TicWatch C2 Plus Review
If the GPS tracking worked as it should and the heart rate monitor offered more reliable results, the TicWatch C2 Plus would be a decent smartwatch. With those issues in tow however, and the fact that the far superior TicWatch Pro 2020 can be had for just a little bit more, the C2 Plus is a hard recommendation outside of being an inexpensive Wear OS watch that runs well for the price.
- Fast performance
- Includes two watch straps
- Bright screen
- Slow GPS connection
- Milquetoast design
- Unreliable heart rate monitor
- Hard to recommend against the TicWatch Pro 2020
- Review Price: £189.99
- 2-day battery
- Untethered GPS
- IP68 rating
- Silicone watch strap included
- 42.8 x 42.8 x 12.7mm
- 1.3” AMOLED screen
- Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear™ 2100
- 1GB RAM
There seems to be a new strategy in town for Mobvoi’s latest smartwatches. Instead of taking the plunge with huge spec boosts or even more daring hardware, the company’s 2020 range of smartwatches are taking the form of minor upgrades to yesteryear’s devices, all sharing a processing boost from an included 1GB RAM.
This was the case with the recently released TicWatch Pro 2020, and now it’s happened yet again with this year’s upgrade to the TicWatch C2, conveniently named the TicWatch C2 Plus.
While the dual-layered screen was more than enough to warrant a return with the TicWatch Pro 2020 however, did the TicWatch C2 have that much of an impact to justify a retread in 2020? Let’s find out.
Design – inoffensive but sure to match some tastes
If you walked past the C2 and the C2 Plus sat side by side in a storefront window, I guarantee you’d do a double take. The C2 Plus is completely indistinguishable from its predecessor, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if Mobvoi has just simply gutted a load of old C2 smartwatches and filled them with the updated tech.
Lack of innovation aside, this qualm isn’t exactly a deal breaker as the C2 Plus still happens to be quite a stylish smartwatch to wear. The body’s comprised of a stainless steel bezel on the front, polyamide and glass fibre in the middle, and an aluminium finish on the underside, amounting to a look that’s stylish by default – if a little corporate.
Wearing the C2 Plus, you’ll never have to worry about it clashing with a nice suit, but it’s hard to imagine that it’ll catch anyone’s eye on its own. Of course, I have no doubt that this is exactly the type of design that some consumers are happy to go with, but if I’m looking to adorn a smartwatch on the basis of ‘style’, I favour something a little more daring like the Skagen Falster 3.
Where the C2 Plus has the Skagen beat however is with the inclusion of not one, but two watch straps in the box. By default, the C2 Plus comes attached to a genuine leather strap, which in itself tends to be a lot more comfortable to wear than any metallic loop. Look further and you’ll find a second compartment containing a 20mm silicone watch strap – much better suited for fitness tracking, which is something we’ll touch upon later.
It’s also worth pointing out that the aluminium layer on the underside of the watch is so smooth that the C2 Plus is incredibly comfortable to wear. Combine that with the watch’s small 42.8 x 42.8 x 12.7 dimensions and the C2 Plus rarely feels intrusive on your wrist.
Screen – a lot of brightness from a small display
Having been wearing the TicWatch Pro 2020 on my wrist for the last couple of weeks, slapping on the C2 Plus had me riffing on that classic Zoolander line once more, asking “is this a smartwatch for ants?”
The difference between a 1.39” screen and 1.3” screen might sound minute, but in practice, it took a while for my eyes to get used to the smaller display. What really helped the transition is the brightness of the C2 Plus.
Text is incredibly easy to read, and every watch face I tried out really popped on the screen, even those with traditionally darker colours. On top of that, the bezel surrounding the screen is incredibly minimal, and at this point, just feels like a stylistic border to whichever watch face you’re wearing.
The only time I found myself missing the larger screen was during a run, with the larger font just making it a lot easier to read while my arm’s moving. Other than that, the C2 Plus’ screen gets the job done.
