Mobvoi TicWatch E3 review: Competing on core competencies

Mobvoi is one of several smartwatch makers that has remained committed to Google’s Wear OS platform. Its TicWatch series of smartwatches are available at several price points, ensuring there’s a product for everyone in the mix. The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is an update to the E2, and is Mobvoi’s lower-cost smartwatch that targets fitness-minded folks. The E3 is also the second watch from Mobvoi to adopt Qualcomm’s newer Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform at its core, which is meant to bring a number of important improvements to Google’s aging wearable OS.

The TicWatch E3 boasts a revised design, a generous spec list, and boosted performance compared to its predecessor. But change is in the air. Samsung and Google will debut a new version of Wear OS later this summer. Does that make the TicWatch E3 a worthwhile investment?

Find out in the Android Authority Mobvoi TicWatch E3 review.

About this Mobvoi TicWatch E3 review: I used the Mobvoi TicWatch E3 for 14 days running software version PMKB.210521.002. It was connected to my Google Pixel 5 throughout the testing period. The TicWatch E3 unit was provided to Android Authority by Mobvoi for this review.

What you need to know about the Mobvoi TicWatch E3

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Mobvoi TicWatch E3: $199.99/€199.99/£179.99

Mobvoi sees the TicWatch E3 as a catch-all smartwatch that can be all things to all people. The combination of its design and capabilities means the TicWatch E3 has the power to act as a strict smartwatch, a fitness wearable, and a fashion piece as well. Its affordable price point, which competes with some dedicated fitness trackers, doesn’t hurt.

This $200 smartwatch replaces the outgoing TicWatch E2 and slots under Mobvoi’s more expensive TicWatch Pro 3. Mobvoi changed up the design when compared to the E2 to give the wearable a more modern look. It comes in only one color, called Panther Black. The watch is available with either black, yellow, or blue swappable 20mm bands. It’s widely available online from retailers such as Amazon.

Design: Strictly utilitarian

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 takes a basic approach to design. It’s round, has some buttons and a strap, and comes in a single dark gray color. Mobvoi calls the TicWatch E3’s looks “classic.” That’s perhaps being generous.

The face is a simple circle made of curved glass that blends into the polycarbonate frame. The frame and strap holders are made from a single piece of sturdy material, while the bottom section that rests on your skin has a softer touch to it. Mobvoi’s choice of polycarbonate helps keep the price down without sacrificing much in the way of toughness. The polycarbonate has a metallic paint job that almost makes it look like metal. Almost. An IP68 rating means the chassis is waterproof enough for swimming laps at your local pool.

It’s sizable at 44 x 47 x 12.6mm, though the E3 is slightly smaller than the TicWatch E2. The watch comes across as rather tall and chunky when it’s on your wrist, though surely there are taller, chunkier watches out there. That said, I still found the watch comfortable to wear for days at a time. I was worried that the profile would have bothered me when sleeping, but I had no trouble at night at all.

One of the biggest design changes compared to its predecessor is moving from a one-button arrangement to a two-button arrangement. The TicWatch E2 had just a single button centered on the right side to help with controlling the watch. The Ticwatch E3 jumps to a two-button arrangement that gives users more control over software and apps. It’s a welcome update. The buttons themselves are large, which makes them easy to find and use. Each button has crisp action with a clear click that lets you know when you’ve pressed it.

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Puzzlingly, the display is smaller and has fewer pixels than the outgoing model. Where the E2’s screen measured 1.39 inches with 400 x 400 pixels, the E3’s screen measures 1.3 inches and has 360 x 360 pixels. A noticeable black bezel surrounds the circular display, creating a barrier between the screen and the outer bezel of the watch itself. I wish this bezel weren’t quite so thick. However, the display puts out plenty of light and is still easy to read and interact with. I had no trouble at all seeing the screen on a sunny day outside. The resolution is still plenty dense enough that everything on the screen appears smooth and clean.

If there’s one thing I dislike about the design, it’s the straps. Mobvoi went with 20mm straps rather than 22mm straps, and the silicone comes across as cheap. I imagine the same types of straps are attached to $10 department store watches. I would like to have seen beefier straps here, though that may be just me. The good news is that the silicone is soft and breathable and didn’t get stuck to my skin as silicone sometimes does. The included straps have a quick-release lever, too, so you can easily swap them out for alternate straps. If black isn’t for you, Mobvoi offers the straps separately in yellow and blue. Or you can head to another retailer to find a nice third-party option.

The 380mAh battery manages to deliver two full days of battery life.

The 380mAh battery is 10% smaller than the battery of the E2 but still manages to deliver two full days of battery life (~48 full hours) with casual use and sleep tracking. I kept the brightness set to near the maximum level during testing, and my smartphone was always nearby — meaning the Bluetooth radio was almost constantly connected. If there’s one thing that noticeably drains the battery, it’s using the GPS radio for tracking workouts. Recording a quick 30-minute walk sapped the battery just enough that the watch kicked off at the end of the second day, rather than lasting through the night to the following morning.

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Mobvoi supplied a proprietary charger with the watch, which attaches magnetically to the underside. The cable is long, which I appreciate, but the actual charging puck is small. It’s a little fussy and has to be oriented in just the right way to adhere to the TicWatch E3. Thankfully the magnetic connection is strong, and the watch remains attached while charging even if you bump it or move it around. Charging the watch takes about an hour.

See also: The best Wear OS watches from Mobvoi, Suunto, and more

Some might call the design simple or classic; I call it utilitarian. It looks clean and works well.

Health and fitness tracking: Jack of all trades, master of …

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Mobvoi sees the TicWatch E3 as a device to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle first and act as a smartwatch second. Health-minded features abound, and you’ll find a little bit of everything on the TicWatch E3.

Tapping the lower button opens the full list of activities the watch can track. There are 21 in total and include options such as run, walk, cycle, freestyle, swimming, elliptical, rowing, yoga, pilates, football, skating, and several modern twists on exercising such as body mechanics and mountaineering. The watch can automatically detect running, walking, and cycling exercises, but my experience with this was mixed. On the few walks I took, the watch sometimes missed the first 10 minutes or so of the workout. Instances in which I manually started a workout, everything turned out fine.

Also read: The best running watches you can buy

Much like the Apple Watch, the TicWatch E3 wants to help you manage daily movement goals. For example, if you haven’t moved for an hour, it will alert you that it’s time to stand and take 100 steps to achieve your daily activity goals. These are dictated in three metrics: active time, exercise time, and steps. The baseline is 10,000 steps per day, 30 minutes of exercise, and 10 hours of activity or basic movement. As for accuracy, the TicWatch E3 managed to get my gait correct and recorded approximately the same number of steps for a given activity as my Apple Watch. These metrics are then all wrapped up in the TicHealth app (which we’ll discuss below