Sony Smartwatch 3 review

Wait - is Android Wear getting good?

Sony Smartwatch 3

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Some of the more recent smartwatches such as the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R have emulated a traditional wristwatch to great effect, with a circular display and a fetching build rich in metal and leather.

They look less like a gadget and more like a fashion accessory, which I've always thought is important, especially since "dumb" watches are every bit as much about form as function.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

Sadly, the Sony SmartWatch 3 looks more like the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch from the first wave of Android Wear devices. Its face is square rather than circular and the default band is rubber, giving it the look of a sports watch more than something you'd wear all day every day. But hey, you might like the look just fine.

The built-in GPS and an IP68 certified water and dust proof build seem to indicate that Sony is pushing the rubberized version at fitness fans. The optional stainless steel band is now available and as you can see, looks really good. But at the low-end, the SmartWatch 3 could, for better or worse, easily be confused for a fitness tracker.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

Looking at the most affordable configuration, the rubber strap that it comes with is fairly comfortable, though dust tends to stick to it.

While it looks distinctly casual and arguably more like a sports watch than a smartwatch, the black shade of our review unit gives it a low-key look. There's also a yellow version on the way which risks looking a bit garish if you're not mid-marathon.

The SmartWatch 3 uses a folding deployment clasp which makes it easy to take on and off. Its clasp itself is metal, which along with the metal power button on the right of the face contrasts the plain black band nicely. The band is easy to adjust, so it should comfortably fit on most wrists.

If you purchase the stainless steel band, there are a few more steps involved in adjusting the size. There are arrows on the band, which you can poke a watch tool into to loosen the links. Just make sure to remember where you put the spare links.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

If there's a downside to the deployment clasp it's that it could potentially come undone if for example you bend your wrist and put enough force on it, but that never happened in my time with the watch.

The design of the SmartWatch 3 is interesting in that the watch itself can actually be popped out of the band with no tools required. This makes changing bands a breeze but, on the downside, it also means that it doesn't support standard watch straps. You'll have to stick with those built by Sony.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

Removing it from the strap gets you a better look at the metal back, which while visible when wearing the watch is less obvious, sandwiched as it is between the strap and your wrist.

The body of the Sony SmartWatch 3 is fairly large, with its 1.6-inch screen and bezels, but it doesn't feel heavy or much bigger than a large wristwatch and certainly won't look out of place if you have larger wrists. This is par for the course with smartwatches anyway and almost unavoidable if you want them to be big enough to use.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

The body is mostly featureless, except for a microUSB port on the back, with a cover keeping it water and dust tight. This small feature is worth highlighting, as many smartwatches use a wireless or proprietary charger, which can be costly to replace. Plus, if you're like me, you have at least six microUSB chargers lying around by now.

It's not a total win for the Sony SmartWatch 3 though, as actually getting at the micro USB port is a bit of a pain.

Sony SmartWatch 3 review

Not only do you have to either remove the body of the watch from the strap (which is admittedly easy) or struggle your way around the strap which gets in the way of the port, you also have to pry off the port cover, which can take a few attempts.

It's not a big deal and it became a little easier with practice, but it can still get annoying given that you have to charge it every day or two.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.