A pleasing combination of design and functionality that doesn't break the bank.
- Clean, understated, stylish design
- Integrated GPS & NFC are great
- Rich feature set for the price
- No automatic brightness adjustment
- Included leather strap feels cheap
- Processor shows its age
- Review Price: £179.99
- 1.3-inch circular AMOLED
- Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor
- 512MB RAM/4GB storage
- NFC w/ Google Pay support
The recently-launched TicWatch Pro wowed me with its robust feature set and innovative display technology, whereas the TicWatch C2 is the reimagining of the company’s original smartwatch, trading the proprietary TicWatch OS for Google’s Wear OS and implementing a few new compatible because of that change.
The TicWatch C2 is a stripped down, more traditionally-style smartwatch, designed for those who want all the standard mod-cons in a stylish, contemporary package. But is it worthy of a spot in our best smartwatch list?
TicWatch C2 – Design
The circular 1.3-inch screen dictates and informs a lot of the C2’s design. As such, it looks like one of the smaller options out there amidst the general smartwatch contingent but that also makes it an unobtrusive option for those who aren’t after anything too flashy.
The body of the watch itself is a mix of polished and brushed stainless steel in either a dark Onyx finish (the model I tested), a bright Platinum silver or a Rose Gold hue that also sports a more rounded frame and more polished elements.
I liked wearing the C2, it felt well-proportioned against my fairly dainty wrists and the concave brushed surround that skirted the display’s bezel caught the light every time I glanced at it. It’s a little thick but the plastic back and its rounded corners remain unobtrusive against your skin, while also ensuring the optical heart rate sensor can glean more accurate readings.
I was disappointed that, similarly to the Pro before it, there’s no moving crown or bezel as you’d find on the likes of the Apple Watch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. As such, the C2 doesn’t feature any form of rotational input so navigating through menus and notifications is only possible when swiping on the screen directly (with the potential addition of wrist gestures), something that’s not always ideal; especially if you have wet fingers or are trying to use the touchscreen in the rain.
The side of the C2 does feature two hardware controls, with logical and convenient default actions as well as the ability to customise the function assigned to the bottom right button. Out the box, it takes your to Mobvoi’s own fitness tracking app, with a double-press letting you quickly access Google Pay. The top right button grants access to the main apps menu with a single press or the Google Assistant with a long-press.
Unlike some other Android Wearables, the TicWatch C2’s body features a microphone for voice input but doesn’t feature a speaker, so local music or voice playback isn’t on the table; not that that’s either a surprise or a real loss.
Flip the C2 over and you’ll notice that the included leather strap accommodates quick-release bars, so you can easily change the bands out for any 20mm (Onyx and Platinum versions) or 18mm (Rose Gold version) alternative as you wish. The strap that came with my Onyx C2 felt a little cheap, despite the ‘genuine leather’ branding on its underside and I also had concerns about the strength of the buckle, purely because of a worrisome ‘click’ that could be heard every time I pulled the strap tight when putting the watch on my wrist.
Mobvoi has side-stepped the pitfall that once undermined Fossil’s smartwatch lineup, with a proprietary magnetic charging cradle that uses metal contacts to ensure a fast and reliable recharge.
TicWatch C2 – Screen
As already mentioned, the screen on the C2 is on the smaller side but it’s wholly usable. The 1.3-inch fully circular AMOLED panel Mobvoi has used may be unremarkable but it’s certainly up to the task of ensuring a reliably pleasing viewing experience.
The 360 x 360 resolution offers a crisp 392ppi, which only breaks down when small fonts on certain watch faces are involved. It offers attractively rich colours and contrast, with the AMOLED tech also ensuring greater power efficiency if, like me, you opt to use the watch’s always-on display functionality.
Legibility in bright surroundings remains comfortable, however, the lack of any form of ambient light sensor means brightening the screen up to remain visible when outdoors or dimming it down in low-light environments is a manual process, which isn’t ideal.
TicWatch C2 – Software and Features
Google’s Wear OS hasn’t seen much in the way of support of late; no major apps have added or improved Wear OS-related functionality and the platform can remain dormant for months or even years at a time. That said, one recent surprise update direct from Google brought about a revised interface layout that undoubtedly improves the user experience, with a greater focus on ease of use.
Swipe left on the C2’s screen and you’ll jump to some real-time health information, including a step counter. A swipe right brings up the Google Assistant screen giving you another way to activate voice input but also serving as a hub for upcoming calendar appointments, suggested tasks and more. Swiping up will launch you into a stream of notifications – mirroring what you’d find on your phone, while a swipe down grants access to a handful of quick settings, including brightness controls, as well as a shortcut to the watch’s full settings menu.
