Mobvoi launched a Kickstarter in July for the next generation TicWatch. The new watch would ditch their custom watch OS for Android Wear, plus Mobvoi would make the new TicWatch more affordable. I always loved the idea of the TicWatch because the company reminded me a lot of now-defunct Pebble, but Mobvoi wasn’t able to get as much developer attention as Pebble. The previous TicWatch’s were priced in the ballpark of other Android Wear devices, which was entirely a turn-off. A watch that was $200 or more was just too much for a device that would only last a year. The watches on Amazon that were $100 to $150 were aging devices that were two or more years old, and unlikely to get Android Wear 2.0.
Since my Pebble Time started to fall apart, I wanted a new watch that was affordable, ran Android Wear, and had a round watch face. The TicWatch E ticked all the boxes for me, plus the Kickstarter campaign meant I’d get a few extra accessories. I’ve now had the TicWatch E for two weeks, and I’ve come to love the watch and how well optimized it is for Android Wear.
In the review, I’ll tell you the pros and cons of the TicWatch E, and why I put my money behind a Kickstarter campaign for an Android Wear Watch.
The TicWatch E is bare bones, and that includes features. There are a few custom Android Wear apps from Mobvoi. They’re mainly health-focused on apps that overlap with Google Fit apps, but in some cases, I like how quickly the Mobvoi apps load. There are 21 default watch faces, but they’re nothing special. Running Android Wear is a move for Mobvoi, but out the door, they have hundreds of apps that work right out of the box.
Mobvoi is giving a lot of control to Google with Google Assistant and through Android Wear. Mobvoi is ditching their OS and voice assistant which might feel like they’re giving up, but it feels like they’re trying harder than ever.
The battery is 300mAH, which offers up to 2 days of mixed use. The mixed-use claim is where the watch isn’t always in use. Android Wear keeps the OLED screen light up with the time, but when the watch is off the screen goes into standby mode. I’ve experienced more like 1.5 days of constant usage, where I have the watch on but I’m mainly using it for music or podcast control with the occasional heart rate check. If I do use the watch for more things like workout tracking, controlling more of my music, or using apps, I see a battery life of only one day.
Some users have reported battery life issues, but a lot of those problems are quickly resolved by fullying draining the battery and fully recharging the battery. I had some mix battery life usage through the two weeks, but I’ve always managed to get through the whole day even if I’m using the watch heavily.
The TicWatch won’t compare to other fashionable Android Wear watches. It’s nowhere close to a Fossil, Tag Heuer or Huawei designed watch. However bland the TicWatch E is, it’s still good looking. The plain black design doesn’t stand out, but the small bezel lets the watch face shine. The watch band is removable so you could change the watch band out to something more fashionable or useful.
The design is where Mobvoi cut corners. It’s not a bad sacrifice, considering the low price.
The TicWatch E is $159 on Amazon, but I snagged it during the early bird period for $120 shipped. As a backer, I also received an extra charging cable and a glass screen protector. That value for a smartwatch is beyond anything you can buy. Even at $159 on Amazon, you’re getting a highly optimized Android Wear watch with battery life above the average smartwatch. While you’re getting a pure and bare bones watch, you don’t have to compromise on speed or build quality.
Mobvoi worked closely with Google to optimize Android Wear for the TicWatch E’s hardware, which offers a snappy experience. They didn’t have to cut corners where it mattered.
The TicWatch E is a barebone Android Wear Watch on a budget. It’s everything that I’ve wanted from a smartwatch and is going to replace my dying Pebble Time. The design is bland and won’t stand out from the crowd, but you can always change out watch bands. Mobvoi highly optimized for Android Wear 2.0, making a buttery smooth experience.
In the end, if you’re looking for a watch that’ll match any outfit without breaking the bank. The TicWatch E is hands down one of the best choices. While there isn’t Android Pay because of the lack of NFC, it’s not a huge deal.
Let me know what you think about the TicWatch E! Do you think the bland design is worth the low price, or would you instead spend more on something a little more flashy.