You might not have heard of Mobvoi but the China based company has its roots in voice search service and counts Google and Android Wear as strategic partners. The Chinese name of Mobvoi loosely translates to “go out and ask around.” In 2014 , Mobvoi released their own Android-based smart watch OS before going on to produce Ticwatch 2 in China. Due to popular demand, Mobvoi crowdfunded on Kickstarter in order to bring to life a Ticwatch 2 Global Edition ($199.99); the funding target was met in 10 minutes.
A month back, I had the opportunity to take a look at this smart watch. In my opinion, the Ticwatch 2 is an impressive device especially if you’re connecting it to an Android mobile device. Users who are on the Apple platform might not be able to reap the maximum benefits from adopting the Ticwatch OS. The full review below will cover what impressed and what concerns I had about this watch.
The Ticwatch 2 Charcoal version was provided by Navicom Pte Ltd for this review. Navicom is the local distributor for the Ticwatch 2 and you can head over to their online store page for more details about wearable purchase and warranty.
TICWATCH 2 IN SHORT
- Full fledged smart watch with notifications
- Responsive and intuitive controls
- Voice activated search. Verbally create reminders, make and receive calls
- Control watch with touchscreen, “tickle” controls, and wrist gestures
- WatchMaker app on both Google Play and App Store
- Round OLED touchscreen display
- 1.2GHz dual-core MT 2601
- 512M RAM + 4G ROM
- Bluetooth v4.1 with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and speakers
- Plays music via connected Bluetooth headphones or on board speakers
- GPS and GLONASS
- For android devices, connects to Google Fit, Strava and Runkeeper. On iOS devices, Ticwatch 2 connects to Apple Health only
- IP65, not suitable for swimming
- 300mAh battery capacity
- 20mm changeable standard watch strap width
- Mobvoi app store lack depth compared versus Apple Watch and Android Wear
- Short battery life, especially on iOS devices
- Lack of features for iOS mobile devices compared with Android devices
- Tickle feature less responsive that touch screen
- Fitness tracking features limited
- Lack connectivity to Apple Music and Google Play
- Lack NFC for cashless payment capability
- Not water proof
LOOK AND FEEL
The Ticwatch 2 I had was the Charcoal version. There are a few other edition of the Ticwatch 2 such as the Onyx version which ships with a cold-forged stainless strap and watch frame plus sapphire screen. And the Oak version which ships with a cold forged stainless watch frame with leather straps.
The version I had is likely the entry version without any of the aesthetic frills since the Charcoal version ships with a silicon band with aluminum watch frame. Nevertheless, all the Ticwatch 2 versions function identically.
The first impressions I had was that the watch is ridiculously lightweight; it’s almost Swatch-like had it not been for the slightly thick profile.
Save for a single button on the side which gives the Ticwatch 2 the appearance of a standard watch, there are no other physical buttons on the wearable.
The watch strap is changeable with any standard 20mm versions you can find so that should give you some avenue for customisation. Put simply, this watch can pass off as a standard watch if it wasn’t for the glowing screen.
Watch face is easily changeable with a multitude of options to choose from including those from WatchMaker.
Visibility under bright sunlight might be a stretch unless the screen brightness levels are set to maximum. Visibility under low light conditions is great.
The touchscreen enabled display is responsive, more so that the 2 Android Wear devices I’ve used. (Pre Android Wear 2.0 update versions) There’s hardly any noticeable lag when swiping, tapping, accessing Ticwatch 2 functions such as workout history, stopwatch, heart rate measurement and so on.
The unique feature about the Ticwatch 2 is the tickle function which allows the user to stroke the side of the watch to scroll up and down. It’s novel but hardly impressive as I found the touch screen more responsive. The controls takes getting used to but it’s still pretty intuitive. Credit must be given to Mobvoi for the software implementation which, in my opinion, borrows the recognisable from both Apple Watch and Android Wear. The triple fitness rings are from the Apple Watch while the quick cards and access controls are reminiscent of Android Wear.
The Ticwatch 2 works with both iOS and Android platforms but the functionality differs significantly with features on the iOS platform subdued.
Battery life lasts less than a day on iOS platform (usually 18 hours) and slightly more than a full day when connected to Android platform. I’ve been informed that turning off the Bluetooth connection, vibration and minimising the screen brightless levels can stretch the battery life to 3 days. But I thought that’d be pointless since the whole purpose of a full fledged smartwatch is to stay connected to mobile devices.
Both the price tag and watch size are mightily impressive considering the Ticwatch 2 houses GPS, speaker, microphone, accelerometer and 4GB worth of storage for music, not factoring space utilised by the OS.
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES
Fitness and Health
The Ticwatch 2 can track your all day activity levels a la Apple Watch. For starters, this wearable tracks steps, distance, calories, exercise duration and active hours.All that is presented in a triple ring format near identical to that of the Apple Watch except the Ticwatch 2 only shows displays step progress, exercise duration and active hours with the triple rings.Swiping up shows more details and the daily tracked stats are synced and recorded in the Ticwatch mobile app. Mobvoi has also added activity alerts so the wearer may receive notifications to get up after prolonged period of inactivity.
For fitness workout tracking, the Ticwatch 2 has 5 preset profiles which cannot be modified.
- Outdoor Run (Activates GPS)
- Outdoor Walk (Activates GPS)
- Indoor Run
- Cycling (Activates GPS)
- Free Style (For weights training)
The stats to be displayed is limited to duration, distance, average HR, calories burned, average pace and speed. There are no lap functions but you can set a duration or distance to run to. You can further see cadence and stride length in the mobile app after the workout is synced.
