Sony aren’t new to smartwatches, this is their 3rd release. But an exercise point of view the SmartWatch 3 (SWR50) has some pretty relevant features which are great for endurance athletes. As an Android Wear release, there’s a whole world of apps and media to enjoy on the wearable too. I was lucky enough to test one out for a couple of days; here’s my thoughts on what makes Sony’s smartwatch great.
A Smartwatch with GPS
It’s a big deal. To have a smartwatch which can track distance accurately, means this release can give a Garmin a run for its money. Not even an Apple Watch can lay that claim, which requires runners to drag a heavy iPhone 6 around their route if they want to measure their pace. It’s so much simpler with the Smartwatch 3, helping you get the extra stats such as mile splits and current pace.
And for when you’re not measuring your exercise bouts, you rely on the Sony wearable to track your step count throughout the day.
Works with running apps you already use
Android Wear means that you can download loads of apps from the Google Play store straight onto the SmartWatch 3. I thought it was a great opportunity to test the waters on the current apps available which could be used to track exercise.
For pure watch GPS functionality, I found Runkeeper and iFit the best apps for tracking distance whilst on a run. The current version of Strava was visually appealing but wouldn’t recognise the GPS on my wrist, only working when connected to my smartphone. Endomondo tended to stutter quite a bit. I imagine with time as more smartwatches arrive with GPS inside, these apps will naturally improve and work independently of the smartphone GPS.
When back in range of your phone, the apps could auto-upload the exercise data to my profile pretty easily.
Let there be Music
Most wearables let you control your smartphone music playlist from your wrist; the Smartwatch 3 does that too. Where it has the extra benefit is the 4GB storage which you can fill up with music for your exercise routine. Though some space will be used up by your apps and software, there’s definitely enough room for a playlist which can run further than you. Just hook the watch up to a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones and you can listen loud, no phone required.
..though getting the music onboard was a little tricky
If you use Google Music (The Android equivalent of iTunes), you can set downloads to automatically sync over to your Android Wear device. Having never purchased from Google Music, I found it near impossible to move my music from my phone to the Smartwatch 3. One way I got round it, was using the Sony Walkman app on my Xperia Z3, which allowed me to send music over Bluetooth. It was a little on the slow side, but once the music is there, you don’t need to connect to your phone again for it.
Like most Sony Xperia smartphones, the Smartwatch 3 has a decent resistance to dust and water. You’ll be able to get your sweat on, without worrying too much about damaging it. One tip though, before getting wet, make sure the plug on the micro USB port is closed; water in there isn’t a good idea.
Let’s be honest, once that watch is pretty sweaty, its understandable if post-exercise you want to give it a quick undressing. My watch arrived with a black strap made from quite durable material. Its got a nice buckle mechanism which feels secure. Additional straps are available, so after your shower, you can change the strap to something a little more classy, like steel.
Is it worth buying?
If you’ve got a fairly recent Android phone release, then I think you’ll like the Smartwatch 3. Nobody spends all their time exercising (not even me!), so this device may offer a good balance between GPS sportswatch, and timepiece when you’re not exercising.