The Sony SmartWatch is a small clip-on device that connects to your phone over Bluetooth and provides quick access to a variety of notifications, including incoming calls, Facebook messages, upcoming calendar items, and lots more. Some of the more interactive apps include a music handler, a remote phone ringer, and a Google Maps app . Once you’ve installed the Smart Connect app on your device, other Smartwatch compatible apps can be installed and pushed out to the accessory. The selection of quality SmartWatch apps are slim, but there aren’t a lot of alternatives for wearable smartphone accessories out there.

Style

Android Central

Though I can’t remember the last time I felt the need to wear a watch, the SmartWatch doesn’t feel totally out-of-place when worn. The brushed steel finish along the outside is very classy, though I’m not entirely sold on the spring clip mechanism underneath which lets users wear it on the packaged rubber wristband, or snap it onto an article of clothing. I’m not sure where else one could practically wear it - a coat lapel? The cuff of a sleeve? The clip isn’t strong enough that I would trust it to not be accidentally knocked or pulled off during normal day-to-day activity (nevermind anything more rigorous like excercise).

Android Central

The software is extremely basic, and the low-resolution screen will stand in stark contrast to your phone. The watch is still animates smoothly, but you have to make a point to execute gestures cleanly and there's a bit of UI lag to wait for in between each one. Though they may have been a bit more of an eyesore, hardware buttons would have enabled speedier navigation than full touch.

There’s only the one power/standby button on the external face, which keeps things classy and simple. The proprietary charge and sync plug is tucked underneath the rear clip, which is nice and out of the way. Of course, a micro USB plug would have been much more convenient to work with all of my existing cables, but space is even more at a premium on a watch than a smartphone. 

Function

Android Central

The Sony SmartWatch tackles a relatively new space for apps, so there’s a lot of mental adjustment to be made when using a touch-screen device strapped to your wrist. The most obvious one is the compromises made for the sake of using a tiny little screen. Some touchscreen gestures, like pinch to exit, are really awkward to execute, while others, like double-taps and swipes, work perfectly well. App user interfaces take a fair bit of getting used to, since they’re limited to these gestures, and each one reacts to those commands differently, but that works well enough in time.

Android Central Sony publishes a whole swathe of SmartWatch apps in Google Play, but there are a few of solid third-party apps available. My favorite one so far shows your current position in Google Maps. I always feel like a shmuck having my phone out while using GPS to navigate a new area of town, but having directions come up on a watch is a bit more discreet and keeps both hands free.

Android Central

The companion smartphone app used to set up and install SmartWatch apps is a little clunky, but ultimately lets users set full-screen widgets, which events to push out, and further control what does what. New notifications vibrate the watch and pop up with an icon. After viewing the first few lines of an e-mail or message, there's a secondary menu that provides a handful off options, with at least one for opening up the related app on your phone. There are still some gaps in functions. For example, in Gmail, opening a message on the phone only launches the Gmail app, not the particular message you're reading, or even the Gmail account that the message comes in on.

The good

  • Unique apps
  • Simple, sharp style

The bad

  • Poor screen resolution
  • Finnicky navigation

The bottom line

At the end of the day, I’m still not particularly interested in wearing a watch again. Sure, there’s a certain novelty value in being able to flip through e-mails on your watch, and it’s likely to impress at least a few people (even if they’re just tech geeks like you), but unless there’s a need to consistently keep both hands free while still getting at-a-glance information (if you drive all day or run a lot), then the SmartWatch isn’t going to get too much serious use.

If you're interested, the Sony SmartWatch is available in the ShopAndroid store for $149.99

 

Reader comments

Sony SmartWatch review

33 Comments

My thoughts on thoughts on the Sony SmartWatch from 5 months ago: http://tmblr.co/Z5tGdxKLcR__

The new SmartConnect software has helped some, but most of the glaring flaws remain, such as not being able to display all notifications that pop up on the phone and no "official" Sony app for accessing email unless you're using an Xperia phone.

That said, the SmartWatch is leagues above the horrendous I'm Watch (I'll be posting my thoughts on my first three weeks with that soon). The best solution so far for me has been the MetaWatch running MetaWatch Manager Community Edition, and I'm really looking forward to the Strata update which is coming soon (and eventually getting my Pebble).

Hey, you beat me to it - I was going to ask if they're planning any similar MetaWatch coverage, but then I'm obviously biased ;-)

Ive had the smartwatch for a while now and although there are definately some problems with it, overall im pretty happy.

In terms of an app to display all notifications, try watchit (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=se.petersson.watch&feature...) Can turn toasts or notifications on for all apps (default) and select apps individually to turn off (system ui gets a bit annoying telling you there are open wifi networks available when walking though a city!!)

There is a Sony official app for gmail now but still missing one for standard email on anything but sony phones. With the expandable notifications on JB, Watchit pretty much takes care of this too :)

You might try my app eNotify. It shows you the full Gmail or Exchange email on your SW2. Crucially, it also lets you reply to emails from the SW2 by setting predefined messages inside the eNotify App.

Oh and one other thing - I found that Sony's SmartConnect was chewing up 5% of my battery just being installed on my Galaxy Nexus even when the SmartWatch was powered off and sitting in a drawer. The MetaWatch uses next to nothing. The old Sony LiveWare manager didn't do this, so I'm assuming it's all the new "activity" features they added to SmartConnect that's using the battery (i.e. polling to see if you're docked, power connected, what time it is, etc., so it can fire off activities - but it's doing that even when they're all disabled!).

I would definitely be interested in the next version of this. Maybe a little bigger, with all the kinks worked out. I think using it for google maps would be great!

Interesting to note that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which you're using in the video) isn't listed on Sony's site as compatible (or not compatible for that matter). Since you tested it with the GNex was there anything that didn't work right or was limited?

