Tuesday , June 5 2018

Mobvoi Ticwatch S — Australian Review


There’s plenty of Android Wear watches on the market, but the latest to be released is the Mobvoi Ticwatch S (and E, but we’ve got the S for now). The watch is their larger model with a sports focus, incorporating GPS, heart rate monitor and all the usual sensors to allow you to get a good workout, while taking advantage of the breadth of the Android Wear app eco-system.

The Ticwatch S has seen a lot of coverage due to its feature set and low price, and at just $253.63AUD to order from Mobvoi which includes free shipping the Ticwatch S is hard to pass up for the budget conscious users out there.

There’s three colours on offer from Mobvoi: Glacier (White), Knight (Black) and Aurora (Yellow) and after years of black and white smart watches I grabbed the Aurora colour because, well, why not? And after wearing it for a week there has been some great feedback from people loving the colour. Scott has a Black Ticwatch S, and it looks pretty good too with the yellow highlights.

So, it looks great, has a bunch of hardware you want inside and it’s cheap – so should you buy one? Well, let’s find out.

Hardware and Design

The design of the watch is pretty well what you’d expect from a modern watch, it’s got a fully round (no flat tyre) 1.4″ 400×400 resolution OLED display with anti-scratch glass. The display is quite nice to look at with the deep blacks you associate with OLED displays there. It’s easy to read inside, but has some issues when in direct sunlight even when at full brightness.

Surrounding the display is a numbered, non-movable bezel. I’m not a diver so I’m at a bit of a loss as to why I would need a rotating bezel, but I’m also at a loss as to why it’s got a numbered bezel as well. Still, it sort of makes it look more like watch, so that’s cool.

One big design change the Ticwatch series boasts is the move of the crown from the right hand side to the left. This change puzzled me, but after using it for a week in daily life and at the gym, I’m actually finding I’m Ok with it.

For daily use, the crown on the left is fine, I can press it with my thumb or if you’re wearing it on your right wrist (lefties represent!) you can use your index finger for a change. It’s at the gym where it comes into its own with the crown on previous Android Wear watches I’ve used getting pressed when using certain weight machines. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s been pleasant for me to not wake my watch when working out.

The case is made of polycarbonate and it’s got an IP67 rating meaning the case is strong, and has the bonus that you can go for a swim or shower with it without fear. I wouldn’t be going diving while wearing it as IP67 only allows for immersion between 15 cm and 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The rear of the watch has a 2-LED PPG (Optical) heart rate monitor, and some POGO pins for charging. The 2-LED setup is fairly standard for most Android Wear watches and it falls into the range of ‘good enough’ when it comes to basic fitness tracking. It’s not going to measure up to the Polar M600 and its 6-LED PPG heart rate monitor but it’s ok.

The band on the Ticwatch S is fixed, it contains the GPS antenna, so it’s a like it or lump it option in terms of comfort. The band is rubberised and has two rings for holding the excess strap in place so it’s not flapping about. It’s comfortable enough to wear and feels chunky enough that it doesn’t immediately feel like it’s going to fall apart at the drop of a hat.

Internally, the Ticwatch S is powered by a Mediatek processor (a dual-core 1.2GHz MTK MT2601 to be precise), but all the other hardware reads like a standard Android Wear device: 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a 300mAh battery.

The Mediatek processor is definitely up to the task, it’s designed specifically for wearables by Mediatek and runs almost like any equivalent Snapdragon 2100 or Intel based Android Wear watch I’ve used so far. There’s slight lag you may notice between when you lift the watch up and when the display lights up, or when you wait for Google to respond to the ‘Ok Google’ voice command, but it’s mostly fast. Battery life is essentially on par with those other branded processors as well, averaging around a day.

The watch supports dual-band WiFi to connect to the internet, as well as Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy) to connect to your phone or to connect a bluetooth headset to play music while you workout. It also comes with GPS (Glonass+GPS+Beidou and AGPS) support which is amazing for the price. It doesn’t have NFC which was a bit controversial, but considering the price you’re paying and the hardware already jammed in here I’m Ok with that.

