The Sony Smartwatch 2 is the company’s latest attempt to compete in the wearable tech arena and is one of the main rivals of the renowned Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Sony describe the Smartwatch 2 as a “Phone Remote” which interacts with your Android smartphone via Bluetooth. Essentially, this exciting piece of wearable technology works with your phone, as opposed to actually replacing it. Still, with its new and improved “smart” functions and accessible £150 price tag, it’s clear that Sony are serious about creating the “devices of the future.”
The Sony Smartwatch 2 looks solid and dependable, with clean lines and minimal fuss. I love the overall smooth feel of the watch, although its oversized chunkiness detracts from the minimalist finish I think Sony were going for. It’s a far cry from the toyish designs of Pebble and demonstrates a rapid growth spurt in the smartwatch industry. There are a variety of different straps to choose from, making it wearable during both work and play. The metal chain and leather straps wouldn’t look out of place in the boardroom and the colourful rubber straps would fit in nicely at the gym or halfway up a cliff-face, as Sony’s “Anywhere. Any Weather” strap-line would have you believe.
Performance, Functions & Features
Sony’s SW2 has a large 1.6-inch display and a decent resolution of 220 x 176 pixels, which pretty much matches the Samsung Gear in terms of size but doesn’t compete with its superior 320 x 320 pixel resolution. The “sunlight-readable display” doesn’t disappoint, although that’s not something that really sets it a part from any other smartwatch currently on the market.
Unlike the Galaxy Gear, the Sony Smartwatch 2 is water resistant, which means it won’t burst into flames if you get caught in the rain or get it wet during a sweaty workout session at the gym. But for now, at least, you’ll still have to take it off whilst you have a shower or go for a swim.
Sony’s Smartwatch 2 has more apps that the Galaxy Gear and allows you to handle email, Twitter and Facebook notifications. In fact, “notifications” is the operative word here as you can’t really interact much further than that. Its Calendar app is also a simple but genuinely useful function and you can download hundreds more directly from the Google Play store. The music app is insanely easy to use, with swipe functionality to quickly change tracks whilst you’re running or climbing mountains.
One day we’ll look back on the fussy setup of phone+Bluetooth headset+smartwatch and laugh at how impractical it was. But at least the Smartwatch 2 allows you to receive and make calls with one tap, without having to get out your phone (as long as you’ve got it set up correctly), which is more than you can say for many other similar devices.
Sony claim that the Smartwatch 2 has a 4-day battery life, which isn’t overly ambitious. Depending on how much you tap, you’re likely to get an average of between 2 and 3 days, which is significantly better than the Galaxy Gear’s one-day sprint.
It’s not a bad effort from Sony, and it’s definitely one step closer to the standalone device we’re all so desperately waiting for. But it’s still, at the end of the day, just a fancy way of telling you that “you’ve got mail.”
Sony have done a really great job of making the SW2 look the part. It has the style and subtlety of a “normal” watch, so you won’t suddenly feel like a pretentious twit whilst wearing it out in the real world. That is, of course, unless you have your Bluetooth headset on the go, but that’s nothing new.
It’s reassuring to know that you have an open-source world of apps available, even if it does freeze up from time to time like a stuffed iPhone – you know how annoying it is when taps and swipes become totally ineffective . But I suppose that’s bound to happen with most smartwatches at this stage in the game.
If you’re foaming at the mouth the get your hands on a smartwatch and want something a little more stylish than a Pebble, the Smartwatch 2 might just be the ticket. It isn’t a “cure all” device that will replace your smartphone, and the software is far from perfect, but it is an exciting glimpse into the future. At £150 – normally retailing for much, much less (circa £99) – it might be enough to keep you going until smartwatch technology catches up with our ambitious and insatiable appetites.