The risk of accidentally changing watch faces has been remedied with this new interface layout and instead, you simply long-press on your existing choice to swap it out or customise it. Mobvoi has included a host of 20 own-brand designs to choose from, spanning both analogue and digital choices atop of Wear OS’ handful of default offerings. Some are more garish than others but for the most part, there should be enough variety to help tailor your C2 to a variety of looks and outfits.
Out the box, the Wear OS app suite covers basics you’d likely want to use regularly like weather, Gmail, alarms, an agenda, timers and so on; while Google offers plenty of other first-party apps that include a Wear OS component. Google Fit is a must and having the likes of Google Keep (the company’s note-taking app) are appreciated too.
New additions like Google Fit Breathe also help narrow the gap with the default experience offered up by Apple’s rival Watch OS, while Mobvoi has a included a handful of additions of its own. Their focus is primarily around fitness, however, TicPulse is on-hand to read your heart rate at any time, while TicRanking shows you position against other users within your region based on daily activity.
The watch is also equipped with integrated NFC and support for Google Pay, a feature absent from the company’s other affordable 2018 wearables, the TicWatch E and TicWatch S, alleviating one of their biggest shortcomings.
TicWatch C2 – Fitness Tracking
Along with NFC, integrated GPS also ups the health and activity credentials of the C2, meaning phone-free route tracking is on the table. Swim-tracking isn’t advised though, as the IP68 rating is only there to protect the watch from rain or a morning shower.
On the software side, Mobvoi’s TicHealth app sports a three-ring interface that tracks Active Hours, Steps and Exercise but you have the ability to drill down for greater insights into each days activity, including recorded heart rate information and a full rundown of specific workout data, including GPS-tracked route info.
TicExercise is guaranteed to fully support the C2’s hardware when it comes to fitness tracking but the range of activities it can log is relatively limited; with outdoor running and walking, cycling and indoor running being the only dedicated options, while Free Style serves as a stand-in any other forms of activity.
Thankfully, if you do think Mobvoi’s tracking options are a little lacking, Google’s own Fit app is able to translate activity data for all manner of other activities, including yoga, frisbee and even flossing. Flossing!
Considering the C2 is marketed as a catch-all smartwatch and not a dedicated fitness wearable, while its GPS data seems on the money, the price and depth of the native fitness experience suggest that this isn’t for die-hard activity tracker junkies or serious athletes but rather those who want to be able to keep tabs on the general state of their health and fitness across a myriad of disciplines.
TicWatch C2 – Battery Life
Smartwatch battery life can vary wildly depending on usage, so it’s important to consider how you might wear and use a watch like the TicWatch C2 before you lay down any cash. I tried a handful of different settings and features to see how battery longevity handled under various strains.
Mobvoi promises between one and two days of usage per charge out of the 400mAh battery and that seems like a fairly accurate claim. With the C2 going on my wrist at 8am and coming off at around 11pm, I’d usually finish most days with around 60% power remaining. However, that was under the constraints of what I consider ‘light usage’ – I’d check the time sporadically, handle a few notifications and perhaps control media streaming over Spotify from my smartphone on my wrist.
Switching the display settings from tilt-to-wake to always-on offers greater convenience as there’s no waiting around for the screen to light up when you angle the C2’s face up but even that small change could sap a further 25% from the C2 before a day’s end. Pair with that one 20-minute walk, with GPS and heart-rate tracking on and the watch can be exhausted before the end of the day.
One of the underlying issues with almost every Wear OS-powered smartwatch right now is their reliance on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 wearable processor. Being several years old at this point, it’s performance and power efficiency credentials are unquestionably lacking. Its replacement, 2018’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 has made it onto a couple of watches (including the Montblanc Summit 2) but the C2 misses out on such a chip.
The 3100’s architecture is almost identical to that of its predecessor from a performance standpoint but the addition of a co-processor means the chip can offload certain tasks and spend less compute power performance the same task, thus saving power in the process.
As for recharging the TicWatch C2, its 400mAh battery can be recharged via USB in under an hour and forty minutes.
Why buy the TicWatch C2?
Mobvoi has built a strong portfolio of wearables in 2018 and the C2 is the culmination of its efforts over the past year. It marries the simplicity of its TicWatch E and S series, with some of the more advanced features found on the TicWatch Pro, and all within a design and at a price point that both offer broad appeal.
It might not boast any particular frills and its execution is inoffensive to the point of forgettable but if you want a smartwatch that covers all the fundamentals and some in a stylish package, the TicWatch C2 seems like a worthwhile choice.
With the Snapdragon Wear 3100 now making its way into market-ready devices, you could wait it out in the hopes that Mobvoi will implement the new chip from early 2019, but right now there’s nothing to suggest that that’s on the cards.
The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 is a beautiful blend of design and functionality at a price that’s wholly approachable for those in the market for a nice all-round smartwatch.