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TicWatch E3 review: Almost as well-equipped as Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 top smartwatch

Good genes. In terms of the core equipment, the hardware of the WearOS smartwatch is identical to that of the TicWatch Pro 3. This makes it attractive as an affordable alternative to Mobvoi's current top model, particularly since other manufacturers still use the older SoCs instead of the Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform.
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Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 4 x - 1.7 GHz, ARM Cortex-A53
Memory
1024 MB 
Display
1.30 inch, 360 x 360 pixel 277 PPI, full touchscreen, glossy: yes
Storage
8 GB SSD, 8 GB 
Connections
Audio Connections: ⊕, NFC, Sensors: accelerometer, gyro sensor, HD PPG heart rate sensor, SpO2, low latency off-body sensor
Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 12.6 x 44 x 47 ( = 0.5 x 1.73 x 1.85 in)
Battery
380 mAh, magnetic contacted charging
Operating System
Google WearOS 2
Additional features
Speakers: ⊕, Keyboard: 2 buttons, TicWatch E3, USB charging dock, user manual, Mobvoi app, 24 Months Warranty, Google Pay; GPS + GLONASS + Beidou; IP68, waterproof
Weight
( = 0 oz / 0 pounds), Power Supply: 32 g ( = 1.13 oz / 0.07 pounds)
Price
199 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case and Equipment – Multiband GNSS, no always-on display

The TicWatch E3 isn't really the Mobvoi flagship, but the TicWatch E family belongs more to the upper mid-range, which is able to communicate with the three satellite navigation systems GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou, for example. The successor of the TicWatch E2 from 2019 now uses Qualcomm's current Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform similar to the current flagship, the TicWatch Pro 3. In addition, the working memory and storage also have the same sizes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB ROM respectively. 

With a diagonal of about 44 mm (~1.7 in), the TicWatch E3 is smaller, and in contrast to the TicWatch Pro 3, the IP68 certified case is made from polycarbonate. Only the classic fastener of the 20 mm silicone rubber watch band is made from metal. 

In contrast to the flagship, the E3 lacks an automatic brightness sensor, but instead the brightness can be manually adjusted in 5 steps. In our test, the second step was sufficient indoors, but outdoors we needed at least the fourth step, depending on the weather conditions.

Like most WearOS wearables, the Mobvoi smartwatch also has NFC, a speaker and microphone for Google Pay and the Google Assistant, and is able to connect to the WLAN. Compared to the TicWatch E2 predecessor, the PPG sensor of the E3 is now also able to measure the blood oxygen saturation. 

Setup and Operation – The Mobvoi apps enhance Google's ecosystem

Before our testing, it was not clear whether the TicWatch E3 would be the first smartwatch using the new Wear operating system that was developed by Google in conjunction with Samsung. However, our test unit still arrived with WearOS, in version 2.27 after an update. 

We performed the setup of the smartwatch using Google's WearOS app on an iPhone 12 Pro and then connected it with the Mobvoi app. After we ran into repeated connection problems, we uninstalled the Mobvoi app and then reinstalled it from the App Store. Even though that did not offer any update, the user interface of the Mobvoi app was changed after the reinstall. This was particularly noticeable in the Daily Dashboard displaying the fitness data, as you can see in the images of the test further below. 

WearOS app
WearOS app
Alternative watch faces
Alternative watch faces
Mobvoi app
Mobvoi app

The operation follows the usual standard: vertical gestures open the notification list and a menu with quick settings such as adjusting the brightness. In addition, if you double press the top button, the brightness is briefly increased to the maximum. 

A horizontal swipe gesture to the right opens the Google Assistant, and swiping to the left will show up to ten widgets in a row. The top button opens the app list, and the bottom button opens an app that you can configure yourself. You can move all the apps and widgets, and also delete or add widgets. 

The calculator, timer, notes, weather information, and a connection to the smartphone calendar are standard under WearOS. However, you cannot change or add appointments. Using the alarms widget, you can setup more than ten alarms, choosing between sound or vibration for each of them separately.

