Wearable technology has been a hit or miss for the year 2014. With the launch of Android Wear a lot of smartphone makers shifted their attention to this newfound product category.
Sony had a headstart in this segment, as they already had two versions of their Smartwatch in the market. But, both of those were from the pre-Android-Wear era and thus ran Sony’s custom OS.
So now that the software story has gotten much better with Google’s watch-specific operating system, how does Sony Smartwatch 3 fare?
At first glance Sony Smartwatch 3 screams quality, the high grade rubber band and the well built metal clasp show the attention to detail Sony has put in. The design has evolved from the older smartwatches Sony made and is among the best looking square displays out there.
The watch has 2 basic components; a removable core and a rubber strap. The core contains all the internals and has an IP68 rating — meaning it is dustproof and you can immerse it in 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes.
So practically speaking, you shouldn’t go out for a swim with this guy, but it will be safe against any accidental splashes. The strap has a chrome button which is the Power On/Off Key.
The button is flimsy to press and does not have a solid response like the one on the Moto 360. The metal clasp on the strap is adjustable and clamps securely with an audible click. The Black strap is good to look at but it gets dirty very easily.
Sony Smartwatch 3 has a 1.6 inch transflective display with a resolution of 320×320 pixels — a pixel density of 283PPI which is higher than some phones out there.
The transflective display is a first in an Android Wear device and has its own pros and cons. The low power display helps reduce the power consumption on the device keeping it off the charger much longer than other devices. Because the display uses reflecting light and a backlight it is viewable under the sun.
A major drawback of the display is poor contrast, the display is just bad. Switching from the G Watch I found the washed off display very annoying to use. The default font size is tiny making it hard to read there is a workaround by going to the accessibility function and switching to large fonts.
The watch has an ambient Light Sensor which adjusts the screen brightness based on the surrounding. Apart from that you do have an option to choose a brightness level manually.
The watch is powered by a 1.2GHz Quad Core Processor with 512MB of RAM. Android Wear uses a simple card style layout so the watch packs in enough power to blaze through tasks.
But surprisingly it is slow to react when you raise your arm up to look at the time and sometimes fails to wake up at all. That aside the watch will notify you for incoming messages, calls, emails… basically anything that generates a notification on your phone.
It also offers music controls when there is music playback on the phone. There is a microphone just above the display to listen to the Ok Google Voice command.
The watch also has an inbulit GPS, NFC and Wifi which are firsts for an Android Wear device. The GPS only works with a couple of apps like My Tracks and not mainstream ones like Endomondo.
The NFC does once cool trick where you can tap the watch and it starts up and pairs with the phone. The Wifi as of now is useless, but could potentially be of use in the future in case Google decides to implement it.
It has a 420mAh battery which is the biggest battery in any wearable yet. The big battery and the power saving display result in good battery backup easily, taking the watch through two and a half days with my usage. And thats a really good thing because putting this watch for charging is a pain!
The watch charges via a MicroUSB port hence any charger can be used to charge it but there is a tiny flap at the back that needs to be opened up to connect the cable. The flap helps the watch get the IP68 rating which is the highest for any Android Wearable so you will have ensure that the flap is closed properly after charging.
The LG G Watch uses a magnetic dock for charging whereas the Moto 360 uses a wireless charger both of which are way more convenient than the MicroUSB port. Thats not all, while almost every other Android wear watch is compatible with after market watch straps the Sony SmartWatch 3 is restricted to the ones that Sony decides to make.
The watch runs on Android Wear version 5.0.1, a software platform that is still evolving. Like others the watch is compatible with phones running Android 4.3 and above. The watch has 4GB of internal storage that can be used for storing songs. If you have an Xperia Z3 or the Xperia Z3 Compact the watch can sync the playlists. and play it back when required through bluetooth speakers/headphones.
Sony Smartwatch 3 is an Android Wear device aimed at an active user, someone who goes for runs and would love to leave the smartphone behind letting the watch do all the GPS logging.
But then the health part of the product remains incomplete with the exclusion of a heart rate sensor. Priced close to Rs. 20,000 Sony Smartwatch 3 is the most expensive Android Wear currently available in India.
If it didn’t have the usability flaws, it could have commanded this price. But despite the Moto 360 being not as appealing on paper, it in fact ends up being a more usable and classier looking product. We’ll wait for Sony’s next attempt in hopes that these issues will be addressed.