​Ticwatch 2 first impressions: $199 smartwatch offers big specs

UPDATED: Hands on with an early Ticwatch 2, which could be the bargain of the year
​Ticwatch 2: $199 watch, big specs

The smartwatch world needs a budget powerhouse to emerge from China. The country has fuelled the fitness tracker market with the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 and given us a boggling array of decent smartphones – but the smartwatch world is still left wanting.

The simple truth is that most smartwatches are too expensive. Sure, there are some ageing bargains to be had if you're happy to wait for the end of the life cycle for a cheap smartwatch, but the Ticwatch 2 is different.

Hitting US soil for the first time this September for $199 following a barnstorming Kickstarter campaign that's raised in excess of $1.6 million, the Ticwatch 2 is a serious piece of hardware. We've got our hands on an early preview sample, so read on for our first impressions.

Big on specs

First there's the screen, easily the standout feature of the Ticwatch 2. A 400 x 400 OLED panel with a swashbuckling 287ppi, it's vibrant and bright, and the colourful TicWear 4.0 interface is certainly eye-catching.

And the eye-popping visuals don't make for a chunky watch. The build itself is one of the slimmest we've seen, and really no bulkier than most dumb analogue watches. As an ensemble, it's highly impressive.

Back to the look and feel of the Ticwatch 2, it features a brushed metal bezel, which looks fairly premium, even if that's not really translated through the feel of the device. The metal part of the bezel is merely a thin veneer,and ends halfway down the casing side, below which lies the Tickle strip – which enables you to control the smartwatch by stroking up and down with your finger.

The Chinese version of the Ticwatch 2, which was designed by Frog, featured an eSIM for 3G connectivity, but the technology won't make it to the global version. However, the company has confirmed that it will feature GPS built-in, making the Ticwatch 2 one of the more sports friendly devices on the market. However, there's no confirmation of the apps that will support it.

Pre-installed apps include Dialer, Calendar, Health (including heart rate, steps etc), Fitness, Weather, Calculator, Stopwatch, Timer, Recorder, Alarm, Music control and Find My Phone. We assume the fitness app will use GPS for now, but it's not made it to the preview device we've played with.

Borrowed design cues

This is just one of the design cues that appear to have been taken from the Samsung Gear S2. The TicWear OS feels like a translation of Tizen, especially in the health and fitness features, with the bright orange icons and bold primary colours. The watch face selection screen is also a dead ringer for Android Wear, which has certainly been a massive influence.

There's a heart rate monitor built-in, and we've been told it's the latest generation of the same sensor used in the Apple Watch. It can measure your heart rate through the app, but continuous tracking isn't available.

TicWatch OS utilises what Mobvoi calls a 'cubic UI', featuring four screen swipes. Slide off to left for voice control and right for the apps list. Once in a menu, you can scroll using the Tickle panel, by sliding your finger up or down the right-hand side of the case. It's impressively smooth and akin to Samsung's rotating bezel both in usage and responsiveness.

For those who haven't heard of Mobvoi, the company's bread and butter is natural language search, and it's the lynchpin of the TicWatch. The company markets itself as "Google Now for China". Ironically Mobvoi is going to use Google's Voice API for its global version, but we got a quick demo and it looked pretty slick. Not only can you bark commands such as "find a restaurant nearby", when it locates one, it will add a card to your notifications list, so you can find it later.

This hasn't been working on our preview device so far, so there's certainly work to be done before the full device goes on sale.

Ticwatch 2 also keeps a full record of all notifications, which aren't dismissed like Android Wear and the Apple Watch. Notifications can be read in full, and are nicely displayed on the crisp screen, although they are a little slow to appear.

Ticwatch 2
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It's compatible with iOS and Android phones and will offer single-day battery life from a 300mAh cell, which isn't surprising given the brightness of the screen.

There's just hours left of the Kickstarter campaign. You can also join the Facebook group where Ticwatch staff are answering questions about the device.

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  • Nischit says:

    Takws value  for money to a whole new level

  • Nischit says:

    I meant 

    It takes value for money to a whole new level

    sorry for the spelling error in the previous comment

    • thesglife says:

      I wish they put Android Wear on this. It seems like a quality smartwatch.

      • wowhowcool says:

        I think this is a skinned version of Android Wear. It is going to be compatible with Android Wear apps.

        • pagaiba says:

          Not all of them, only a few as of now. Maybe in the future they get a better working compatibility mode.

        • iSasFTW says:

          They say it'll be compatible with most Android Wear apps, but infact, it's a custom ROM of actual Android. Eventually, I think that they will make it so all Android Wear apps work with the compatibility mode.

  • xToddrick says:

    Yest another illogically round smartwatch.

    • iSasFTW says:

      Imo a smartwatch should be round... The design was one of the selling points for me.

  • Gurmeet says:

    how i preorder this ticwatch 2 global edition

    • j.stables says:

      Kickstarter goes live today...

  • Pjayz says:

    Where do i get one to buy. ?

  • heri says:

    are there any ratings or reviews of the version 1 of ticwatch?

    I can't find any. I want to make sure these guys are serious

    • s.charara says:

      we have a Ticwatch 1 at the office - as it's for China only, it's low on our list of priorities to test but we'll link to it here if we do 

    • iSasFTW says:

      The Ticwatch 1 is literally the same device as Ticwatch 2, they just tweaked it a little bit for the rest of the World, since it was China-only.

  • Coayer says:

    How was the GPS performance when you used it? I'm looking at using it for fitness tracking. 

  • asimanik says:

    i am from india how can i buy this one

  • markb says:

    Thanks for an interesting new offering.

    1. It seems like a viable knockoff of the Gear S2!
    2. well designed and using the Samsung active/classic paradigm.
    3. It has an underpowered battery,

    According to web feedback, IOS users seem to complain frequently about connectivity issues.

    the proprietary OS is a bit limited, but has the basics!Oh. . . the GPS not so accurate!

    While the price is OK, for the same money one could get two great smartwatch options. Just get on-line and seek out a used Samsung Gear S2/3 or an Apple Watch. You'll pay the same amount but get a product that will last longer and provide more return for the money.

    I think the market for this watch may not be so promising without hardware and software improvements.

    Also, while this article was clear, and it setup the product well, I was puzzled that Stables use allusions and metaphors a then stopped to explain them. That approach defeats the purpose of using those literally devices in the first place! :-(People know -or can figure out the metaphors and references without “hints.”

What do you think?

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