The Wonderful World Of Wearables: Sony Smartwatch 2
For the last couple of years, technology companies have been capable of making things small enough to put it on our face and our wrist but it’s only now that we’re starting to see these technologies emerge full scale. Google Glass, Pebble Smartwatch and Samsung Galaxy Gear (Gear 2 soon approaching) have been making a splash in the wearable field but there are lots of other options out there that should be rivaling those products. The Sony Smartwatch 2 is easily competitive in the wearable field but it doesn’t come without its faults. I’ve been using it now for more than a week and I think that the time has come to show the world what it’s got!
Smartwatch Battery Life
I’m not going to waste any time, I know why you’re here. The one thing that seems to plague the wearables market is poor battery life. It’s totally expected considering the amount of space OEMs have to work with in order to make a reasonably sized watch with all of the computer internals inside, not even considering the battery module.
The battery life on the Sony Smartwatch 2 is decent at best. It usually makes it through the entire day but it doesn’t every day and the one time I thought that it was going to be able to go two days, I was sadly mistaken when I woke the next morning to find a dead watch.
If you are out during the day for about 12 hours and you don’t mess around with the watch much other than to glance at notifications as they come in, then you will be fine but if you try to do much else with it then you’re inevitably going to have to plug it in when you get home in the evening if you want to take it with you on the town (which I don’t necessarily recommend anyway).
The flip side of that coin is the other question that you would ask about battery life, what is it going to do to the battery life on my phone? Well, you’re not going to like the answer. Prior to inviting the Sony Smartwatch 2 into my life, my Moto X would make it through the entire day without a hiccup. Now, I find myself needing to recharge by the end of the day, especially if I have late night plans.
This is definitely something to think about when getting a smartwatch because I’m pretty sure the Sony Smartwatch 2 doesn’t support Bluetooth LE, which considerably hurts battery life, regardless of how efficient the rest of the software is. It’s possible that the watch could support Bluetooth LE at some point down the road, but I’m not going to be holding my breath until that time comes.
Style / Watch Faces
If there’s one thing other than the battery life that I am worried about when I think about buying a smartwatch is how it’s going to look on my wrist. I wouldn’t say that I’m the most stylish person in the world, but I don’t go out wearing socks and sandals everyday either. When I put something on my wrist, I want it to be subtle to the world, yet accent my daily setup.
The Sony Smartwatch 2 actually does pretty well in the category of style. It’s not too big, yet large enough to have a screen that you can interact with and it’s thin so everyone doesn’t look at it and think that it’s gaudy (looking at you Omate). Admittedly, I have had people see it on my wrist and say, “Hey, isn’t that one of those watch-phone things?” and I have to admit, that yes, I am one of the nerds in the world walking around with a small computer on his wrist.
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However, many of those same people admit that it looks good and it’s not as pronounced (read: huge and cumbersome) as they were expecting.
When it comes to watch faces, I’m torn. There are plenty of built in watch faces that look really good (some of which don’t really fit my taste) and I have no problem sporting them. However, there is part of me that begs for more. When I glance at my phone in the morning, I look to my lockscreen with HD Widgets to give me the weather.
Why can’t that be a feature which I enjoy on my smartwatch? There are plenty of watch faces available for install in the Play Store but none of them seem to feature a weather widget. Even if they did, we come to a huge issue (at least in my opinion) with this watch, which is that you can’t change the default watch face for the device.
With the default watch faces, when you click the power button from anywhere in the watch, it will return to the watch (which is always on, huge plus).
However, with watch faces that you install from the Play Store, most of which you have to pay for, the only way to enter the watch interface is to click on the app icon on your watch and it will then come up and eventually the screen will dim allowing you to use the watch as normal.
This is a huge downer in my opinion considering the amount of choice that this could give you but when you’re relying on the app to be constantly running in the foreground, it’s going to be difficult for any developer to compete with the battery life that you get from the built-in watch faces, and it certainly isn’t convenient to return to after checking a notification, which won’t pop up on the front of the screen when you’re using a non-default watch face because the watch treats them just like any other app.
Since this is an OS issue, we are forced to wait for Sony to update the watch to make things better but we can revisit that later.
Honestly, this is something that somewhat surprised me as there is a pretty decent selection of apps available in the Play Store for the Smartwatch 2. Like the Pebble smartwatch, there are apps for just about everything to extend the use of your Smartwatch 2. I have an app to send me notifications for Hangouts and another which can control just about any media player available in the Play Store.
There are even games! I simply can’t cover everything that you can do with this watch in a single review because there is just too much that I could talk about but you would be surprised to see what’s available.
In addition to everything else that comes in the box (Watch, instructions, charging cable) there is a code to activate the pro version of Runtastic, a great runner’s app available in Google Play.
Taking Phone Calls
First things first, the Smartwatch 2 does not have a microphone. This is not one of the smartwatches that you hold up to your face like you’re James Bond in the 80s or Inspector Gadget. The only thing that this can do is give you an interface to take or deny phone calls. The ideal situation is for you to have your Smartwatch 2 connected to your Sony smartphone and be using a Bluetooth headset to accept phone calls.
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If you don’t have a Sony smartphone, you’ll need to download a third party phone app for the watch, which luckily isn’t difficult to find. If you don’t have a Bluetooth headset connected, then you’re basically just going to be using this to deny calls. If you think about it, though, that can be kind of handy when you’re somewhere where you don’t want to have to check your phone if you get a phone call, you can just click a button on your wrist and the call will go to voice mail.
As it turns out, Sony considered the fact that you might not want to have a rubber watch band constricting your arm all day. If you check out Amazon, there are many different colors and materials available to replace the original rubber band. I chose to go with the classic black leather, which you won’t see in the photos because as of writing this, it has yet to show up in the mail.
I know I’ve submitted a lot of complaints about this device throughout this review but I still can’t help but love it. It could just be me being a geek but I really have grown to appreciate not having to take my phone out of my pocket during the day to check the time or see a notification. Soon I’m going to be getting a pair of Rox wireless headphones from Jabra and I will try the whole set together so I can take phone calls.
I was able to get the Smartwatch 2 for only from Rakuten.com (formerly buy.com) when it was on sale, so I am perfectly happy with the purchase but I don’t think I would have been as happy if I had paid the full for it.
Have you tried any of the other wearables available? Pebble? Galaxy Gear? Google Glass? How does this one’s functionality compare? Tell us all of your thoughts and feel free to argue about it in the comment section, below!
Twitter: Sony Electronics
Website: Sony Mobile