at such a low price point and without the usual smartwatch staples like steel and leather tossed into the mix.

The watch's display is one of the high marks of its overall build quality, putting forward a 1.4-inch OLED display that's suitably vibrant and sharp at 400 x 400 (287dpi). For reference, this is a higher resolution than what options like the Huawei Watch 2 and LG Watch Style put forward, albeit for far more cash.

As with all Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches, you’ll find a button around the watch’s crown to summon the list of installed apps or Google Assistant itself, which can assist you with tasks like texting or telling you the weather. Unlike most smartwatches, this button is on the watch’s left side, which doesn’t really create an issue – just worth noting.

Compared to the Ticwatch 2, the Ticwatch E is stripped down in a few rather insignificant ways. Removed is the unique “tickle strip” that let users scroll through the interface by sliding a finger along the side of the watch in lieu of an Apple Watch-esque rotating crown. And, as previously mentioned, this watch gets by on basic build materials, its body being made of polycarbonate and the watch face covered in anti-scratch glass.

On the watch’s bottom, there’s a small optical heart rate sensor sitting in the middle. Unlike some smartwatches, this one doesn’t bulge out from the Ticwatch E’s body. Next to the sensor are the charging pins – a proprietary charging method that might not be as easy as the inductive charger included with the Ticwatch 2 and many popular models, like the LG Watch Style.

There’s something mildly comforting about trying out another Android Wear smartwatch. Now deep into the lifecycle of Android Wear 2.0, just about every smartwatch provides similar levels of performance. The Mobvoi Ticwatch E is no exception, even with its non-standard MediaTek dual-core processor.

Inside of Mobvoi’s affordable smartwatch, there’s 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage for native apps via the Google Play Store and music for on-the-go wireless listening by syncing up a set of Bluetooth headphones.

Speaking on the watch’s performance, it’s just as quick as the others in our list of best Android Wear smartwatches, shifting smoothly through the user interface and launching apps without a hitch. Unlike some models on the market, the Ticwatch E includes both a microphone and speaker so you can take calls if you’re in a Wi-Fi-covered environment.

The Ticwatch E is compatible with both Android and iOS, as this is a baseline feature granted by Android Wear 2.0. But Mobvoi takes it a step further with its own dedicated app, which honestly isn’t super useful as it just provides a more birds-eye view of your fitness stats.

Fitness

If you’re into working out, the Ticwatch E touts all of the necessary features to let you run wild. Best of all, you don’t need to bring your phone to do it. 

Equipped with a heart rate sensor and built-in GPS, the Mobvoi-provided Fitness app can track your basic vitals rather reliably and show your path of travel. While a decent option for those looking to keep track of simple metrics, like steps, calories burned and time spent working out, it leaves a lot to be desired if you're even slightly adept in fitness. Simply put, it's not great.

Mobvoi’s Fitness app is functional, but offers only a limited view of your fitness

Thankfully, that's where the beauty of Android Wear 2.0 comes into play. You can just download a different app, so we did. Runtastic, as well as Google Fit, are both great options to check out, and each offers more granular results and a better, info-rich user interface than Mobvoi's stock app. Plus, the amount of workout options available by using those two apps really blossoms. I like that if I want to go ice skating on one day and canoeing on another, Google Fit has got me covered.

As mentioned before, both of the aforementioned apps can work without your phone nearby, letting the TicWatch E fill in the GPS gaps when you leave your comparatively clunky smartphone at home or back in the office.

Speaking of GPS, we found the built-in GPS particularly effective, as it was able to find a lock on signal in less than 10 seconds – impressive in the thick skyline of downtown Manhattan. It wasn't as robust at tracking our location as a smartphone, with little jagged blips popping up in each gallivant making us look like the most indecisive jogger around. But it's definitely serviceable and for fitness generalists, it will do just fine.

Moving onto the heart rate sensor, it's worth noting that no wrist-based wearable is perfect at gathering a completely accurate heart rate – chest straps are the preferred accessory for fitness gurus. But our results with the Ticwatch E were reliable and, in the heat of jog or walk during our testing, it seemed to be right on and always responsive. If you want to check your resting rate, there's a dedicated app on the watch for that. Plus, we liked that each fitness app that we tried had some sort of tie-in functionality with the sensor, making it an integral and, thanks to its good implementation, a trust-worthy addition to our fitness breakdown.

