Mobvoi TicWatch E3 full review

The TicWatch E3 from Mobvoi is a competitively priced smartwatch that combines a classic Wear OS experience with fitness tracker abilities, including exercise logs, heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. It is also one of the select devices set to receive Wear OS 3 in 2022.

If you want to know how this smartwatch performs in day-to-day use, I’ve spent some time with it, testing out the battery life, features and more. You can also read up on the newly announced TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, if you're looking for something a little hardier. 

Design & build

  • Lightweight design
  • Cheap silicone strap
  • Unimpressive screen

The TicWatch E3 sports a refined design, with a circular 44m polycarbonate and glass fibre housing, and proved to be comfortable, even after all-day wear; helped by the fact that it’s lightweight, at around 32 grams.

The included silicone strap is a little on the flimsy side and doesn't feel suitable to wear with everyday outfits, as some rivals do, and while the casing itself only comes in Panther Black, Mobvoi does offer yellow and blue strap options, not to mention you should be able to pop on any standard third-party 22mm band you wish. 

TicWatch E3 on table diagonal

After heavy exercise, my arm got quite sweaty, leaving marks on the inside of the strap and the back of the watch face, so make sure to wipe it down after long-term wear or intense exercise.

The TicWatch E3 features a 1.3in LCD, protected by 2.5D cover glass. The screen isn’t that impressive, nor is it the brightest I’ve seen, meaning it can be tricky to use under direct sunlight. Otherwise, it’s a good size, and offers legible text.

To navigate around, you use a mix of buttons (on the side of the casing) and the touchscreen. The E3 also has an IP68 rating, making it suitable for swimming, and once you finish your swim, it will even drain itself of excess water.

It’s worth noting that whilst the watch is fine to use in the pool, it's not suitable for use in hot water, such as taking a shower or getting it excessively wet when washing your hands. I had a few issues with my unit under such conditions, but these did resolve after draining it and leaving it to dry out for a while.

Inside the watch, you get a built-in speaker and a microphone for Google Assistant commands and taking calls directly on the watch. Audio output proves surprisingly punchy and clarity is good enough to make and take calls too.

TicWatch E3 Google Assistant

Software & features

  • Comprehensive app selection
  • Cluttered interface
  • 21 exercise modes

The TicWatch E3 runs on a Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip, paired with Mobvoi’s dual-processor system. It's one of only a handful of watches to adopt this Qualcomm chip (practically all of which are made by Mobvoi), and performance is fast and responsive. 

Whilst this device currently features Google's Wear OS 2.3, Android fans will be pleased to hear that it is due to get the long-awaited Wear OS 3 update, sometime in 2022 (Mobvoi hasn't been any more specific, at this point).

Having Google integration means you can use first and third-party apps like Google Maps, Google Pay (as the E3 supports NFC), Spotify and others, all available on the Google Play store. This is a big advantage over other slightly cheaper brands, such as Amazfit, which run on proprietary operating systems that come with a far more limited app offering.

When connected to your phone, you can use the E3 to reply to messages, with the option of auto-replies (or voice or text-entry), however, I did find that, on occasion, the watch would fire off a reply to a friend accidentally, just by having leant on it unknowingly.

In general, the way notifications populate on-screen isn’t the most intuitive or user-friendly and the UI also feels quite cluttered – it would be much more helpful if there were categories for different apps – something Android on phones and tablets has long been working to improve. These issues could be smoothed out once Wear OS 3 rolls out, but only time will tell. 

On the exercise front, there are 21 different workout modes. These include running, cycling, pool swimming, yoga, football and 'freestyle' – if the specific sport you're doing isn’t on the watch. Alternative, you can also monitor all of your exercises via the Google Fit app, should you prefer.

Ticwatch E3 activity

In addition, you also get a host of sensors, including an HD PPG heartrate sensor and an SpO2 sensor for blood oxygen tracking. While cheaper fitness trackers may offer a similar hardware feature set, results seemed more reliably consistent, based on the figures dished out by the E3.