Full specs include:

Key Specifications:Ticwatch S
Screen size1.4-inch
Screen technologyOLED
Resolution400x400
PPI287
ChipsetMTK MT2601
Core config1.2GHz
RAM512MB
Storage4GB
MicroSD
Battery300 mAh
Charging methodMagnetic connecting pin charging.
CellularNo
SpeakerYes
Android OSAndroid Wear 2.0
Dimensions
  • 45mm diameter
  • 13mm thick
Weight46g
Colours
  • White
  • Lime Green
  • Black
Build materialsPolycarbonate
Band colours
Band materialsTPU
Band swappable

Battery Life and charging

The Ticwatch series uses POGO pins to charge the watch with a magnetic connector. The cradle is actually pretty decent, but it’s not perfect. You do have to ensure the connector is lined up and the watch is charging before you place it down for the night – or while it’s charging. One of the first nights I wasn’t so careful and it didn’t actually charge the watch, but it didn’t matter greatly because for charging, the Ticwatch is super fast, taking a mere 60 minutes to go from completely flat to 100% charge.

In terms of battery life, that night not charging the watch allowed me to get a good idea of the battery life. I used the watch with Always On Display turned Off and screen brightness at full and got about a day and a half, so it’s about on-par with other Android Wear watches.

Software

The Ticwatch S runs Android Wear 2.0 – or to be more precise Android Wear 2.5.0.172604017. The watch is running the October 5th security patch which was updated as soon as I connected the watch. I haven’t seen an update to the November security patch, nor to Android Wear 2.6 which is rolling out to some watches but with Google controlling updates I have no doubts it will be along shortly.

Watchfaces
As usual with any Android Wear watch release Mobvoi has released some specific watch faces for the Ticwatch series. There’s a number pre-installed: Simple Sport, Sport, Sport Heartbeat, Sporter, Wander, Blues, Colorful, Atom, Castle, Tourbillons, Ticwatch x MLGB, Steck, Calendar, Golden Coffee, NOMOS, Simple Green LED and Elements Pointer.

You can as usual install third party watch faces to the Ticwatch, there’s the Google Play store on the watch.

GPS
The one great feature from the Mobvoi Ticwatch S is the inclusion of GPS. For runners looking to get into fitness tracking on the cheap this is great. As far as GPS tracking goes, it’s good, it’s really good. After the requisite few seconds required to lock onto a GPS signal, the GPS is great tracking your run, bike ride or walk.

Once you end the exercise in the Fitness app on your watch, the data is synced to your phone to the Ticwatch app, along with all the other data like distance, duartion, calories burned. You also get your heart rate data, pace, step frequency, step length and of course the all important map showing where you went.

Apps
As far as pre-installed apps go, there’s the Fitness app, as well as a Health, Step Ranking and Heart rate monitor apps. You get the usual Google apps such as a Flashlight (turns your screen white and goes to full brightness), as well as Agenda, Alarm, Contacts, Find my Phone, Google Fit/Google Fit Workout, Phone, Stopwatch, Timer, Weather and Contacts apps.

Google Play is there so you can install all your favourite Android Wear apps as well.

Fitness Tracking

The Ticwatch S comes with a bunch of sensors inside – GPS, Heart-rate monitor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, e-Compass – most of which are designed to help track your movements and hence your fitness. As well as hardware there’s also a software component with a ‘Fitness’ Android Wear app installed.

The Ticwatch Fitness Android Wear app ties-in with the Ticwatch app on your phone. On your wrist you can track a run/walk both inside and outside, or you can track a bike ride with the outside and cycle options obviously using GPS to track you. You can also do a ‘Freestyle’ workout which appears to be aimed at tracking a weight workout.

