TicWatch E3 Smartwatch Review

Just bought the Mobvoi TicWatch E3 after hearing quite some buzz about it. And you know what? If you are in the market for a smartwatch, you may want to hold out and see what other Snapdragon Wear 4100 powered options you have in the coming months.

TicWatch E3 Smartwatch Review

Not to bash Mobvoi, but I do have high expectations after wearing the E2 for over a year and so… Anyways, the following is my take of the TicWatch E3 as a former user of TicWatch E2 which I have had for over a year. Before we get into my rant, ermm, I mean review, here’s a rundown of the specs:

Size: 44 x 47 x 12.6 mm
Weight: About 32g
Watch case: Polycarbonate and glass fiber
Screen: 2.5D glass
Watch strap: Interchangeable 20 mm Silicone rubber
OS: Wear OS by Google
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 Platform
Memory: 1 GB RAM, 8 GB ROM
Display: 1.3” High-Density Display (360 x 360 pixels)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11b/g/n
Navigation: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou
NFC Payments: Google Pay
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, HD PPG Heart Rate Sensor, SpO2 Sensor, Low Latency Off-Body Sensor
Battery: 380 mAh
Others: Built speaker and microphone, vibration motor, IP68 rating for water-resistant (freshwater only)

TicWatch E3 Smartwatch Review

The Design

Unlike some reviewers who are not quite fond of the design, I kind of dig the minimal aesthetic. It is sleek, but it will not turn heads. Also, it now has a slightly smaller screen. I thought I could live with it, but clearly, I can’t. 1.3-inch is just too tiny, IMHO.

While I did say I am cool with the design. The ridiculously thick bezel masquerading as part of the screen to make it appear larger than it really is can be quite a turn-off.

The E2 does have a gigantic bezel. But it serves to protect the watch and the protrusion protects the screen. It just put it out there that it has that bezel. The E3, on the other hand, felt like it is trying to pass off a small screen for a big one with the black band.

And oh, it is an LCD screen and no automatic brightness adjustment which is a double whammy for under the sun reading. So, really active users may want to take note. But if you are mostly at the gym, then I suppose it won’t bother you as much.

The Build

There is nothing to pick on the quality of the build. But the polycarbonate (read: plastic) may not be to everyone’s taste. However, coming from an E2, I am kind of half expecting a plastic build anyways.

It is worthy to note that the plastic on the E3 is less than rugged unlike the plastic on E2. I don’t want to dig into the material science of it, but I felt like the E2 could survive more in the event of knocks and bumps (it certainly did for me!).

That said, at US$199.99 a pop – which is significantly more than how much I bought the E2 for, btw – perhaps I should be expecting more than just plastic. No? Or am I asking for the world?

TicWatch E3 Smartwatch Review

The Highlight

The highlight of the watch is SpO2, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and Essential Mode. The former two need no further detailing. However, I have experience more than a few times failed SpO2 reading. So you guys may want to take note.

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Essential Mode is definitely an improvement, though. It allows continuing step tracking and heart rate monitoring in addition to time reading. In this mode, non-essential such as notifications will stop functioning.

By default, Essential Mode will kick in automatically when the watch battery drops to 5%. You can also set the watch to go into this mode such as when you are sleeping. It will continue to monitor your sleep in this mode too. Plus point for that. Moreover, you can set the battery percentage level which will kick in as well.

The Function

The function is pretty much the same, but now, it has got two buttons instead of one button on the E2. Still no digital crown though. I won’t lose sleep over the lack of a digital crown, however, because US$249.99 Galaxy Watch4 does not have that either (but it is of aluminum which felt more premium and it has got MIL-spec rating, I believe).

In addition to the usual functions like heart rate monitoring, fitness tracking, the new E2 now supports sleep tracking and very importantly for a time like this: blood-oxygen-level (SpO2). I appreciate the inclusion. As expected, you can set to monitor 24/7, albeit much to the battery’s protest.

TicWatch E3 Smartwatch Review

The Battery

The watch is supposed to last two days and it will – If you turn on the Essential Mode which I did for the night between 11:30 PM to 6:30 AM. It helps to last for two days, but if you are hoping that it can track your sleep, then expect to keep it charge at some point during the day before you hit the sack. It will take an hour to two to get it fully juiced up, depending on much the battery is left.

The Omission

Once again, I did not test the IP rating. Not going to the hit pool during a time like this. Splashes like rain and such are not going to do it harm.

The Verdict

It is a good watch, but I am not sure if it is worth 200 bucks. The presence of Snapdragon Wear 4100 and a Gigabyte of RAM does make the UI very fluid. However, because of that, you may tend to fiddle with it more and thus result in expending the battery faster than anticipated.

Looking at how close the price is to Samsung Galaxy Watch4, which is also essentially Wear OS-powered, it may make you wonder about your life’s decisions. Granted that the US$250 is for the 40 mm model.

My main purpose of a smartwatch is for notifications and fitness tracking, and being the age I am at now, a larger screen is imperative. And such, I may just give up on E3 and give Watch4 a try.

If you are undaunted by my take of the TicWatch E3, then here’s good news for you: Mobvoi is having an end-of-season sale where you can pick up the TicWatch E3 for 20 bucks less, at US$179.99. Damn it. This does make me look like a fool. Ugh.

All images by Mikeshouts.