New Smart Watch

15 January 2023 by Lincoln Ramsay

The TicWatch E I had was proving to be good enough, especially after I wrote a new watch face for it. It proved to me that a smart watch was indeed something I value, though primarily for the ability to have a custom watch face, notifications, and basic fitness tracking. The most serious fitness stuff hasn’t proved important, not has the ability to run “apps”. However, the TicWatch E was showing its age, with its ability to last the day on a charge regularly tested.

I had been eyeing off the Pixel Watch, hoping that Google would release something either really good, or budget conscious… but when it came out, it was neither. A technical let-down that costs too much. For half the price of a Pixel Watch, I instead opted for a TicWatch E3.

The TicWatch E3 does not have a fancy new CPU, but it does have a Snapdragon 4100, so it will (in theory) get Wear OS 3. Eventually. More importantly though, it runs Wear OS 2 much more nicely than the TicWatch E does, thanks to having at least twice the CPU, RAM, and battery life.

I haven’t been using it any differently. It’s mostly there to tell the time and give me notifications. I let it do basic fitness tracking (steps, hours, etc.) but I don’t use the more advanced features. I have started getting it to track my walks again, since this helps gets my exercise minutes up, and doesn’t destroy the battery the way it did on the old watch.

I had to update my watch face, because I had written all the layout code assuming a fixed screen size and the E3 is only 360 pixels, vs the 400 of the E.

I gave the TicWatch E to my son to play with, which revealed an interesting issue. Most of the TicWatch apps won’t upgrade anymore because the versions on the store don’t support Android 8, so the watch is stuck with the crappy 1.0 versions that shipped on the ROM, despite running newer versions before it was reset. That sucks. I thought the play store was supposed to offer the last working version of an app to old devices? I guess not, at least in this case.

My son’s use of the watch was super different to mine though. He wasn’t interested in even the basic fitness stuff, and didn’t care about having the display always on, so he could make the battery last all day. He paired the watch with his bluetooth headphones to listen to music between classes at school. Then, after deciding he liked smart watches too, he went and got a Galaxy Watch 4 on sale. He was initially wary of the claimed battery life but since he doesn’t use any of the watch’s advanced features, the battery can last for 4 days.