TicWatch E3’s Future Wear OS 3 Update Makes it a Better Buy


The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 will be getting the new Wear OS 3 software update, a fact unknown when I first reviewed the watch, and it definitely blighted my overall opinion at the time. Despite the low $200 price and good performance, recommending you buy a smartwatch without any news on the arrival of an important software update seemed rash.

With the news Wear OS 3 will arrive, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to revisit the TicWatch E3 just over a month after my original review. The smartwatch hasn’t noticeably changed since then, but my opinion has, and that has ended up affecting the review score. Does this mean it’s now a recommended purchase? Yes, but it’s still complicated.

The waiting game

What’s so special about this new software? The new Wear OS 3, or simply Wear as it has also been known, platform is the joint effort between Google and Samsung to improve the performance, efficiency, and functionality of smartwatches over the current Google Wear OS software. Provided it lives up to the promise, it may change the way the TicWatch E3 feels to use, and that’s why we welcomed the news it was going to receive the software in the future.

Mobvoi TicWatch E3 seen from the top down.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Unfortunately, it’s the far future, because it’s not going to arrive next month or even this year. It’s going to be made available for the TicWatch E3 during the second half of 2022. That means if you buy the watch today, you’re in for at least a year’s wait for the new software. That’s quite a time to wait since the software is actually expected to make its debut on August 11 onboard the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

Despite the good news, then, you’re still left with a conundrum. Is it worth buying the TicWatch E3 now, given the lengthy wait?

What about the smartwatch itself?

Before we get into that, how about the smartwatch? I’ve worn the TicWatch E3 again for almost a week now and it’s a solid, reliable, and comfortable smartwatch. A small software update did arrive when I first powered the smartwatch back up, but the Wear OS build remains the same as before — version 2.26, H MR2. I can’t see any changes, and because the software was already speedy and the health tracking accurate, I haven’t needed to look out for many improvements.

Mobvoi TicWatch E3.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The battery life is much the same too, with the watch lasting two working days, just, provided it’s turned off overnight and you don’t track more than one workout. I’ve used Mobvoi’s own TicExercise app to track a couple of workouts and although it works well, I still don’t see any reason to use it over Google Fit. To integrate TicExercise workouts with Google Fit you have to install Mobvoi’s app on your phone and add authorization to share data through that. But because there’s no clear benefit to doing this, why not just use Google Fit in the first place?

On the hardware side, I’ve not missed having an AMOLED screen, as the TicWatch E3’s LCD is perfectly acceptable, but the lack of an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness is a pain. The massive bezel around the screen is ugly though, and the watch faces available are uninspired. My opinion about the overall design hasn’t changed either, it’s still plasticky and a bit dull, but that won’t bother everyone.

Good enough to recommend?

The Mobvoi TicWatch E3’s reasonable $200 price makes it a temptation, and it’s easier to forgive the plastic case and LCD screen too. Plus, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 4100 processor makes it fast, and that matters a lot on a Wear OS smartwatch. Now that it is one of the chosen few models that will get Wear OS 3, the smartwatch does get more attractive. Yes you’ll have to wait for it, but when it does pop up on your watch the hardware will still realistically have at least another year left in it.

That’s good news already, but the TicWatch E3 is also in rare company, as it’s one of only two current smartwatches that are actually confirmed to get the update at all. The other is Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3. Here’s where the TicWatch E3 really begins to make sense, as there’s absolutely no reason to buy an Android smartwatch that isn’t going to get Wear OS 3, making the TicWatch E3 is one of the best options out there at the moment.

Now the software update situation has been cleared up, we can scrub one of the negative points from our review, which in turn ups the score by one star. The TicWatch E3 is now a 3.5-star product and gets a coveted Recommended award. That means we think it’s definitely good enough to buy.

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