Jul 19 AT 5:39 PM Taylor Wimberly 64 Comments

Over the last couple of years I have desired a smartwatch, but I have yet to find one that had style and delivered all the features I needed. Sony’s LiveView accessory got me excited a couple of years ago, but the early reviews said it had some issues and didn’t live up to people’s expectations. After listening to customer feedback, Sony went back to work and delivered the new and improved SmartWatch.

This time I wasn’t an early adopter, but I finally took the plunge and purchased the Sony SmartWatch after I played with one and a trusted friend gave it the thumbs up. I picked up my SmartWatch at a local Sony Store for $149, but they can be found online for as low as $114.

After spending a couple of weeks with the SmartWatch, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts. Read on see how it performed and if I would recommend it to others.

The Good

Discrete Notifications: Read all your text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter updates, and more from your Android smartphone on your wrist. Active notifications allow you to tap a single icon and instantly read your messages.

Over 100 apps extend the usefulness of the SmartWatch.

Hundreds of apps and widgets: Sony provides a dozen official apps for their SmartWatch, but there are over 100 3rd-party apps and the list is growing every day. Sony provides a Smart Extension SDK that allows developers to create new apps and extend their current apps to use the SmartWatch display and sensors.

Multi-touch color display: SmartWatch features a 1.3 inch OLED multi-touch display with 128 x 128 resolution and 65k colors. Multi-touch gestures allow for easy navigation between apps and the OLED color display is good for viewing your friend’s avatars and photos.

Lightweight design: Made from aluminum and glossy plastics, the SmartWatch is surprisingly light. The watch only weighs 15.5g (0.55 oz) and the watchband is 26g (0.9 oz). When I’m wearing the watch, I can barely tell it’s on my wrist.

Sony offers additional watchbands for $19.99.

Choose your own watchbands: The SmartWatch ships with a classic black wristband and Sony also sells five other colors including pink, mint, grey, white or blue. Furthermore, an included adapter allows you to use any 20mm wristband of your choice.

Battery Life: Sony advertises that the SmartWatch will last 3-4 days with typical usage, and up to 14 days standby. I found these claims to be accurate and the SmartWatch easily lasted 4 days between charges when I was using it.

Easy setup: I had the SmartWatch up and running within minutes of taking it out of the box. Sony LiveWare Manager allows you to connect to the device and manage your installed applications and widgets. LiveWare Manager also highlights the best SmartWatch applications and lets you search the Google Play Store to find new apps.

Sony LiveWare Manager allows users to install new apps and manage settings.

Compatible with numerous smartphones: The SmartWatch is compatible with and optimized for Sony Xperia phones, but it works with most devices that run Android 2.1 or higher and feature Bluetooth. I had no problems connecting to phones from HTC and Samsung. In my testing I found the SmartWatch also works with the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Software updates: Sony continues to improve the user experience of the device with updates to their SmartWatch app. Users download this app to their Android device and then it updates the firmware on the SmartWatch. Recent updates have expanded compatibility with new devices, provided a choice of watch faces, enhanced battery life, improved connectivity, and fixed various bugs.

The Not so Good

The display is readable outdoors, but it can be difficult to see in direct sunlight.

Display is hard to read in direct sunlight: I have no problems seeing the display in-doors, but I needed to shield the display to read it if I was outside in direct sunlight.

Does not pick up all system notifications: Sony has apps that relay most of the important notifications from your smartphone to the SmartWatch, but it does not pick up all system notifications. An app needs to be optimized for the SmartWatch in order to display notifications. Additional 3rd-party apps can pick up system notifications, but it would be nice if Sony could provide an official solution.

Final Words

The Sony SmartWatch is a keeper. Some users might be underwhelmed with the SmartWatch when they first set it up, but after it is personalized they will find a convenient device that can make their lives easier.

Every day I wear the SmartWatch, I’m finding new ways to take advantage of it. At first I was using it to discretely check emails when I was at the movie theater with my wife. Then I started using the incoming call notifications while I was driving to see if I needed to pull over and answer a call. Pre-defined text messages allow me to respond to my friends without ever taking my phone out of my pocket.

