It’s a completely understandable question. Maybe you’ve seen a Mobvoi product on sale, like a smartwatch or some Bluetooth headphones, and the specs look good but you’ve never heard of the brand before.

Amazon is awash with unknown Chinese brands selling cheap clones of products from big-name tech companies. So the question is obvious; can you trust the Mobvoi brand?

My opinion is yes, Mobvoi is a good quality brand that you can trust, and in this article I’ll explain my reasons for that.

I use Mobvoi Brand Products

First of all, I’ve owned five separate Mobvoi products, so I have my personal experience as a customer and user of the company’s devices to inform my opinion. The products I’ve owned are:

  • TicWatch E
  • TicWatch Pro 2020
  • TicWatch Pro 3
  • TicPods 2 ear-buds
  • TicKasa ANC noise cancelling headphones

I have found all of these products to be well built, reliable, and on a par with similar devices from better known consumer electronics brands.

The TicWatch Pro 3, in fact, is probably the best Android Wear smartwatch currently on the market (just check out the reviews in the mainstream technology press) so in some regards Mobvoi isn’t just matching better known tech brands, it’s actually leading the way.

I currently wear my TicWatch Pro 3 daily, and love it. I also use the TicPods 2 and TicKasa ANC headphones a lot, and they’ve never let me down.

Given that Mobvoi brand products are often sold at a far lower price than similar devices from better known brands, they’re great value because you get a lot of tech for your money. I’ve got no concerns over quality – they’re physically well constructed, and the underlying tech works exactly as expected with no reliability issues.

Tech Experts Rate Mobvoi Products

OK, so this is just a small blog from a Mobvoi-fan, I wouldn’t expect you to take my word for it. But if you take a look at reviews of Mobvoi products (especially the TicWatch range) in trusted tech publications, you’ll see they consistently perform well.

Some examples of positive press coverage for Mobvoi products:

These are just a few examples. While it’s fair to say that not every Mobvoi product always gets a glowing review (which brand doesn’t occasionally miss the mark?) generally speaking the brand gets above average, positive reviews.

But it’s not just the tech experts who are positive about Mobvoi – take a look at the Amazon customer reviews for any of the company’s products and you’ll see good feedback from people who have bought them.

Mobvoi Has Serious Talent and Investors

The final point I want to make about whether Mobvoi is a good brand that deserves your trust, is that you need to look at who’s behind the company and who’s funding it.

Mobvoi was founded in 2012 by Zhifei Li, who has a PhD from John Hopkins University in natural language processing, machine translation, and machine learning. He formerly worked at both Google and Microsoft.

The company’s Chief Technology officer is Mike (Xin) Lei, who previously worked on high-end speech recognition platforms for both Google and Microsoft. The VP of Engineering at Mobvoi is Mei-Yuh Hwang, a research scientist who also worked at Microsoft, on speech recognition and language technologies.

So, the core leadership team at Mobvoi are serious computer scientists with experience at some of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Finally, it’s worth knowing that Mobvoi is backed by some serious tech industry heavyweights, with investors including venture capital fund, Sequoia Capital, and search giant, Google.

If you’re looking for an affordable set of active noise cancelling (ANC) over-ear headphones, you should read this review.

First, I want to make it clear that I purchased this set of Mobvoi TicKasa ANC headphones myself, out of my own pocket, and have used them daily for a couple of months before I wrote this review. I do not receive freebies from Mobvoi, and all of my reviews are based on my personal experience as a customer.

For a long time I’ve wanted a set of Bluetooth noise cancelling over-ear headphones like Sony’s highly rated WH-1000XM4, but without spending hundreds of dollars. Since I’m already a Mobvoi fan, I thought I’d try these TicKasa ANC headphones, because they were on sale for a much more affordable £30/$30 during the last year’s Black Friday sale. I’m glad I spent the money, because they’ve performed as well as I hoped and now I use them regularly – I even bought my father in law a set for Christmas.

How does Noise Cancelling Work?

First let’s explain exactly what these headphones do and how they work. There are two different types of noise cancelling available in headphones:

Passive Noise Cancelling: physically blocks outside noise from entering your ear. On ear-buds this is done by a small silicone seal which fits snugly in your ear-canal. On over-ear headphones noise is blocked by the foam cup which surrounds the outer ear, and the hard plastic casing of the headphone. Passive noise cancelling is able to deaden all types of sounds.