Features and performance – a definite bump in speed, but not much else
As I mentioned earlier, Mobvoi’s party-trick for this generation of smartwatches is to bring 1GB RAM into the mix for a boost in processing power. And yet, despite housing the now ancient Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, that extra 1GB RAM more than makes up for it.
A flick of the finger will have you gliding through menus at a brisk pace, and the watch had no issue with me jumping between apps. Opting for 1GB RAM instead of the newer Snapdragon Wear 3100 might seem like a cop-out, but it’s hard to argue with these results. It only makes you wonder how a smartwatch might perform if it came bundled with the 3100 chipset and the additional RAM.
Much like the TicWatch Pro 2020, the C2+ also boasts untethered GPS tracking, but while the experience was almost seamless on the former, the latter goes in the completely opposite direction. Trying to connect to GPS before a run was like pulling teeth. In most cases, after several minutes of waiting, I simply abandoned the feature and carried on. Given that it only takes a matter of seconds to connect on the new TicWatch Pro, it seems baffling that the C2+ endures such a struggle by comparison.
Fitness tracking – Google Fit has improved, but has the C2+?
While the more stylish Wear OS smartwatches can be great for a night on the town, they tend to be terrible companions in the realm of fitness. Already working in the C2 Plus’ favour however is the aforementioned silicone watch strap that comes bundled with the watch, which is far better suited to tackle sweat and the elements.
As you’d expect, the C2 Plus comes with Google Fit built-in, although the watch will steer you towards using Mobvoi’s own fitness platform. If you haven’t used Google Fit before, the service uses a ring format to track your daily progress, not too dissimilar to what you’d find on the Apple Watch Series 5.
A great new feature is a tab for YouTube’s ‘Stay Fit With Me’ playlists. The Google Fit app now offers links to a range of curated YouTube playlists for workouts, dancing, stretching and more. For me, YouTube has always been a great resource for fitness inspiration, and it’s great to see Google Fit taking advantage of that to steer users in the right direction.
When it came to actually using the C2 Plus during a workout however, the results were less than stellar. The heart rate monitor on the C2+ simply couldn’t keep up with my dedicated heart rate strap, showing fairly large discrepancies in both cardio and strength-based workouts. Couple that with the unbelievably slow GPS tracking and you’re left with a watch that doesn’t exactly inspire you to go out and break a sweat.
Battery life – decent for its price bracket
Mobvoi promises a two-day battery life with the TicWatch C2 Plus, and for once, real-world testing actually lines up with this claim – depending on usage of course.
For instance, under minimal use (several notifications and only one instance of NFC payment), the C2 Plus was able to get through 26.5 hours of on-time – spread over two days – with 46% left in the tank. If you plan on using the C2 Plus exclusively as a timepiece that can occasionally send notifications, you’ll find no hassle here.
Kicking things up a notch by toggling the always-on display and going out for a quick 18-minute run, the C2 Plus had 49% battery life after 14.5 hours of use. That’s still fairly impressive if you’re happy to fling the watch on to a charging station at the end of each night.
The C2 Plus’ battery is by no means a groundbreaking affair, especially when compared to Garmin smartwatches or even the TicWatch Pro 2020, but it does a decent job against the pack it’s competing with.
Should you buy the TicWatch C2 Plus?
With an asking price of only £189.99 and a noticeable boost in performance thanks to the included 1GB RAM, the TicWatch C2 Plus does just about enough things right to warrant your attention. But with abysmal GPS tracking and a lacklustre heart rate monitor, it’s probably better as an inexpensive accessory whenever it’s on sale.
The TicWatch Pro 2020, which doesn’t cost much more than the C2 Plus and has even dropped to the same price during sales events, is just a far better option overall. It has a larger screen, better battery, and a dual-layered display that makes full use of Mobvoi’s bespoke fitness software.
There’s also the fact that the C2 Plus’ aesthetic, while undoubtedly professional, isn’t bold enough for my tastes. It’s sure to suit some styles, but I would have loved to see the C2 Plus stand out with a bold design. Here’s hoping the next generation of TicWatch wearables can offer something better.