My running days are slowly coming to an end with my knees only capable of sporadic runs, so my main choice of cardio is the elliptical machine. Unfortunately the Ticwatch S doesn’t seem to be able to track correctly. I was disappointed to see an average of 800 steps added to my daily total after my usual half-hour workout, which other fitness trackers have logged at between 5,000-5,500 steps.

So, I’m left with the problem of if your fitness tracker doesn’t record your workout – did you really do it?

That said, walking and running you get a good step count on par with other fitness trackers and Android Wear watches so I’m happy with the results here.

Conclusion

The Ticwatch S is a pretty great smartwatch full stop, even if you don’t take into account the almost stupidly cheap price.

The issue of not tracking my elliptical workouts is annoying, but it’s not a massive issue for most people, especially if that’s not your preferred method of exercise. All the other fitness tracking through GPS and step counts work perfectly so that’s a massive tick right there.

The watch runs smoothly on the Mediatek processor and the inclusion of all that hardware is pretty amazing when you do take into account the cheap price of the watch.

I would prefer NFC to be in the watch, but until NAB or St George start supporting Android Pay it’s not completely necessary for me, but for others who do use Android Pay it may be a bit of an issue. Then again, tapping and paying with your phone or your Credit Card isn’t that big of a hassle so that’s all you may need.

There’s very little around on the Android Wear landscape that comes close to the Ticwatch S in terms of hardware and price, its sporty design may not be for everyone but at this price why not have a sports watch for workouts and a dress watch for business or pleasure?

The Mobvoi website is selling out of the Ticwatch S so I recommend you check it out post haste, for me I’m glad I got in on the Kickstarter because this watch is pretty darn nice.

Daniel Tyson   Editor

Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

9 comments

  1. Just ordered mine with the xmas coupon promotion, I wanted an Android Wear watch with inbuilt GPS and HR and this fit the bill perfectly

  2. I Kickstarted the watch as well but still don’t have mine… On 11/11, I was sent a DHL tracking code which doesn’t work other than to say it’s been received in Hong Kong for shipping. DHL says they don’t have it yet and Mobvoi won’t respond to my emails or FB messages… Really not sure what to do 😟

    • When my tracking to Perth didn’t change for over a week after receiving the code, I emailed Mobvoi, but as nice as they tried to be, their lack of understanding english made the process so painful, and I didn’t get my issue resolved regarding shipping.

      Eventually it just updated though on DHL’s site and arrived within 3-4 business days.

      • i got mine ok. maybe i was lucky

        • I also got mine last wednesday no issues

        • They provided the tracking code and then there was no progression for a week after, which meant there was a period of time between DHL notification about the package (12th) and initial Delivery progression (23rd) where nothing happened (tracking codes popped up around the 16th?), that seemed to be across the board for Australians. Once it was updated it went through quickly enough.

          Sorry, I should’ve made it clear there was no direct issue with the shipping, more so an unclear and confusing transition period between Mobvoi delivering the product and DHL receiving it, this is not long before their PR stated it was in queue on the plane.

          As soon as DHL got their hands on it, it only took 3 Business days to arrive: I’ve had mine since the 27th (last Monday).

    • Am a little concerned I still don’t and they aren’t contacting me back…. Will try again…

  3. I just received last week a Mobvoi TicWatch S as a KS Backer, to try and get a ‘current’ Smartwatch to ensure I have something that can take over my Pebble 2HR. I’ve been so disappointed, from the difficulty in daytime viewing (nay, impossible), to the daily charging to provide confidence a morning alarm will go off. The battery drops so much overnight, which I believe is such a waste considering I’m not actually using it. Going from a full charge last night, to 40% this morning. The wrist-turn to activate the watch face is fairly sporadic, with it often not registering; I miss the shake to turn the backlight on that I had on the pebble. Hell, the epaper screen meant I often didn’t have to, and god forbid I turn on Always-on, a function which should be standard in a watch but is required not to be on in order to “squeeze” that little bit more battery life. Not to mention it remains on at night, meaning I have this bright beam of light on my hand, again why not have the ability to enable during the day, and disable at night in an automatic manner.

