Review cover TicWatch E3 (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

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Mobvoi’s latest smartwatch, the TicWatch E3, is out now. With its new sensors and new features, does it offer a compelling wrist-tech experience?
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I’ve reviewed a couple of smartwatches already like the full-Android Kospet Prime S and the Pebble-esque Bangle.js. While these offer some compelling reasons to adopt them like the full Android suite of apps for the Prime S and the rebellious, indie and hackable vibe of the Bangle.js, they don’t offer a fully polished experience either on the software or hardware front. With the TicWatch E3 from Mobvoi, which runs on Google’s Wear OS, I was expecting a more premium experience on those fronts. As such, I was quite excited to test what the company’s latest high-end smartwatch could offer.

As a premium smartwatch, it also has the premium price tag to boot, coming at £152.99 at the time of writing and with the following items:

- TicWatch E3 smartwatch
- Magnetic Contact Charger
- Quick Guide

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For the upfront cost, I was expecting to have at least a spare strap included (to swap between work and exercising for instance) but these have to be bought separately for £18. Nevertheless, the TicWatch E3 uses 20mm straps which are easily self-removable with the quick-release mechanism, so you can also use third-party ones if you have any that fits. Thankfully, the included silicone rubber watch strap is very comfortable and breathable to be used all day long.

When I first took the device out of the box and powered it on, one thing that struck me was how thick the bezels looked like. The size of the watch itself is fine and looks sleek on my wrist but the size of the bezels was a bit disappointing as this meant less screen real estate. The 1.3" display works well to navigate on the watch, read and even type but I would still prefer smaller bezels. Nevertheless, I got used to it with time and don’t mind the bezels in the same way as I did when I first laid my eyes on the product.

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Another design choice that I have a gripe with is that of the charger. It is a magnetic one that’s placed on the underside of the watch, like most smartwatches but it will create a bump that will make the watch unstable. So either I have to lay the E3 watch facedown or put one of the straps under the charger so that it does not accidentally tip and stop charging. A better and more elegant option would have been a charging cradle/dock; but it is not an option for this device at this time.

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Other than these gripes, I’m pretty much satisfied with the build quality of the TicWatch E3. The polycarbonate frame looks classy and sturdy and is also lightweight at 32g. Having a lightweight smartwatch can really be a game changer as you can easily wear it for the whole day (and night, to track your sleep like I do) without having it encumber you.

The device’s overall simple yet stylish design also makes it an easy fit for virtually any outfit, occasion or activity.

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Now for using a smartwatch for those purposes, it must be pretty versatile and feature-rich; and thankfully, the TicWatch E3’s sensors and apps offer enough reason to do so. I was myself intrigued by the embedded sensors that could help in providing guidance or an overview of my general health and fitness levels. With the E3, you’ll be able to monitor your heart rate while working out, track your sleep patters (and wake up during the light stage with the Tic Sleep app!) as well as analyze your oxygen saturation. The latter is the new darling of health tracking and the E3 can monitor it automatically round the clock and point potential health risks.

Of course, with these sensors, Mobvoi is quick to highlight that these are meant for health reference and not for medical diagnosis. But I still find the metrics provided by these sensors to be helpful in providing guidance and a general overview of one’s health and performance.

Mobvoi also included some handy TicWatch-only features like TicMotion to automatically detect and track an outdoor activity for walking, running and cycling, and a new HIIT exercise feature that walks you through HIIT exercises and feels like having a private coach on your wrist! As for the TicMotion, I’ve been having issues with it as it cannot seem to track my cycling sessions which I perform every day during my commute. Hopefully, this is a software issue that can be addressed in future updates.

As for battery life, the 380mAh capacity might not sound like much but I can manage to get a day’s worth of use out of it. Of course, the performance will vary based on individual use, but using it daily to track workouts, steps, checking notifications while pairing/unpairing with my phone, I can get a day’s use and charge it by the evening so that it’s ready to track my sleep at night. Of course, a longer battery life would be more than welcome, but that would add to the weight but the TicWatch E3 still delivers enough usage time to feel adequate for me.

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Health and fitness tracking aside, the TicWatch E3 also functions as an extension to your Android phone. Notifications from the latter will be mirrored to the smartwatch so that you can have a quick overview of any incoming messages, emails or calls. You can even answer/reject calls and reply to messages directly from the watch, which is understandably handy if you don’t want to go through the hassle of taking out your phone but perform an action from your wrist instead.

Another particularly useful feature I found is to use Google Maps for directions. I’m biking quite often and to discover new places or take unfamiliar routes, just glancing at my watch to get directions is pretty handy.

For entertainment purposes, you’ll be able to skip tracks, adjust the volume of music you’re listening to on your phone, browse news headlines as well as play some casual games. But entertainment apps for Wear OS is relatively basic compared to what you could experience with a full-Android smartwatch like the Kospet Prime S (where you can watch YouTube videos, browse the net, and do basically what you can do on your phone but on your wrist).

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But the TicWatch E3 (or Wear OS for that matter) isn’t meant to replace your phone but is more of an extension of it with a focus on health and fitness tracking. If that’s what you’re looking for in a smartwatch, you’ll find lots to like with this smartwatch as I did myself. Combined with its lightweight and feature-rich aspect, the TicWatch E3 easily became my daily driver and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a Wear OS smartwatch or a smartwatch in general.

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Easily a daily driver
  • Feature-rich smart watch
  • Decent battery life
  • Lightweight
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Thick bezels
  • Charger design
  • TicMotion doesn’t detect all outdoor activities automatically
  • No spare straps included
8.5
out of 10

Overall

Sleek, stylish and feature-rich, Mobvoi’s TicWatch E3 is an easy recommendation for a Wear OS smartwatch to use on the daily.
It does look bulky, but as long as it doesn't hurt you while you're asleep, it is fine.

How is the performance like though? Overall WearOS devices had subpar performance, and I am not up to date on how good the Wear 4100 is.
 
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