Ahead of IFA, there were rumours that Sony was to release a third SmartWatch that would still be running on the company's own wearable operating system. On the basis of our experience with previous efforts, that would have been a very bad idea indeed. Thankfully, the real deal SmartWatch 3 that's just been launched at the Berlin show is indeed running Google's Android Wear smartwatch OS.
Despite the naming, it's actually Sony's fourth generation SmartWatch device being unveiled, and it shows. Fully waterproofed to an IP65/68 rating, its minimal design shares some similarities with the new Xperia Z3 range, right down to the display tech used. Packing in a 1.6-inch 320 x 320 resolution squared-off LCD screen and powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM A7, it has what Sony's calling "Transflexive" display technology to boost contrast levels in harsh ambient lighting, meaning that it shouldn't be a washed out chore to look at in direct sunlight.
This core face piece can be popped out of its strap, and replaced inside other sold-separately rubber straps of a variety of colours. The stretchy band, finished off with a folding metal clasp, still feels very much like a "smartwatch" rather than "a watch which is and looks smart", which may mean those waiting for a more subtly-styled connected timepiece will still want to hold out for the circular Motorola Moto 360.
With a two day battery life, the watch will be compatible with any Android device running Android 4.3 or newer — not just Xperia phones. And it's got a few unique features too — 4GB local storage will let you use it as a music player without needing a phone to beam them from first, while a built in GPS sensor will let runners track their routes without having a phone jostling around in their pockets. As with other smartwatches, the SmartWatch 3 can also be used as a shutter trigger for a connected phone's camera.
Coming at some point later this year, expect to pay around $US250.
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