AccessoriesGear Reviews

Mobvoi TicWatch S2 Review

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The TicWatch S2 (Sport) by Mobvoi, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company backed by Google™ and Volkswagen, is their latest Google WearOS powered smartwatch, with swim capabilities and intelligent fitness features.

Priced at a reasonable $179.99, and packed with a variety of apps right out of the box, the TicWatch S2 is a good value for an everyday smartwatch with some nice added bonuses for the fitness crowd.

The S2 is labeled as a “Sports Watch”; as such, it offers some nice capabilities, especially in regards to swimming, but the lack of overall accuracy of the onboard sensors may be too limiting to consider this a reliable solution for any hardcore endurance athlete.

Overall, I found the watch to be intuitive, stylish, and functional. It may not have all of the newest bells and whistles of the current Apple watch models, but that does not make it a poor choice on the smartwatch industry.

I like what Mobvoi has put together and think that this watch does more than enough to justify the price point. While there are some drawbacks, I liked the watch enough to end up wearing it as an everyday device the past two weeks.

Casual fitness enthusiasts will enjoy this device as a go-to for running, hiking, swimming, and cycling.

I’ll cover the most important observations below.

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Battery Life

Mobvoi’s spec sheet puts the battery life at two days, and I actually think this claim is spot on. I have not experienced the watch draining to less than 40-50% at the end of day one, so I think two days is a fair maximum. With the included charging cradle, I would just plug the watch in at bedtime, along with my phone, each night. While comparable to an Apple smartwatch, in the GPS category, this battery life comes in far lower than a Garmin or COROS.

Look and Feel

The watch case is made of polycarbonate (really, plastic), so it is light, durable, and doesn’t feel too bulky on your wrist. A bonus (in my opinion) is that it takes a standard 22mm silicone band, which allows you plenty of options to switch and swap out to your liking.

One feature I really liked was the selection of out of the box watch faces that could be quickly configured right from the watch. There are numerous additional watch face options to download, but it was nice to see some attractive and functional options out of the box.

Mobvoi TicWatch S2 in White

Operating System and Platform

The TicWatch S2 runs on Wear OS and is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. I paired the watch with my Android phone without any issues. The standard Google Wear OS features are all included while Mobvoi also includes its own “Tic Apps” software extras. This suite includes TicHealth, TicExercise, and TicRanking.

The inclusion of music and maps was a pleasant surprise based on the price point of the watch.

Powering the S2 is a QualcommSnapdragon Wear 2100 processor. I didn’t have any issues from a performance point of view. There were no signs of lag navigating around screens or doing more power-intensive things like launching or downloading apps. In comparison to the Apple watch, the speed in which I was able to navigate through the watch seemed right on par.

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GPS

Although the TicWatch S2 does not claim to be a high-precision sports watch, I was disappointed with the overall accuracy of the GPS and sensors when it came time to take the device out on a run. I think the overall accuracy of the GPS and HR sensors might be just fine for a casual fitness user, but if you’re a data geek (or just rely on accurate and precise mileage and pacing numbers) this shouldn’t be your primary training tool.

As an example, my pacing on a 5-mile run was almost 2 minutes different when captured on the S2 as compared to my Garmin 920xt. I experienced the same thing on my other runs as well.

On the other hand, I actually found the optical HR sensor to be quite in line with my Garmin chest strap. I was easily able to establish my resting HR and the watch fit snugly against the wrist to optimize its accuracy, without feeling uncomfortable.

Swimming

Swimming on the S2 is one of the headline features. Having the ability to collect swim data was a big bonus for me as I’m in triathlon training at the moment.

The S2 uses state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to differentiate between stroke types, counting laps and strokes seamlessly while swimming. Key performance metrics such as lap time, speed, and Swim Golf (SWOLF) are recorded and generated right after finishing the swim.

The actual data collected during the swim, and how that data is made accessible on the watch and post-workout in the TicHealth smartphone app, were both quite well done.

In fact, while I saw a huge gap between my Garmin and the S2 when it came to my running data, the swim was close enough where I would not hesitate to use it during my lap swimming.

That said, I was disappointed with the physical nature in which the swim functions were set-up and managed during the swim.

The touch screen immediately became very unstable and temperamental as soon as it got wet, which made me feel like the single button on the side of the watch should be the only reliable driver in the experience.

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Pros

  • A lot of apps out of the box and many more to choose from
  • Music and maps are a big bonus
  • Military-grade construction
  • Display Screen is vibrant and easy to use
  • Stylish and great overall value as an everyday smart watch (and on a budget)
  • Optical HR tested quite in line with my trusted Garmin HR strap
  • Swim functionality and accuracy (for pool swim) was surprisingly accurate

Cons

  • Sport sensor accuracy make running or cycling a challenge for the serious athlete
  • Somewhat plasticky feel. Watch has a nice appearance but became vulnerable to scratching very easily with everyday use after just 2 weeks.
  • Sometimes can’t read the screen in direct sunlight
  • Touchscreen can be temperamental, especially when wet. This caused a load of frustration as I tried to configure and start/stop my swim workouts

Mobvoi TicWatch S2 Conclusion

This is a great value for someone looking for a do-almost-everything smartwatch. It is not an alternative to a high-end endurance or multi-sport GPS watch, but at a fraction of the price, that shouldn’t be a knock against the S2. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that will give you all of the basic functionality of an Apple watch, while allowing for music storage, and can also help you track your fitness along the way, the S2 would be a great choice.

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Matt is an avid triathlete, runner, and cycling enthusiast. He is a coach with AJ Baucco Coaching and can be found running the streets and trails of Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. His favorite style of beers are sours, and thinks a cold can of Coke is the perfect post-race hydration.

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