Actively measuring heart rate and SpO2 levels is quick and painless, but the stress monitoring (via Mobvoi's own TicZen app) takes a few minutes to calculate, which gets pretty tedious (and ironically, increases my stress levels). 

The auto-detect for workouts is a lot more responsive than what I've seen on budget rivals too. Most of the time it can accurately detect when I start or stop walking, giving me the option to start an active workout or pause it if needed.

There is also an option to create HIIT routines directly on the watch. You can choose from ten different moves (and add in your own custom ones), and then set how long you want to do each move for, the intervals between moves and the number of sets. It's a refreshing custom feature that is great for those keen on home workouts. 

App & performance

  • Accurate figures 
  • No links to accredited information
  • Two apps makes pairing the watch complicated 

Data recorded on the TicWatch E3 is sent to the Mobvoi app, with sections for your daily activity, exercise, sleep, heart rate, SpO2 levels and more.

Annoyingly, you must be connected to both the Wear OS app and the Mobvoi app during setup. If you’re not too tech-savvy or want minimal clutter on your phone, then this may be a bit of an annoyance. It would be much easier if everything were just streamlined into one experience but this is an inherent trait of Wear OS watches that Google hasn't been able to rectify.

TicWatch E3 app

That aside, the Mobvoi app itself is simple and easy to navigate. The exercise logs are comprehensive, with the number of calories you’ve burnt, the number of times you’ve worked out in a given period, your average heart rate and more.

The individual logs are even more detailed. For example, during swimming, the watch accurately calculated the number of lengths I completed while performing different strokes, my average pace, the number of laps and more.

My main criticism of the app is the lack of information available on the data. Rivals such as Withings not only offer bitesize text against results but also link to accredited health pages to back up the information recorded.

You can use the app to customise your watch faces as well, with a small number of free options and a larger library of paid ones, too. 

Battery

  • Around two days average use
  • Essential mode available 

The TicWatch E3 is packed with a 380mAh cell. Under general usage, I managed to make it last around two days, doing exercise routines, tracking sleep and other features, such as Google Assistant.

As smartwatches go, this isn't too bad but there are devices out there that can last a lot longer than this, you just have to weigh up how fast and feature-rich you want your smartwatch to be. The battery can drain more quickly if you have lots of notifications and continuous heartrate/SpO2 monitoring enabled.

You can also pop the E3 into Essential Mode which can push longevity to around seven days, but this limits the watch to basic functionality.

The TicWatch also comes with a magnetic POGO-pin charger, which can juice it back up from flat to full in a couple of hours (i.e. no Apple Watch Series 7-style fast charging here).

TicWatch E3

Price & availability

The TicWatch E3 retails for £179.99/US$199.99, available from Mobvoi (UK, US) and Amazon (UK, US). Both of these retailers are currently offering discounts on the watch at the time of writing too.

Based on the experience offered and the confirmed update to Wear OS 3, the TicWatch E3 offers a pleasing level of bang for buck. The Fossil Gen 6 retails for around £100/US$100 more, with the smaller Galaxy Watch 4 (i.e. not the Classic) coming in just a little bit cheaper.

If you’re not bothered about Google-specific apps and functionality, you can shave off a lot of money and get a simpler watch with superior battery life by opting for something like the Amazfit GTR 2.

Verdict

If you desperately want to guarantee a move to the next major Wear OS release without breaking the bank, then the TicWatch E3 is a basic option that gets the job done. It features accurate tracking, well-rounded software, has all the apps you'd likely need and is comfortable for everyday wear.

However, the watch also has a lacklustre screen, a cluttered interface and a flimsy strap. There are more competitive options out there, offering greater longevity and more elegant designs.

Specs

Mobvoi TicWatch E3: Specs

  • 44mm case size
  • 2.5D LCD touchscreen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 and Mobvoi dual processor system
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB ROM
  • Wear OS
  • Android and iOS compatible
  • 380mAh battery
  • PPG heart rate sensor, Google Pay (using NFC), GPS, accelerometer, SpO2 sensor, gyro sensor, low latency off-body sensor, microphones, speaker
  • IP68 certified
  • Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

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