Ticwatch 2 Fitness Review
Ticwatch 2 Features
Ticwear is based on Android and it's pretty similar to Android Wear, at least the pre-2.0 iterations. There's nothing too radical here, aside from the Tickle strip interactivity, and that's totally fine. As well as the step counting and fitness features (see below), this will mainly be used for smartphone alerts and this includes apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. You can read them in full and choose from a couple of icons to dismiss, reply to messages or open on phone.
There's a bunch of watch faces, some with complications like the date and local weather, some showing activity stats. And if you swipe down from the watch face there's a well-thought-out series of quick access screens like quick settings, weather, music player and on-demand heart rate.
Performance when switching between apps and handling alerts/replying to messages is good so we've no major complaints here, though there can be a delay of a second between the haptic buzz and the alert showing on screen. Connectivity is solid, too, on Android - we've heard some complaints from iPhone users around the web, so hopefully Mobvoi is working to address this.
Voice controls can be turned on in Settings/Preference. The command is "OK Tico" and it uses Mobvoi's voice recognition software which is very accurate, impressively so. This is the voice software Android Wear uses to replace Google's in China and we can see why. The only problem is that actually picking up the "OK Tico" command is hit and miss, once you're in then it's picked up everything we've said. You can swipe left from the watch face to access voice too.
As there's a speaker, the Ticwatch will make more noise at you than you might expect - we turned off the default beep for messages, and bear in mind that the default for voice queries, like asking for this week's weather report, is to read out the answer to you as well as display it on screen.
The Chinese version of the Ticwatch 2, which was designed by Frog, features an eSIM for 3G connectivity, but the technology won't make it to the global version. That said, the watch has both a mic and a speaker so you can take calls via Bluetooth when your phone is nearby and talk into the watch. It works fine but it's up to you if that's something you want to do at home or in the street. There's also a dialler with favourite contacts then a full list along with call logs.
Overall, a pretty complete set of features and since the watch shipped to Kickstarter backers in late 2016, Mobvoi is pushing regular updates with features like Do Not Disturb and tweaks to built-in apps like the calendar. Another biggie: Mobvoi says smartwatch payments are coming soon to the global watch also - supported by the onboard NFC.
Ticwatch 2 Fitness features
For now, there are health and fitness apps pre-installed on the watch and if you go into the companion app settings, you can choose to hook these up to Google Fit, Runkeeper and Strava. Step counting was consistent day to day and within 10% of the Fitbit Alta. In health, you can see your daily steps and in a weekly chart, tweak your daily step goal and also set stand up goal reminders, for instance, during working hours. That's a useful extra but weirdly the watch buzzes and the reminder doesn't always show up on screen - it's right there when you scroll down to notifications but otherwise I was left wondering why the Ticwatch had buzzed. The on-demand heart rate monitor (which you can access via the quick settings) is accurate - it's the same sensor that's on the Apple Watch. But it's also a bit strange in that it doesn't just give you one reading, it keeps tracking your HR as it fluctuates until you pause the session.
Ticwatch 2 Screen
The screen is easily the standout feature of the Ticwatch 2. A 400 x 400 OLED panel with an impressive 287ppi, it's sharp, vibrant and bright, and the colourful TicWear 4.0 interface is certainly eye-catching. It looks lovely whether you're reading text from Flipboard or looking at background images for podcasts or music, plus it's easy to read in broad daylight and indoors. Now, it's not quite a crisper-than-crisp 303ppi Apple Watch Series 2 screen, but then again that watch is pretty much double the price of this one.
Ticwatch 2 Tickle strip
Now, the metal part of the Ticwatch 2's bezel is a thin veneer and ends halfway down the casing side, below which lies the Tickle strip - this lets you to control the smartwatch by stroking up and down with your finger.
Again, this is an awesome addition. You have to stroke more forcefully than you first think and the smooth side of the watch body feels a bit off, but once you get used to it it's a lovely way to scroll up and down WhatsApp messages, menus and app screens.
The onscreen graphic shows how your action will control the watch too so you always know what you're doing. The crown button is switched to the left hand position by default but you can set the Ticwatch up for left and right hands with the single button on either side.
Ticwatch 2 Design
The 1.4-inch display is surrounded by a thin bezel which makes the whole face look nice and modern. And with everyone from Huawei to Samsung going beefier on flagship smartwatch designs, it's good to see another slimmer, sleeker minimalist smartwatch design too. This is not a chunky build but it's not so slim that Mobvoi couldn't pack it with tons of features either - it's actually one of the best compromises of form and function we've seen yet.
The Ticwatch 2 is also seriously light, deceptively so. When you first pick it up, it feels less premium than other weighter watches, but once it's on the wrist, you'll be very happy at your choice. It feels barely there, as it should, and it's comfortable too. At least with the aluminium model, but do be careful as we managed to slightly chip the bezel in just a week of wearing it. A small blemish, but annoying when you're looking down at it throughout the day.