Sony Smartwatch 2 Review

By Adam Zeis on 15 Jan 2014 01:47 pm

Sony has been in the smartwatch game longer than many. Their first offering was basically a dud and they then introduced their follow-up smartwatch at CES 2012.  Just under two years later have pushed out the cleverly named Sony Smartwatch 2. While I’ve only spent minimal time with the original offering, I can say that the latest version is a big step forward — even if it does still have a way to go. 

When first strapping on the Sony Smartwatch 2 it’s instantly noticeable how heavy it is compared to other smartwatches. The SW2 weighs in at 127g — that’s pretty heavy when you consider the Pebble is just 47g and even the Samsung Galaxy Gear is 74g. If you’re a big watch person and like the weight that goes with it then this will be right up your alley. For me, I prefer a lighter watch that I can ignore if I want to. 


The watch does look nice overall. It’s aluminum all around with a single button on the right side. The majority of the face is black but its edging shines through in subtle silver. The included band is nothing special — a basic silicone band that thankfully can be swapped out with any standard 24mm band should you choose to do so. 

The front of the watch has the Sony branding on top and a set of three touch buttons on the bottom — back, home and action. For first time users it may be hard to get control of the watch and will just go wildly tapping away at the face buttons, however you need to keep in mind that you’ll have to press the side button first, then control using the touch buttons. Not so intuitive. 

Overall the Sony SW2 is well built and looks like it will stand up to average use. It feels like it can take some hits and keep running, so that’s a good thing as you won’t have to baby it each time you strap it on your wrist. 

I have to knock points off the Sony SW2 when it comes to comfort and wearability. Mostly due to the cheap silicone band (which can be replaced with any standard 24mm band) the SW2 was more than uncomfortable to wear for any length of time. I found the band actually cut into my wrist a bit too much and I had to take it off a few times during the day. Of course this totally varies for each person — different wrist sizes, comfort levels etc — but for me, it wasn’t the greatest. I didn’t get a chance to pick up a new band to try out but I do feel that it should be a bit better out of the box experience regardless. 


First pairing the watch with my Nexus 5 was more annoying than it should have been. The quick-start guide is lacking specific instructions but when I tried using NFC to pair my watch, it didn’t seem to work as it should have. I ultimately ended up downloading the app from Google Play on my own and setting up manually using Bluetooth. 

The Sony SW2 runs through Sony’s own Smart Connect app as well as the official Smartwatch 2 app. The Smartwatch 2 app is what controls the watch and houses all the add-on apps for notifications like email, Facebook, Twitter and phone calls. Getting used to how it all works it a bit juggled at first, but once you get the main idea it all comes together nicely. 


When it comes to apps the Sony SW2 has plenty. Sony says there are over 400 apps currently and I’m sure that number is growing daily. There are some default apps listed in the official SW2 pp for Facebook, email and calendar with more available via search through the app or just in Google Play. Currently you can find apps for pretty much anything you need from notifications to weather to fitness and even games. There’s really no shortage here, though some apps are limited in functionality. 

The “apps” are essentially add-ons that are each downloaded separately from Google Play and in turn integrate with the Smartwatch 2 app. You won’t find the app icons on your phone but the apps will show within the Smartwatch 2 application. I do wish there was a better way to discover new apps, perhaps a built-in store that only listed the SW 2 apps rather than having them scattered around Google Play.

Setting up the standard apps isn’t very intuitive, but once you’re setup, actually using the apps is pretty straight forward. You make any settings changes to the apps on you phone (most don’t have many options) and you’ll have an icon on the watch for each respective app. Even though there are no apps names on the watch face, the icons are still recognizable so even new users won’t have a problem knowing what’s what.

Within the settings on the watch you can find options for display, date & time, PIN lock and other items. There are also settings to enable or disable the built-in apps like timer and alarm clock. 

While the notification system works well, it still has a long way to go

While the notification system works well, it still has a long way to go. I’ve noticed a substantial delay at times from when a notification comes to my phone and to my watch. With my Pebble I get the notices at the same time, however with the Sony the watch alerts are almost always a few seconds behind. Not a deal breaker, but still could prove annoying for users that want instant gratification. The alerts themselves are clunky and could definitely use some work. You can choose a different view for most alerts — from detailed into to just the app name — but you still end up having to tap into a notice to fully see it. For example - when an email is received with Gmail you see a preview of the message (either the sender and/or a snippet of text) but you still have to tap the notice to read the full email. 

