Sony has announced the SmartBand 2, a follow-up to the original SmartBand that launched way back at the beginning of 2014, and represented Sony’s first major push into wearable technology. The SmartBand 2 adds more functionality, wider device compatibility, and comes at a competitive price; but there’s a distinct downside too.
The design hasn’t changed a great deal, in that it’s still a single color silicone wrist strap with the Core module at its heart, but Sony has shifted away from the press-stud fixing to a more secure metal clip. The original SmartBand was a basic fitness tracker, but the new SmartBand 2 comes with an updated accelerometer and heart rate sensors, for a more complete picture of your activity levels.
It still connects with the Lifelog app, but the excellent news is it’s now compatible with both Android 4.4 devices upwards, and Apple devices running iOS 8.2 or later. At this time, it’s not clear whether this applies to the existing Lifelog app, or if Sony has a new version specifically for the SmartBand 2. Either way, it’s a wise move, and avoids something that hindered the original SmartBand’s adoption.
Heart rate monitor has a downside
Once the SmartBand 2 is strapped to your wrist, it’ll monitor step count when walking and running, plus through the app, other workouts can be specified. There’s an automatic sleep mode, and the always-helpful smart alarm that wakes you with a gentle vibration during a light sleep phase.
Sony also says the band will “gauge excitement and stress levels” throughout the day, a feature performed using the heart rate monitor; but this may contribute to the worryingly short battery life. In normal mode, the battery’s expected to last just two days, but with the stress and heart rate sensing activated, it’ll only keep going for 10 hours. There’s a Stamina mode, just like some Xperia smartphones, that’ll extend the battery to five days before it requires an hour’s recharge.
Other features include IP68 water and dust proofing, plus basic notification support for your phone, and the chance to control music playback using the tap-sensitive surface of the Core. Interestingly, Sony says the new Core is the same size as the old version, despite the addition of heart rate sensors, so it’ll fit inside any custom straps SmartBand owners may already have.
The SmartBand 2 has been given a 120 euro price tag, which is around $133, and it’ll go on sale during September in 60 countries around the world.