Everything works as expected with a Galaxy Nexus except you can't use Sony's email client notifier app (it's locked down to Sony branded phones only). However as Dansharpy says if you use something like Watchit to send notifications to the watch then you'll know you have a new email.

You know when it's handy to wear a watch? When you don't want to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag every few minutes to see what time it is. Also, watches look cool when you're dressed nicely. I realize clocks are everywhere, but what if you're riding your bicycle or running, and need to know what time it is.. Your smartphone maybe be on your body somewhere, but most likely it'll be in an inconvenient area, requiring you to either slow down or stop what you're doing in order to look at your phone.

And no, I don't work for Timex :D. I just like watches.

Right, watches are a nice dress item and $80 you play for gimmicky piece of junk like this? They eventually add up to a decent watch that will last you for years or even decades.

Since I had to look it up, I thought I'd share...

Battery Life (Approx) : 3-4 days typical usage, up to 14 days standby

I would say i use mine moderately and it lasts easily 5-6 days. Only takes an hour or so to charge as well so never have a problem with battery life.

Ah yeah, sorry about that. I had about 2 days of reasonably heavy usage. dansharpy is right about the quick charging time, too. 

No mention of battery life... Can't imagine it does too well in that deprt?

Edit: Just saw vansmack's comment on refresh. That's about what I thought.

Other reviews have said this is the 2nd worst device that Sony has ever made. Sony's worst device is the first generation of this product (still available at some closeout sites for around $20). While both devices have some interesting design features, the hardware and software are really buggy, making the devices barely usable.

I'm interested in seeing some unbiased reviews of the Pebble watch, which is supposed to be functionally similar, but hopefully better quality.

Motorola also has an Android watch, which costs more for more sophisticated hardware (more like the Garmin Forerunner sports watches). This has gotten OK reviews, though beating Garmin at their own game is not going to be easy.

Had this watch a week. Better resolution, less bezel, and brighter screen would be nice, however, I love it. Why would you want it? Because the Note 2 will be out any week now and i bought it so I could cut down on the number of times I pull it out of my pocket. I have only seen two notes in the wild and both times someone I’m with makes a crack about the size and everybody laughs. The watch coupled with the bluetooth Pocket/stylist should quell this. I already have both paired to my Moto Photon (you know, the one Motorola lied about updating to ICS for the last 6 months) and I have to say, they really work well together. Bring on the Note 2. Bite me Moto.

Kinda hard to imagine they've been lying about it for six months, no OEM actually knows how well an upgrade port is going to work till they start working at it. And if they were lying and just not trying, I'm not convinced they'd take this long to come out with it.

It was on the list to update and now its not. There was a headline story right here on Android central. It's not that hard to "imagine" when you HAVE the phone and you've been looking for any sign of the update that moto said was coming for months. You been doing that? I "imagine" not.

Yeah...because they THOUGHT they could upgrade it. Didn't you realize that that's all those timetables ever were? It's what Motorola THOUGHT they might be doing down the line.
Or do you believe they just had viable ports working and held onto it for six months waiting to pull the rug out from under you like some sort of steam-punk clockwork villain from an indie game?
And yeah it is hard to imagine, because I have this thing called maturity. And maturity dictates that when you don't get something you want, usually it isn't because someone decided to be maleficent for no apparent reason.

I agree with you there. Moto really pissed me off with their BS. However I don't want to buy a note 2 off contract so I suppose I'm stuck for about another year. Who knows, maybe I'll switch carriers at that point.

Tried it with my EVO 3D. It didn't work. On my GNEX works great. I use it so I don't miss texts, email and phone calls. I have missed one yet. Great reminder tool. Plus I can turn off my music when my phone is in my pocket.

Yes the lack of a dick tracy feature is kind of glaring. Having the watch be a small speakerphone would have been nice. Other than that I love the thing.

Does the music app only with with a specific music player or does it connect to any music player? Specifically, does it work with Google Music?

I honestly don't know why people are complaining about the SmartWatch - I've had mine for about two weeks and I love it!

Unlike the LiveView (which was absolute rubbish!), the SmartWatch maintains a VERY reliable connection (I've even received notifications when my smartphone has been on the second story of my house!), has long usage times (I can get up to a week with "casual" use, and nearly two days with heavy use!

If I get a notification, its icon displays on-screen and I simply click that icon to go straight to the application or widget on the SmartWatch... There is also a long-list of SmartWatch applications in the Google Play Store and because the SmartWatch itself runs Android, this list is growing every day.

My only real complaints is that the SmartWatch can be difficult to see in direct sunlight; there is no stopwatch application (there's one in the Google Play Store, but it doesn't work and the developer doesn't respond to support requests); there is no native (Sony-developed) support for Google Talk or Google+...

Other than that, it's a brilliant watch that works with virtually all Android-powered smartphones and tablets - heck, my wife hated the LiveView and even she wants a SmartWatch now!

Based on this review I picked one up to use with my sprint photon. What can I say? it is the best smartwatch out there for any phone. It has its flaws, but again, it is useful and, as of yet, there is nothing better out there. By the time the "pebble" watch materializes (if it ever does) sony will be on Smartwatch 2.0 (assuming they don't abandon the space).

The one app you absolutely need to download is Augmented smartwatch pro (http://augmentedtraffic.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/top-10-reasons-to-use-a...)

It will allow you to get notifications for any android notification on your device. In addition it allows you to modify the smartwatch's vibration patterns (# of vibrations, duration etc.) making it so that you will no longer "miss" notifications. Not the easiest app to use (there is a lack of documentation and menus are a bit confusing) but once you figure it out it is extremely powerful and worth the 3 bucks the app's owner charges.