I soon discovered I could open the active notifications by pressing my nose to the SmartWatch display, which is great for those random times when you need hands-free operation (like changing a diaper). By installing additional apps I was able to find my lost phone in the couch, receive Instagram updates, get GPS navigation, view my gallery photos, and adjust my phone settings.

The Sony SmartWatch might look like a simple device, but it’s quickly becoming one I don’t want to leave the house without. It’s fun to explore all the apps that are being released and I continue to be amazed when I discover all the use cases for the SmartWatch. I haven’t wore a watch since I purchased my first cell phone, but the Sony SmartWatch has found a permanent home on my wrist.

Other reviewers have been pretty tough on the Sony SmartWatch, but I think a lot of their issues were related to older software that had some various bugs. Most of the complaints centered around connectivity and battery life, which were two things I had no problems with. The ecosystem of available apps continues to grow, so I think the users will find the SmartWatch more useful then when it first came out.

After getting to know the Sony SmartWatch, I would definitely recommend it to people with Android phones that are looking for a smartwatch. The initial experience might be limited, but the numerous apps really allow you to customize the device to you liking.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • LukeT32

    Interesting…. always thought one if this would be nice yo have…. and you just confirmed it.

  • Daniel Devine

    I bought a Smartwatch as soon as it came out, the included software wasn’t brilliant and there was virtually no 3rd party ones. I returned it because of this but really liked the concept of it. Really the only thing holding me back from ordering another one is the screen, it would be nice if higher res and viewable more easily outdoors!

  • The STIG

    I have connectivity issues all the time. What phone are you using? I have the Epic 4g touch. I haven’t worn it in about 3 weeks, but there’s always a disconnect issue. And that’s where it fails at for its most basic function, displaying time.

  • pjamies

    Agreed, my Timex Ironman watch is about to die, and a smart watch is my next
    prefered watch of choice.
    I just need it to work in (some what) direct sun-light, or I might look at the
    pebble, as it uses a E-paper display that works great outdoors.

    • Derek

      Honestly, I can’t stand the looks of it. It is too bulky looking.

      If I could get the guts of this phone with the e-paper display of the pebble. That would be show stopper.

      • co.ag.2005

        I agree. I really want the Pebble but it’s going to take a while to reach customers (since it just got funded on Kickstarter). I may have to try the Sony one out in the mean time.

  • Ironzey Lewis

    Does it effect the battery life of the phone much? I usually tend to leave Bluetooth off to save battery.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I haven’t noticed any extra battery drain. Since I can check my notifications on my SmartWatch, I don’t have to turn on my smartphone display as much, which saves power.

  • Zak Jones

    Yeah, I’d love to have one of these, but with my battery already being raped by terrible cell signal, I’d be a little hesitant to add something that requires my bluetooth radio to be on, too. How’s the battery drain from bluetooth?

  • MoSDeeb

    I’ve been in the market for a smart watch. Time to read up on this one a bit more.

  • c1liu

    Taylor you got a hairy arm. Is that your arm in the sunlight readable example picture?

  • spazby

    this would be good for golf – are there are any golf gps apps?

  • Nathan D.

    Thanks for the review, I always consider to look at one but your thought about this really help see if this product is worth looking into.

  • Robert A Gray III

    What about sweating? Washing your hands? And why the iPhonie look? I’ll wait until a water resistant, stylish look comes along.

  • gnosis18

    Nope. This watch is a huge disappointment. I’ve owned inpulse, sony, and wimm one, and this is the clear loser. It fell apart two weeks after I purchased it and finally fell off in an airport. I wanted to like it but so much failed to work on my galaxy nexus in terms of notifications and I hardly got a day from the battery. everything is rendered on the phone so it lags like crazy and it simply fell short in every category with the exception of the apps of which there are many. Even setup was awkward. Spend the extra 50 and get a wimm one if you are looking for something robust.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      It sounds like you had the SmartWatch when it first came out with the older software build. I wish you got to experience the latest update because it seems to have addressed most of your issues.

