You’ve heard all of the standard names when it comes to smartwatches — Huawei, Samsung, LG, Moto, TAG Heuer and so many more. But, one you probably haven’t heard of is Mobvoi, one of the first Chinese companies Google has backed since leaving the country in 2010. With that in mind, we’re a little intrigued about what the company has to offer, especially after its successful Kickstart campaign over and abundantly funded the development of its new smartwatch, the Ticwatch 2.
It’s not running Android Wear, but that’s largely because many of Google’s services aren’t available in China. Instead, it’s running a spinoff of Android — Ticwear 4.0. Sure, it makes you question where the watch is worth picking up or not, but you actually might be surprised.
Join us after the break for details.
The actual design of the watch is pretty standard. Everyone shouts about wanting unique design in smartphones, which is quite hard to do. It’s, well, a phone, and eventually, there’s not much you can do with it. And the same goes for a watch. It’s generally a circular piece of metal, so you’re not going to see much innovation as far as that goes. That said, the Tichwatch 2 looks pretty standard. There’s nothing that jumps out as unique.
It’s not a bad thing, though. The Ticwatch 2 still looks very nice. It’s sleek, elegant and feels comfortable around the wrist — a good quality to have if you’re wearing it day-in and day-out. There’s a small button on the watch that can return you to the main watch face (as opposed to, say, viewing apps). On the other side of the watch is a touch-sensitive strip that can be used for scrolling so you don’t have to block the screen with your finger.
Like I said, it is comfortable to wear. As someone who doesn’t wear a watch, it was a little strange putting it on at first, but it wasn’t too bad after awhile. I received the Charcoal unit, so what came with it was a silicone strap. There are other varying designs, too.
Mobvoi offers them in Charcoal, Snow, Oak and Onyx. They come with a black silicone strap, white silicone strap, leather strap and stainless steel strap, respectively. Of course, the price does vary depending on which unit you pick.
The Ticwatch 2 is 42mm in size, has a dual-core MediaTek processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a 1.4-inch 400×400 OLED display with 287 pixels-per-inch and a 300mAh battery.
The display, as goes for most smartwatches is quite nice. It’s 1.4-inches in size with a 400 x 400 screen resolution. You get an OLED panel with 287 pixels-per-inch. Overall, it looks very elegant and detailed. Colors are vibrant and blacks are deep. It can get fairly bright, too. This is a great thing if you’re outside and think you might have trouble seeing the screen in the daylight.
Admittedly, the Tickwatch 2 is fast, though not all the time. For the most part, it seems speedy, but it does get sluggish at some points, which I can only attest to being the relatively tame dual-core processor and small 512MB of RAM or the software. I’m leaning towards the former, since the software feels rock solid (we’ll get to that later).
I wouldn’t let the tad bit of sluggishness deter you from purchasing the watch, though. It’s far and few between and usually only takes a couple of seconds to catch up. Not only that, but Mobvoi is continuously improving the software, so the hardware-software interaction will only get better and (hopefully) more efficient.
Besides that, the only weird thing that didn’t perform well was the touch-sensitive strip. It felt weird and clunky, mostly because it wasn’t very responsive. But, since you can use the screen itself to navigate around, it was a non-issue and will probably be the go-to way for navigation anyway.
With the Ticwatch 2, you get a 300mAh battery. It might seem small, but it’s actually really efficient. Under moderate use, I was able to get a little more than day out of the smartwatch. Under heavier use, you’ll end up throwing it on the charger by the end of the day. Of course, depending on how you use it, your mileage may vary.
To charge it, there are gold contacts on the back of the Ticwatch 2. Basically, you’ll set it on a small “puck” that comes with the Ticwatch 2 and it’ll start wireless charging. Of course, the puck will have to be be plugged in with a micro-USB cord to do this.
The software, you might be surprised, is actually insanely good. Ticwatch 4.0, loosely based off of Android Wear, is smooth, well-built, but different. The interface implemented in Ticwatch 4.0 is called Cubic UI, according to Mobvoi. It’s a nice, quick and efficient interface that allows for easy navigation. Built off of Android, there are a lot of similarities. But, it’s not quite the same thing. For example, Google’s Android Wear is generally much brighter, thanks to the dominate white theme that’s used. In Ticwatch 2.0, Mobvoi opted for a dark theme, using mostly blacks. I have to say, I prefer Mobvoi’s choice better — colors are vibrant, blacks are deep and it’s overall easy on the eyes.
Now, because of Google’s tense relations with China due to different policy beliefs, there aren’t any Google Play services on the Tichwatch 2.0. It’s something we might be able to hope for in the future, but right now, there’s nothing. But, you can still download apps on the Mobvoi AppStore through the Ticwear app on your phone. There’s plenty of different apps you’ll be able to download, but once again, since it’s not Android Wear, there’s not a whole lot here.
One neat thing included in the software is a voice assistant similar to that of Google Now. The voice technology is called Chumenwenwen, which is what Google has been using for Android Wear devices in China since its services aren’t allowed in the country. That in mind, this is my first time using the famed voice technology, and it actually works really well. It’s not making any serious leaps or bounds or bringing any crazy new tech to the table, but it’s improved off what we already have. It’s just good — it’s responsive, can hear you clearly and rarely makes a mistake. The voice assistant — of course — can do all the standard stuff, make calls, send texts, create reminders, events and so on.
The last element I’ll mention is the ability to call. Yes, your smartwatch has to be connected to your phone to do this, but surprisingly, the call quality is insanely good. There was a weird glitch in the system my first time I called someone using the smartwatch, but after I hung up and redialed, I never had an issue again. The call quality, for a smartwatch, is stellar, but let’s admit it, talking to your wrist is weird.
All in all, I feel like Mobvoi knocked it out of the park with the Ticwatch 2.0. It’s got a few small quirks here and there, but then again, what doesn’t? Mobvoi really has something nice here, and with the sheer quality built into it, it’s worth the $200 they’re asking for (sometimes even cheaper depending on who you buy it from). It was a pleasure to use, and for someone in the market for a cheap, but quality and functional smartwatch, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Buy it now: Amazon