A great fitness watch disgused as an above average smartwatch
AS WE CONTINUE to hear doomsayers predict the final end of Wear OS (aka Android Wear), Mobvoi has been quietly churning out a whole range of watches that buck that trend, both in terms of value and being actually rather good. The Ticwatch S2 is the second iteration of the company's sport-focused model and it continues the legacy.
The TicWatch S2 isn't designed to be the top of the range, but it still feels like a solid watch, aimed at the outdoor life. The polycarbonate body is flanked by silicone straps, which feel a little cheap but they're easily replaced. Black and the white version we're reviewing are available. As with all Ticwatches, the Glass is of the Gorilla variety.
It's moulded in a way that gives it a slightly military feel, and the one button, where the winder would have been in the good old days, is chunky enough to press with confidence, yet recessed enough to avoid rogue presses.
It's slightly smaller and lighter than other smartwatches, but still a fair bit chunkier than your favourite conventional watch. In fact, it's slightly larger than the flagship TicWatch Pro, though we're talking millimetres.
It also comes with a charging dock that, whilst fitting snuggly when it's time to charge, irritates by being different, yet again, to all other chargers in the Mobvoi arsenal. It's bad enough that there isn't a common standard for these things, but when you actually scupper your own product line, that's just silly.
The important thing though is that it's MIL-STD-810G compliant. In other words, it's tough enough to meet the demands of the US Military. Yeah, that's right, it's tough.
Let's start with the bad. There's no NFC (so no Google Pay) and no SIM/eSIM, so manage your expectations. What there is, though, is Wear OS 2.6 (that's the one with the swipe-from-all-sides navigation) and a few nice little embellishments.
Mobvoi offers its own fitness layer, TicMotion, which is ok, but it syncs with an augments with Google Fit, so it won't feel too much of a wrench if you're moving from elsewhere. The custom watch faces are absolutely gorgeous and give the whole experience a very classy feel, despite the cheap strap.
The big bonus is what Mobvoi calls "proactive sports tracking" - in other words, you don't have to start a workout manually when you start exercising. As with all features of this type, it sometimes gets things wrong, but it definitely works as well as any other.
One more negative - there's no speaker, so no audio feedback or alerts, though it will vibrate. Come to think of it, that might be a blessing.
Boasting a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear chipset makes the device feel decidedly nippy with no lag or freezing. The screen is incredibly crisp and responsive to touch.
Testing your heart rate manually gets a bit fiddly, but it all works and can be set up to be taken at regular intervals.
Battery life is quoted at two days, which we think might be a little generous but its certainly improving from the early days of Android Wear.
Whilst not without its flaws, there's a lot to like in the Ticwatch S2. The white model we were sent for review seems at odds with the ‘outdoor' remit of the watch, but that aside, it's quite clearly been aimed at being a fitness band with all the extras that Wear OS brings, rather than an all-purpose everyday watch.
As such, there are a few aspects, like NFC, that you might miss and if you're looking for something that covers all bases, it's probably worth paying the extra for the TicWatch Pro (£215).
However, if what you're after is a life-logger for your galavanting, it's hard to argue with this much watch for so little price.
Great build quality, very good performance, reasonable battery life.
No sound, no NFC, another non-compatible charging dock.
It's not going to be suitable for everyone's needs, but that's kind of the point - there may be another Ticwatch that suits you better.