Sony SmartWatch 2 review

Though smartwatches may seem like a fad, don’t be too quick to dismiss the concept. Smartphones seemed like a fad to many, but they were based on one of the most widely adopted, tested and proven technologies on which our society is based: the telephone. 

Likewise, smartwatches are based on one of the most widely adopted wearable technologies: the wristwatch, or colloquially, just ‘watch’. I say ‘one of the most’, because we can’t forget glasses: another tremendously successful wearable technology that’s only now being given a ‘smart’ revamp by the likes of Google. 

That’s not to say smartwatches are anywhere near the ‘smartphone’ level of usefulness or adoption yet. In fact, I completely rubbished Sony’s first smartwatch, the MN2, when it arrived in New Zealand late last year. “Amazingly cool, but hardly the height of practicality”, I said. “2 out of 5 stars.”

Talking to a local Sony rep a year later, I reiterated my feelings on the matter. Sony’s original smartwatch was a very cool idea, but terribly flawed. Pathetic battery life, push-to-view time display, clunky interface, and worst of all, didn’t actually work as a watch unless paired to a phone. According to said rep, my issues had been solved by the newer model, the Sony SmartWatch 2. “Interesting,” I said. “I didn’t know there was a newer model.”

And so we have the Sony SmartWatch 2 – a smartwatch compatible with any Android 4 phone and which to my great surprise, really does address all the primary problems of its predecessor.

Digital watchface, illuminated by ambient light (no backlight).

Digital watchface, illuminated by ambient light (no backlight).

Design

The SW2 is beautifully compact at an almost-square 42x41mm, and just 9mm thick. The body is made from black-painted aluminium, with reflective silver trim. It weighs 123 grams, which is less than my own metal-banded analogue watch.

Compactness is one of the best things the SW2 has going for it.

Most of the smartwatches we’ve seen to date are bulky, oversized affairs. That’s not automatically a bad thing – many people choose to wear huge watches, or ranges such as Casio’s G-Shock wouldn’t exist. However, large watches are a matter of preference – a fashion statement some watch-wearers would prefer to avoid. Personally I have tiny wrists, so the SW2 suits me perfectly as a ‘normal’ sized accessory.

The watch is rated IP57, dust- and water-resistant: if you get caught in the rain or fall into a pool, it’ll be fine – just don’t go swimming in it.

The SW2 is sold with one of three watchband styles: silicone rubber, which is available in yellow, cyan, purple, pink, or black; leather, available in brown or black; and metal. Unlike some competitors (Samsung Galaxy Gear, I’m looking at you), Sony’s smartwatch is compatible with any standard (spring-bar) 24mm watch band.

In New Zealand, only the black silicone-rubber strap, and metal strap, are available. Only the black silicone-rubber strap is currently available through the Sony Australia website, though we’re unsure what models may be available through other Australian retailers.