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Sony Smartwatch 3 Review: The Best Performing Android Smartwatch?

Take a glimpse at Sony's smartwatch and see if it is the best smartwatch yet

Things to Consider Before Buying the Sony Smartwatch 3

Remember when smartwatches first hit the market? Your options were severely limited to a handful of models, none of them very powerful.

That all changed when the Apple Watch was released. A number of other big name companies quickly released their own takes on this new breed of smartwatch shortly after.

Today, you’re able to buy a powerful, intuitive smartwatch that’s specifically tailored to your personal preferences, whether that’s style, functionality, or activity tracking (or all three!).

One smartwatch that’s made a big splash is the Sony Smartwatch 3. As the name implies, it’s the third-generation Sony smartwatch (and the company’s fourth “smartphone companion”).

The competition with the Smartwatch 3 is intense. However, the Sony still manages to outshine other smartwatches in several ways.

So is the Sony Smartwatch 3 worth it?

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When you consider its affordable price, there’s little denying it is. For around $150 (sometimes as low as $100 on sale), you get a top-quality smartwatch with numerous features.

Yet the Smartwatch 3 isn’t for everyone. Like many cheaper smartwatches, it looks like a gym watch – definitely not very stylish.

Those that want to make a fashion statement with their smartwatch, while wearing it at the office or out on the town, should look elsewhere.

My other smartwatch reviews allow you to explore the top alternatives.

Presenting the Product

The Sony Smartwatch 3 has always been an impressive smartwatch.

It has plenty of great features including a built-in GPS, 24/7 activity tracking, and smartwatch notifications. It also has a long battery life and one of the best waterproof ratings I’ve seen on a smartwatch.

Previous versions of the Smartwatch 3 had one major drawback. The bright, shiny colorways they came in just looked cheap.

Sony took this criticism to heart. They recently released the Smartwatch 3 in a brand-new stainless steel colorway with an all-new metal design. Not only does it look a whole lot better, it’s more durable as well.

Is the Sony Smartwatch 3 right for you? It certainly is functional and high-performing. The stainless-steel version is good looking (though still not as stylish as several other smartwatches available).

Here are a few of the top pros and cons to consider about the Smartwatch 3.

Sony Smartwatch 3 Pros

  • Affordable price (lots of sale deals available)
  • Slick design (especially on stainless-steel model)
  • Built-in GPS
  • Great waterproof rating
  • Long battery life

Sony Smartwatch 3 Cons

  • Mediocre screen
  • No heart rate monitor
  • Using GPS greatly reduces battery life

Features & Benefits

Design/Display

There’s nothing wrong with the design of the Smartwatch 3. The only problem is that it’s not much to write home about either.

Like many smartwatch manufacturers, Sony’s smartwatch designs are lacking. They look like something you’d wear to the gym, almost like a toy. They don’t look anything like a traditional or digital watch.

In short, the design is simple and basic. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that looks like a smartwatch, then this is it. If you want a smartwatch that masquerades as a regular watch, it’s best to look elsewhere.

The stainless-steel version of the Smartwatch 3, mentioned above, helps fix these style complaints a little bit. Completely constructed from metal, it’s definitely an improvement on previous colorways.

The stainless-steel model uses a stainless-steel strap with a traditional link system. It’s easily adjustable for the perfect fit. It also adds a nice weight to your wrist so it feels just like a high-end traditional watch.

The rubber strap, found on other colorways, is noticeably lighter. It felt more comfortable on my wrist and was much easier to adjust. It uses an adjustable clasp. My big complaint, aside from lackluster looks, is that the rubber strap collects a ton of dust and grime during normal use.

The Smartwatch 3 has the same 1.6-inch, 320 x 320, LCD display screen on both stainless steel and other models.

The screen gets the job done but it’s definitely not one of the best around. I noticed that it’s much lower quality, especially regarding color vibrancy, than other screens on similarly priced smartwatches like those offered by Samsung.

Performance

If you can get past the unstylish looks of the Smartwatch 3, you’re greeted with a smartwatch that performs better than most in its price class.

This Sony smartwatch is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Arm A7 processor. It boasts 4GB of storage space.

As an Android Wear device, the Smartwatch 3 packs in the same features as other Android Wear watches. It offers everything you need, but nothing special.

Fortunately, both Android Wear and the watch’s interface are intuitive and easy to use. It’s simple to navigate through the home screen and apps to find what you need.

Another benefit to note is that watch’s overall speed. It never stuttered while I was using it – and I tested a lot of apps on it. You don’t have to worry about waiting for applications to load.

Despite the Smartwatch 3’s all around impressive performance, my favorite aspect of it is its waterproof design.

I won’t even wear a water-resistant smartwatch in the rain. Heck, I don’t even like to wear waterproof smartwatches in the shower.