What’s cool is the the apps are actually apps. As opposed to some other devices where you can simply see notifications, the Sony SW2 apps let you do things like browse your Gmail inbox or Twitter feed. So it does take things a step beyond in that regard. At the same time it can be a bit too much. Having the apps on both your phone and watch means you can get to them no matter what, so it can be a bit excessive if you don’t manage it. The watch itself is really just a "mirror" for the apps though as they reside on the phone and not the watch. 

Having the apps on both your phone and watch means you can get to them no matter what, so it can be a bit excessive if you don’t manage it

As I said before there are apps for anything and everything on the Sony SW2. I’d recommend going with an all-in-one solution like WatchNotifier though. Rather than having a dozen apps to sent you alerts, you can grab an app like this and just choose from nearly any app on your phone to send notifications to your watch.

The Sony SW2 doesn’t allow you to make voice calls on the watch itself, but you can use the phone app on the watch to dial your phone remotely. Same goes for answering or declining calls. 

You also can’t simply disable an installed app. For some apps like Gmail or Facebook you can logout and thus won’t receive any notifications, but for apps like Missed Call or Messaging there was no way I could find to just turn off the respective function without totally deleting the app from my device. 

Deleting apps is also a bigger pain than it should be. Rather than being able to remove apps from the SW2 application, you need to find the add-on within your Android apps list and delete from there.

As for watch faces, Sony has a default set of ten with a mix of digital and analog, date and no date. I’d love to see more faces available to choose from but that’s something we can hope for in future updates. There are a handful of third-party apps that have watch faces available but they are more apps than faces and don’t integrate very well at this point.


Overall I do like the Sony Smartwatch 2. It has a load of apps available that should keep most users happy, the battery life is average and it looks really good. As I said before though, it is on the heavier side of all the watches I've used and you'll most likely want to replace the band before too long. The SW2 is a great watch overall. It has a great look, nice screen and the battery lasts a few days on a charge. I have to knock points for the way apps work/install, but overall if you've been eyeing up the Sony Smartwatch 2 I'd say it's a good bet — just keep in mind an updated version may not be too far off. 

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Reader comments

Sony Smartwatch 2 Review


The first true SmartWatch was the Microsoft SPOT. I wonder if they kept it alive in-house and are working on a new release without the MSN direct service but now with the SmartPhone Integration.

Thanks for the review, sounds like a bit of a mixed bag but definitely in the right direction. Will be interesting to see Sony Smartwatch 3...

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App on my Motorola XT890 RAZR i

I just got this for my dad's birthday and he loves it. Setting it up wasn't very intuitive, but once it's up and running it works very well. It's definitely among the best smartwatches available today. Which basically means this or the Pebble...

I have a Pebble as well as a SW2 and I much prefer the SW2. I recently went back to the Pebble again, but only lasted half a day before ditched it for the SW2. Looks much better and the notifications much more user friendly. Only thing I miss is MusicBoss app on the Pebble that controls different audio apps, so hope he makes one for the SW2. I don't find the weight or the silicon band a problem, mine only comes off when I have a shower and I hardly notice I'm wearing a watch. The recent firmware upgrades have really sped up the swiping which is great too. I would give it a 8/10 and the Pebble a 7/10.
Keep the updates & new apps coming please.

Is the time always displayed or do you have a blank screen until you wake it up like the gear?