Active Noise Cancelling: this is a more technical approach, which uses microphones on the outside of the headphone to listen to the noise in your environment, and then creates an opposing sound wave precisely tuned to cancel out that external noise. Active noise cancelling is really good at blocking out constant, low, droning type sounds, such as engine and wind noise in an aircraft (and even cars or trains), air-conditioning hum, or computer fan noise. It’s not so good at blocking more random noise, like people talking.

If you’re hoping to create a bubble of perfect silence in your noise office, the bad news is that no headphones can do that – the only way you can really achieve this is by using foam ear-plugs and/or ear defenders to physically block as much noise as possible from entering your ear.

Noise cancelling headphones like these are really designed to significantly lower external noise so that you can listen to music, podcasts, or whatever, without having the volume turned to deafening levels to overcome background noise.

Mobvoi TicKasa ANC Noise Cancelling Performance

Let’s get straight to the point, do these headphones work well? Categorically yes!

When I put them on at my desk and power them up, without any music or other audio playing through them, there’s an immediately noticeable drop in background noise. Suddenly I can’t hear the fans on my PC, or the hum of the dishwasher working in the next room. Even though I can still hear the sound of my kids playing in the house, it’s significantly muted and much less distracting.

If I wear them for a long period without playing music, it’s easy to forget that they’re busy working away at eliminating noise, so when I take them off I’m suddenly struck by how loud everything is. It’s a sign that they do their job really well.

I’ve worn them for a couple of train journeys, and they did a good job of blocking most of the noise, only struggling momentarily when there was a sudden jolt or rattle which obviously confused them a little.

I mostly use them for Zoom calls from my home office. Not only do they block out background noise so I can hear my colleagues more clearly, the five built-in microphones cleverly isolate my voice from the background noise too, so I sound clear on the call.

The sound quality seems absolutely fine to me, whether I’m on a call, watching videos or just listening to music. They use a pair of chunky 40mm drivers, which is the same as you’d get in Sony’s high-end headphones, and these are more than capable for most applications – unless you’re a studio sound engineer and need specialist gear.

I’m not a hardcore audiophile, but I’ve owned a lot of different headphones over the years and I know what a crappy pair sounds like – the Mobvoi TicKasa ANC do not have any noticeable problems, and I challenge anybody to fault the sound quality for the price.

So, I can safely say they do exactly the job I want them to do, at a very affordable price point.

Quality and Design

When I first unboxed these headphones, I was not disappointed with the experience. They come in a nice looking box, with accessories that include a soft-touch carry-case and a cable with 3.5mm audio jacks and inline microphone so that the headphones can be used even if they run out of battery charge.

You also get an adapter to connect the audio cable to the in-flight entertainment system on an aircraft, a micro-USB charging cable, and another adapter for larger 6.35mm audio jacks, all with a nice little velvet bag. The unboxing experience isn’t quiet up there with high end premium headphones costing hundreds of dollars, but it’s still on a par with what I’d expect from a respectable brand.

The design of the headphones themselves is at the same level. The styling is subtle and not garish like you see with a lot of cheap Beats clones, and apart from low-key logos on the cups there’s no over-the-top branding. The ear cups and headband are lined with super-soft imitation leather, while the rest of the unit is constructed from rigid plastic with a kind of matt brushed-metal style finish, with a little gun-metal detailing around the edge of the cups and where the plastic meets the cushioned headband.

You won’t feel embarrassed being seen in public with these on your head – yes they’re low-cost, but they don’t look or feel cheap.

Practicality and Ergonomics

I’ve worn the TicKasa ANC headphones for hours at a time without any problems, they’re light and the soft padding around the earcups and headband make them very comfortable. The headband is adjustable, with numbered adjustments so it’s easy to set it to exactly the size you like very time, and the earcups can be pivoted through a wide range of movement. This not only makes sure they fit snugly over your ears, but also that they can be folded away neatly when not in use.

They seem to last forever on a single battery charge. Mobvoi claims 30 hours, dependent on usage, and although I’ve not performed an exhaustive battery life test, I’ve got no reason to doubt that. My one gripe about recharging is that they use the older micro-USB port, when USB-C would be better, but that’s a small complaint.

