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Very low price
Has GPS and heart rate sensor
Decent battery life
Serious slowdown issues
Recurring disconnects from phone
Problems with charger
Inconsistent performance, semi-regular disconnects, and weird charger issues make the Mobvoi TicWatch E2 a smartwatch you should skip.
Google hasn't made its own smartwatch just yet, but there are many watches that run Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear. It's not like the Apple Watch, where there's just one design with color and material variants: Wear OS watches run the gamut from sporty to chic, modern to classic, and premium to downright affordable.
Mobvoi's TicWatch E2 definitely falls into the latter category in that last comparison. Built primarily of black plastic and not packing much panache, this workmanlike Wear OS watch is meant to be a low-priced alternative to much more expensive smartwatches. But a number of recurring issues make this a difficult watch to recommend, even at that eye-catching price.
The TicWatch E2 is a big, beefy smartwatch, with a 1.39-inch circular display surrounded by a black plastic bezel. There's a bit of detail in there, including a circular pattern on the fixed bezel and some slope to the lugs that attach to the bands, but it's all the same color and matte texture. Physically, the TicWatch E2 just doesn't stand out very much at all.
But that's not so much a problem as it is a potential matter of preference. Besides, the non-showy physical design means that the TicWatch's screen can be the real star of the show. This might be a lower-end smartwatch, but the large 1.39-inch AMOLED screen looks great at a 400 x 400 resolution. It's as impressive as any other smartwatch screen we've seen while being plenty colorful and bright.
This might be a lower-end smartwatch, but the large 1.39-inch AMOLED screen looks great at a 400 x 400 resolution.
The case only has one physical button, on the right side of the case—pressing it quickly brings up the scrolling list of apps, while a sustained press pulls up the Google Assistant. The TicWatch E2 comes with a black silicone 22mm sport band, which you can swap out with other bands of the same size if you please. Despite its large size, the watch itself is incredibly lightweight, so it doesn't feel heavy on the wrist at all.
Setting up the TicWatch E2, like any recent Wear OS watch, is a straightforward process. Simply download the Wear OS app on your Android phone or iPhone and follow the steps within, which include pairing the watch, considering some settings, and ultimately getting up and running. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes in total.
Unsurprisingly, this discount smartwatch doesn't come with the latest and greatest tech inside. The Mobvoi TicWatch E2 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, which debuted in 2016 and has since been replaced by the speedier Snapdragon Wear 3100. That's the chip you'll see in most of today's Wear OS watches, but not this one.
We ran into some odd stretches of significant slowdown, where the TicWatch E2 consistently dragged when we tried to navigate the interface. At times, we had to wait a couple of seconds just to see the watch face when we raised the watch or tapped the screen. There were also visible delays when accessing apps or notifications. Trying to use the Google Assistant is the biggest annoyance during those moments, as it sometimes takes several seconds to load and doesn't always complete the task.
We ran into some odd stretches of significant slowdown, where the TicWatch E2 consistently dragged when we tried to navigate the interface.
These aren't issues that are native to all Snapdragon Wear 2100 watches, but they're painful ones here. It's strange because we've also experienced stretches of time in which the watch is very responsive, from pulling up the watch face to flicking through the interface. It was very inconsistent.
Frustratingly, the phone also lost its connection to our phone (the Samsung Galaxy S10) on a semi-regular basis. We would try to access the Google Assistant and get an error message at times, as it couldn't connect to Google, or get a chunk of late-arriving notifications after the watch reconnected.
Mobvoi advertises 48-hour battery life, but that needs an asterisk next to it: you'll only come close to that mark if the always-on screen is disabled and you're not heavily using the GPS for fitness tracking. The always-on screen saps a fair bit of battery life, and you probably won't get deep into a second day on a single charge. With modest usage and the screen off when you're not looking at it, however, you should safely be able to skip the charger every other night.
The TicWatch E2 comes with a little magnetic charging cradle that the watch snaps into, but it doesn't come with the power adapter that plugs into your wall. That proves to be more than just a cost-saving move, but also a potentially major issue for users. We've never had a problem plugging any other modern smartwatches or smartphones into the kinds of fast-charging power bricks that ship with many of today's phones, but the TicWatch E2 can't handle that added charge. It apparently fries the cable.
We found this out the hard way, as our TicWatch E2 wouldn't pull any power from the cable in the days following our initial charge. We ordered a replacement watch and quickly experienced the same issue again. Ultimately, we realized that a less-powerful 5W charger—like the tiny charging blocks that ship with iPhones—was needed, and our third charging cable ultimately did the trick. That's a bit ridiculous, however, and Mobvoi could've avoided the problem altogether by just tossing a small power brick into the box.
The TicWatch E2 currently runs Wear OS 2.6, which is the latest version, and Google's smartwatch interface has gradually gotten smoother and more useful over the years. It's not as eye-catching or intuitive as Apple's watchOS 5, but the E2's included watch faces look nice and there are many more available to download from the Play Store, not to mention a solid array of wearable apps.
It'll deliver notifications from your various apps with ease, giving you a little buzz to your wrist when you have a new message or email preview to glance at. However, the TicWatch E2 doesn't have a built-in speaker, so you can't take calls from your phone, nor can the Google Assistant actually speak. When you talk into the microphone, its results just show up as text on the screen. It also lacks an NFC chip for mobile payments, so there are a couple of key ways in which this cheaper Wear OS watch has been shortchanged on the feature front.
The TicWatch E2 currently runs Wear OS 2.6, which is the latest version, and Google's smartwatch interface has gradually gotten smoother and more useful over the years.
However, it's well-equipped on the fitness front, with a built-in GPS, a heart rate sensor, and water resistance up to 50 meters making it swimproof. Coupled with the light weight, that makes the TicWatch E2 a pretty ideal device for tracking runs, walks, bike rides, swims, and other exercises, and it performed admirably in our manual testing.
One odd note is that it automatically tracked a couple of phantom runs during our everyday usage, which was perplexing. Maybe we were walking a little faster than usual for a moment, but that shouldn't have triggered a tracking session. It was never an issue with other smartwatches we've used.
Wear OS watches vary widely in price, ranging up to several hundred dollars for fashion-centric or ruggedized models, but the TicWatch E2 is definitely one of the cheapest at $160. It's also cheaper than the Fitbit Versa ($180) and quite a bit less than the Samsung Galaxy Watch ($330 plus) and Apple Watch Series 4 ($399 plus).
However, given the wide array of Wear OS devices, it's not difficult to find other models priced below $200. For example, many of Fossil's Wear OS watches are selling at a significant discount these days. It all depends on what you're looking for, but as noted throughout, we had some real issues with the TicWatch E2.
The TicWatch E2 and Fitbit Versa are two of the most notable current options when it comes to fitness-centered smartwatches that won’t break the bank. We prefer the larger screen and visual design of the TicWatch, although the slim build of the Fitbit Versa is better for fitness needs.
The Fitbit interface isn't terribly speedy or exciting and it lacks onboard GPS, but getting around the watch still proved to be a more reliable and less frustrating experience than using the TicWatch E2. The Fitbit Versa feels like a solid deal for the price, while the TicWatch E2 largely just seems a bit hobbled.
It's not worth it.
The Ticwatch E2 runs fluidly some of the time, the screen looks great, and the no-nonsense design is totally solid. It also works well as a fitness tracker, when you want it to. However, it frequently got bogged down during our testing, turning the simple act of bringing up apps or triggering the Google Assistant into an exercise in frustration. Add in the semi-regular disconnects from our phone and the charger debacle, and it just isn’t worth the price. Put your money towards a smartwatch that doesn't feel so compromised.