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

The 127 grams is for the sw2 with metal band, I replaced my metal band with a leather band, weighs less than 45 grams now

You can search the play store for smartwatch apps, through the Smartwatch 2 app, it is however limited to show 250 apps and there's no way to find out which ones are new

You can answer your phone remotely unless you have a htc phone, won't work, not that I care for such a function

The build quality, well, personally I can't agree, mine fell apart after a month or so, happened within days for others, also you really can't shower with it, check Sony's own forum for those kind of issues:
talk sonymobile com/t5/Wireless-accessories/bd-p/accessories

There's also a big issue with the 4.3 update for the Sony z1 combined with the sw2, it will kill your wifi connection, apparently i can't put links in my post, but can you find it through the same forum

All in all i can't recommend the sw2, I will replace mine as soon as I get my HOT Watch
Will keep using it until then, really like being able to glance at my watch to see if whatever message comes in is important or not

I had the SW2 and returned it because it really Bugged me that the second party apps do Not load on the watch, they only work if you are connected with your blue tooth, as soon as you lose connection the apps on the watch Disable and I think you have to re-tap when reconnecting with blue tooth

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

The time is always displayed so that is nice ; there are many cool second party watch faces to choose from but again you have to Remain bluetooth connected, and I definitely remember once the bluetooth cuts off you have to re-engage the watch face as it defaults to original from Sony

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

I've had the SW2 for about 4 month now. I believe that weight figure is with a metal band, as mine has no noticeable weight. I use the silicone band, and actually find it comfortable. I like a large watch, so this suits me. I like tha fact that the time is always there. Sony recently opened up the low power API to developers, so we are getting apps that can stay active and not kill the battery. Charges with a standard mico-USB. Over two days of battery life. The watch module did come loose in the frame as many have found. It is easy to permanently fix. Other than that, I really liked this watch.

Mine came with the metal band. I never even considered the weight to be an issue until I read this review. I guess since I'm used to wearing large metal watches it never even occurred to me someone would have an issue with it.

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

As far as the lag between the watch receiving alerts after the phone, I guess I hadn't noticed them because I have my phone set to silent whenever my SW2 is connected. The only alert I get is the watch vibrating. I haven't missed any notifications yet.

Posted via the Android Smartwatch Fans App!

I completely agree. While at 127g the SW2 might be heavier than the other smartwatches, I've just looked up the other watch I wear (a Fossil analogue watch with a metal strap) - and that weighs 499g! So the SW2 feels really light to me

Guys, I like your articles. But could you PLEASE read over your articles before posting them. I'm not english but even I noticed 4-5 errors like "What’s cool is the the apps are actually apps.".

Just to share my experience - firstly, as was stated is subjective in the article, in terms of comfort the watch has been just fine on my wrist, I barely notice it's there. With the silicone strap it's thin enough and malleable enough that it's more comfortable to wear than my metal-strapped analogue watch. I can't compare to the Pebble and Gear as I haven't worn those though.

And also in terms of notification "lag", I would say that the most I've experienced is 0.5-1 seconds delay, no more than that - often the "buzzes" overlap in terms of duration. Or more common than that, is that I don't notice my phone vibrate, but I do notice my watch vibrate, in which case there is zero lag :)

Adam mentioned in the review that there's not a way to search specifically for SW2 apps, but I have found that if you go into the Smart Connect app and click on the watch to edit the settings (and configure the apps) - at the top of the list there's a "Search for new applications" link (or words to that effect), which when clicked opens the play store with the search text "Smart Connect extension for SmartWatch 2" - which is something all SW2 app developers are encouraged to put into the bottom of their app description, in order to tie into the search. A search like this for me (in the UK) returns around 225 results I think.

First, not too bad a review. I agree with most of it, but notification delay is insignificant and not an issue. You didn't mention the color display which I like. Some say it is too low resolution but it is good. There are plenty of apps and in the 3 months I have owned the SW2 many have come out. (Not all apps require tethering to operate either.) The SW2 weighs in at 23grams. I just took off my band and 23gr is it, end of discussion. (Buy a scale and report facts.) Lastly the watch is tough! I bang it around all the time and not a scratch or a ding. Well made I think. Thanks for the review!!

just got mine, and here are my thoughts:
- as stated, the weight is more on the ligth side with the silicone band
- around notification, you can get same thing than the pebble (at least I think) with WatchIt app ( and a 4.3+ phone (I have nexus4)
- the lag with some notifications is for the dedicated apps like gmail, however this is compensated by an app which does more than just forward the notification. If you use WathcIt, i've had no delays what so ever
- the only issue I've had so far is the app to control the music player, just won't work with Google Play Music. I'm considering buying NRG player that comes with a specific app or PowerAmp for which a specific app exists

Other than that, very happy so far. I can drop my phone and the watch stays connected in the whole house.