Wearables

TicWatch 2: An affordable and reliable smartwatch

The TicWatch 2 has Mobvoi's voice assistant, Tico. But don't expect it to give witty replies to some questions like Siri does.
The TicWatch 2 has Mobvoi's voice assistant, Tico. But don't expect it to give witty replies to some questions like Siri does.PHOTO: MOBVOI

TicWatch 2 is a smartwatch by Mobvoi, a China-based tech company. The original TicWatch was launched only in China, but its successor is now available here.

There are four models of TicWatch 2 - Charcoal, Snow, Oak and Onyx. The entry-level models are Charcoal (all-black) and Snow (all-white). Both are priced at $359, and feature an aluminium watch case, silicone watch band and Gorilla Glass screen.

The Oak ($449) model is more premium with a stainless-steel watch case and leather watch band, but it still sports a Gorilla Glass screen.

I reviewed the flagship Onyx ($549) version. Like the Oak model, it has a stainless-steel case but it comes with a stainless-steel watch band and a sapphire-glass screen.

The build of the Onyx model is quite superb for its price tag. It feels premium and elicited numerous nods of approval from my friends. While it is a tad heavy, it feels really comfortable.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $359 (Charcoal, Snow), $449 (Oak), $549 (Onyx, version tested)

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 118g (Onyx)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Apart from the differences in build, all the models have the same functionalities like a built-in heart-rate monitor (HRM), GPS, and Mobvoi's very own voice assistant, Tico. You can also make and receive calls with the TicWatch 2.

Running on Mobvoi's own Ticwear 4.0 OS, which is based on Android Wear, the watch is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. But some features, like voice reply to SMS or activity tracking, are missing when paired with iPhones.

All the TicWatch 2 models sport the same minimalist sleek design, with a round 1.4-inch touchscreen display surrounded by a thin bezel. The display is sharp and easy to read, even in daylight.

There is only one Home button on one side. The other side is devoid of buttons for a reason. It houses the Tickle, which is a touch-sensitive strip that allows you to scroll through the menu without covering the display. A nice touch.

I like the fact that, depending on whether you are a right-hander or left-hander, you can wear the watch with the Home button on either the left or the right. You just have to set your preference during the set-up to change the display orientation accordingly.

The menu interface is easy to navigate, with big icons that make it easy to tap. You swipe down on the display to access quick options like Airplane, Sleep or Silent modes. Swipe up to look at the notifications. Swipe to the left to access pre-loaded apps like Heart Rate, Weather, Calculator and Settings.

Swiping to the right will activate Tico. It can pick up simple commands like what's the weather today, or set a reminder.

But Tico is no Siri. It will search "How are you?" when asked, instead of giving you a witty reply like what Siri will do.

Another downer is the use of the Mobvoi store. It lacks the wealth of apps available in the Google Play Store. However, there are plenty of free watch faces you can download.

The TicWatch 2 doubles as a fitness tracker and running watch. But I found the step tracking to be quite generous, clocking more steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Nike+ by around 12 per cent. But heart-rate readings differed by only around three beats per minute when compared with the Apple Watch Nike+.

It took, on average, a rather long 70sec to get a GPS signal lock when I was starting my jogs around my HDB estate.

But the distance tracked during runs by the TicWatch 2 is at most only 50m longer than my usual 4km jogging route.

The battery life of the TicWatch 2 is average. Paired constantly with a smartphone, it can last around two days before you need to charge it.

The Onyx model might seem a tad pricey. But if you compare it with the Apple Watch Series 2 with similar specs, it is nearly half the price. Plus, you can always go for the cheaper Charcoal or Snow model, and swop with any third-party 20mm watch band of your choice.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: The TicWatch 2 is a surprisingly competent smartwatch at an affordable price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'TicWatch 2: An affordable and reliable smartwatch'. Print Edition | Subscribe