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Sony Smartwatch 3 review

Wait - is Android Wear getting good?

Sony Smartwatch 3

The Sony SmartWatch 3 puts function ahead of form, delivering one of the best user experiences yet but with minimal style.

Sadly that means it's still not quite the complete package and it's not cheap either, but if you favour geek chic over high fashion this could be the most compelling smartwatch yet.

Read more: Sony Fes Watch U

We liked

One of the biggest selling points that Sony SmartWatch 3 has over rivals is built in GPS, which, coupled with being water and dust proof, makes it a handy workout companion, allowing you to leave your phone behind.

It's also a slick performer, with rarely any slowdown and its 1.6-inch display is sharp enough to look good and use comfortably, while the size is also a good balance between being useable and not looking like you've got a phone strapped to your wrist.

Its battery life deserves a mention too, as while you'll still be charging the Sony SmartWatch 3 every other day you at least might not have to charge it nightly, which gives it one-up on the likes of the Moto 360.

Plus while the charger is a bit fiddly it's at least microUSB, so even if you forget your charger you can bet that someone else will have a compatible cable.

We disliked

While I was happy to see GPS included in the Sony SmartWatch 3 it doesn't seem entirely accurate. It's good enough to track your route and get a vague idea of the distance travelled but if you need real accuracy you'll probably want to hold on to your sports watch for now.

The other problem with the GPS is how much it drains the battery. If you use it for a long run or ride you'll likely have to charge the watch's battery before nightfall.

Then there's the design. It's certainly comfortable and Sony's newly released metal strap for the SmartWatch 3 looks pretty good, but with the default rubber one it doesn't really.

It wouldn't look out of place if you're out on a jog or at the gym, but it definitely looks like a sports watch rather than a fashionable one. The square face will also limit how much it could ever look like a normal watch.

Verdict

In many ways I really like the Sony SmartWatch 3. It's not an essential device - no smartwatches are yet - but I'm in the camp that finds Android Wear genuinely useful, particularly as a quick and unobtrusive way to check notifications.

The Sony SmartWatch 3 also stands out from much of the competition through impressive performance, a good screen and solid battery life, not to mention the inclusion of GPS which makes it a better fitness accessory than most smartwatches, despite an imperfect implementation.

When it comes down to it though I don't think I'd buy one and that's mostly because of the style, or lack thereof. It's far from an ugly device, but it's merely passable and for me that doesn't cut it with a watch.

Give it a metal or leather strap and ideally a round face, then we're talking, but as it stands it's got the substance but not the style.

On the other hand if you don't care so much about style or actually do like the look of the Sony SmartWatch 3 then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as one of the best smartwatches around, even given its fairly high price, and as Android Wear continues to mature it will presumably get even better.

First reviewed: December 2014