TicWatch E3 – What to expect from Mobvoi’s next budget Wear OS smartwatch

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.