The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 is the second smartwatch to come out with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip inside, and it’s a big deal. The processor makes Google’s Wear OS faster, smoother, and easier to live with each day, plus it improves the battery life. It’s also the number one reason you should be considering buying the TicWatch E3. Early in the TicWatch E3’s life, the shadow of the incoming Google/Samsung Wear platform hung over it, but Google has since confirmed the new software will eventually arrive on the smartwatch, which has benefitted it a great deal

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The best watches are “part” of you, by which I mean something you want to put on each morning and enjoy looking down at throughout the day, and not only to check the time. The Mobvoi TicWatch E3 isn’t that kind of watch. It is a piece of technology, where design has come second to fitting the latest processor.

Understanding that, and assessing if you’re comfortable with the trade-off, is the first stage in deciding whether you can live with the TicWatch E3. It’s not an ugly smartwatch or an uncomfortable one, it’s just bland and plasticky. Unforgivable if it cost $400, but more understandable at $200. The TicWatch E3 looks different from the TicWatch E2, with stubby, squared-off lugs attaching a quick release 22mm strap to the simple round case, which is made of plastic. There are two buttons on the side, set at the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock positions, which have a nicely dampened action. The top opens the app menu and the lower button defaults to Mobvoi’s TicExercise app, but it can be altered in the settings. The E3 is just under 13mm thick, and the screen measures 1.3 inches and has a substantial bezel running around the edge.

Why should you care about the TicWatch E3? The main reason is the Snapdragon Wear 4100, a shocking rarity in the world of Wear OS smartwatches, and is otherwise only found in the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3. The fast, up-to-date chip replaces the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100, which has been ubiquitous for far too long. The TicWatch E3 may not have the looks, but it certainly has the power.

The Snapdragon Wear 4100 eliminates two of those annoying Wear OS problems, namely slow speeds and short battery life. It makes Wear OS drastically more responsive than any Snapdragon Wear 3100-powered smartwatch. It flows and glides through Tiles, quickly and without hesitation shows notifications as you scroll through the list, and even the previously lengthy setup process is considerably faster than before. Paired with 1GB of RAM, it makes Wear OS pleasurable to use, and that’s a huge step forward.

Software and fitness tracking
The Ticwatch E3 runs Wear OS — version 2.26, H MR2 installed on my review model — so it operates in a familiar way, with swipes and taps to navigate the menus. There’s no rotating crown or bezel here, so the software is controlled only by your finger on the screen. By default Mobvoi’s menu system is a 4 by 4 grid of scrollable icons, rather than the standard single-line scrollable list, but it can be changed if you prefer. I found it was slightly easier to find what I wanted, but missed the way Wear OS’s menu system places the most recently used apps at the top of the list.

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