A cable is provided so that you can use them as conventional wired headphones if required, and this features an inline mic which means you can still use the headset for voice or Zoom calls even if the battery has no charge.

The headphones use Bluetooth 5.0, which means you get a solid connection and good audio quality, with a claimed range of up to 50 feet / 15 meters. That does depend on a few factors though. I sometimes get up and walk around my house while I’m on a work call and don’t need to be on camera, but the connection can suffer in some areas of the house where there’s a lot of physical obstructions between me and my PC (walls, cupboards, etc) even though I’m only a few meters away.

Controls

On the rear of the right hand earcup, you’ll find a power button which turns the headset on/off with a long press, and can also toggle the noise-cancelling with a quick tap. There are also volume up and down controls, which also allow you to skip/rewind audio tracks, and a multi-function button that can be used to accept or decline incoming calls if you’re connected to a phone.

Value for Money

It’s worth noting that when these headphones were launched they were priced much less competitively, at well over $100/£100 – but Mobvoi has gradually cut the price to this level. My guess is that the company struggled to compete at that price-point with better known brands such as Sony and Sennheiser, and was forced to lower the price.

Also, the TicKasa name is confusing. Mobvoi has a range of Bluetooth earbuds called TicPods, and that name makes sense – it fits in with the TicWatch branding and the “pod” part gives you an obvious clue that they’re similar to Apple AirPods. But TicKasa doesn’t really resonate, so perhaps that’s part of the reason they had to drop the price so drastically.

For consumers this is great news, because we can now get a set of good quality Bluetooth enabled active noise cancelling over-ear headphones for approximately 10% of the cost of the flagship models from the likes of Sony and Sennheiser.

Mobvoi TicKasa ANC product page.

Many new TicWatch owners find it difficult to turn off their new watch, because there’s not an obvious on/off button on the device, and the option to power it off is actually hidden in a menu, so it’s not very intuitive. But the good news is that once you know how to find the right option, it’s very easy to switch off a TicWatch Pro 3 and this process should work the same on all TicWatch models that run Wear OS not just the Pro.

There are five simple steps to turning off a TicWatch Pro – and we’ve tried to break the process down to make it as easy as possible to follow, but you’ll see that once you’ve read through this article and got the idea, you’ll be able to do it really quickly in future.

Step 1 – navigate to the control panel. To do this, simply swipe down from your main watch face, and you’ll see this screen.

Step 2 – go to the settings menu. You can do that by tapping on the small cog icon at the top of the screen.

Step 3 – scroll down to the System menu. It’s right at the bottom of the Settings menu, and this is where you will find options to turn the TicWatch off, restart it, or reset it.

Step 4 – select System, and then scroll down to find the Turn Off option.

Step 5 – tap the Turn Off button. You’ll then be given a confirmation option, so just tap again to confirm you want to turn off the TicWatch, and it will power down.

It’s that easy to turn off your TicWatch Pro 3, or any other Wear OS TicWatch in the Mobvoi range. To turn it back on again, simply hold down the power button for a few seconds until you see the screen light up.

The public relations industry bible, PR Week, recently reported that Mobvoi has hired a PR agency for its European business, specifically covering the UK, France, Germany, and Poland. The agency, Ranieri, is well established, with long experience in consumer tech brands, and clients that include Canon, Motorola, Asus and Nvidia.

Typically businesses like Mobvoi hire PR agencies because they want to get better visibility for their brand in the media, which can include product news and reviews, and to help position the brand as a desirable logo for consumers. It’s a good sign that the company has lots of interesting new things planned, and wants an agency to help get the media talking about those plans.

It’s a move which makes a lot of sense. While those of us in the know already understand that Mobvoi offers some great products and technologies, it’s still not what you’d call a household name in Europe. I think my TicWatch Pro 3 is one of the best smartwatches on the market, and people are often impressed with the design and features when I show it to them, but when I mention the manufacturer’s name they usually assume that Mobvoi is just a low-quality brand producing cheap clones of Apple or Samsung products, rather than a market leader in its own right.

This is exactly the kind of problem that a good PR agency can solve, by securing positive press coverage about the company and its products, so that more people are aware of the brand and what it stands for.