In addition to the Google apps for health management, Mobvoi has also installed some of their own apps such as TicExercise for sports, TicZen for stress monitoring, TicBreathe with breathing exercises for relaxation, or TicHearing to analyze the surrounding sounds.

If needed, you can also install additional apps using the Play Store that is preinstalled on the smartwatch. This is necessary if you want to play music offline, for example, since there is no player preinstalled on the E3. You can provide inputs either using the microphone or a small keyboard on the display.

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Music

If you activated the option for this, a remote player control for the smartphone opens up automatically as soon as you start the music player or a streaming app such as Spotify on the smartphone. The player control will also be displayed in the Quick Panel. The Spotify app from the Play Store (see screenshot on the right) will also control the Spotify app on the smartphone, allowing you to switch between your own playlists in this way.

Voice Assistant

A longer press on the top button or a swiping gesture to the right starts the Google Assistant. You can dictate your queries using the microphone. The responses will initially appear as text on the display. If you then don't go back directly but wait for a brief moment, there will be an additional acoustic response. In our test, this differed slightly from the text on the display, so the Assistant did not just read the response from the display. 

Telephony and Notifications

The E3 signals incoming calls, and you can either accept or reject the call. In combination with Android, you can make the call using the smartwatch and also initiate calls using the preinstalled contact app, for example. In combination with iOS, you have to use the iPhone after you accepted the call on the smartwatch. 

You can lengthen the duration of the vibration for messages, so that you can distinguish them from other notifications. Messages from social networks such as WhatsApp or Telegram display all the emojis. However, you can again only respond in combination with Android.

Google Assistant
Google Assistant
Messenger notification
Messenger notification

Health and Fitness – Includes a separate HIIT workout

In combination with Android, you can synchronize your data with Google Fit. On the iPhone, you can connect the TicWatch E3 with Apple Health and then connect that with Google Fit. The Google app is also available for iOS using the App Store. 

During the day, the TicWatch E3 counts the hours where you stand up and move - which is also called the "stand goal" - your steps, and the approximate distance covered. However, during our test, the step counter registered almost 4600 steps when we had only reached 4000. This is a deviation of almost 15%, while between 1% and 3% are the standard. The TicWatch E3 does not show the number of virtual floors climbed, since it lacks the barometric sensor for altitude measurement that the TicWatch Pro 3 offers. 

Heart Rate, Heart Rhythm, and Blood Oxygen Saturation

The health tracker is able to measure your blood oxygen saturation, heart rate, and regularity of the heart beat around the clock, if this is what you need. These are are indicators for your wellbeing. Mobvoi generates the corresponding diagrams for these on the watch as well as in the app on the smartphone.  

Heart rate diagram
Heart rate diagram
Stress analysis
Stress analysis
Saturation diagram
Saturation diagram

Sleep Tracking

Optionally, the TicWatch E3 can record your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation at night, expanding the diagrams in your sleep protocol. The sleep protocol displays your sleep phases, comparing the ratios of the four sleep phases through the night. You can also limit the time period of sleep tracking in order to save some battery life, since it will otherwise also register and track your power nap during the day. 

To save battery life, you can also automatically activate an "essential" mode at night, where the watch continues to track your sleep and heart rate, but not the blood oxygen saturation. If you do this, you should know your sleep habits and also be aware that the TicWatch E3 performs a restart to come back from essential mode, which means that the recordings are interrupted. During our testing, an early change at 5 am led to an interruption of our sleep protocol, splitting it into the time before the restart and another hour-and-a-half afterwards. 

The two screenshots on the left show a sleep protocol for the essential mode and the two screenshots on the right and those of the watch below show a regular protocol.

Recording during the essential mode
Recording during the essential mode
Additional recording after the restart
Additional recording after the restart
Regular sleep protocol … 
Regular sleep protocol … 
… which includes blood oxygen saturation
… which includes blood oxygen saturation

Recording of Trainings

You can activate automatic activity recognition for running, walking, and biking. Optionally, the watch will then either display a notification to start the activity or automatically start it. In that case, it will not record the route but still record the heart rate, step frequency and length, and the speed. 

While the step count outside the workout was far from the actual step count, during the workout, the sport tracker recorded the step frequency accurately. The GPS also worked well during the test. The run afterwards was also recorded by a Garmin sport watch on our other wrist. After tapping twice on the TicWatch E3 display, it recorded a manual lap at the same time as the kilometer signal from the Garmin Venu 2s. The distances of each lap were almost exactly the same as the km rhythm of the Venu 2s, as you can see in the third screen of the protocol. 

In the direct comparison, the rest of the data was also identical to a large extent. The large deviation in the calorie consumption can be traced back to some wrong information in the Mobvoi app: you must explicitly activate the synchronization of personal information with the Mobvoi servers using the app. After reinstalling the app, we only did this after the run was recorded, so that the determined calorie consumption as well as VO2max maximum oxygen consumption were based on wrong information on the gender, size, and weight. 

You can adjust the size of the pool for your swim training. At the beginning of the swimming workout, the E3 automatically locks the display, and after the end, the water is expelled. Those who enjoy training with Strava can find Strava for WearOS in the Play Store.

The E3 is the first TicWatch with specific support for interval trainings: You can create your own sets from a total of 10 exercises and adjust the amount of reps or a time for each, as well as the number of sets and breaks in between. Mobvoi plans to make more exercises available at a later time. During our testing, the available exercises included the following: burpees, high knees, squat jumps, squat punching, jumping jacks, mountain climber, planks, twist mountain climber, reverse crunch, and bridge.

However, during one interval workout, the PPG sensor of the TicWatch E3 was overwhelmed by the dynamic of the heart rate, as the parallel recording from the Polar H10 heart rate sensor shows. Including a warm-up and cooldown phase, the workout consisted of 3 sets with one minute of jump rope each and two minutes of rest in between to lower the heart rate. The outlier of the H10 during the cooldown originated from an unintended interruption of the recording. The second diagram belongs to the recording of the run above. In the relatively stable recording, the curve is almost identical to that of the Garmin Venu 2s.    

Performance and Battery Life

In the browser benchmarks, the difference to the similarly equipped TicWatch Pro 3 is small as expected. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform is not only superior to the older Qualcomm SoCs, but also scores better than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 with Samsung's Exynos 9110 and the Apple Watch Series 6 with the Apple S6.

Octane V2 - Total Score
Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Web Browser for Wear OS 1.1.21)
3624 Points ∼100%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
  (3308 - 3624, n=3)
3504 Points ∼97% -3%
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
3308 Points ∼91% -9%
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 LTE R845
Samsung Exynos 9110, 1024 (Samsung Internet Browser 10.1.01.3)
2171 Points ∼60% -40%
Oppo Watch 46 mm LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
1730 Points ∼48% -52%
Motorola Moto 360 (2020)
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
1522 Points ∼42% -58%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score
Oppo Watch 46 mm LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Web Browser for Wear OS 1.1.201123)
4138.5 ms * ∼100% -337%
Motorola Moto 360 (2020)
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
2997.2 ms * ∼72% -217%
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 LTE R845
Samsung Exynos 9110, 1024 (Samsung Internet Browser 10.1.01.3)
2660.8 ms * ∼64% -181%
Apple Watch 5 44 mm Stainless Steel Cellular
Apple S5, 1024
2013.7 ms * ∼49% -113%
Apple Watch Series 6 44 mm
Apple S6, 1024
1807.1 ms * ∼44% -91%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
  (925 - 1092, n=3)
988 ms * ∼24% -4%
Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Web Browser for Wear OS 1.1.21)
946.3 ms * ∼23%
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
924.8 ms * ∼22% +2%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Motorola Moto 360 (2020)
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
21265.5 ms * ∼100% -103%
Oppo Watch 46 mm LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
17097.5 ms * ∼80% -63%
Mobvoi TicWatch E3
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Web Browser for Wear OS 1.1.21)
10458.5 ms * ∼49%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
  (8710 - 10459, n=3)
9612 ms * ∼45% +8%
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 LTE
Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100, 1024 (Free Browser for Wear OS 0.8.40)
8710.3 ms * ∼41% +17%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Mobvoi offers several methods to extend the short battery life of about one day that is typical for WearOS devices. 

