I love new technology and I am always interested in trying something new. I am new to Smartwatches and to be honest I didn’t have a real opinion about them. So when I received the Sony Smartwatch 2 I decided to investigate further and see if I could be easily converted to the latest trend.
The Sony Smartwatch 2 is powered by Android 4.0 which is different from the new Android Wear OS. I have watched and read reviews about Android Wear and it looks promising but it can appear a bit confusing with so many gestures. The Sony Smartwatch 2 is very different, it uses a modified version of Android 4.0. As a result it has less functions but it looks much easier to navigate.
This device is more a notification centre watch than a Smartwatch a la Samsung! It hasn’t got a camera or a calling function, but it is a snappy and very practical device. I have read mixed reviews about this watch, some of which were because it is not an Apple product so it's obviously bad in the eye of the reviewer, and some complained about the lack of functions. But so far most of the customer reviews I've read on Google+ and other social networks have been positive, so I have decided to review this Smartwatch from the point of view of someone that doesn't know what to expect from a relatively new device.
First this is primarily a watch, and it looks good. The build quality is excellent, it is stylish, refined and is not bulky at all. It really feels like a premium watch and the screen is nice and bright. I have the one with the silicon wrist band and it looks great. I really like the fact that you can customise each one with colourful wrist bands in silicon, leather or metal. To be honest there are not a lot of Smartwatches on the market to compare with, but I think it’s definitely a really good looking device.
Is this Smartwatch really smart?
To answer this question I suppose it depends on your own expectations. Personally I don’t feel comfortable taking pictures with a watch or making a phone call with it, but if those two functions are essential for you, my advice is to buy something else. In my opinion the Sony Smartwatch 2 works well for what it's supposed to do.
So what it is supposed to be? According to Sony “SmartWatch 2 expands your Android experience and introduces new and exciting ways to live and communicate”. Basically this is true, and in my opinion the Smartwatch 2 is a powerful notification device with some clever extra apps. As Android phones are getting bigger and bigger, the Sony Smartwatch 2 solves an everyday problem in a clever way. With this device you won’t have to take your large phone out of your pocket every 5 minutes to see your Gmail inbox, Facebook, Twitter, or even the weather! Everything is on your wrist. We have to give credit to Sony because they have produced a device that doesn’t lag and is good at what it's supposed to do. I've read awful stories (I don’t know if they are true or false) about poor experiences with the first Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch. In a typical Samsung way, their first watch was able to do too much and as a result it failed. Samsung knew about it and they rushed to launch the new generation of Galaxy Smartwatches pretty quickly!
So, is the Sony Smartwatch 2 really smart? We will have to wait to see Apples new Smartwatch and the full launch of new Android Wear OS to answer this question. Recently I read a study about the Smartwatch market share and it showed that Sony is the number one seller, so it makes me think that people are obviously happy with it.
How does it work and what can you do with it?
Being a new kind of device I thought the instructions from Sony would be more detailed, but instead they have only included a quick start leaflet. It is OK, but for non techy people it's really basic. However, the setup is straight forward. First you have to download the Smart app on your Android device and there are two ways to setup the Sony Smartwatch 2.
- If you have an NFC compatible device you just have to connect with one touch.
- If you only have Bluetooth you will have to pair manually, but don’t worry because it works perfectly fine and it takes less than 1 minute to pair your smartphone with the Smartwatch. I used it with my Moto G through Bluetooth and it worked absolutely fine.
Once both devices are paired, you will use your phone and the Sony app (you have downloaded previously) to install apps on your Smartwatch: it couldn’t be easier!
You have two options to choose applications for your Smartwatch:
- Use the recommended apps from Sony (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter etc….). It has a selection of the most useful and widely used apps.
- There is a clever option search. It will search apps in the category you want: music, social network, communication, sports and a long etc…. It will take you directly to a listing within Google Play dedicated to Smartwatch Apps. That’s a very nice way to find your apps, and I think that Google should do the same with Tablet applications (that are frankly still not easy to find in the Google Play Store).
The Smartwatch 2 is a powerful notification device, and you receive (beep + vibration) messages from Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, Phone Call etc…
You can install some sports apps (running, walking, health etc…) and you can use the watch to select the songs you want to listen to from your Smartphone (the tracks will be playing in your smartphone, not in your Smartwatch!). There are hundreds of apps available.
The navigation through the system is very easy and is basically scrolling from right to left. If you receive a phone call and can’t answer the call, you can send a message directly to the person.
It is a very clever device and works perfectly well at what it is supposed to be: a notification tool.
How do I rate the Smartwatch 2?
To be honest it depends on what type of user you are.
- If like me you are new to it and want an easy and user friendly watch, I think you will like it. It is easy to use, almost lag free, and works very well. It doesn’t have any fancy extras (camera, making/answering phone calls), but it works and that’s important. I think Sony wanted to keep things simple and they have reached their target. In that case I will give 8/10.
- If you are a techy person and always want the latest technology and expect a lot from your gadgets, I think that the Sony Smartwatch 2 will disappoint you. It works very well at what it is intended to do, but it is also limited when you see what you can do with the new Android Wear OS. In that case I think that this product is probably not for you. I will rate it with a 6/10.
- The Sony Smartwatch 2 is available on Amazon from £68
Everybody is expecting Apple to launch a Smartwatch later this year, and the new Android Wear OS looks promising (even if is not as user friendly as Android used on the Sony Smartwatch).
Are Smartwatches the future?
They could be, but we will need a stronger battery life, extremely user friendly OS and hopefully full compatibility with any OS.
If you are not ready for a Smartwatch yet, I think that at the end of this year we could have a better view on what will happen with Apple.
Have you got a Smartwatch? Do you find it useful? What functions would you like to see in future?