What does this mean for current TicWatch/TicPod owners and fans of Mobvoi? It shows that the company is serious about establishing itself as a force in consumer tech, which has to be good news for us. Hopefully we’ll start to hear more regularly from Mobvoi and get regular news about its future plans.

One of the most common questions new owners ask about the TicWatch Pro 3 is how to make phone calls with the device, and fortunately the answer is really very simple. In this article we’ll guide you through the process of making calls on a TicWatch Pro, with screenshots.

The TicWatch Pro 3 has a built in microphone and speaker, so you can use the device to make calls from your wrist. If you have the GPS version of the watch, it will need to be paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth for this to work, but if you have the 4G version, with its own SIM card, you can connect to a cellphone network directly without the need for a smartphone.

We should point out that this process should be very similar, if not identical across most Wear OS smartwatches.

Step 1 – Locate the Phone App

Navigate to the app menu on your TicWatch Pro, and you’ll find an icon with an old fashioned telephone handset – this is the phone call app that you will use to make and recieve calls on the watch. Tap on the app icon to get started.

Step 2 – Open the App

Once you tap on the icon, the phone app will open up and you’ll be shown your recent call history, along with a contacts list and an icon to open up the keypad for dialing a number directly.

If you want to call an existing contact, just scroll down until you find their name and tap on it to start the call. Otherwise, tap on the keypad icon to start dialing.

Step 3 – Dialing a Phone Number

With the keypad open, just enter the number that you wish to dial. Obviously the keypad is quite small, so be sure to check you’ve entered the correct number, as it’s easy to make a mistake – especially if you’ve got big fingers.

You can press the delete key to correct a mistake, and if you need to enter a special symbol just tap on the button on the bottom left to bring up those keys. Once you’re ready to dial, just click on the green phone icon to start your call.

Step 4 – Making and Ending the Call

While your call is in progress, the screen will look something like this. You’ll be able to hear them through the speaker on your watch – or via Bluetooth headphones if they’re connected – and you can speak into the watch’s built in microphone. Once you’re ready to end the call, simply tap on the red “hang up phone” icon.

We told you it was simple, didn’t we? Now you know how to make calls with a TicWatch Pro 3, or indeed any other Wear OS smartwatch.

If you’ve been hoping to bag a discounted TicWatch, or even some headphones from Mobvoi, now is the time! The company has a Black Friday sale currently running, with heavy discounts across most of its product range, including:

  • 30% off the TicWatch Pro 3
  • 30% off the TicWatch E3 (this is an absolute steal, considering it shares many of the features of the Pro 3 model)
  • Up to 75% off the headphone range
  • 21% off the Mobvoi home treadmill

There are some great deals here, so don’t be slow.

If you’re wondering which of the discounted TicWatch models you should buy, our recommendation is to go for the Pro 3 (or even the similar Pro 3 Ultra) if your budget can stretch that far. But if you’re looking for something a little more low cost, the TicWatch E3 is the next best thing – it’s built on the same hardware platform and offers many of the features of the Pro model.

All it’s missing is the Essential Mode Dual Screen technology, and the fancy premium case design – other than that it’s a very solid watch for a much lower price. Most of the other models on offer are based on older tech, but are being sold at a similar price.

Following the recent Wear OS update for the TicWatch Pro 3, which gave us some handy new features, Mobvoi has pushed out another firmware update for the watch, offering some additional improvements.

Our favourite of these new tweaks is the ability to turn off Tilt to Wake for the Essential Mode backlight. Having a backlights for Essential Mode is a great improvement over the previous versions of this watch, making the LCD screen much more readable in the dark.

The only problem was that before this update the backlight would automatically turn on every time the watch’s movement sensor thought you were lifting your wrist to your face – and this means it would switch on a lot during the night as you roll around in bed. Being quite bright, it’s very visible in a dark bedroom.

But now we can turn that feature off, and just tap the power button to turn on the backlight in Essential Mode. The option can be found in the Essential Mode app menu.

On top of this there are a few other welcome upgrades in the new firmware update:

  • You can now change the format of the date displayed in Essential Mode
  • The watch can now play a sound when you get a new notification
  • Tilt-to-Wake speed has been improved by about a quarter of a second
  • Scrolling smoothness and general interface responsiveness has been improved
  • Pairing speed has been improved for Android smartphones



After the recent update which introduced automatic Essential Mode scheduling, we decided to run a test to see how much battery life we could get from our TicWatch Pro 3 using the new feature.