Besides connectivity to Apple Health and Google Fit, the Ticwatch 2 does connect to 3rd party apps such as Strava or Runkeeper but only on the Android platform.
The fitness features on the Ticwatch 2 should suit someone starting new to exercise with its pre-set sports profiles and concise tracked stats. Anyone looking for HR zone training or connectivity to 3rd party hardware via Bluetooth Low Energy or ANT+ will find the watch sorely lacking.
Smart Watch features
Being a full fledged smart watch, the Ticwatch 2 offers enhanced connectivity and functions with the connected mobile device compared to your run of the mill activity tracker.You can make, receive calls and dial numbers right from the watch. Notification readability depend on whether you’re on iOS or Android. On iOS, the notifications come up but are not readable. So a notification from Instagram may come up but you won’t know the contents nor the details. Users can also block notifications from certain select mobile apps by tweaking the settings on the Ticwear mobile app.
Inititally I had the impression it would be a pain setting up everything on the watch since the watch doesn’t run a standard Android Wear OS. However, I was proven wrong when the setting up seemed easier than I initially thought. Just that the usability on the iOS and the Android platform differed significantly.
Ticwatch 2 has the Tico Voice search which performs decently well. I was able to set reminders and alarms right on the watch. For example, if I were to say “Set timer for 3 minutes,” the timer function would pop up on screen with 3 minutes count down. User activation is still required to start the timer. If I try searching “Netflix Season 5,” snippets of multiple search results would appear on the display with the option to expand on connected mobile device. That being said, the results cannot be expanded on the Ticwatch 2 itself.
To activate voice search, just say “OK, Tico” like how you would say “OK, Google.” The watch has to be in active mode and not sleep mode before voice search can be used. Contrary to issues highlighted in Ticwatch 2 forums, I didn’t experience any difficulties and it worked like a charm.
Voice search and activation can only be used when the watch is connected to a mobile device or when connected to Wi-Fi. So if you’re out running or going about your workout without your phone or Wi-Fi connection, you’d have no such luck.
One other neat function from connection to Wi-Fi is that it activates the “Cloud sync” feature which allows the phone and watch to stay connected when Bluetooth is disconnected. Turning the Wi-Fi feature on supposedly places extra load on battery usage.
Music files can be transferred from mobile device to the Ticwatch 2 but the process is not without hiccups; took me a few tries to successfully transfer a single 25mb audio file.
The Ticwatch 2 doesn’t have direct connectivity to Google Play or Apple Music so music is restricted to stand alone music files only. Also, I couldn’t jack the watch via a micro USB and do a file transfer as the Ticwatch 2 doesn’t have any ports; so all transfers must be done wirelessly.The saving grace is that once all that is done, you can easily hook up a pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones and play the stored music from the watch while you go about your workout. That’s pretty neat.
If you’re without a pair of Bluetooth headphones, fret not. The Ticwatch will literally play music from the speakers right from the watch. Now that’s mighty impressive.
The Ticwatch 2 can also control music playback on the connected mobile device when apps such as Spotify.
Presently, music transfer is possible via Android devices only. I understand from Mobvoi that music on the watch for iOS users is already available in the company’s internal beta software. Users will be able to access this feature in next update.
Calender events are pulled from Google Calender in my case and the events synced seamlessly. I have to stress that I only tried Google Calender and not calender apps from other platforms such as Apple or Windows.
There are a few other on watch features which are neat but hardly qualify as core functions.
- Take your current heart rate – not stored anywhere
- Countdown timer and Stopwatch
- Voice recorder that stores recorded voice files on watch for playback
- Weather that pulls data from connected device
TICWATCH 2 IN A NUTSHELL
The best smart watch to date I’ve used is definitely the Apple Watch Series 2, hands down no contention. But for something half the price, the Ticwatch 2 comes in at a close second; my other 2 being the Polar M600 and the New Balance RunIQ before Android Wear 2.0 update.The intuitive controls, responsiveness and hardware won me over – the Ticwatch 2 packs a microphone, speaker, Bluetooth, Wifi, accelerometer, optical HR sensors, GPS and on board storage for music. And you got to give Mobvoi credit for squeezing all that into an inconspicuous watch that neither screams smartwatch nor fitness fanatic.
I’ve never been a fan of voice search and still isn’t with the Ticwatch 2, though I have to add that it understood my Singaporean pronunciation most of the time which wasn’t what I got with the Apple Watch Series 2.
There are a few glaring issues that might steer one away from the watch. For starters, Mobvoi’s app store contains minimal apps so popular 3rd party apps running independently is not going to happen for now. Tracked workouts are stored within the Ticwatch mobile app which presently only connects to Apple Health or Google Fit; with more connectivity to 3rd party apps for Android users. Also tracked workout sessions present little stats to work with besides the essentials. Battery life is comparable to other smart watches on the market but it’s still short in my opinion.
Do I like the Ticwatch 2? Sure. It’s one of the better experiences I had with smart watches aside from the Apple Watch Series 2. But I needed more bang for buck with the fitness aspect so I’ll still rely on my trusty Fenix 5.
For those of you who are concerned about a Ticwatch 3 being released in the near future, fret not. Mobvoi has come out to state that they have no plans for a new edition at the moment.
Navicom Pte Ltd is the distributor for the Ticwatch 2 in Singapore and will offer one year local warranty if you decide to make your purchase from them.
You can also purchase the Mobvoi Ticwatch 2 from Amazon where there’s usually a slight discount, great return policy, and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return your purchase helps to offset the costs associated with the running of this site. Thanks for reading!