While the TicWatch C2 does improve on the performance of its predecessor, the TicWatch E, it doesn't do well enough to earn an award. While it is better overall than the TicWatch E, it is also quite a bit more expensive, making it much less of a value option and unable to supplant the E as the Best Buy Award winner. However, while the C2 is quite a bit better than the E, it can't compare to the top products — some of which don't cost that much more — leaving the C2 in a bit of an awkward place. We do love the looks of this smartwatch and it has a solid set of features, making it a decent value if you are shopping strictly in the $200, but overall there are other products that we vastly preferred.
TicWatch C2 Review
Pros: Supports mobile payment, good value, looks great
Cons: Touchscreen didn’t seem terribly responsive, HR monitor wasn’t terribly accurate in our tests
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Our Analysis and Test Results
To determine which wearable are really worth your time, we bought all the best smartwatches and tested them out head-to-head, scoring their performance in tons of different tests to pick our winners. We grouped these tests into five weighted rating metrics, with the TicWatch C2's results in each of these metrics outlined below.
Ease of Use
The set of tests that constitute our ease of use metric are the most significant of our entire testing process, accounting for 30% of the final score for each smartwatch. We looked at how easy it is to use the touchscreen and navigate the menus, as well as charge the watch and swap between different wristbands. We also took into account how water resistant each watch is. The C2 did fairly well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its performance.
The C2 is quite easy to charge, having a connector that attaches to the back of the watch with a reasonably strong magnet. You do have to take a little bit of time to line it up properly, but it isn't jostled loose from minor movements. It still isn't as secure as the watches that have actual charging cradles.
The screen is a little slower than we would like to wake up when you raise, taking a full second before it illuminates. In terms of navigating menus, the touchscreen is decently responsive, though it can be a little finicky and register a swipe as a click. This is the only interface for scrolling on the C2, as it lacks a rotating crown or bezel.
It is super easy to swap wristbands, utilizing the typical watch mechanism, but the C2 isn't the most water resistant watch we have seen. While it is rated for IP68 — an improvement on its predecessor — it states that it shouldn't be taken swimming or in the shower, but is fine with rain and sweat. Unfortunately, we found it to be a bit finicky to take screenshots of the content on the watch and never really got it to work reliably through the WearOS (formerly Android Wear) app.
Our next group of tests focused on the different features and abilities that set these products apart from regular watches and earn them their "Smart-" moniker. We looked at the compatibility with popular apps, if you can make phone calls from your wrist, control your music, or use it for payment options, as well as if it has a standalone GPS. Altogether, these evaluations account for 20% of the final score for the C2, which earned another 6 out of 10 overall when it came to smart functions.
The TicWatch C2 runs on WearOS, so it has the same amount of app compatibility as the other Android watches, with standalone versions of apps like Uber, Messenger, Spotify, Strava, and IFTTT all working normally. However, it doesn't come close to matching the library of available apps for the Apple Watch.
The C2 has an integrated microphone for voice command, but not a speaker, so you do need to use your phone to make or answer calls and can't rely on the watch alone.
We did like that this watch has a built-in GPS unit for navigation and fitness tracking, as well as NFC for mobile payment applications using Google Pay (Android Pay). It also has the standard set of basic controls when you are listening to music, letting you play/pause, adjust volume, or skip to the next track.
Our display metric is equally important as smart features, also making up 20% of the final score. We compared the screen quality of each watch and how easy they are to read in different lighting conditions, as well as if the brightness automatically adjusted or if you could set the backlight to be always on. The TicWatch C2 continued a trend, earning another 6 out of 10.
This watch has a 1.3" circular AMOLED screen that is actually quite high-quality, but it can't compare to the quality of the top Samsung or Apple watches. It's super easy to read in the dark, but it can be a bit of a pain to see in bright light.
You don't have the option to set the backlight to automatically adjust, but you can set it to be always on — at the expense of your battery life.
Next, we compared the different fitness tracking abilities of each smartwatch. We looked at the accuracy of the step counter, stairs climbed sensor, and the heart rate monitor, as well as the different types of workouts tracked and the data recorded. The TicWatch C2 did about average in this metric, which is worth 15% of the final score.
This watch has a fairly accurate step counter, but the average discrepancy between the recorded count and the true count was about 40 steps over our mile-long trials.
We weren't huge fans of the HR monitor, as it would usually differ from the chest strap by about 5 bpm when stationary and would be wildly off when exercising.
The TicWatch doesn't have track the flights of stairs climbed, but will track a variety of different workouts.
It uses the Fit Activity app for this by default or you can use a third-party app, like Strava or Runkeeper for activity tracking. It records a decent amount of data and has an integrated GPS unit so you can go on a run and leave your phone behind without sacrificing the quality of the data recorded.
Our last metric, responsible for the remaining tenth of the total score, assessed the battery life of each smartwatch. We scored each product based on how long it lasted with normal use and how quickly it can be recharged, with the TicWatch C2 meriting another 5 out of 10.
This watch lasted between 24-30 hours with normal use, so you can expect to charge it every night. Compared to the other wearables we have reviewed, this is slightly below average. However, it does charge quite quickly, reaching a 50% charge in only 36 minutes and completely refilling a dead battery in about 80 minutes.
This watch isn't a great value, as it isn't that much better than some considerably less expensive models.
All in all, the C2's performance puts it in a bit of an awkward spot. It is a little too expensive to be a great bargain option, but it can't match the top products. It is our favorite watch for $200, but only if you are spending exactly $200. There are watches that are quite a bit better that retail for only $30-$50 more and watches that aren't that much worse that retail for $30-$50 less. If you want the best, it's worth it to pay more or we would recommend going with a different model if you are shopping for a bargain buy.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer