Sony SmartWatch 2 review
- Works with multiple devices
- Fair price tag
- Good battery life
- Limited notifications
- Dependency on your phone
- Flimsy wrist strap and clasp
Wearable tech is big news in 2013. With Google Glass on the horizon, a Google smart watch in the making and a mooted Apple iWatch, every tech company and their dog are rolling out a slice of wearable tech.
We were mildly impressed by the Pebble, disappointed by the Samsung Galaxy Gear and now we have the Sony SmartWatch 2, the second iteration of Sony's clever Android wrist watch. Is this the smart watch we've been waiting for?
Sony SmartWatch 2: Size and build
The Samsung Galaxy Gear felt like a premium device, the Pebble was the opposite and the Sony SmartWatch 2 sits in the middle. With it's choice of silicon or stainless steel strap, it's not the most eye-catching or exciting design and the unit we had broke after a couple of weeks' use, with the clasp snapping as we took it off.
It's not cheap, but it's not hugely sturdy either. As with the Samsung Galaxy Gear, it's available in various wrist-strap options (seven colours available) but unlike Samsung's offering, the strap can be changed and the watch will fit any 24mm strap.
Sony SmartWatch 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Gear
It's smaller than the Gear measuring 9mm thick, 41mm wide and 42mm long. It's still big for a watch but we don't mind that. Another win it has over its rival is that the SmartWatch is fully waterproof, a dunk in the pool will do it no harm.
Exterior buttons are taken care of by the slightly protruding on/off button, and there's also a micro USB port for charging, something that the Galaxy Gear lacked. What you won't find is a camera. No pervy wrist shots here.
Sony SmartWatch 2: Features
One of our main bugbears with the Gear was it's lack of compatibility: the SmartWatch doesn't have the same problem. It's compatible with any Android phone or tablet running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - we tested it primarily with the Sony Xperia Z1.
If your phone lacks NFC then it's back to good old Bluetooth. Once connected the watch relies on Bluetooth to work with your phone meaning you have to have always-on Bluetooth, ditch that and your connection is gone. The set-up was simple, download the app and with one touch on the back of your phone, you're done.
There isn't much on the watch from the off and you'll have to download dedicated apps from the Play Store to get the watch to do anything but Sony has made it easy recommending apps that are created
for the watch and those that are compatible for the watch. We'll come back to apps later in the review.
Unlike the Gear, you won't be able to take calls on the SmartWatch, you'll be able to see someone is calling you and you can decline but you'll need a handsfree-kit or headset to answer a call. If you don't have one of them then you'll be scrambling around to find your phone. It's slightly annoying but then again we never did like the Dick Tracy-esque look of answering calls with your wrist.
Messaging is another no-no. You can receive messages and read them on the watch but you'll only be able to reply with pre-set templates on the watch.
There's no keyboard or voice action here. Also, once you've read the message it'll disappear from the watch, if you want to look back, you'll have to get your phone out. Like the Gear, the SmartWatch 2 is heavily dependent on your handset.