Sony SmartWatch 3 review

GPS-enabled smartwatch for Android with primitive cycling features

BikeRadar score1.5/5

As the categories of smartwatches and fitness trackers converge, the big electronics companies are scrambling to find the right mix of features for tech-savvy fitness buffs. The new Sony SmartWatch 3 is a GPS-enabled smartwatch that pairs with Android smartphones and offers some very basic cycling features.

Unlike some smartwatches that are basically just remote screens for paired smartphones, the SmartWatch 3 has its own GPS sensor, and when using the iFit Outside Android Wear app, offers basic ride-tracking information without a smartphone in your jersey pocket. However, the depth of data available on this device pales in comparison to the performance of a dedicated GPS cycling computer or multisport watch. With iFit Outside, you just get simple distance, speed, time and route information, which can be uploaded to various sites.

    You can also use the SmartWatch 3 as a remote for apps on your Android phone, paired on Bluetooth 4.0. We tested Strava on the SmartWatch 3. It is easy to navigate to the start screen on the touchscreen, then start, stop and upload the ride — while the paired Android phone is doing all the work. The information shown on the SmartWatch screen is limited to time and speed. So why not just use the app on the phone by itself?

    The raindrop graphics look great, but the smartwatch 3 doesn't work so great in the rain, as the water plays have on the senstive touchscreen: the raindrop graphics look great, but the smartwatch 3 doesn't work so great in the rain, as the water plays have on the senstive touchscreen
    The raindrop graphics look great, but the smartwatch 3 doesn't work so great in the rain, as the water plays have on the senstive touchscreen: the raindrop graphics look great, but the smartwatch 3 doesn't work so great in the rain, as the water plays have on the senstive touchscreen

    The SmartWatch 3 largely acts as a remote for a paired Android smartphone

    The SmartWatch 3 can be set to display all sorts of notifications from your phone: text, email, calendar, social media, etc. And you can activate it with voice and touch.

    The resolution is good at 320x320 pixels on the 1.6in color touchscreen. The battery lasts about two days on a one-hour charge

    The SmartWatch 3 is water resistant, but the performance in the rain is fairly comical, as water plays havoc on the sensitive touchscreen.

    There are a few players in the competitive landscape, with most of the fitness features pointed at running instead of cycling. The Magellan Echo pairs with iPhones and has more of a running-watch look, feel and performance. The Apple Watch does not have GPS, and instead relies on having a paired iPhone for GPS and other connectivity. The FitBit Surge is similar to the SmartWatch 3, as a smartwatch with some running-centric fitness options and built-in GPS, plus a built-in heart-rate monitor. Tangentially to smartwatches but perhaps more to the point for cyclists, the Wahoo RLFKT is a handlebar-mounted 'reflector' for those who want to use their iPhone as their cycling computer while keeping it in the jersey pocket.

    In the long run, smartwatches could develop enough features to appeal to riders. But for now, those looking for cycling data on the fly are better off using dedicated devices — or just using the smartphone by itself.

    Using the sony smartwatch 3's built-in gps, ifit operates as a very basic running watch: using the sony smartwatch 3's built-in gps, ifit operates as a very basic running watch
    Using the sony smartwatch 3's built-in gps, ifit operates as a very basic running watch: using the sony smartwatch 3's built-in gps, ifit operates as a very basic running watch

    The iFit Outside app uses the build-in GPS and functions without a smartphone, but only offers basic information

    Ben Delaney

    US Editor-in-Chief
    Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
    • Age: 40
    • Height: 183cm / 6'
    • Weight: 82kg / 180lb
    • Waist: 84cm / 33in
    • Chest: 99cm / 39in
    • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
    • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
    • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
    • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
    • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
    • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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