Sony had previous attempts at making a smartwatch that weren’t very successful. As a matter of fact, its previous smartwatch, the SmartWatch 2 was actually pretty darn awful. However, Sony, which seems to learn from its mistakes, has developed its newest wearable called the SmartWatch 3.
Sony’s SmartWatch 3 has a better design, interchangeable straps and an improved waterproofing. And, probably most important, Sony has decided to get rid of its tedious custom interface.
The device now uses Android Wear, the software developed by Google which provides an integrated platform for companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony to use in their product and be able to allow people to develop apps that work across all platforms.
The SmartWatch 3 costs $250 and is currently on sale directly from Sony. Here is our Sony SmartWatch 3 review.
Sony did not put a circular face on their smartwatch, like LG did. Sony’s newest smartwatch has a square face. This makes it look more like a fitness device because of its strap and display and Sony’s SmartWatch 3 doesn’t look as luxurious as the LG G Watch R with its leather strap and metal casing.
The device is not unattractive per se, but the rubber strap and square face look a little boring. This is not the kind of watch you would wear on your wrist when being dressed for a party or a social event. The LG’s G Watch R, however, could remain on one’s wrist when being dressed for several occasions without looking like it’s out of place.
Even though Sony’s newest smartwatch is quite on the heavy side and more than a little chunky, the rubber strap makes it quite comfortable to wear. But you will certainly not want to sleep while wearing it on your wrist. One of the reasons the watch is chunky is that it has a micro-USB port built right into it. This port allows the user to charge the device by directly plugging a cable into it, whereas other Android Wear devices need a special charging stand. This is a plus, because the stand used by other Android Wear devices is quite annoying as you need to always keep in mind that you have to take it with you should you not spend the night at home.
SmartWatch 3 can be removed from the strap allowing the user to change the style and color of it. Even though only green and black straps are available at the moment it’s quite certain that Sony will offer different other straps in the near future. Because the screen pops out very easily from its strap, the user will be able to make his or hers watch look more special than the standard version that comes in black (or the available lime-green strap).
The SmartWatch 3 is not just water resistant, it is totally water proof, which means that you don’t have to take the watch off your wrist every time you wash the dishes or go into the shower for fear of damaging it. However, water droplets in contact with the watch’s screen will interact with it.
The SmartWatch 3 has a screen of 1.6 inches and a resolution of 320×320. This is about the same as other smartwatches and thus, the screen is about as good as its other competitors (or is it?). The screen is pretty bright, even though under strong lights it may prove to be difficult to read. The colors on the SmartWatch 3 are pretty weak when compared to the more vivid screen on the LG G Watch R, however, and the viewing angles are not very good either, which means that you have to look at the watch just right to have an ideal view.
But because you won’t be browsing through images and watch videos on the SmartWatch 3, colors aren’t all that important to begin with. The device could be in black and white for all we care. Viewing angles, however, are a different story. Taking into consideration that the watch will move in different positions on the user’s wrist, the viewing angles are quite important for the user won’t be able to always have the optimal angle when viewing the device. Even though the display is readable in every angle, this is definitely a point against the device when compared to the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch R which both have greater viewing angles.
The SmartWatch 3 has several faces the user could choose from but they are very few in number and aren’t all that impressive to begin with. The faces resemble mostly digital watches and even though they match quite well the look of the watch itself, they don’t really make it look more elegant. The G Watch R, however, features a whole bunch of watch faces that really look good on the device and some of them really make the smartwatch look quite luxurious.
Even though there are tons of watch faces available from third-party developers on the Google Play Store, it’s a real shame that Sony has not put a little more effort into bringing more faces on their device right out of the box.
Software and Features
Sony’s SmartWatch 3 runs Android Wear OS for smartwatches. Because the Android Wear operating system isn’t tampered with or skinned by manufacturers, like the Android OS, the interface is the same across numerous watches like the G Watch R and the Gear Live. Android Wear connects to your phone (NOTE: The phone has to be an Android phone as Android Wear devices won’t work on Windows Phones or iPhones) and will show the user information like notifications, calendar appointments and weather which will be displayed as cards on the smartwatch screen.
Swiping the card to the left will give the user more information about it or open the app on their smartphone and swiping it to the right will dismiss the card. You can also use voice commands to ask the smartwatch to set a timer, show your schedule or get information about the weather. You can also make searches on the Web and dictate emails to send to your contacts. Some voice commands such as “What is the time in Los Angeles?” will give the user an immediate answer on the display of the watch, while others, such as “How do you cook a turkey?” will give the user a list of search results from Google.
Even though the SmartWatch 3 can easily recognize voice, certain names in the contacts are often misheard by the device and the user has to start talking at the right moment for the watch to be listening. The information is processed quicker than on the LG G Watch R, which gives a faster, smoother experience with less difficulty.
The user can store music directly on the smartwatch (4GB of space are available on it) and may listen to it by pairing the device to a Bluetooth set of headphones. Because the music is on the watch, the user won’t have to also carry the phone. This is a nifty feature if you want to go out for a jog and don’t wish to bring a clunky smartphone with you. It’s pretty easy to make use of the feature but it works only with tracks that have been bought from the Google Play Music store. So if you wish to have music from some other source on your watch, the feature is pretty much useless.
Another cool feature is that the watch has GPS built right in, unlike other watches that rely on the GPS from your smartphone. Built in GPS means that you can jog with the smartwatch on your wrist and the device will give much more accurate information and can do so without carrying that clunky phablet in your pocket.
However, not all apps can make use of the built in GPS, and surprisingly, not even Sony’s LifeLog app didn’t work with it. But we expect that in the future more apps will support the GPS built into the device.
Even if the music capabilities and GPS features may prove to be enough for someone who jogs very often, the device lacks a very important function: a monitor for heart rate, offered by both the LG G Watch R and the Moto 360. And even though the readings from these two smartwatches aren’t totally reliable, they do give people other information about their progress. It just seems a little ignorant for Sony not to offer something like this in a device intended for fitness.
Sony claims the SmartWatch 3 can last for at least two days, which we really don’t think is quite so. Maybe you would be able to get this kind of life out of the device if you don’t use it for music, use the GPS feature on it and never let the display on the auto-on mode. What’s the use of having a smartwatch on your wrist if you won’t use any of its smart features?
If you do use the smart features, however, you’ll see the battery drain quite quickly. Connecting Bluetooth headphones on the device, using its GPS features and making use of voice control, the user could very easily be able to drain the battery in just one day, a day and a half if you use it less intensely. As most Android Wear devices, the watch will most likely require an overnight charge. However, the USB port built into the watch will make this a lot less tedious.
Because of its square design and built in features, it’s obvious that the SmartWatch 3 is intended for fitness rather than fashion. The watch scores points for the USB port built into it, smooth usability and the fact that you don’t have to carry the charging cradle everywhere you go.
However, the device falls short because of the inferior quality display with pretty bad viewing angles and less vibrant colors than the Gear Live and G Watch R, and the lack of a heart-rate monitor. It’s also less stylish than other devices because of its boring watch faces, rubber strap and square design for which you won’t be able to carry the watch on every occasion.
– Built-in GPS that tracks your workout.
– Built-in USB port for charging
– Android Wear runs very smoothly on the device
– Screen is awful, with bad viewing angles and poor colors
– Less classy than the LG G Watch R because of its design
– No heart-rate monitor
Even though the built-in GPS feature is quite handy, the lack of a heart-rate monitor on a fitness device seems to be quite unacceptable. Also, the poor screen quality and unimpressive design make the Sony SmartWatch 3 look like it’s below the Gear Live and the G Watch R.
Images source: sonymobile.com