Sony SmartWatch 2 review

Battery Life

Sony’s previous MN2 smartwatch advertised 3-4 days of ‘typical usage’, and I experienced a disappointing 1-2 days. The SW2 advertises the same 3-4 days ‘normal usage’, and I experienced a very reasonable 4-5 days with fairly heavy use.

I receive a lot of email, which left the SW2 vibrating on my wrist several times an hour. I checked the screen every time, reading the previews, just to give the battery a real workout. I can imagine that adding in notifications for every Facebook and Twitter message would run the battery down faster, especially if you tried to read them all on the watch.

Charging is easy – it doesn’t require a special cradle like the Galaxy Gear, or a fiddly snap-on adapter like the Sony MN2. There’s a standard micro-USB port in the side, which lets you use your smartphone or tablet charger, or charge from a PC.

I will admit that I had some trouble getting the little port-cover open, as it has a waterproof seal and only a very thin cover to get leverage on. I chipped a couple of fingernails trying to get at the USB port, before working out that a pen knife or box-cutter was the only tool suitable. Even the mighty paperclip fails, far too thick to be of any help. A small issue, but a notable one.

The standard micro-USB port is a very nice touch, but requires a knife or pin to pry open.The standard micro-USB port is a very nice touch, but requires a knife or pin to pry open.

A moment of instability

At the very end of my testing, just after photographing the SW2, I experienced a couple of crashes – first of the weather app, then the main menu. Both problems were solved by turning the watch off and then on again.

I never experienced similar problems in the full week I spent wearing the watch, nor could I reproduce the problems afterward.

The crashes coincided with the HTC One Mini running low on battery (down to 5%) and triggering its power-saving features. It may be an obscure compatibility issue with that phone, or something completely unrelated. I wouldn’t rate the SW2 down for it, as the problem was so easily solved and I couldn’t reproduce it afterward, but I did find it worth noting.

Conclusion

Sony’s latest smartwatch aims to be a notification device above all else. No camera, no speaker, no microphone – it’s no Galaxy Gear, nor does it want to be. That simple approach results in a smart, focused and genuinely useful little piece of wearable tech.

I thought it might be intrusive, having notifications right there at my wrist, but I noticed exactly the same thing I’ve been hearing from Google Glass wearers: quickly glancing at the ever-present screen was far less intrusive than taking my phone out, unlocking it, and checking to see whether the email I’d just received was time-critical or not.

I don’t use an Android phone personally - strangely enough, I use a Windows Phone. If I were an Android user, I would be very keen to purchase my own SW2. The only thing that might hold me back would be the price.

OUR VERDICT

A truly useful companion to any Android smartphone, particularly larger and less pocketable ‘phablet’ devices.