As in most smartwatches, the first method is to deactivate the always-on display. If you don't want to do without this, a low-latency off-body sensor ensures that it still turns off if you don't wear the device, even if it remains active otherwise. 

When the capacity of the 380-mAh battery drops below 5%, a power saving "essential mode" that is also available on the TicWatch Pro 3 is activated. In this mode, the smartwatch continues to count the steps, measure the heart rate, and monitor sleep. You can also activate the essential mode automatically using a time table, for example during the night. However, if you also wear the watch while sleeping, in order to avoid interrupting the sleep tracking, you shouldn't set the return to the normal mode to a time before you wake up.

The power savings for each of these methods are not very large. Even with the nightly change to essential mode, you will only achieve two days at most. But Mobvoi doesn't promise more than that anyways. 

Pros

+ fast SoC
+ multiband GNSS
+ large storage
+ voice assistant
+ App store
+ SpO2 measurement
+ phone calls via Bluetooth (Android)

Cons

- short battery life as typical for WearOS
- no brightness sensor
- no altitude sensor
- inaccurate step counter

Verdict

Test unit provided by Mobvoi
Test unit provided by Mobvoi

If you decide for the TicWatch E3 instead of the TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, you save about 100 Euros (~$119), while still getting the currently best Qualcomm SoC for wearables, 8 GB of ROM, and multiband GNSS. The main compromises compared to the top model include an even shorter battery life and the lack of automatic brightness adjustment. In our test, we particularly missed this feature while running and biking, when you want to take quick glances at the display without having to use your other hand. 

Whether these two features are relevant to you depends on whether you charge your smartwatch every night anyways and whether and what kind of sports you want to use it for. In this regard, we like the settings for the trendy HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sport, which is not included yet even in the TicWatch Pro 3, at least during our testing period. But of course, an update for the TicWatch Pro 3 might change this. You can otherwise find this feature more in sports watches such as the Polar Vantage M2, the Garmin Venu 2s, or the Garmin Lily. 

Compared to the TicWatch Pro 3 LTE, the E3 of course also lacks a mobile connection. But the Pro 3 LTE also costs an additional 50 Euros (~$60). Compared to other WearOS watches, the Mobvoi also distinguishes itself with numerous apps for health monitoring that score with a detailed presentation. In general, we like the inclusion of emojis throughout in WearOS watches.

Some other WearOS alternatives are the Oppo Watch or the Oppo Watch with LTE, as well as Fossil's GEN 5, the new LTE version of which we will also test, for example.

Price and Availability

As an alternative to the black band of our test unit, Mobvoi also offers the TicWatch E3 with a Neon Yellow or Ashy Blue watch band. The recommended purchase price is 199 Euros (~$238). In the US, you can find it at Amazon for $199.

Pricecompare

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Inge Schwabe
Editor of the original article: Inge Schwabe - Senior Tech Writer - 133 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I initially earned my pocket money by filing paper records and earned my first salary by destroying them: For years I have supported digital transformation processes in both large and small IT projects. With two successfully completed degrees, in Computer Science and Technical Communications, I managed to combine my expertise with my passion for writing. I have written articles for connect, c’t, Mac & I, and the Microsoft and Samsung portals. With Notebookcheck, I sometimes move my workplace outdoors into nature so I can put fitness trackers and smartwatches to the test beyond the confines of my desk.
contact me via: @mobilewelten, Facebook, Xing
Mark Riege
Translator: Mark Riege - Translator - 241 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Having worked as a programmer for 20 years (medical devices, AI, data management systems), I've been following the computer scene for many years and especially enjoy finding out about new technology advances. Originally from Germany but living in the US, I've been working as a translator more recently, with Notebookcheck allowing me to combine my interest in new devices and translation. Other interests include Buddhism, spending time in Tibetan monasteries, and translating ancient Tibetan texts.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > TicWatch E3 review: Almost as well-equipped as Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 3 top smartwatch
Inge Schwabe, 2021-06-24 (Update: 2021-06-24)