Review: Sony SmartBand 2 (SWR12)
3.0Overall Score

Price (RRP): $199
Manufacturer: Sony

Sony isn’t new to the wearable world, but its latest attempt is a tad puzzling, bringing sensors to a very small gadget with no sense of why you should buy it over everything else.

What is it?

It’s not hard to work out where the next massive market will be for gadget makers, and now that we’re all a little obsessed with our fitness levels, some more than others, it’s clear that fitness trackers are going to be big business.

You can see them from the typical fitness specific players, with Jawbone, Fitbit, Misfit, and Runtastic, while the smartphone makers are also using their skills to get the technology they’re familiar with down to sizes wrists and arms and waists like, as Samsung, LG, Acer, Huawei, and Xiaomi all make in-roads into this burgeoning area.

Sony is one that sits in the latter category, and has for some time, as this isn’t a new thing or a passing interest.

We first saw a fitness gadget in the first Sony SmartBand back in 2014, and since then, we’ve seen smartwatches and a generation of the SmartBand with an electronic ink screen. Sony has even integrated fitness monitoring technology into a pair of earphones made for people keen to go running.

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The SmartBand 2 isn’t that product, though, and is an update to the original SmartBand, which was a small white gadget with motion sensors and a battery that you would store in a piece of rubber. Like its predecessor, it has only one button, three LEDs, and a microUSB port.

Unlike its predecessor, there is a heart-rate sensor at the bottom of the unit, one of those green light gadgets that can look through your skin and give you a clue of your pulse, but that’s about all the differences that you can see.

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For the differences you can’t see, Sony has applied IP68 waterproofing to the design, which means you could shower with it, though since IP ratings are made for clear-water, we wouldn’t swim with it.

Near-Field Communication and Bluetooth are both along for the right, same as they were in the original version, and this little gadget charges through microUSB and connects to phones and tablets using Bluetooth and the Sony SmartBand 2 app or the Sony Lifelog app depending on how much data you want.

 

Design

SmartBand 2 on the left, SmartBand on the right.

SmartBand 2 on the left, SmartBand on the right.

We’re not sure if Sony’s wearable design team is asleep or whether it just thinks it had it nailed last time so it would be easier not to change what works, but this year’s SmartBand is identical to the original SmartBand.

In fact, if you don’t flip them over and didn’t know the difference between the new model number (SWR12) and the old model number (SWR10), you’d be excused for thinking they’re identical, because they’re the same size, the same shape, and feature the same white plastic chassis.