I’ve been vocal throughout my time reviewing tech in how much I dislike smartwatches. It’s not that it’s bad tech. It’s just that there has never been a singularly defined purpose for the smartwatch other than to echo your smartphone. The Apple Watch may be the exception but even still, not totally.

It’s 2019 though and having a smartwatch is kind of a necessity now. If you’re like me however, you want to get involved but not spend a lot of money. There are options out there for inexpensive smartwatches but Mobvoi’s TicWatch S2 and TicWatch Pro are two of the better ones you can buy and you most likely haven’t heard of them.

I’ve been using these two watches just about a month now and between the two of them they are my everyday watches.

DESIGN AND FEEL

The TicWatch Pro and S2 are very simple watches in design and both share similarities in internal hardware. Both watches have the Qualcomm 2100 chipset. Both have a rounded face with a 1.39 inch size display and a screen resolution of 400 x 400. Screen brightness on both watches is very good and even in bright light you can always see your watch face without much difficulty. The chamfered style bezel design offer the slightest cover for bright light so you can see everything and get good viewing angles when you whip up your wrist to look at your watch face.

The TicWatch Pro is where both watches differ a bit in that the Pro has a more premium look and has a lot more heft to it. It’s got a metal bezel with white marked seconds all around it in increments of 5 seconds. The band on the TicWatch Pro is a faux leather with silicone underneath while the S2 is similar in look but it’s all polycarbonate and silicone. Simplicity in design is the key to both watches and they look really cool. When you rock either watch on your wrist you give off the impression that you have some cool about you with the TicWatch Pro or that you’re sporty and casual if you’re wearing the S2.

Both watches that I received came in an all black colorway but you can buy a variety of different bands for it since it supports the 22mm style band. Surprisingly that watch band size is everywhere so I was able to pick up a bunch of bands for my TicWatches.

FEATURES, WEAR OS

Both TicWatches are using Android Wear OS so if you’ve ever used an Android watch before then you know that it’s pretty much what you get on every Android smartwatch depending on whether or not you’re using iOS. It makes a difference mostly in the form of customization but if you don’t really care for too much customizing then you’re good. There isn’t much elaboration I can give you for WearOS, it’s all the same.

Mobvoi has their own app that you can use with either TicWatch. It’s great that there’s an accompanying app to go with your watch but the app doesn’t offer much in the sense of being completely different information wise than what you get from the WearOS app and definitely not Apple health if you’re using an iPhone. Within the app you can setup different Mobvoi devices, such as Alexa integration, “Routines” is a function within the app that allows for smart home and music use, the “store” doesn’t have anything to do with customization for your watches which I found disappointing. It’s just a store to buy other Mobvoi products. That was a bit of a letdown.

Both watches are simple enough to use and it’s with the TicWatch Pro where you’ll notice the first big difference in the features with one thing. Essential Mode. That’s feature that allows you basically use the Ticwatch Pro as a simple digital watch to preserve battery life but I’ll elaborate more later.

Fitness on the Ticwatch, either one, is remarkably good if you want to use them for that purpose. It’s not overly complex, just simple apps to get you through your workouts. There’s an app for Running, walking, cycling, freestyle and swimming. I tested out the first three because I could physically do them and I was able to sync that information with my Apple Health app and Google Fit. Swimming is not something I do but it’s safe to assume that if you want to swim you can with these watches because they do have some water resistance and you’d also be able to get your fitness data from them as well the other workouts just the same. If you want to make the best use of though I would do it with the S2 since its the lighter of the bunch and more geared towards fitness.

The GPS on both watches worked really well and I was able to get a detailed look at my runs and walks by my location. It connected to my phone right away and I was off. The heart rate monitor was also very good and for the first time in using a smartwatch I’ve actually cared about that data. I’m not saying that either watch is revolutionary in that regard but I am saying that it’s the first time I really found myself using those apps.

BATTERY LIFE

Battery life is typically the main reason why I’ve never bought into the smartwatch. I found it to be such an inconvenience to have to charge another device aside from the devices that I charge at home as it is already. Once a day for a watch is annoying. It’s why I’ve primarily stuck (and still do) stick to analog watches. The Ticwatch Pro and Ticwatch S2 offer a great deal of battery life and usage time with their watches.

The Ticwatch Pro in particular has a a feature called Essential Mode. It’s a feature that basically allows the Ticwatch Pro to function as just a regular watch. A simple digital watch. Why do this? Some of us don’t necessarily need to use smartwatch features all of the time which shortens your battery life. Sometimes you just want to be able to tell time with a really nice watch on. The battery life on the Ticwatch Pro without Essential mode for me was about 2 days or close to it. With Essential Mode I went about 2.5 weeks without a charge and according to Mobvoi, Essential Mode on a full charge can work about 30 days. Impressive. Even the Ticwatch S2 has a really good battery life of about 2 days on a single charge. Battery life is not an issue that you’ll ever have with either TicWatch. I was throughly impressed.

THE TICWATCH IS WORTH THE MONEY, WHICHEVER ONE YOU CHOOSE

If you want to spend money on a smartwatch but not a lot of money, you can’t do much better than the Ticwatch. The two watches that they offer give you everything you need from an Android smartwatch. The battery life combined with a simple look make for an unconventional watch. I still use these watches everyday. I switch from time to time between the two and I personally favor the S2 more but the experience for me is enjoyable either way. This article wasn’t about comparison as much as its about showing off two really good, affordable smartwatches. I recommend getting one if you’re in the market for an inexpensive but capable smartwatch. The Ticwatch S2 retails for $179.99 and the more expensive Ticwatch Pro retails for $199.99. Both options are under $200 and that’s hard to find nowadays.

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Mike Bitter is a born gadget head and true lover of technology. It all started with computer classes at age 10 and his first PC the Tandy 1000. From then on he found his love and he became a gamer and a PC builder and has not stopped since. He specializes in hardware, troubleshooting and custom PC building. He’s known as the “fixer” amongst his friends whenever there is a problem with a PC or a Mac. He’s also fully immersed in all things that pertain to the world of computers and gaming. He's an 80's baby and he grew up watching technology evolve from the NES to PS4 and from the Commodore 64 to the iMac. He has a unique and minimalist perspective on technology and is here to help the average person to understand technology today.