The Sony SmartWatch 2 is a good attempt at a marquee smartwatch, but it leaves a lot of things missing. While battery life leads the way for the device, it is held back by Sony's clunky watch OS, since it doesn't sport Android Wear. It's reliable, but not ideal.
The SmartWatch 2 is Sony’s second stab at the smartwatch market. It has an overall sleek design that comes with an aluminum body that is IP57 rated, supports Android 4.0 or higher, and sports a 1.6 inch transflective LCD screen with a resolution of 220 x 176 (176 ppi). It comes with an ambient light sensor and three off-screen buttons: home, back, and menu. The device supports NFC and Bluetooth connectivity for pairing it to your device.
The overall design of the SmartWatch 2 has a both the premium feel and look. Sony did a very good job of mimicking the look and feel of their Xperia phone line on this watch. It has the same flat edges, rounded corners, silver lip protecting the screen, and a circular lock button. The chassis is made out of aluminum that comes with an IP 57 rating, which means it is not entirely protected from the ingress of dust and it can sustain being under one meter of water for at least 30 minutes. This means you can wash your hands without worry of wrecking your brand new smartwatch.
Overall, the device is very light. It comes in at 122.5 grams, or just of 4 ounces including the stock wristband. The device has an option of two wristband styles, silicon and metal. The silicon version comes in at a cheaper price, but don’t worry, any 24 mm wristband will fit the watch-face. Sony did a good job not limiting its customers to only their wristbands. It is very easy to find an alternative.
The screen may not have the most crisp display, but it definitely does its job as far as being a watch. Going from inside to outdoors, the watch does a good job of adjusting the display. It makes it very easy to glance at the watch to get the time with out tapping the screen or pressing the lock button to brighten the display. We had no trouble seeing the time or other notifications in broad-daylight.
The main reason the device is so successful outdoors, is its transflective display. This means that along with transmitting light for the display, it reflects the incoming light back out. It has the ability to have the pixels be illuminated from both the front of the display and from behind the display. Along with the benefit of being able to see the watchface in daylight, it saves battery consumption. It does not have to continue brightening the LCD panel to compensate the ambient light.
This is one thing Sony did exceptionally well. It made the SmartWatch 2 functional for what its main purpose is: being a watch. Sony made sure that while the device is a ‘smart’ watch, it didn’t lose sight of its most important, yet most basic feature. With the smartwatch market on the rise, many manufacturers are trying to pack as many features as possible to ‘one up’ or make theirs better than the competition. They lose focus on the reason of having a watch: to see the time at a glance.
For those who consider Android Wear a deal-breaker, don’t worry. Sony’s SmartWatch 3 does comes with Android Wear as its Operating System instead of Sony’s in-house OS.
For the most part, our time with the SW2 was pleasant one. The device is very responsive alerts the user of the notifications almost instantaneously. When we had an incoming call, the SW2 would actually start vibrating before our actually phone, so that was nice.
Occasionally, if we wanted to reject a call with a message or reply to a text message, the application would freeze up. We could scroll through the pre-made messages and smiley-faces, however when we would press the option we wanted, it would not send. This became bothersome, and the only way to get it to work, was resetting the device. Fortunately, the SW2 has a relatively quick boot time.
Some features that are a must that don’t come on the SmartWatch 2 is a microphone and speaker. Without a microphone mounted on the watch, texting custom messages from the watch is impossible; minus the fact that you can send emoticons and pre-made texts such as “I’m in class.” The SW2 also gives you the option of dialing phone numbers or contacts straight from the device, but it seems counter-intuitive. You can dial from your watch, yet you have to take your phone out of your pocket to field the call.
Overall, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is a great starter smartwatch. It doesn’t have all the features that a $200-300 smartwatch would have, but it only comes in at around $140 on average, which makes it a great value. It may not have the flashy features, but we didn’t mind. The first and foremost reason for having a watch is the ability to tell the time, and the SW2 does a fantastic job at that. We will give the credit on that one to the transflective display.
If you are looking at test-driving a smartwatch to see if this is the device you ‘can’t live without’, we recommend picking up the SmartWatch 2. It is a great starter watch at a very reasonable price.
It is a great start and step in the right direction for Sony’s version of the smartwatch. We are looking forward to the SmartWatch 3 to see how Sony improved upon this solid device.