Sony SmartWatch 3 review

The Sony SmartWatch 3 may not be the hottest Android Wear device on paper, but with built-in GPS and a slick new all-metal design, it’s one of the most complete smartwatches we’ve reviewed.

With the new stylish looking stainless steel version hitting the stores, we thought it only right that we updated our comprehensive SmartWatch
3 review….

Sony SmartWatch 3: Design and display

The Sony SmartWatch 3 isn’t exactly breaking any new ground with its aesthetics. Price when reviewed:$249Check current price

It takes its design cues from the rubber-strapped GPS running watch brigade and unsurprisingly looks more sporty than fashionable.

The rubber strap, black or yellow as standard but with additional accessory straps available, features a nice adjustable clasp – allowing you to get a perfect fit – and you can simply pop the smartwatch module in and out to mix and match straps.

Sony Smartwatch 3 review

It’s a comfortable, lightweight design if a
little bland. It’s a smartwatch that suits a pair of joggers and trainers more
than it does your smartest chinos and loafers.

Essential reading: The world’s best smartwatches

One thing that we did notice about that strap –
it seemed to collect dust and grime like no watch we’ve ever seen before, as if
it’s some kind of fluff magnet. You’ll see what we mean in the hands-on pics.

The stainless steel version adds a bit of style to the mix and people who like the weighty assurance of luxury metal watches won’t be disappointed by the feel.

This version uses the traditional link system, so you can adjust it to get a comfortable fit. It’s probably best to let a watch shop do this though, as it’s not easy and you could damage the straps trying to get the pins out.

The display is a 1.6-inch, 320 x 320, LCD
affair, which lags behind the AMOLED tech found on the latest Samsung and Asus smartwatches.
And it’s a deficiency that’s really noticeable with the screen offering very
little vibrancy, and appearing pale and faded.

Viewing angles also aren’t great and, even with
the brightness turned up full whack, you’re not going to be blown away. Let’s
hope the next Sony SmartWatch follows the lead of the Xperia smartphone line by
tapping into the tech giant’s years of display heritage.

Sony SmartWatch 3: GPS tracking

biggest selling point of the Sony SmartWatch 3 is that it packs in GPS
connectivity. That’s obviously a massive plus for anyone who wants to
accurately track their runs without having to lug their smartphone around with

Since Google introduced GPS support for Android Wear in the platform’s
first big update, the major players in the run tracking app game have been slow to
got their acts together. The RunKeeper app was recently updated to include GPS support for Android Wear devices though, and the other option for smartphone-free GPS tracking is Google’s own MyTracks app.

Must download: Best Sony SmartWatch 3 apps

MyTracks, which is fairly basic, we found that the GPS tracking on the Sony
SmartWatch 3 was actually impressive. We did a few runs with it strapped on and
the distances tallied with our regular minutes per mile pace. We also compared
it with the Adidas miCoach Smart Run running watch and found that, over a 10km
run, the SmartWatch 3 was within 20m after the 10,000m run – a great result.

Sony SmartWatch 3: Hardware

Sony SmartWatch 3 is not only the first Android Wear device to pack GPS skills,
it’s also got NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity built in – although there aren’t yet
any features taking advantage of this hardware yet. However, there’s a good
chance that future Android Wear updates will add functions that make use of
this connectivity – Google Wallet would be nice
– so the SW3 is fairly future proof.

SmartWatch 3 has 4GB of storage space – pretty standard for an Android Wear
smartwatch – and is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Arm A7 processor, which seems
a bit like overkill in the early days of Android’s newest ecosystem.

won’t find an app that makes the SmartWatch 3 stutter – although that’s also
the case with other Android Wear devices with much less powerful processors.

thing the Sony SmartWatch 3 lacks, compared to some of its OS brethren, is an
optical heart rate sensor but, given the inaccurate bpm info we’ve seen
recorded from the likes of the Gear Live and the Moto 360, that’s no great

Sony SmartWatch 3: Android Wear features

When it comes to Android Wear smartwatches,
there’s very little differentiation in features, and the experience is fairly
standard across the current spectrum. The beauty of Android Wear is that it’s a
vanilla experience – it’s more or less the same on every device running
Google’s smartwatch OS.

For a full breakdown of Android Wear check out
our comprehensive
Android Wear guide.

As we’ve stated in previous Android Wear device
reviews, such as the LG G Watch R and the Moto 360, the platform is very much
still a work in progress.

At times the platform works a treat – glancing
at your smartwatch to see that it’s a boring text from your boss and not an
important group WhatsApp message making your phone buzz, for example, is
incredibly handy. As is getting updates on traffic delays to the location of
your afternoon meeting.

At other times it’s just infuriating and
annoying; swiping through unwanted Google Now-style cards just to get a clean
watch face, for example, or wishing you could scroll through recent
notifications from a specific app.

Essential reading: LG G Watch R review

Music playback with a Bluetooth speaker or some
Bluetooth headphones is a feature that is available on all Android Wear watches
now, but it definitely feels the most useful on the Smartwatch 3 – there really
is no need to take your smartphone out running anymore with Sony’s latest
wearable on your wrist.

We had no trouble pairing the SW3 to our
Monster iSport running cans or our Cambridge Audio office speaker – although
the music syncing options through Google Play music is still a basic setup (all
or nothing, essentially). Again, that’s an Android Wear issue though and not
one specific to the SmartWatch 3.

The latest Android Wear update adds
customisable watch faces to download with ease, so the amount of ones
originally on offer with any device is kind of irrelevant now. It’s 15 with the
Sony, in case you were wondering though – each one as mundane as the last.

Our advice is to get yourself over to Google
Play, quickfast, and download some more exciting options.

Sony SmartWatch 3: Battery life and extras

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Great news – there’s a 420mAh battery inside
the SmartWatch 3 – which is the biggest we’ve seen on an Android Wear smartwatch to date, and you
should have no bother achieving the quoted life of two days.

It’s also great that Sony’s newest smartwatch
charges via Micro USB as there’s no need to carry around a separate charging
accessory. With the stainless steel version, it is incredibly awkward to get the charger in though, as there’s not much room to move at the back with the sealed strap.

The SW3 ups the ante when it comes to
waterproofing. All the other Android Wear models, aside from the Asus
ZenWatch (which can only manage an IP55 rating), are IP67 rated – meaning they
can last 30 minutes in water at a depth of 1m. Sony’s effort has an IP68
rating, so you can go double the depth for double the time without damage,
which will hopefully enable swimming features in the future.

Sony SmartWatch 3

By Sony
The Sony SmartWatch 3 might not be the best-looking Android Wear device so far – that honour belongs to the LG G Watch R – but it’s by far the most useful. Its design may be pretty uninspiring and the display is fairly mediocre but the functionality afforded by the GPS is unrivalled in the Google smartwatch arena and the battery life is far better than we’ve seen on any of the Sony’s rivals. Let’s just hope that app developers spruce up their offerings soon to make the most of the SmartWatch 3’s USP.


  • Freedom with GPS connectivity
  • Decent battery life
  • Easy charging with Micro USB
  • Great waterproof rating


  • Screen is mediocre
  • Rubber strap feels a bit cheap
  • No heart rate monitoring
  • Android Wear still work in progress