Hands on: TicWatch E2 review

Return of the affordable Wear OS watch

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

The TicWatch E2 is a neat little smartwatch that picks up where the previous model left off, delivering more fitness smarts for a (likely) low cost, on a watch that will work with pretty much any smartphone.

For

  • Loads of fitness elements
  • Clear display

Against

  • Chunky compared to normal watches
  • Some features, like fall detection, still to come

We’ve long been fans of the Mobvoi TicWatch range, simply because of the mix the brand offers: smarter Wear OS watches, but not charging a huge amount for the privilege. 

The TicWatch E2, shown off at CES 2019, is the next step along that road, bringing with it Google’s smarts while not (likely) charging a lot for the privilege, making it another contender for our best smartwatch list.

The E2 brings a few new features to the mix compared to its predecessor, so if you’re thinking of getting your hands on a smartwatch now might be the time.

TicWatch E2 price and release date

As mentioned, we don’t know the TicWatch E2 price just yet, but at $159 / £140 for the predecessor we’d expect something broadly similar, despite the extra functionality built in.

The release date is still in flux as well, but we’re expecting it to land pretty soon as the market intensifies in the smartwatch race.

Design

The TicWatch E2 is at the lower end of the Mobvoi range, but that doesn’t mean it’s an ugly device by any means. It lacks the metallic smarts of the TicWatch Pro, but the round rubber design doesn’t feel terrible.

When you consider it’s got a 415mAh battery inside - an upgrade from the 300mAh option in the previous model - then the slightly raised thickness makes sense.

The E2 is also rated to 5ATM, meaning it’s much more capable as a swimmer’s device - something Mobvoi is pushing hard in its marketing materials.

The overall rubberized effect is attractive enough, and while it feels a little chunky compared to a normal watch, it’s in keeping with many smartwatches on the market and you can kind of forgive it given the expected lower price.

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There’s a single, rounded, button on the side which allows you to enter the app screen or move around the interface, but otherwise you’re navigating with clean, crisp swipes on the 1.39-inch OLED display.

The color reproduction is good and clear on the watch, and it looks like it’d be pretty legible in brighter situations.

Features

The TicWatch E2 is imbued with a number of useful features, with Mobvoi talking up the artificial intelligence of its device as the reason that it can outshine competitor’s devices.

The first new feature coming with the E2 is the automatic exercise detection, the capability to know when you’re taking a nap or just starting up a quick run, you won’t need to flick through a number of screens to start moving.

This is similar to what you can get on the Apple Watch, which will note when you start an exercise, but will only ask you if you’re doing such a thing after about 10 minutes, while Mobvoi is claiming it’s much sooner than that, so you’re always logging your workouts.

Said efforts are logged in the Google Fit app, or the TicWatch equivalent app (if you prefer that) - you can simply switch between the two with a long-press of the screen.

The battery life of the smartwatch is said to be two days, with the improved processor and efficiency inside helping it outstrip certain rivals - we’ll be looking at that further when we get to fully review the TicWatch E2.

Early verdict

The TicWatch E2 is going to be a smartwatch that will be the first many ever consider. While there are a few good apps in the mix, it’s hard to say whether Wear OS is at the point where many people will be hankering for one in the same way iPhone users do the Apple Watch.

That said, the E2 is an impressive low-cost smartwatch with a number of smarter features, especially in the fitness space. Adding in SWOLF monitoring makes it more of a catch for swimmers and golfers, and the auto exercise tracking mean you’re getting far more with this smartwatch than you’d expect.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.