First impressions of the Sony Smartwatch 3: So far, so good

Earlier this week, I noted that I finally pulled the trigger on buying my first Android Wear watch. I had previously used review units of different models, but I hadn’t spent my own money on one. The inclusion of dedicated GPS and Wi-Fi radios in the Sony Smartwatch 3 helped me make my decision and the watch arrived a few days ago.

I’ve been wearing it since then and I’m generally pleased by the decision, although there are still some aspects that aren’t great. Aren’t there always with any device? And I can’t really take full advantage of those extra radios yet because there are so few apps that can use the GPS. [company]Google[/company] hasn’t rolled out Wi-Fi support for Android Wear either.

Here are some of my initial thoughts so far:

  • No, the [company]Sony[/company] Smartwatch 3 isn’t as fashionable as the Moto 360. That’s fine with me though because I wouldn’t wear a Moto 360 out while running; particularly in the rain. I have done that with the SW3 though, because of the rubber strap and IP 68 rating for dust and water resistance. I have nice analog watches for nights out, so this device suits my needs the rest of the time from a wearability standpoint.
  • I find the watch comfortable to wear and it looks thinner than it really is because of the strap design.
  • I like that the watch has an always-on function that doesn’t kill the battery life. The watch face is a bit dim in this case, but I can read the time and date at a glance in most lighting situations. And the screen will light up with a tap or when I raise my wrist.
  • Speaking of battery life, I’m getting through a full day of usage easily. Based on the remaining battery percentage at the end of the day, I might be able to eke out two days but I still charge the watch each day. It only takes an hour or so to fully recharge the unit. Running with the GPS radio while listening to music can knock down battery life a bit so, on running days, it’s really just a single day of runtime on a charge.
  • I like that you can charge the watch with any microUSB cable. You don’t need a special cradle or cable. But it’s a bit of pain to actually get a cable attached to the watch, especially with the watch inside its band. I take the watch out of the strap to make it easier.
    Smartwatch 3 charging
  • Listening to music over Bluetooth headphones works great; this isn’t specific to the Sony watch as all Android Wear devices support it. I don’t like how Google implemented music support though, because you can’t pick and choose what music is sent to your watch for storage. In Play Music on your Android phone, all you can do is tell the app to sync music files; essentially all or none of the music on your phone can be pushed to the watch.
    Smartwatch music
  • Using voice commands on the watch has been almost flawless for Google searches and such. The only hiccup I’ve head yet was when I asked it to “show my agenda” and it searched for “transgender.” Hilariously funny but not helpful! Google Now and other notifications work well, just as they do on all Android Wear watches. Oh and have a happy birthday today, Joanna Stern!
    Joanna Stern Google Now
  • I’ve used Google’s MyTracks app with the GPS and it worked fine. Unfortunately, there are few other GPS-supported Android Wear apps just yet. I’m looking forward to seeing it added to RunKeeper and will test the accuracy when that happens.

Overall, I’m pleased with the Smartwatch 3 so far. Battery life is good compared to the other Android Wear devices and the watch fits in with my lifestyle. Of course, I’m not yet using it to its full potential because I’m waiting for some software yet. And the watch doesn’t have a heart rate monitor like most of its competitors. I’m considering the addition of new Bluetooth headphones in the future — my current ones are nearly four years old — that can monitor my heart rate. For now, I can live without that data.

Once I get a chance to test more apps that can use the dedicated GPS, I’ll report back on the accuracy and hit to battery life on the Sony Smartwatch 3.