American smartphone users who've been waiting for a color smartwatch but can't use a Galaxy Gear now have a new option.Today, Sony announced that the SmartWatch 2, which is already available in Europe and Asia, will soon start selling in the U.S. for $199.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which is only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3, the 1.6-inch SmartWatch 2 will work with any phone that runs Android 4.0 or above. Though it doesn't have a speaker, microphone or camera like the Gear, the SmartWatch 2 connects to your phone via Bluetooth and offers notifications for email, SMS messages, Facebook, Twitter and other services on its colorful 220 x 176, sunlight-readable display.
During our Smartwatch 2 hands-on back in September, we were pleased with the device's attractive UI, useful notifications and wide selection of apps. There are already 80 apps optimized for the Smartwatch 2, and more than 200 additional backward-compatible apps for Sony's predecessor that run on this device.
The 4.3-ounce, 1.7 x 1.6 x .35-inch SmartWatch 2 has a lower profile but weighs a bit more than the 2.6-ounce, 2.2 x 1.4 x .44-inch Galaxy Gear. Unlike the Samsung's device, Sony's has a removable band, which can be replaced with a number of colorful alternatives. The SmartWatch 2 runs a slightly-modified version of Android that includes familiar UI elements such as home and back buttons, along with a status bar. Because this is a second-generation product, Sony already has a fairly large ecosystem of apps available today on the Google Play store.
Sony claims that its watch can last 3 or 4 days on a charge and survive being submersed in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.We'll have to test those claims when we have a chance to review the watch sometime in the next few weeks.