“A simple but essential power upgrade makes the TicWatch C2 Plus an affordable, attractive smartwatch.”
- Enduring, attractive design
- Two straps included
- No auto-brightness
- Outdated processor
Don’t worry. You haven’t accidentally stumbled into a time-hole and ended up in 2018. This really is a review of a brand new Mobvoi TicWatch C2 model, though it looks identical to the C2 released more than 18 months ago. It’s the TicWatch C2 Plus, and although it looks the same on the outside, there’s a significant alteration inside — a RAM boost to 1GB.
Is this enough to recommend buying a smartwatch that, otherwise, is rather old? If we talk only about performance, the answer is a resounding yes. However, we need to go deeper than that.
Put the C2 Plus next to the C2, and they are identical. It has a glass fiber case and a stainless steel bezel, in either the onyx seen here, a platinum color, or rose gold.
The onyx and platinum models have a 42.8mm case size and a 20mm strap, while the rose gold version comes with a daintier, shorter 18mm strap. Otherwise, the dimensions appear to be the same. The 20mm strap is rather short. Adjusted to be comfortable on my 6.5-inch wrist, there were only four remaining holes left on the strap.
What’s welcome is a choice of straps in the box. You can use the quick-release pins to put on a leather strap for the evening, and a silicone strap to work out. The silicone version has been my preference. It’s soft, grippy, and doesn’t get too hot, though the clasp is a little sharp at the edges. The leather version is deep blue, very stiff and, annoyingly, the watch rarely stayed top-center on my wrist. With the silicone strap, the TicWatch C2 Plus weighs 58 grams.
There are two buttons on the side of the case at the 10 and 20 positions. The top is the app menu button, and the lower is configured to access Mobvoi’s TicHealth feature, though this can be changed to another app that may be more relevant to you. Press the buttons, and you immediately notice a lot of play before it engages. When it does, the click is accompanied by a hollow sound. Don’t expect it to feel especially premium. It’s outclassed by the feel of more expensive smartwatches, like the Moto 360.
I do like the design. The 1.3-inch screen is just right, the 12mm depth isn’t intrusive, and the simple two-button look works in both casual and sporty situations, especially if you choose the stealthier onyx model. The bezel is angled to make swiping comfortable. While it’s tempting to complain about Mobvoi not updating the design for the new Plus model, it’s easily the best looking watch the company has made. Changing it wasn’t necessary.
Screen and software
The 1.3-inch AMOLED screen on the front of the C2 Plus is larger than many current smartwatches, including the 1.2-inch Moto 360, but it matches Fossil’s Gen 5 smartwatch. The resolution is 390 x 390 pixels, which is the same as the Moto 360. There is a slight difference in text sharpness when you look closely.
Outside, you have to crank the brightness right up, but be careful doing this. It will shorten battery life. There’s also no auto-brightness feature to bring it back under control when you head back inside. I’m willing to forgive the screens’ mediocre pixel density, but the lack of auto-brightness is a pain.
Google’s WearOS is the same as you’ll find on other, similar smartwatches. The aging platform is navigated using swipes and taps, with a swipe right to show the helpful Google Assistant screen, and up to show all your notifications. Notifications are collected in one long list and the vast majority have interactive elements, such as replying to messages or muting conversations. WearOS runs smoothly on the C2 Pro, and reacts fast enough that it doesn’t become frustrating.
WearOS still suffers from some speed issues and setup takes too long, but on an everyday basis, it’s reliable and useable on the C2 Plus. I still find notification alerts to be annoying, with the watch delivering the same ones over and over again until I clear the list. I used the watch connected to different Android phones, and while WearOS works with iOS, you will miss out on various features including full Messages support.
Mobvoi installs a few of its own fitness apps – TicHealth, TicExercise, and TicPulse – which replicate the functionality provided by Google Fit. The watch will prompt you to use TicHealth, agree to its lengthy terms and conditions, approve location and data access, and install an app on your phone. There, the TicHealth app collates fitness data from your watch, as well as serving ads for other Mobvoi products.
TicHealth tracks your exercise and includes set plans for walking, running, training, and swimming. Oddly, the watch does ask if you want to track swimming, and if you respond yes, it adds a shortcut named Pool Swim to the app menu, which just goes directly to the TicExercise app. TicPulse does the same as Google’s Fit Heart Rate. It measures your heart rate, stores the data, and can be set up to automatically take readings during the day. The watch has an IP68 water resistance, so it can handle full immersion up to and over 1 meter.
I found no reason to use TicHealth over Google Fit. You don’t have to, but to switch you’ll have to dismiss several notifications before it gets the message. The heart rate sensor mostly matches the results from my Apple Watch, though I noticed it can drastically overestimate a start before settling down a few minutes into a workout.
Overall, the C2 Plus is a good fitness tracking smartwatch, due to its silicone strap, less dressy design, and good fitness feature set.
Battery and performance
Yes, boosting the RAM to 1GB makes a big difference for the C2 Plus’s performance. It handles animated watch faces better and is smoother to switch between screens and apps. Google Maps is quick, and the watch is generally a more pleasant, usable companion.
However, while the C2 Plus has more RAM it still uses the old Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, and this misses out on many of the benefits introduced with the Snapdragon Wear 3100. That includes longer battery life.
There’s no ability to take calls on the C2 Plus, and no speaker for Google Assistant. Happily, the C2 Plus does have NFC, and supports Google Pay.
The battery has a 400mAh capacity and with a typical day’s use (around 8am to midnight), with a single workout tracked, it ends with around 30% remaining. This means it’s unlikely to make it through a complete second day, even if you turn the watch off overnight.
Price and availability
The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 Plus costs $210 or 190 British pounds, and can be purchased directly from Mobvoi. It’s available now.
The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 Plus shows the company got most things right with the C2 the first time around, so it only required a small update to make it desirable in 2020. I like its attractive but unobtrusive design, solid fitness tracking credentials, and that it doesn’t cost a fortune.
Is there a better alternative?
Let’s start with the big one. If you own an iPhone, then buy an Apple Watch, as it’s the best smartwatch available. The software, build quality, features, and performance are all vastly better than any WearOS smartwatch. It costs more at $400-plus, but it’s worth it, and you can happily buy a cheaper Series 4 Apple Watch without feeling like you’re losing much against the latest Series 5 model.
The TicWatch C2 Plus’s price is very competitive. You will have to spend $299 to get the Moto 360 or the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch, although both of these come with the newer Snapdragon 3100 platform, and are technically superior to the C2 Plus. We recommend the $280 Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 as a great alternative to a WearOS smartwatch, as the software is better.
How long will it last?
The TicWatch C2 Plus is made from glass fiber and stainless steel, so it should prove robust enough for everyday use, plus it has an IP68 water resistance rating and can be used when swimming. The design has proved itself to be enduring already, seeing as Mobvoi hasn’t changed it from the original, and it’ll still look fresh for a few years.
Even with 1GB of RAM, the presence of the Snapdragon 2100 processor makes the TicWatch C2 Plus “old,” in that it has technically been superseded. This may impact the watch’s ability to run future versions of WearOS, and certainly stops you enjoying the latest features provided by the newer Snapdragon 3100 processor already.
It’s not the end of the world, especially at this price, but something to consider if your buying decision is not being driven by value.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Forget that it doesn’t have the latest processor technology inside. The TicWatch C2 Plus does everything you want from a smartwatch today at a good price.