We set the watch to enter Essential Mode at 10pm every night, and wake again at 7:30am. To further help reduce power consumption we turned off the following features:

  • WiFi (the watch is never out of Bluetooth range of a phone anyway)
  • OK Google Detection (it’s just as easy to hold down the power button to summon Google)
  • Tilt to Wake (just tap the screen to wake instead)

Our use of the watch was fairly light during the test period, we used it for message notifications throughout the day and exercise tracking each morning, as well as sleep tracking at night. 24 hour heart rate and blood-oxygen monitoring was enabled – you could probably get more battery life if you switched these off.

The test began at 12pm at noon on Saturday, with 100% charge, and by the same time the following Tuesday, the battery was at 21%. By 10pm on Tuesday evening it had fallen to 6%. So we got three and a half days life out of a full charge for the TicWatch Pro 3, after which there was still just enough juice to go into Essential Mode for maybe another day or two.

Mobvoi claims the watch can last 45 days in Essential Mode only and, if that’s accurate, 6% charge should be enough for a couple of days at least.

Obviously everybody’s useage patterns will be unique to their lifestyle but, if you use the new Essential Mode scheduling feature to automatically power the watch down overnight, we think most people could safely expect a minimum of three days on a full charge. If you’re a light user, it wouldn’t be too hard to push the watch to four days from a single charge. For comparison, the Apple Watch 6 only lasts 18 hours, according to Apple – you need to charge it every day.

In Essential Mode, you still get heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and step counting features, as well as time and date on the screen, so if there are periods when these are the only features you really care about, you can significantly extend your battery life by using the low-power mode for even longer than just night time. But most people will want to have the watch’s smart features enabled during the day time, so 3-4 days is a realistic expectation in this case.

EDIT: After a second attempt at the test, under the same conditions, the watch lasted just over 4 full days on a single charge before hitting 5% battery life and automatically switching into Essential Mode. The only real difference this time around is that we didn’t spend as much time poking around in the various settings menus to explore new features, which probably consumed a bit more battery life in the previous test.

We’re currently testing how long it can survive in Essential Mode using only that remaining 5%, and will report back.

If you’ve used any of the TicWatch Pro models, you’ll know that the Dual Screen technology is one of its strongest selling points. Using a low-power LCD screen (like those found on conventional digital watches) to display essential information, so the more power-hungry OLED screen can be switched off when not needed, helps to give the TicWatch Pro a longer battery life.

Furthermore, the watch features an Essential Mode, which turns off most of the smartwatch features except the basics (time, date, step-count, heart rate, and sleep tracking) keeping the power consumption to an absolute minimum so you can squeeze even more life out of a single battery charge.

Up until now you’ve only had two options for using Essential Mode. You can either enter/exit the mode manually by selecting the option from the settings menu, or you can set the watch to automatically enter the mode if the battery reaches a certain level (5% by default).

But following the April 2021 Wear OS H-MR2 update, we have a new option which makes Essential Mode far more useful than ever before. It sounds simple – you can now set the TicWatch Pro 3 to enter and exit Essential Mode at specific times during the day, but this seemingly small tweak means we can now significantly extend battery life without sacrificing any functionality.

If you set the watch to enter Essential Mode during times when you know you’re unlikely to need any smart capabilities, every day, that’s going to automatically reduce power use between those hours without really changing the way you use the device. For most of us that probably means when we’re sleeping at night, which is a good 6-9 hours of power saving – but some people might even want to engage the mode for even longer, depending on their personal lifestyle.

You can find the new feature simply by looking for Essential Mode in the apps menu, and you’ll see the settings in there.

We’ll forgive Mobvoi the small spelling error, for such a useful new feature.

Using the watch in this way should give us even longer life from a single battery charge than the current 2-3 days. Sure, you could always do this before by manually switching in and out of Essential Mode, but it’s a hassle and a lot of people simply wouldn’t bother to do it. This new feature means it can happen on auto-pilot without ever having to think about it. And since sleep-tracking still works in this mode, you’re not losing out on any important features during this time.

