Ticwatch S2 review

Mobvoi's bigger, waterproof Wear watch is a decent performer
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Ticwatch S2
By Mobvoi
The Ticwatch S2 does make some nice improvements on the S, but more durable design aside, it's essentially the same watch as the E2. It's well priced for what you get though, and there aren't many similarly priced smartwatches that can match its specs sheet. If you don't mind that bulkier look and you're after a smartwatch with decent sports tracking skills, then the S2 should have some appeal.

  • Military grade design
  • Nice TicWatch software extras
  • Lovely display for this price
  • Very plain looking
  • Battery life the Wear norm
  • Not using new Snapdragon processor

Just as with the Ticwatch E and the Ticwatch S, the folks at Mobvoi are rolling out the successors to the affordable Wear smartwatch duo together.

The Ticwatch S2 joins the Ticwatch E2 in adding a waterproof design, which means it's now suitable for going for a dip in the pool or the sea. Like the E2, it still runs on Wear OS, and is packed with key sports tracking features like built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor. The price should be suitably kinder on your bank balance than other smartwatches with a similar set of features.

Essential reading: Best smartwatches to buy right now

If you want an S2, it's going to cost you . The E2 in comparison is priced at . So while it's a little more expensive, it's still comfortably below that mark, which makes Ticwatches such an enticing prospect.

What does that extra money get you with the S2 over the E2? Well, actually not a great deal. You can expect a slightly larger watch case and some added military grade protection to make it better suited for the great outdoors.

I've been spending a good few weeks getting to know Mobvoi's bigger, tougher budget Wear smartwatch to find out what it's really made of. Here's my full verdict on the Ticwatch S2.

Ticwatch S2: Design and comfort

Ticwatch S2 review

Ticwatch E2 (left) and Ticwatch S2 (right)

Not a great deal has changed on the looks front with the S2 when you compare it to last year's S. What sets it apart from the E2 is the bigger, chunkier, chronograph bezel that encompasses the same vibrant 1.39-inch AMOLED 400 x 400 touchscreen display. That's to help emphasise that this is the outdoor option of the two new sporty Ticwatches.

Dimensions-wise, it's not that dissimilar to the E2. Now that it's jumped up to an almost 47mm sized watch body, it certainly looks bigger when worn and is definitely not the option to go for if you have skinny wrists. It's also been given military standard protection ensuring it will function in humidity, dust and er, salt fog. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to fully test out its suitability in those extreme conditions, but it's nice to find that kind of protection on a watch at this price.

Ticwatch S2 review

Ticwatch E2 (left) and Ticwatch S2 (right)

Colours-wise, you're getting the black model I had to try with a white option set to land in the first half of 2019. It's all polycarbonate (read plastic), so it's light, but there's just enough weight to it to ensure it sits nicely on the wrist. That's accompanied by a pretty durable (and comfortable) feeling 22mm silicone band that is interchangeable if you want to brighten up that look.

Around the back is the heart rate monitor, while as mentioned this is now a smartwatch fit for the pool. Once again there's one button, but this time it's been moved to the right side of the watch. It's a larger, flatter button compared to the one on the E2, and actually feels more satisfying to press to wake up the screen or open up the app drawer. It's also been slapped with a 5ATM waterproof rating, which means it's swim and surf ready and can be submerged in water up to 50 metres depth.

If I had to pick between the S2 and E2, personally I'd opt for the E2's smaller design. But I can see the thinking behind Mobvoi offering something bigger with basically the same features. There are plenty of people who prefer the look of a bigger, more outdoor-watch style and that's exactly what you're getting with the S2.

Ticwatch S2: Wear OS and Tic apps

Ticwatch S2 review

Ticwatch E2 (left) and Ticwatch S2 (right)

The Ticwatch S2 runs on Wear OS just like its predecessor, which means it's compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The standard Wear OS features are here like Google Assistant, notification support, Google Fit and Play Store access. Like the E2, you don't get NFC, which means a lack of Google Pay to make contactless payments. I imagine its inclusion may have pushed up the price, but nonetheless it would have been good to see it here.

Essential reading: Wear OS apps to download first

Mobvoi does throw in some of its software extras and it's identical to what you get on the E2. So TicHealth, TicExercise, TicRanking. Basically, all of the Tic apps. You don't get any extras just because this is the more outdoor watch-centric option unfortunately. Maybe Mobvoi will think of adding some in the future.

The extras work well in conjunction with Google's own software at least and doesn't hinder the experience in any way. These extras are all health and fitness related, so everything else from notification support to Google Assistant operates as it would on other Wear smartwatches. It's an improving experience overall and hopefully with Google seemingly more committed to its smartwatch platform now, there's more to come.

I should mention that powering the S2 is a Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor – so not the new 3100 processor that the chipset maker recently introduced. I didn't have any issues from a performance point of view. There's no signs of lag navigating around screens or doing more power-intensive things like launching or downloading apps.

Ticwatch S2: Sports tracking

Ticwatch S2 review

As with the Ticwatch S, you're getting built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor, fitness tracker features and now of course the ability to track your activity in the water. Mobvoi's own fitness apps clearly take a lot of inspiration from existing native apps you'd find on Apple, Samsung and other Wear OS watches. Crucially, though, they're intuitive and well optimised for that small screen.

I could point you towards my Ticwatch E2 review to get an idea of what you get from the S2 in the sports tracking and fitness tracking departments, because it is identical. There really isn't a noticeable advantage in having a slightly bigger, tougher watch as far as I can see.

On the GPS accuracy front, there's the kind of satellite support that's more commonly found on more expensive outdoor watches, so that's a real bonus here. Picking up a signal is quick and while I wouldn't advise relying on it for seriously big running or cycling sessions, those who prefer 5K runs or rides are well catered for here.

Ticwatch S2 review

It's the same for swim tracking, which is one of the headline features. Tracking and swim data that the S2 records is exactly the same as the E2. Again, it feels a little let down by not making better use of the solitary physical button to initiate swim tracking. Playing around with a touchscreen in the water is a pain. There does appear to be an element of auto tracking in play here, but at the expense of accuracy based on my experience.

The way the data is handled on the watch and in the TicHealth companion smartphone app though is something to praise Mobvoi for. There's a good amount of metrics here and if you care about swimming, there's a lot to like.

On the heart rate tracking accuracy front, there's nothing amazing to report here, much as with the E2. This is another example of an optical sensor that struggles when put to the high intensity test, while on the spot readings are there and thereabouts in comparison to a chest strap. You really need to make sure you get that fit around your wrist right to reap the best results. Overall you're going to get a mixed bag here, meaning it's not a great fit for workouts when you step up the tempo.

Ticwatch S2: Battery life

While the S2 might be ever so slightly bigger than the E2, it's packing the same 415mAh capacity battery. Mobvoi says you should be able to get up to two days before you need to drop it back onto its disc-shaped charging cradle.

I never got those two days, in fact it was closer to a day and a half on most occasions. That's including a single tracked run or swimming session. I imagine if you weren't logging a workout, then maybe you'd get to two days. The battery drop-off when you do put all of those onboard sensors on is around the same as the E2, so about 15% for roughly 30 minutes swimming and about the same for a 30-minute run.

It was never going to be groundbreaking battery life but it's pretty much the norm for most smartwatches, and comparable to Wear watches that cost significantly more than the S2.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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