But the Sony Smartwatch 3 largely does away with these worries. An IP58 waterproof rating means you’re more than fine getting this watch a little wet. Just be sure to secure the charging port seal before entering the shower.

Key Features

Like most Android Wear smartwatches, the Sony Smartwatch 3 is very basic, almost vanilla.

It’s very useful, but there’s not much exciting or unique about it. It has most of the same features and functions as other Android Wear smartwatches. Most of the built-in apps are similar as well.

Notifications, for example, work the same as most other smartwatches. You can tailor the settings to only receive certain notifications. I like this because it allows you to only receive important calls/texts from your boss/clients (rather than those from friends) during work hours.

The music player is another highlight of the Smartwatch 3. It allows you to sync music directly from your smartwatch to your Bluetooth headphones. This is a much-appreciated feature for those that plan to use their device for fitness tracking, especially because music boosts exercise performance.

Speaking of fitness tracking, the Smartwatch 3 has a very solid built-in GPS. Though it does suck up quite a bit of battery, it’s very useful and impressively accurate.

Unfortunately, this smartwatch doesn’t include a heart rate monitor. This isn’t much of a loss though – the Smartwatch 3 isn’t exactly designed for fitness. If you want to use your smartwatch primarily for fitness, a different model is the way to go anyways.

Thanks to the popularity of Android Wear, there are plenty of compatible apps to download from the Google Play. I’d recommend heading over there right away to download a few apps as the built-in ones are a bit lackluster.

Battery Life

The Sony Smartwatch 3’s battery greatly impressed me. It’s pretty big – 420 mAh – for an Android Wear smartwatch

Better yet, the overall design of the Smartwatch 3 means that the battery doesn’t equate to extra bulk.

So how long does the battery last? I found that it will easily last two days, even with regular use of apps and the music player.

The big exception is the GPS. Using GPS, especially for longer than an hour at a time, greatly reduces the lifespan of the battery.

Also of note is that the Smartwatch 3 charges with the popular Micro USB. One hitch though – it’s very hard to plug in the charger on the stainless-steel version because of the sealed stainless steel strap.

Social Proof

Sony Smartwatch 3 users online seem to like the device – and for the same reasons we do.

Most comments are positive and focus on its slick design, long-lasting battery, built-in GPS, and very affordable price.

One user said it’s the “Kingpin of Android smartwatches.”

Another user said, “Works well as a workout watch because you can play music to Bluetooth headphones and have GPS running at the same time for run tracking.”

There were very few negative complaints. These tended to focus on earlier versions of the watch where Android Wear wasn’t fully fleshed out. There are also some complaints about the mediocre screen.

Alternatives

Samsung Gear S3

Samsung does smartwatches right. Their Gear S3 is no exception.

Like the Smartwatch 3, it focuses on providing a solid overall smartwatch experience with an intuitive interface. It doesn’t go overboard with fitness features. The most notable aspect is its large size and robust build.

Samsung Gear S3 vs Sony Smartwatch 3

  • $100-$200 more expensive than Smartwatch 3
  • The Gear S3 is very large, possibly too large for some wrists
  • Both watches Wear
  • Large size of Gear S3 can look tacky depending on preferences
  • Gear S3 has gorgeous display screen

The Samsung Gear S3 is a great choice for those that want lots of features in favor of a sleek, minimalist design.

Nixon “The Mission”

Rugged is the best word to describe the Nixon “The Mission.”

It’s a smartwatch designed for the outdoors. With that in mind, it’s definitely not a traditional fitness tracker. In fact, it’s designed for adventure activities like biking, surfing, and skiing.

Nixon “The Mission” vs Sony Smartwatch 3

  • $250 – $300 more expensive than Smartwatch 3
  • “The Mission” has a bold, in-your-face design
  • Design of “The Mission” too big for some
  • “The Mission” is one of best waterproof smartwatches
  • Smartwatch 3 has much longer battery life

“The Mission” isn’t for those that want a slim smartwatch. It’s absolutely huge, rugged looking, and geared towards skiers and surfers.

Apple Watch S2

The Apple Watch S2 is one of the most popular and well-known smartwatches. And for good reason – it performs well in just about every category.

It’s also quite similar to the Smartwatch 3, both in design and performance. Other than the fact that one uses Android Wear and the other iOS, of course.

Apple Watch S2 vs Sony Smartwatch 3

  • Apple Watch is only slightly more expensive
  • Comparable size and design
  • Apple Watch has much better screen
  • Apple Watch has heart rate monitor
  • Waterproof (plus accurate swim tracker)

The Apple Watch S2 is a good choice for those that want a traditional smartwatch with a few more fitness features than the Smartwatch 3.