We’re currently in the middle of testing how much battery life we can get from our TicWatch Pro 3 with Essential Mode set to automatically engage between the hours of 10:30pm and 7:30am, and will report our findings here as soon as we have an answer. It’s also worth remembering that this H-MR2 Wear OS update also included optimizations for the Snapdragon 4100 processor used in this watch, which should make the device even more power-efficient in normal use, so it’s going to be interesting to find out what kind of battery life we can expect from both of these upgrades.

The Essential Mode Timer only has a single daily time-slot – we’d like to see the option to choose multiple time-slots.

While this is a welcome new feature, we think there’s room for improvement. At present the timer is fairly basic, since you can only choose a single time slot for entering and exiting Essential Mode, but it could be even more useful if you could choose multiple times to enter the power saving mode. For example, as well as using Essential Mode during sleeping hours, people might like to enable it at certain hours during the daytime when they know they won’t need smart-features.

It would also be nice to see this Essential Mode Timer added to previous TicWatch Pro Models, as it would certainly be a welcome new feature for owners who are still using those watches. While it’s understandable that those models probably won’t get the full Wear OS update, surely it’s possible to tweak the Essential Mode feature to include the timer option?

The original TicWatch E gave a lot of people an affordable route into owning a Wear OS smartwatch, enabling them to find out whether such a device would be useful without having to risk wasting a lot of money.

The original TicWatch E was pretty basic, based on the aging SnapDragon Wear 2100 processor, with a chunky, and not particularly stylish polycarbonate body, and it didn’t have GPS. But, it did provide a good Wear OS experience at a very low price and that made it stand out from the sea of cheap, poor quality Chinese smartwatches you can find on Amazon.

If you’re on a tight budget, or just didn’t want to blow a lot of money on an expensive smartwatch you might not even use all that much, the TicWatch E was a great option. Last year Mobvoi followed up with the TicWatch E2, which offered improved styling, a better screen, and better waterproofing to make the device suitable for swimming.

But the E2 was still based on the same old processor, which means it can’t really cope with the more recent versions of Wear OS, and being less power efficient than newer SnapDragon chips, its battery life is still limited to one day of use.

Mobvio is rumoured to be planning a TicWatch E3 release sometime soon, after sharp-eyed users spotted some information hidden in the latest version of the company’s smartwatch app. This included a product sketch, which gives us some clues about what to expect.

For a start, the case looks like it might be slimmer than previous versions, so hopefully it will look a little more stylish to appeal to more image-conscious buyers who were put off by the earlier model’s chunky design. The image also features two side-buttons while the older models only have one button. On the TicWatch Pro devices one button is used for navigation and the other is a quick-access button that can be used to launch whichever app you assign to it, so it’s a safe assumption the same functionality will apply to the E3.

Beyond this, no official information has been released by Mobvoi, so everything else is speculation.

However, it seems hard to believe that the company would release another SnapDragon 2100 device. That processor was the platform for all of the company’s Wear OS smartwatches (including the Pro and the Pro 2020) right up until the more recent Pro 3, which is based on the much more modern SnapDragon 4100.

Our guess is that the new E3 will also be based on the SnapDragon 4100, which will give it much better battery life and zippier performance, as well as enabling it to run more recent versions of Wear OS – including the major new update to the platform which is due any day now. Even with the newer processor, Mobvoi could keep the E3 firmly in the budget segment by leaving out premium features such as GPS and the blood-oxygen sensor found in the E3.

This is just a guess, and there are other possibilities. Maybe they’ll use the previous generation SnapDragon 3100, which would still be an upgrade over the E2 and would avoid conflicting with its premium Pro 3 model. But that seems unlikely, since it’s a processor the company hasn’t used before and it’s hard to believe they’d design a whole new platform for a budget device – it would be easier and more cost effective for them to build the E3 on a stripped down version of the Pro 3.

Alternatively, they might still have a large stock of SnapDragon 2100 chips sitting in a warehouse, and given that there’s a global semiconductor shortage, they could be having trouble sourcing enough new stock. If that were the case, then it would make sense to use them in an updated version of the TicWatch E, using a smarter design and a few new features (maybe the addition of GPS and NFC, or some more memory) to make it more attractive to consumers than previous versions despite being based on the same processor.

As we said earlier, this is all speculation, but as soon as we get any confirmed information from Mobvoi, we’ll let you know.