The Sony Smartwatch 3 – a brief review and a couple of tips

At launch about 2 years ago, these were £250. I picked it up for £70 at Currys in their “Black Friday” sale.

smartwatch

I’m not sure whether that heavy discount is related to the popularity of Smartwatches in general (which it seems have passed their peak), or the popularity of this particular model. I was actually in the market for a GPS running watch – and this is half the price of any Garmin!

In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

  • It’s not really a looker – but it is discreet, and I think it is suitable for the office (more so than a running watch). It reminds me of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Google Fit can’t cope with me riding a scooter to work and adds loads of steps (or cycling) to my daily total because of it. I have no need for a fitness tracker but the info I get from it is nonsense.
  • Loading music onto the watch is more of a pain that you would expect. It’s well known that “pure” Android doesn’t like external SD cards. So if you have an external SD card with music on it in your phone, transferring music to your watch via Google Play Music doesn’t work. Don’t waste your time trying to trick Google by transferring music to your watch with the SD card removed as it will go wrong again as soon as you put the SD card back in. I chose to remove the SD card and just put a few favourite albums onto the phone’s internal storage. Android Wear is happy to sync these (although syncing over Bluetooth is slow – save it for overnight while the watch and phone are charging). I listen to Spotify or internet radio 95% of the time anyway.
  • Strava now tracks your activity using the watch alone. There are lots of complaints on “the internet” about Strava’s lack of support for GPS-enabled watches like the Sony – but these are all pretty old posts. Strava now supports watch-only tracking. Just tick the “Use Device GPS” option under the “Wear” section of Strava’s settings. It works well enough – certainly I have had no complaints about the data it creates. It is also a lot less hassle than using Ghostracer to track your run and then uploading to Strava separately. Strava’s average speed on the watch is not that accurate (it is rather unresponsive) – but neither is Ghostracer’s (which varies wildly).
  • I don’t like talking into the watch and it isn’t as good at understanding me as the phone.
  • Very few apps offer a rich experience – most just invite you to open a page on the phone. The hardware limits are pretty obvious.
  • The best feature is the notifications – this is the one feature I would not want to give up on a day-to-day basis. My phone is usually silent – and getting a vibration on my wrist when it rings means I have picked up a lot of calls and messages that I would otherwise miss.

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