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Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: Another bargain from the budget smartwatch specialists

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
180

It has old innards, but the Ticwatch C2 still represents decent value for money

Pros 
Looks great
Well priced
NFC
Wear OS
Cons 
Old chip
No speaker
No swim tracking
Mediocre battery life
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The Ticwatch C2 is Mobvoi’s fourth smartwatch it has launched in the UK. Priced at £180, it fills the gap between the budget Ticwatch E and S models (available for £141 and £178 respectively) and the more premium Ticwatch Pro (£220).

It sits somewhere between its stablesmates in terms of features. To be more specific, it builds on the E and S with NFC and IP68 water- and dust-resistance but doesn’t have the dual-layer, battery-boosting display like the one on the Ticwatch Pro.

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Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: What you need to know

The Ticwatch C2’s build quality is a step up from the budget models, too. The front of its casing is made from steel, which is a far cry from the cheap-feeling plastic used in the E and S. The touchscreen display looks great, although it’s a slightly smaller 1.3in panel compared with the the 1.4in screen on the E and S.

Like the aforementioned models, the Ticwatch C2 runs WearOS by Google. This means you’ll find Google apps such as Agenda, Google Fit, Contacts, and Translate pre-installed as standard and you can download an impressive selection of third-party apps from the Play Store, including Telegram, Facebook Messenger and Uber. Best of all, though, you can send messages, ask for directions and more at the touch of a button via Google Assistant.

The watch works with both Android and iOS devices but, like the Ticwatch Pro, it’s powered by the now rather antiquated Snapdragon Qualcomm Wear 2100 processor. Besides this, it has all the internals you could ask for, including GPS that lets you track outdoor workouts and NFC for making contactless payments.

There’s also an optical heart-rate sensor that you lets you measure your pulse at any time and the Ticwatch C2 has a built-in microphone that’s used to interact with Google Assistant. Unlike other recent Ticwatch models, though, there’s no speaker.

Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: Design and screen

Available in three different colours – Onyx, Rose Gold and Platinum – the Ticwatch C2 has a steel front casing and comes with a leather strap as standard. Although the reverse of the case is made from plastic there’s nothing here to suggest this is a cheap smartwatch.

On the contrary, it oozes appeal and, to my eye at least, the black model is the most attractive smartwatch the company has made. It’s smaller and sleeker than the rather bulky TicWatch Pro and its minimalist appearance and curved edges look great on the wrist.

The C2’s 43mm casing is very similar in size to the smaller 42mm Galaxy Watch, which means it’ll suit large and small wrists alike. It’s also worth pointing out at that the rose gold model is slightly thinner – 0.3mm to be precise – than its black and platinum counterparts and takes a narrower 18mm strap.

Talking of straps, my only criticism of the C2’s design is its use of the premium leather band. It looks great but leather doesn’t react well to sweaty wrists and nor does it cater to those who want to avoid animal products. It would have been good to have a selection of straps to choose from but since it uses standard 20mm fittings, you can at least swap the leather strap out for a silicone variant from a third party provider.

As for the display, it’s a 1.3in AMOLED, 360 x 360 panel. It doesn’t use the same dual-screen technology that extends the TicWatch Pro’s battery life to up to 30 days when using just its LCD screen but Wear OS’ watch faces default to low-energy versions after a few seconds so you can check the time easily while still preserving battery power.

Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: Features and Wear OS

It might seem a little trite to say it but once you’ve seen one Wear OS smartwatch you have, to some extent, seen them all. That’s because, bar the occasional subtle hardware or software tweak, the user experience is identical on whichever model you choose. The upside to this is that there are no surprises when it comes to the Ticwatch C2’s UI, and it delivers all the basics with aplomb.

Setup is quick and easy and notifications are delivered promptly, the latter of which is crucial for any smartwatch, regardless of price. And, thanks to a recent overhaul, Wear OS is more useful than ever. Where swiping across the screen previously allowed you to change watch faces, a swipe right now reveals Google Assistant, allowing you to check the weather and date, see calendar events, track deliveries and more at a glance.

A swipe left accesses the C2’s fitness features and swiping down opens the redesigned quick settings panel, where you can enable do not disturb, power saving and aeroplane modes among other settings. Google Pay can also be accessed from this menu, allowing you make contactless payments.

Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: Fitness apps and performance

The only apps you won’t find on stock Wear OS are Mobvoi’s own selection of health apps: TicExercise, TicHealth, TicPulse and TicRanking. The latter offers a novel feature that lets you compare how active you’ve been with other Ticwatch users in the local vicinity. However, other than this, it’s difficult to say why anyone would use the Ticwatch apps over Google’s own Fit and Fit Workout apps, which monitor steps, distance, calories burned and heart rate already.

It’s a little frustrating, then, that Mobvoi has chosen to display TicHealth when you swipe right from the Home screen instead of Google Fit, as would normally be the case on Wear OS. Fortunately, you can fix this by opening TicHealth and then long-pressing the display before tapping Google Fit.

As for its GPS performance, the Ticwatch C2 isn’t any better or worse than Mobvoi’s other watches but it’s no replacement for a dedicated multisport watch. To elaborate, it took much longer to get a GPS fix with the Ticwatch C2 than a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus I wore at the same time when cycling across London. As such, it recorded only 1.8 miles of the 2.8 mile route.

At rest, the watch’s optical heart-rate sensor displayed nearly identical figures to the much pricier Garmin watch but checking your pulse isn’t as instantaneous because you need to open the Google Fit or TicPulse apps to do so. Sadly, the heart-rate sensor wasn’t as accurate during my bike ride, recording an average of 96bpm compared with the Garmin’s 125bpm. The blame for this can, to some degree, be apportioned to the non-stretchy leather strap, which makes achieving a snug, secure fit more difficult than with a silicone strap.

If you’re looking for the very best heart-rate accuracy during workouts, however, the good news is that, following a recent update to Wear OS, Google Fit now supports Bluetooth low-energy sensors such as chest-strap heart-rate monitors.

As for swimming, although the Ticwatch C2 has an IP68 rating, which means it can be submerged in upto 1.5m of water for 30 minutes, Mobvoi doesn’t say you can swim with it. A quick soaking in the rain or even the shower shouldn’t be a problem, therefore, but if you like to rack up 100s of lengths at your local pool, this isn’t the watch for you.

Being powered by the now two-year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip, I didn’t have high expectations for the Ticwatch C2’a performance. When I reviewed the Ticwatch Pro, which is powered by the same chip, I found it incredibly sluggish when loading apps such as Google Pay and Google Play Music. Thankfully, the Ticwatch C2 is much better in this regard.

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Indeed, although it’s not as fast as premium rivals from Samsung and Apple, the Ticwatch C2’s performance is adequate for most everyday tasks. Its battery life, too, is on par with its predecessors. That is to say, depending on how you use it, it should last anywhere between one and two days.

Mobvoi Ticwatch C2 review: Verdict

There’s not much to get excited about with the Ticwatch C2, mainly because there’s very little it can do that its cheaper predecessors, the Ticwatch E and S, can’t.

However, where it does succeed is in delivering most of the things that were great about those smartwatches in a package that’s far better looking and equally affordable. Importantly, it also rights the performance wrongs of its more expensive predecessor, the Ticwatch Pro.

There’s no reason not to buy it, then, especially if you’re on a tight budget. If I were you, though, I’d still be tempted to hold off and see what the next generation of Qualcomm wearable chips holds for Mobvoi’s smartwatches.

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