Sony Smartwatch 3 review : An interesting connected watch

With this watch, Sony is in its 3rd version of its SmartWatch. If competitors move more towards connected watches that have more the look of traditional watches, Sony remains faithful to its usual square design. We will dissect this watch and see more closely the background and the shape of this SmartWatch3

Design

Housing

Like its elders, the case of the SmartWatch 3 is rectangular. The case is metal and the bracelet with the integrated screen outline is made of plastic. The case is removable when changing bracelets. On the side you can see a single button and the touch screen is protected by glasses. At the back you can find an input for a mini USB that is used to charge the watch. The design is not very original and innovative. With this watch, Sony put more on the sports side of the watch a little at the expense of its elegance.

Screen

The screen is in Transflective TFT LCD. It is a touch screen with 16bit color, the dimension is 1.6” diagonal. Small detail on this watch, the borders are not uniform: 7mm for the bottom, 3.7mm for the top and 3.5mm for the left and right margins. With margins as large and in addition to different size, the screen looks very small while it has a quite normal size.

The screen resolution is 320 x 320px. This is a fairly correct definition compared to competitors.

What exactly is a transflective screen? 

It is a screen combining transmissive and reflective technology. That is, it is equipped with illumination behind the screen under the slab on the other side a sensor measures the amount of ambient light.

The aim is to eliminate the problems associated with readability in the middle of high brightness because the watch adjusts the illumination of the screen to the intensity of the ambient brightness. The maximum brightness of the screen is 423cd/m².

On the other hand when comparing the screen of the SmartWatch to the other watches connected which are its direct competitors, the screen is very yellow.

Bracelet

The bracelets are available in several materials (leather, metal, rubber) and in several colors (gray, black, yellow, brown and black and gray).

You can customize your SmartWatch according to your mood. The bracelet and the part that surrounds the screen are made in one piece. To change the bracelet, detach the case from the watch and insert it into another bracelet. You can find replacement wrist strap kits sold separately at Sony dealers.

During the tests, it was found that the bracelet hangs a lot of dust and is in addition very difficult to clean. Doubts also arise on the strength of the metal fastener which tends to detach even without sudden gesture. Not very practical for a watch intended for sportsmen.

Dimensions

The hull has a size of 3.6 cm in length, 5.1cm in width, and 1cm in thickness. The weight of the case is 46g. A very small weight when considering its size.

Technical characteristics

With the SmartWatch3, Sony has bet on Android Wear, the Google operating system for connected watches. Android Wear aims to allow you to use some of the features and applications used on a smartphone directly on your watch. The watch is therefore compatible with smartphones that work with Android, version 4.3 or later. It has 512MB of RAM and memory is expandable with an eMMC card, but it already comes with a 4GB memory card.

The processor is ARM A7, with 4 cores running at 1.2GHz. With this configuration, it can align with other connected watches that are its direct competitors and all work with a 4-core processor.

As with all connected watches that run Android Wear, the combination of the OS with a 4-core processor is quite satisfactory. Like all other watches that run Android Wear, the startup is rather arduous but once it works, the watch’s responsiveness is exemplary.

The SmartWatch3 is equipped with a Lipo battery of 420mAh with a theoretical autonomy of 2 days. Test to support, the autonomy of the watch is really 2 days even with intensive use. Autonomy even rises to 3 days with moderate use. Thus, the SmartWatch3 is the watch connected with the best autonomy compared to its competitors. For recharging, it is done via a Micro USB standard cable which frees you from the chore to bring with you a dock every time you leave for more than two days. To have a full charge with a completely empty battery, it takes about 1 hour

In terms of tools, the SmartWatch is equipped with different sensors contributing to its smooth operation. It is equipped with an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a compass, a Gyroscope and an autonomous GPS.

For connectivity, the watch is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and Wifi and NFC technology that allows high-frequency and short-range (10 cm) exchange of information between two devices. It is also equipped with a Micro USB connector

In terms of waterproofing, it is the holder of the IP 68 certification. That is, the watch is completely dust-proof. It is also waterproof. The number 8 certification means that this watch is immersible to a depth of more than 1m for a maximum duration of 30mn. So normally you do not need to take it off to take a shower or to go to the pool, but you have to respect the maximum 30 minutes of immersion.

Functionality and applications

Android Wear

The operating system of the SmartWatch makes it possible to use the watch as a substitute for your smartphone in less bulky.

With SmartWatch3, you can receive notifications about your calendar, for example, or from social networks. You can send and receive SMS, e-mail and messages from Instant Messaging on social networks. With the microphone and the speaker you can receive and make calls.

You have the possibility to plan your day completely, you have access to the weather report, information about your travels or trips such as the flight time or the boarding gate, notifications from your calendar and planning of your journey to go to your appointments

You can launch commands either by using the touch screen or using the voice command. When you say “OK GOOGLE”, you can get information or answers to your questions.

The watch has various tools to make your life easier. 