    • Callum

      hello, i read that you’ve owned impulse in the past. is it by any chance still with you right now? I have been looking around for quite some time now for this device. I’ve been really aching to try to have it and use it with my blackberry curve 8520. are you still using it? if not, and if it’s still working, can i buy it?

      appreciate your response. if you can, pls email me. thanks a million!

  • Jambo

    The Sony logo looks huge…big mistake…ruins the whole thing…theyll never get it right…

  • BigCiX

    I’ll wait for the second generation to come out

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      This is the 2nd gen of smartwatch from Sony. The Liveview was the 1st.

  • Ryan

    Hows the build quality of the watch?

  • Steve

    Thanks for the review. So many negative reviews out there.. Nice to see it was mainly firmware issues.

    How well does the watch do when you walk away from your mobile and then then come back? Does it reconnect easily and quickly? Or do you have to prod it?

    And when you aren’t paired with your mobile, is the only thing it can do is show the time? ?

    • Mishack

      I saw a video review yesterday. The guy says that SW display time ONLY while they connected to the phone… If it’s really true it’s pretty big design flaw. I hope that sw update is on the way (or xda…?)

      • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

        The SmartWatch does display time when it is not connected. You must have seen an older software build.

  • Yale Landsberg

    Thanks for letting everyone know that SONY is intent on making its Smartwatch better and better.

    And a question: What do you and your fans here think of our Better Tymes Project and our Better Tymes For Women one moving our TrueTyme Android “You are not a machine, so why are you locked into mechanical time?” and “It’s all about you and your body clock” clock app to SONY smartwatches, with our MoodTyme functions on tethered mobile devices, per http://TrueTyme.org .

  • Ray

    So every time I leave the house, I will have to put the smartphone in my pocket, the SmartWatch on my wrist, and Google’s SmartGlasses on my face? What’s next, a smart ring?

    Why don’t we try making the people smart, instead of the devices? We’re getting fatter, lazier and dumber because these days, everything is designed to provide some form of comfort so we don’t have to get up to do anything, but sit in our sofa/love seat (whichever you prefer) and get fatter. Maybe my comment is a bit out of line and off subject, but that whats happening. We’re being turned into Turkeys. They’re going to fatten us up and then eat us. lol

    • Sundaydriver

      Dude, you are on the wrong website if you are making comments like that. I’m pretty sure there is a hippie or vegan website floating around somewhere.

  • jayesh

    is bluetooth connection necessary to display time??:o

  • Kev

    Nice review. I’m loving mine. I don’t wear it all the time as I only have 2 specific “use cases”.

    1) In work, my phone is generally on silent. So the watch (via the phone) tells me when and where my next meeting is and when emails come in that need my urgent attention. Also, if I get a call I can see who it’s from before I send it to the answerphone service. Then I can send them an automated SMS to let them know I’m busy and will call them back later.

    2) Outside of work, I love to run. I have a good app on my phone that tracks my workout using GPS to record all my stats. This app also works with the smartwatch so I can start/stop/pause and check my progress without having to strain to see the phone (which is normally on my arm)!
    While I’m running, I can also control my music directly from the smartwatch.

    Oh, and recently, via another 3rd party app that the developer has just made smartwatch compatible, it now tells me if it’s going to rain ;-)

    Yes, I know. I’m a geek :-D

  • Denny kusuma

    I am considering to have this smartwatch and how will i know if the device is first or second gen since i will buy this online? Will i able to upgrade the firmware if i get 1st gen? Thanks

  • Anshu

    I bought sony smartwatch recently . When i pair with my samsung galaxy s2 , it remains in pairing list just for few seconds . Soon , it goes back to available devices list . So data from phone is not synced with watch . Please can anyone let me know the solution for this ??
    My samsung galaxy s2 is upgraded to ICS 4.0.3

  • SRay

    Which app did u install to find you lost phone?

  • Arfath

    Hi,

    I’m planning to get one. Anybody knows if it is possible to control the phone’s FM radio from the watch? have been searching all discussion on this watch, but didnt find anyone mentioning FM radio. Everywhere they say Music. Not sure if that includes radio as well.
    I own a Samsung S3.
    Thanks in advance.

