Ticwatch S2 Review

Digital devices such as the Fitbit series and the Apple Watch have been blending the difference between pure fitness trackers and “smart” watches. WearOS is Google’s attempt to do this very thing with multiple partners, as they do with Android. Over the years, it has been challenging for OEM’s to create value in this space. Mobvoi, a company out of China and officially backed by Google are the makers of the Ticwatch series of Android Wear smartwatches, with a number of models now to choose from since their initial launch in 2012.

Their mid-level option is the Ticwatch S2 priced around $179.99, featuring Google Wear 2.0 that works with both Android and iOS devices. We have been testing and putting it through its paces for a few days now and have come up with rather mixed feelings.

The body of the watch face is simple (cheap) in design, featuring an all plastic build. There is a single button on the right-hand side that allows you to power it on, manually rebooting it (if held down) and gives access to the installed app list. The backside of the watch features a sensor for tracking your heart rate with, doubling as the contacts for the magnetic charger snaps into place over.

The watch band is a silicone elastic solution that does feel rather nice; especially compared to counterparts such as the Fitbit Versa. Throughout my time wearing the device I felt no discomfort. However, the band does feature a proprietary and user-friendly sliding pin that allows you to easily swap a band on and off with. The band also seems durable during my short time with it.

The watch face features a 1.4-inch capacitive multi-touch  400×400 OLED display (287dpi). Coming from being a Fitbit Versa user myself, the screen size and quality is a godsend. User controls, finger input, and overall visibility are just better. It was the standout aspect of this device by far for me; albeit with a hint of bias.  Mobvoi states the glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The screen truly looks great for this price range and responds well to touch. Water-resistance is also a feature attributed to this watch but I was unable to put it through its paces to truly validate its quality. It does have an IP67 rating.

It offers a long list of apps and features that you can download to the watch or interact with your phone with,  for example allowing you to stream music, manage your todo list or calendar, check the weather, etc. (Wear OS bakes these capabilities in); even Google Assistant as it does have a mic and a speaker. For this price range, this is really nice to see. There is a great deal of value here. Some features are limited in scope if you’re using an iPhone versus an Android device (i.e. can’t reply to texts) but I’ll get more into that later in the review.

Customization is plentiful here and comes preset with various watch faces, some being dynamic by showing live metrics such as steps, heart rate, and workouts if partnered with the separately downloaded Google Fit App. You can also download additional collections if the ones on the device don’t suit your needs. Fitness-wise, it is able to track your heart rate thanks to the sensor on the back, and it supports Mobvoi’s own self-titled app, which I recommend to stay away from. Stick with the Google Fit app folks.

The fact this device has a built-in GPS is mind-blowing for the price. Other dedicated fitness trackers in the market use built-in GPS’s as a way to hike the prices on various versions of their models. Mobvoi is again adding great value for your dollar here. This is another layer to the fitness capabilities of the device that adds to the prospect of solely purchasing the device for its actual fitness features, versus just being a gimmick.

Sleep tracking is supported as well. It doesn’t have any native apps, but you can use third-party sleep tracking options to accomplish this with. However, you will more than likely not find yourself using it for this since it would never work out due to the battery life. Battery life is one of our biggest issues I have with the Ticwatch S2. Quite simply, it’s abysmal. Mobvoi claims battery life is up to 48 hours, which is either overly exaggerated or just a plain lie. I believe this is where Mobvoi cut corners to make the device the price it is. On average, I saw about a single days worth of use before it’s back on the charger if you can make it even last that long. If you’re incorporating any fitness activities throughout a given day, I recommend you bring the charger with you as it depletes very quickly.

The accessories that come in the box are basic. You get a USB cable with a proprietary magnetic connector at the end. You can use any wall adapter or for a slightly slower charge, you can use any USB port on a computer or laptop. The magnetic connector snaps into place on the backside of the watch and does seem to make the connection easily. Unlike every single Fitbit proprietary charges. Beyond that, you get some instructions to walk you through the process of setting the watch up with your phone. It can all be accomplished by downloading Google’s “Wear OS” app. Which leads me to pair this device with an iPhone. The actual pairing process with this device, an iPhone, and the Wear OS app can drive a person mad. Connecting through the Bluetooth section in settings on your phone is nearly impossible. You MUST make sure the device is in a factory reset default state for the Wear OS app to even recognize the device. Even after paired, you will experience intermittent issues of the connection being lost. Truth be told, I believe this is Google’s fault as the app’s rating in the App store is 1.3. Google may be making the experience difficult on purpose to convert you over to an Android device. Of course, this is speculative and not founded on anything of substance, just know your experiences on an iPhone device will frustrate you, daily.

Our Take:

For $179.99, the Mobvoi Ticwatch S2 has a place in the market for some consumers. It has a ton of features that stack up with other device priced considerably higher. The watch face is a standout, it features Gorilla Glass 3, and the watch in whole feels durable enough to last through your average amount of daily wear. The battery life is basically a deal breaker for me, combined with the woes of using the device with an iPhone. However, if you want to get into the smartwatch/fitness arena and have an Android device I highly recommend grabbing this.