  • The purpose of the ambient light sensor is to adjust the intensity of the illumination of the screen according to the intensity of the ambient brightness so that the screen is always visible even in daylight
  • The accelerometer and the gyroscope will be used to capture your movements for gestural commands or for the wellness application that generates statistics related to your physical activities
  • The compass and the GPS are also tools designed especially for sportsmen. Finding your way more easily by hiking or the next hole in your golf course are just a sample of the services that these two tools can make you
  • Wifi makes it possible to have a better and longer connection range. Thanks to the Wifi connection, you can manage your smartphone’s applications from your watch. You can also use the Internet connection of your smartphone for your watch.

Applications

At the time of purchase, the watch already contains several applications, some of which are from Google and others are products of Sony itself.

You have of course the usual applications that accompanies Android Wear, we will not go back on that. On the other hand we will see more closely the applications that are specific to the SmartWatch3.

  • Todoist: This application allows you to manage your day. You will be able to receive notifications of all your tasks and appointments. You can use the voice command to create a new task and you can synchronize tasks with your other devices.
  • Endomondo: it’s a stand-alone application that lets you enjoy the benefits of using it with Android Wear. This application is also intended for athletes. It is designed to allow you to track the details of your workouts directly on your watch without having to take your smartphone.
  • Lifelog: This app is like a replay of your day. It records everything you do in the day (communications, physical activity, travel, music, etc.) and stores the recording so that you can view the recording at any time and when you view the recording you will have the impression of relive that day.
  • Golfshot: still designed for sportsmen, especially golf lovers, It allows you to prepare or facilitate your golf game. In combination with the built in GPS of the watch, this application provides you with real time information that allows you to know precisely how far you are from your next hole, how to navigate more easily on the course, analyze each swing you have performed.
  • iFit: Intended also for sportsmen, this application is the application of those who love outdoor sport. Whether it’s jogging, cycling, climbing or hiking, iFit will accompany you effortlessly with your watch. This application saves your physical activities and generates statistics that allow you to measure the effort provided and adjust your efforts if necessary. Speed, distance traveled, calories burned, are just a few examples of the data that appear on the statistical analysis of your efforts. You have the opportunity to learn about the seasonal calendar of an outdoor sport that you like, benefit from the services of a standalone GPS at any time, you can check and record your heart rate,
  • Camera Remote: This application will allow you to make the perfect selfie or to be on the group photo for once instead of always being the one who takes the pictures and that you never see on the snapshots. If you have a Sony cam action, you can use this application to have a remote view of what you need to capture directly on the screen of your watch and a click on the watch triggers shooting in photo or video once you are satisfied with the angle and the shutter of your device (verifiable and adjustable from your watch)

The Good/bad

The good :

The presence of an autonomous GPS is a real asset for a watch intended for sportsmen. At the time of its release, the SmartWatch 3 was the only one to offer this kind of service making it easier to locate and positioning.

The actual 2-day battery life of the SmartWatch is also an excellent reason to enjoy it. Especially since the recharging is done by Micro USB standard therefore by need of a bulky dock in our bag. It should be remembered that on its release, the SmartWatch3 was the champion of autonomy with its 3 days of moderate use and 2 days of intensive use.

You can sync your playlist from another device and listen directly to your favorite music from your watch without the need to manipulate your smartphone. Simply pair your watch with a Bluetooth headset.

One of the advantages of this watch is its dust and water tightness. No need to remove it at any end of fields, it supports rather water well and you can even take it to the pool if you do not immerse it for more than 30 minutes.

Its value for money is rather correct considering its services and a price less than 150€ at some dealer

The bad :

The first bad point of this watch is unfortunately seen at first glance. A design not very sought after, a box a little too thick, in short, it is not a queen of elegance. But it must be confessed that Sony has never claimed a beauty price for his watch and seems to assume totally a more sporty look.

The screen of the watch is yellow and the uneven margins that border the screen make it look very small.

The bracelet gets dirty too easily. You can not spend a day without it ending with a lot of dust, and the worst is that it is also far from easy to clean. This is really not practical especially for outdoor sportsmen

A small design problem is that Sony’s Lifelog application can not synchronize with Android Wear. As a result, the possibilities promised by the watch that is supposed to record sports activities without the need to take the smartphone with oneself. Moreover, Lifelog is the application that makes the most use of the GPS and if it does not work, an advantage as GPS becomes less interesting. Even with other applications for sports, as soon as the smartphone is too far and the connection is cut between the watch and the smartphone, nothing happens.

It also seems odd that Sony has not integrated a heart rate monitor (which will have been welcome) in a watch that is supposed to be intended for sportsmen.

The Android Wear OS used by the product is still perfectible, some small revisions and corrections would be welcome especially in the voice command function.

In conclusion, let’s be realistic, it is not its design that makes the reputation of this watch. But tastes and colors are purely objective opinions. This watch is rather average in its design and performance. It does not seem quite yet successful but the concept is good and with some updates, it will really be a good watch. If I had to give him a score of 10, I would give him a good 8/10 nothing but his autonomy of 2 days and his GPS integrated.

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