Sony Smartwatch 3 photo © Sony
Overall impression – A good, solid, functional smartwatch which does what it says on the tin without uneccesary frills
Pros: Simple, effective, environment-proof. Great for fitness fans.
Cons: Not particularly stylish or attractive, a little pricey for what you get, no heart rate sensor
Price: £189.99 / US$249.99
Sony is an old hand at the smartwatch game, even to the point that they use the generic term for their range of, well, smartwatches. They brought out their first marketable version in 2011 called the Sony Ericsson LiveView, and since then they have released three further incarnations, and numbered them accordingly. Sony’s smartwatches have always been simple, functional affairs, and all the better for that. They cut through the whole ‘tech-as-fashion’ hype as well as the ‘make it do everything’ premise where some manufacturers get themselves lost. Their devices do the job, and they do it well. And their latest SmartWatch 3 is no exception to that rule. It’s a simple yet solid metal and glass rectangular design slotting into a propriety silicone rubber band (although the band does have an unfortunate tendency to attract dust). This is, however, the first of their range to come boasting the Android Wear platform, not their own, and represents another scalp for Wear over its competition.
With an IP68 dust and water resistance rating the SmartWatch 3 is ahead of the usual IP67-rated watches, and it means that this one is waterproof to all intents and purposes, while other watches can only be described as water-resistant. It weighs in at around 75g with band, which is about average for smartwatches out there.
Display: Rectangular, 1.6″, Transreflective-TFT LCD, 320 x 320 resolution, 280 ppi
A perfectly adequate display for the type of watch this is (i.e. not aspiring to be particularly stylish) it is good outdoors, the graphics are smooth and sharp, and it has an ambient light sensor to control the brightness. There are only 3 additional watchfaces provided, and none of those are particularly exciting, but as said, this is a pretty functional device, not a functional, pretty one.
Performance: 1.2 GHz Quad-Core ARM A7 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage,
Again, perfectly adequate for the job at hand, it comes with a standard set of specifications for the processing part.
Connectivity: NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, BUT NO heart monitor
This is where Sony have really got it right. They have included all the connectivity that you would currently require, and have also covered future Wear updates by including WiFi. Many may find the lack of a heartrate sensor disappointing, however it has to be stressed that the optical method used by other watches is not particularly accurate and therefore is of questionable benefit anyway.
Battery & Charging: 420 mAh Battery, at least a couple of days, although GPS will quickly kill it. Convenient, yet fiddly micro USB port right on the back
Sony have done their best to address one of the most common complaints about smartwatches – the battery life. They have managed to easily get a day’s use out of it, and with essential-only use it can touch 2 days. And then we have the Pièce de résistance; they have managed to place a regular microUSB port right on the back! OK, granted it can be very fiddly to hold the small plastic cover aside while connecting the cable, but the advantage of being able to plug it in almost anywhere you go in our opinion easily outweighs this. No more propriety chargers, no matter how slick and fancy, to worry about taking with you when you’re out-and-about or away from base.
OS and Apps: Android Wear, Sony Walkman App, Sony’s Lifelog App,
Just as with every other Android Wear smartwatch out there, there is very little to set this apart in terms of the interface. Google have been a little “Apple-esque” about allowing customisation by OEMs, however their reasons are most likely not the same as Apple’s (just read the story of the Launcher app), and future updates should resolve this. Looking at the pre-installed apps, there are a couple of notable inclusions. One is Sony’s Walkman app, which, rather like its iconic 80’s namesake, allows you to take your music wherever you go, without the need for your phone. Another is Sony’s answer to all the fitness and activity trackers out there – Lifelog. Because Lifelog aims to be much more than an fitness tracker, logging not only your steps and activity, but also which songs you listened to, where you went and which photos you took. Why you would want to track all those things escapes us, but the option is there.
Control and interface: Single button on right side, Google voice control, Raise-to-face-wake-up
Nothing special here, as with all other Wear-powered smartwatches you can control this using swipes and voice, and there is a single button on the right edge which turns on / wakes up the device
Compatibility: Phones running Adroid 4.3 Jelly Bean and above. Not compatible with Apple phones…