  • ray

    hi!

    i’m planning to buy this smart watch. but may i asked is this compatible to any apple devices such as iphone? how this thing work in iphone?

    thanks!

    ray

  • klcow92

    awesome gadget, but needs more promotion, rarely heard about

  • sbala

    A new era has begun

  • iZyx

    Planning on buying one. just One question is it compatible with Sony Experia Arc S?

  • Teebor

    I’d be cautious about this after buying the liveview

    so many things wrong with that product, and sadly it worked great for a couple of months and then it just would not stay connected any more.

  • krissel

    is it compatible in any android phones? because when i was about to i buy it the saleslady told me that my phone should be Sony Xperia phone. Answer me pleaseeeeee :)

    • Gabriel Lucas

      Yes, it is compatible with all Android 2.2 + devices, need not be a Sony Xperia, for example I use it with a Galaxy S Advance Android 4.1.2

  • Ivan cruz

    is this compatible with non-android or with basic phone with Bluetooth only devices???

    Just asking???

    • Gabriel Lucas

      It is only compatible with Android 2.2 + devices, no common device with bluetooth will work only if you have Android. I hope I helped.

  • HAzn

    This watch can annoying for people who are outside but doesn’t seem bad for people like me where you stay inside pretty much the whole day, am i right.

  • LiiMACS

    i really love to have one but the comments being posted in the wall is such annoying and frustrating. if i will pair my phone with the smart watch and i’m going to leave my phone in a locker, so will it be disconnected or stay connected? (my station for work is quite far from the locker) ..

    -need an urgent reply.

    • Gabriel Lucas

      Well, the SmartWatch has bluetooth 3.0 and thus has a greater distance connection, this distance is approximately 40 meters, however if the SmartWatch can not connect it will show you only date and time.

  • lily

    will it work on iphones? idont have android phones…:)

  • gaurav

    will this smartwatch work with samsung galaxy note?????
    Mr tailor……. M waiting for ur response

  • Aanchal Sodhani

    :) In india, on ebay this is shipping for less than 40$ and totally totally worth it!

  • svdboy

    i bought mine when it was first released and i had no problems with it ever since, i paired it with samsung note 2, samsung galaxy tab2 3g, one x, a number of sony smartwatches, battery is meant to drain depends on how often you use it, bluetooth is fine by me , power management, is a must for experience user as well as task killers, i had my smartwatch for almost one year now and it works just fine.

  • dianne faye senorin

    I don’t have internet on my phone – but every now and then i am online since i’ve got wifi on most places i go. Will i still get the time on the gadget when my phone is not online? does this have an alarm app?

  • Shahad Sainudeen

    Is it compatible for Samsung galaxy s3?

  • Amanda

    How did you get to connect the smartwatch with android jelly bean? Mine just won’t work =/

  • carla

    can this watch be synchronize also with Iphone5?

    • Cliff

      It will also not work with my Google Nexus 4 which uses Jelly Bean 4.2.2. Is Sony going to fix this? It’s annoying to spend money on this and it doesn’t keep updated to work with the latest Android releases.

  • Jayson L.

    is it compatible with samsung galaxy pocket?

  • Tom

    Sony smartwatch won’t pair with my arc s running gingerbread. Upgraded arc s to ice cream sandwich but found this is not compatible software. Have now got Sony repair centre to reset phone to gingerbread but still wont pair. Any suggestions? Watch def working as it pairs with a Sony j I also have.

  • Aaron

    can i paired it to Samasung Galax S DUOS????

  • ed

    I can’t believe all these positive comments I have had nothing but trouble with the Sony smartwatch mn2 first it wouldn’t sync with my cubit then I bought an Xperia z1 and now it won’t switch on, Sony says I need a software update but instill doesn’t work…. It’s a white eLepanto and a waste of money

  • ed

    Don’t waste your money

  • Rory

    Are either of sw2 or sw compatible with the Sony xperia l?
    Please let me know
    Thanks
    Rory

  • Rory

    Do either sw or sw2 work with sony xperia l

  • Ryan

    Sony smartwatch don’t working on my Samsung galaxy s7582 Android 4.2.2,the phone can’t see the watch…