Back in 2012, I backed the Pebble e-paper watch on kickstarter. My thought at the time was that it would be a good way of looking at my messages without pulling out my phone. It worked fine for that but it is a pretty limited use case and you still need to be within bluetooth range of your phone. A few years later, I tried replacing it with an LG Urbane 2. That had the benefit of having its own LTE connection so it could be more independent of your phone but it was still just an interface to display messages. After that, I kind of gave up on finding something better. Part of the reason was because LTE watches were hard to find unless you are using an iPhone with one of the three major US carriers and part of the reason was that Qualcomm wan’t making new chipsets. That meant that if you bought a smartwatch 6 months ago, for the most part, it would be using the same internal parts as a watch from 6 years ago.
So, what made me look for a new watch? As I said in last week’s post, I have been frustrated with where my fitness is in 2020 and I figured that more data could be helpful. I also noticed that Qualcomm came out with the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset (which the Ticwatch uses). In fact, it looks like this is the first watch to use it. It promises much less compromised performance and much better battery life.
So, what does it track? It tracks your heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure (although I can’t seem to find any actual documentation about this), steps, distance of a run or walk via GPS in the watch, and the quality of your sleep. The one thing that it lacks (that I wish it had) is ECG sensing. The Mobvoi app then lets you sync the data to Google Fit, Strava, Runkeeper, and/or Apple Health. That means that your data won’t be locked into a walled garden.
This new wealth of data is nice but it is worthless if it isn’t actionable. So far, the main use for this data has been visualization on the watch and its companion app on the phone. It looks at the number of steps that you walk, the number of minutes of exercise during your day, and how many hours you are active. There is a goal for the three things and it represents your level of success in a single circular visualization. It is nice but I am hoping to get more over time.
So, how is the battery life? I have continual monitoring of my vitals turned on and “always on display” turned off. With that, it can probably last a solid 2 days but if you charge it whenever you take a shower, it will keep going like a champ. The company advertises 45 days of battery life in “essential mode” (which is basically an e-paper secondary display with time, date, and step counter). If it can manage a full travel day, I’m happy enough, though.
As things sit, I am reasonably happy with the purchase. I wish there was Youtube Music support (or any offline music support) and I wish there was more than 8gb of storage. I also wish there was ECG sensing. This watch is a reasonable compromise for me, though.
Have any questions, comments, etc? Feel free to drop a comment, below.