TicWatch E smartwatch review: Affordable but awkward

Without enough room for proper components, a smartwatch will die during the day or be so slow you wish it would die. Without the proper aesthetic, a smartwatch will look like some oversized toy on your wrist. A good smartwatch will slip once or twice in the balancing act, and unfortunately, the TicWatch E slips in the wrong places.

Feel the material

I was sent a TicWatch E after my TicHome mini review last year, and I have alternated between it and my personal LG Watch Style for the last several weeks. The TichWatch E comes in three colors — white, black, and yellow — with the white and yellow models sporting a clear plastic housing between the watch itself and the soft plastic band, and the black sporting a black housing. The bands, cheap though they are, are grippy, smooth, and felt quite nice — nicer than the stiff leather band my LG Watch Style came with. The clear plastic screams toy, and while plastic does stand up to the bangs and scuffs of life better than more polished metals.

The TicWatch E isn't quite as ridiculously bulky as most sporty smartwatches, but you're definitely going to have to work your sleeves to get them over the watch, as the hard angles of the watch tend to catch fabric tenaciously both when you try to sneak a peek at the face and when you try pull your sleeve down again and get back to work. The heart rate monitor at the bottom of the watch sits across from the POGO pin charging port, because in order to save costs, the TicWatch has skipped the convenience of wireless charging for a compact but still proprietary charging cable.

Under the hood

Using the watch once you get it free of your shirt sleeves is straightforward, though the home button sitting on the left side takes a little getting used to. The screen is big and bright; in fact, the TicWatch E, even on its lowest setting is too bright for Always-on mode at night. There's no auto-brightness here, either, so be prepared to change brightnesses when you head out of doors. Thankfully, even with that bright screen, the battery can easily last one and a half to two days. The TicWatch is a tic slow, but it's been hard to tell if that the actual system or just a screen that needs a bit more force to register taps than normal.

TicWatch E on my wrist

Having a watch with a heart rate sensor again has been nice, and at $128, the TicWatch E is certainly one of the cheaper options on the Android Wear market, but that comes at a price in performance and polish. The TicWatch E isn't a bad smartwatch, but it's not a great one either. It's an okay smartwatch, and that's not enough to justify the already low price tag.

If you just gotta have a heart rate sensor and like being able to use your watch as a wrist-mounted flashlight at night, this watch may work for you, but if you can, just wait until the LG Watch Style goes on sale. It won't take long.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.