Ticwatch S review: Sporty smartwatch needs more battery muscle
The Ticwatch S is affordable and very light and comfortable to wear, although it would benefit from improved battery stamina.
- Light build
- Competitive price point
- GPS and heart rate sensor built in
- Good OLED display
- No NFC
- Single-day battery life despite two-day claim
- Doesn't use standard watch straps
- Custom charging cable
Mobvoi isn't a big name in the smartwatch space, with only a handful of mostly kickstarter-backed watches to its name. With the Ticwatch S and Ticwatch E, it's marking out some very solid ground in the affordable smartwatch space, however. Or at least, that's the promise.
Ticwatch S: Design
Mobvoi, makers of the Ticwatch currently sell two different models. The Ticwatch S is the more expensive of the pair, with the lower cost Ticwatch E ("Express", if you care) also available. The primary difference between the two models is in the strap.
The sportier Ticwatch S features its inbuilt GPS sensor within the strap, for a claimed higher accuracy rating. That does mean it can't take a standard watch strap, something you can do with the regular Ticwatch E.
The Ticwatch S features a 1.4-inch OLED display with a 400x400 pixel display. That gives it a resolution of 287 dpi, which is perfectly adequate for a smartwatch. There's no sign of the "flat tyre" effect seen on some round smartwatches here. Depending on your preferences, you can get the Ticwatch S in a straight black style (as tested) or more vibrant, sporty hues.
The design of the Ticwatch S is a homage to classic sports watch designs, although there's no sign of more premium metals at play here.
Instead, you're staring at an all-plastic body ringed with five-second time increments. These are decorative, with the only control being a single side-mounted button.
We've seen many different approaches to smartwatch control of late, including the Apple Watch's "Digital Crown" or Samsung's spinning dial control for its Gear watches. Going back to one button feels very retro in its approach.
One very welcome aspect of the Ticwatch S is its weight. At 45.5g (or 41.5g if you opt for the cheaper E version), it's one of the lightest smartwatches you can buy.
This comes into its own if you exercise with it – which is rather the point of a sports watch – because it won't impact your performance in any major way at all. Even in day-to-day wear, I found myself forgetting it was on my wrist until it vibrated an alert.Back to top
Ticwatch S: Performance
The Ticwatch S is a Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) smartwatch. This means (as it does for every other Wear OS device) that Mobvoi has significant restrictions on customisation beyond a few watch-face options. That doesn't mean you can't make it your own with watch faces or apps. It's simply that they're the same as every other Wear OS device.
One way that Mobvoi has kept the price down is in using a lower-power Mediatek MT2601 processor rather than the Snapdragon 2100 you'll find on many other Wear OS devices. That does mean the Ticwatch is slightly slower than some competing devices, but not to a level where it's particularly problematic. Costs are also kept down by leaving NFC off the menu, which means that this isn't a watch you can use Google Pay with at all.
Mobvoi does produce its own app for its smartwatches, but this is only a simple fitness app. The odds are very good that if you're a fitness enthusiast, you've already got a platform of choice in this respect. As long as it's Wear OS ready (and the majority of the most prominent apps are), you should have little issue using the Ticwatch S to track your exercise activities.
Mobvoi's contention is that the external antenna in the Ticwatch S should be better for accurately tracking outdoor activities. Lacking the Ticwatch E, I can't say for sure that this is true, but I had little issue with its GPS tracking. You also get an onboard optical heart rate sensor, located on the bottom of the watch itself. Like all optical sensors, the accuracy isn't superb unless you're willing to wear the Ticwatch S on the underside of your wrist.Back to top
Ticwatch S: Battery life
There is one notable weak point in the performance of the Ticwatch S, and that's in its battery life and in charging.
Ticwatch claims a battery life of 48 hours (or more) "depending on usage", but in my own tests, I've struggled to get through more than a day, even on moderate usage.
Realistically, you will have to recharge the Ticwatch S every single night. Forget, and your smartwatch will suddenly become very dumb indeed. That's a design idea out of the first generation of smartwatches, and it's not a welcome return.
Ticwatch uses a custom magnetic charging cable to provide power. There's no charger in the box, but the odds are good you've got a standard USB charger somewhere.
What you won't have is a spare charging cable for the office, or for that matter if you lose or break the single cable you're given. Charging via Qi, or even USB C or micro USB would make it a lot easier to keep the Ticwatch S topped up.Back to top
Ticwatch S: Should you buy it?
We're still waiting for the "killer app" use case for smartwatches.
Sports tracking and notifications are fine, but you can get that on any smartwatch, and most fitness trackers too.
The Ticwatch S doesn't change that in any real way. It's a light and easy to use smartwatch, and it's aggressively priced for its feature set. If you only need a simple smartwatch and can put up with the battery life, it's recommended.Back to top
Ticwatch S: Pricing and availability
The Ticwatch S is available in Australia for around $269.99. However, it's worth shopping around because it's not that hard to find a few bargains on both the Ticwatch S and the cheaper $219.99 Ticwatch E.
Buy the Ticwatch S from Amazon AU
The TicWatch S brings you Google's Wear OS with compatibility for both Android and iOS devices, along with sporty features such as embedded GPS and heart rate tracking.View details
Ticwatch S: What the other reviewers say
|TechRadar||"A sophisticated smartwatch with a budget price tag"
|Ausdroid||"There’s very little around on the Android Wear landscape that comes close to the Ticwatch S in terms of hardware and price"||N/A|
|Android Authority||"The latest that the Android Wear OS can offer is here for you to try in the Ticwatch E and S, even if the experience is proportionate to the price point."
Ticwatch S specifications
- Product name
- Ticwatch S
- Display size
- 1.4 inches
- 287 ppi
- Mediatek MT2601 1.2GHz dual-core
- Operating system
- Wear OS 1.3
- Heart rate sensor
- Up to 48 hours claimed
- 45mm watch face