Mobvoi has been positioning the TicWatch brand as the OnePlus of the smartwatch world: premium specs at a mid-range price. Its latest offerings, the TicWatch E2 and the TicWatch S2, continue this mission. We've had the E2 strapped to our wrist for the past week, and here's our verdict.

At the top we should say the TicWatch E2 and the TicWatch S2 are identical in terms of their internals. The only difference is in the styling, with the S2 (S for sport) having a more rugged, outdoorsy look. The E2 that we're reviewing here is the smaller and sleeker model, more suited for everyday wear.

As soon as you unbox the TicWatch E2 you can tell it's not going to win any awards for design or style (if aesthetics matter most to you, check out the Fossil range). It's not an ugly smartwatch but it's functional rather than fashionable, with a chunky plastic casing and a default rubber strap that's comfortable if not exactly eye-catching.

The one input option besides the 1.4 inch touchscreen is a single button on the crown, and while you can swap out the supplied 22 mm wide strap for something else, you only get one color choice for the main body of the watch: black.

Take a look at the specs sheet and the picture gets a lot brighter. The TicWatch E2 offers all the familiar step counting and activity monitoring features, plus a heart rate sensor, waterproofing to 50 meters (164 ft) so it can track your swims, and on-board GPS for plotting your runs on a map without a connected smartphone.

Add in Qualcomm's Snapdragon 2100 chipset and 4 GB of on-board storage, and this starts to look like a very appealing package indeed. One omission worth noting is NFC (so no mobile payments from your watch), while sleep tracking is missing too at the moment, Mobvoi says it'll be added in a later software update.

The latest Wear OS 2.0 from Google is here too, which means intuitive integration with Google Assistant and easy access to all the apps you're going to be using most, from maps to fitness. You'll find the same software on most recently launched Wear OS smartwatches, but the TicWatch E2 does throw in a few exclusive watch faces – we found them a bit too busy and utilitarian but your mileage may vary (at least there are plenty to pick from).

So what's it like to actually use? In short, it's a really pleasant experience. The watch is comfortable to wear, speedy in operation, and responsive to touch and voice input. Pairing with a phone is quick and painless, while notifications appear in a snap – we particularly like the quick replies you can send from your wrist now in a lot of messaging apps.

When it comes to Wear OS watches using recent Qualcomm silicon, you're really choosing a device based on its looks and its sensors, rather than any of the software features (as most of these are all the same across the board). The TicWatch E2 hits an okay score in the first category and a very good score in the second.

The watch has two aces up its sleeve though. The first is the battery life, which we found to stretch to a day and a half with average use – that beats a lot of rivals on the market. You're not going to get two days of use from a single battery charge, but it does mean if you forget you charge it overnight you won't wake up to a dead smartwatch.

The low power mode you'll find on the majority of Wear OS watches works very well, dimming the screen to just show the time when you're not actually looking at it. Unless you're really pushing the sensors and GPS, you should comfortably make it from morning to night without needing a recharge.

Secondly, there's the price – as is the norm for a TicWatch device, it's priced very competitively, with a recommended retail price of $159.99 ($20 cheaper than the S2). It might not be the most stylish or the most capable smartwatch on the market at the moment, but it has a strong claim for being the best value for money.

With just about everything a casual user could want from a smartwatch, bar NFC, the TicWatch E2 is likely to hit the shortlist of anyone shopping for a Wear OS watch in the near future. Mobvoi is really hitting its stride when it comes to producing quality wearables, and the ultimate question is: why you would pay any more for your next smartwatch?

Product page: TicWatch

Update (Jan. 30, 2018): This article originally stated the Snapdragon 2100 was Qualcomm's newest wearable chip. This was incorrect as Qualcomm released the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset late last year. The story has been corrected and we apologize for the error and thank the commenters who brought it to our attention.

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