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Hands on review: Sony Smart Watch 3

25 May 15

There’s a lot of debate around what makes a good smartwatch. There's also no shortage of design options. LG, Samsung, Sony, Asus and countless others are cranking out an endless array Android Wear watches.

Debate varies, focusing on the positives and negatives of square vs round displays, body designs and straps. Some prefer rubber straps, they’re functional, but not all that stylish. Then there's leather for dressy types, or steel straps which work for both.

Look and Feel

The Smartwatch 3 review unit I received may sound uninspired, but the reality is anything but. It sports a 1.6” square 320x320 LCD display in a small body that sits in a rubberised strap. Hands on, it is handsome, stylish device. The rubberised straps are swappable. This allows the wearer to customise the look of the watch with different colour and material options.

Sony has also launched a stainless steel version, which sees the rubber casing replaced with metal. Sexier Looking, only real change is its IP water resistance rating. The stainless steel casing drops Smartwatch 3’s rating from IP68 to an IP58. Water resistance up to one meter is still there.

The Smartwatch 3 is the third smartwatch effort from Sony who were early players in the smartwatch game. The Smartwatch 3 is their first attempt at Android Wear. Third time is the charm, as Sony appears to have got a whole lot right.

From a company such as Sony who've got such a strong design focus, the pre-installed watch faces lacked pizazz.

This isn't a biggie though as watch faces are easily added

Behind the screen

One of the more talked about features of the Smartwatch 3 is the fact that it has built-in GPS functionality. This means that it doesn’t need a phone for GPS functionality to work.

Add to this the fact that you can pair it with Bluetooth headphones and use its storage to store music. It isnt hard to see why it is likely to appeal sporty types.

In use, The GPS worked well, and also plays nice with Google Fit. This said it did put a dent in battery life. A 15-30 minute walk knocked 5% off the watch's battery.

The Smartwatch 3’s internals are pretty standard for an Android Wear device. There’s a quad-core Snapdragon 400 clocking in at 1.2 GHz, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of on-board storage. Additionally there's a compass, an accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light sensor. It is pretty amazing that this tech (which only a few years ago would have been the basis of a well specc’d PC) fits into a watch.

In Use

Where most smartwatches charge using a docking cradle, Sony have opted for a micro USB socket on the Smartwatch 3’s underside. Getting a micro USB plug connected is finnicky and made even trickier by the rubber flap that protects the socket and gives the Smartwatch 3 its  IP68 rating.

My concern is that the rubber flap will wear out and break, taking with it any semblance of water resistance. Charging grizzles aside, the good news is that battery life was stellar. A single overnight charge got me through two days of light use.

With wear, the Smartwatch 3 was comfy. This is thanks to a well-executed minimalistic and slim-line design. There's no clutter to catch on shirt sleeves. In fact the smartwatch 3 was so comfy, that I often forgot I was even wearing it.

Verdict

The Smartwatch 3 has its quirks as well as features such as its built-in GPS, which helps it stand out in a crowded smartwatch market. If you’re a fitness fanatic with Bluetooth headphones, it's got a definite edge over the others. Fitness fanatics will love to its sporty design, customisability and IP68 water resistance. For the suits not boots crowd, the Stainless steel edition has enough design cred to work with business attire. Lower water resistance may be an issue for some, but ther ei sno debate that Sony has covered both market segments well.

Regardless of which you choose, solid battery life and a slick design make it a great option for Android smartphone owners looking to accessorise.

Tech Specs

RRP: $399.95

Compatibility: Android 4.3 (and later) smartphones

Sensors: Ambient light, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyro, GPS

Battery: 420mA (up to 2 days w/normal use)

Water resistance: IP68 (rubber version), IP58 (Stainless Steel edition)

CPU: Quad ARM A7, 1.2 Ghz

RAM/Storage: 512MB RAM, 4GB storage

Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.0, NFC

Charging: Micro USB

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