The Ticwatch E also passed our splash tests with flying colors thanks to its IP67 rating. Rain and technology don't usually mix too well, but it was nice to not have to worry about this smartwatch around a bit of water. The downside to its water-resistant build is that Mobvoi hasn't implemented any swim tracking, which would have been nice to see, so in reality, it's just a measure to provide some peace of mind rather than much practical use. This is something that we'd like to see improved on in the successor.

Mobvoi's inclusion of water-resistance and GPS put it above many smartwatch options, and taking it to the next level at IP68 could have really set it apart in a league of its own. The Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro recently made such a move, albeit a small one, to add swim tracking to its repertoire of tracking capability.

Battery

One of the pitfalls of Android Wear watches, and really, wearables in general, is battery life. Prospects have improved over time with the advancement of software and hardware, and the Ticwatch is hovering around the best that smartwatches can offer.

Mobvoi claims that the Ticwatch E can last more than two days, depending on usage, and we were able to occasionally squeeze that from it. Since we strived to tap into the watch’s fitness prowess and make sure that native apps ran smoothly, the battery life lasted for just over a day.

As my colleague Andrew noted in his Ticwatch S review, leaving the always-on display feature ticked on is a recipe for disaster. You'll commonly chew through half of the battery in a matter of hours with it on, so we've made a habit of deactivating it since the intuitive wrist-flick gesture works nearly just as well.

The proprietary conductive charger that’s included can power up the Ticwatch E to 100% in less than an hour, which is a suitable time frame to get things running again.

It’s not hard to find an eligible smartwatch that looks like it might fit into your life. In a world filled with wearables like the Apple Watch 3 and Fitbit Ionic, there’s something for everyone – at least in style. What isn’t so readily available is a smartwatch for a low budget, but the Ticwatch E fills that void.

Mobvoi’s budget-friendly smartwatch impresses with its simple design and robust set of features. Less than two years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to find a watch with this much tech in it for less than $300, which alone makes the Ticwatch E all the more tempting.

Who's this for?

The Mobvoi Ticwatch E is for tech lovers itching for an affordable, well-built wearable that's just oozing with features. It's got nearly everything that more expensive options do – skimping a bit on build materials to keep the price low –
and delivers an equally good wearable experience for less.

Should you buy it?

For those who haven’t taken the plunge into Android Wear, the Ticwatch E is an excellent option for those with simple needs. While lacking in LTE and NFC capabilities, the latter of which would allow for Google Pay mobile transactions, this watch doesn’t feel less without them. 

The best thing that we can say is that, reflecting on the last few years of Android Wear smartwatches, Mobvoi has released one of the few that’s actually worth your money.

The competition

Ticwatch S

Ticwatch E's slightly more expensive next of kin excels at GPS performance and rocks a more ruggedized build. Both work to the advantage of those who want to put their wearable through its paces, but the sporty design might be a turn-off if you find the E's minimalistic look appealing.

It doesn't cost a whole lot more at $199 (£150, AU$250) but your mileage may vary on where the S stands out from the E model.

LG Watch Style

One of the best-looking Android Wear smartwatches on the market, the Watch Style hasn't aged well on the inside though, as it's light on features compared to the Ticwatch E.

Sitting in between $149-$179, LG's flagship doesn't feature built-in GPS, nor does it contain a built-in speaker for enjoying tunes or taking calls without a phone. Simply put, go for the Ticwatch E if the style suits you.

Misfit Vapor

Misfit's debut Android Wear smartwatch comes in at around $40 more ($199.99 / £185 / AU$279.59) than the Ticwatch E, but it certainly has a lot going for it.

Like the E, the Vapor touts a minimalist style, making it suitable for basically any style. It also features a heart rate sensor, supports swim tracking, and puts forth a more rich AMOLED display with less aggressive bezels surrounding it. The basic Ticwatch model bests it with built-in GPS at a lower price, but we really love the Vapor's swim tracking feature.

Cameron Faulkner
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