    However, then there’s the issues with Android wear, with many features lacking which just felt normal to have on a watch that were present on Pebble. Timed Do Not Disturb mode, auto sleep monitoring, oh and all Calls coming through DND mode, why only have the option for favourites?

    The make of the watch itself isn’t bad, but there’s too many negatives overall that outweigh the positives.

    It’s just reinforced how lucky I was to have a Pebble, then a Pebble 2 HR, and how unfortunate it was to not have the Pebble Time 2 go through. I feel it is the standard for smartwatches to meet, especially in regards to Battery Life.

    Honestly, I feel like Google have just released Android Wear as a new user, just like how I felt when I bought their Google Home once it first came out.

    I personally do not recommend the watch to anyone who previously had a pebble, I believe you will be disappointed. However, if you’re already used to the Android Wear Ecosystem, you will probably love it and the price. As a first time entrant into Android wear, I’ve been disappointed.

    • I received my Ticwatch S last week and as a long time Pebble user I’m impressed. Price vs Functionality is the key here and the Ticwatch S is ticking a lot of boxes.

      Not sure what problems you’re having on the screen, it’s perfectly viewable in daylight for me. As for battery life, most smartwatches all need to be charged daily, the Pebble was limited in terms of what it did so got more battery life. You do have a point on the wrist turn to activate as they pointed out in the review it was/is laggy.

      You seem to be viewing the Pebble 2 HR with rose coloured glasses, I went through 3 with hardware faults sending it back and forth to the US was a pain in the butt.

      • Functionality wise it doesn’t do a lot more than I need it to do, but there are some cool additional features: but it’s features I would happily give up for extended battery life. There was nothing wrong with my pebble really, but from that to this, some of the best improvements would be the touch screen (typing and selecting is a lot easier), and the voice recognition is great. There has been a lot of hit-and-miss regarding the voice, I’m unsure if it’s just due to Android Wear voice functionality. I try and add something to the shopping list and it provides a search link. I guess it is just different activated voice functions, similar of that between the Android Phones and Google Homes. Most other things seem fine and snappy.

        There’s been nothing that’s made me go “WOW” though.

        One big thing for me, I don’t even get notified if I get a phone call, which was a big “What the f**k” moment for me. When I go home and my old Pebble connects to my phone, it’s distant vibrating is the only reason I’m currently notified that I have an incoming phone call. When I’m at work I literally have no idea, only finding out when I receive a text message saying I have a missed call and it vibrates.

        Outside I cannot see the screen without heavily shading the watch. Although this is keeping in mind my brightness is set to 1. Heaven forbid I have to set the brightness to 5 to drain my already hastily draining battery. Not to mention that every single function on Android Wear seems to rely upon manual designation.

        Do Not Disturb Mode? Manual. Why would I want notifications every night when I’m sleeping, means I have to turn it off and on every single day.

        Brightness? Manual. Fair enough as it doesn’t have a light sensor, but it’s inability to see at level 1 outside makes indoor/outdoor transitions painful.

        Always on Display? Manual. This is the worst, I need it on as to make it function like a normal watch during the day, but then at night it’s too bright to sleep with.

        Sleep Tracking? Manual. Laying – for the most part – motionless for 8 hours should automatically register as sleep.

        In regards to your hardware faults, my original pebble’s had the issue of the screen tearing, which was a known problem and I fixed with a small piece of paper in the back strangely enough. However my Pebble 2 HR has never had an issue and was nothing short of impressive. I found the support was quick and easy to deal with too, but this was when Pebble was up and running though.

        The only reason I would recommend this watch over a Pebble Watch, is the fact that support finishes in 2017, potentially turning them into a fancy brick. I only hope that Fitbit uses the resources they have from Pebble and Vector and produce something worthy, and doesn’t break the bank.

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