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Sony SmartBand 2 review

Katharine Byrne
4 Nov 2015
Sony SmartBand 2
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
92
inc VAT

A comfortable fitness band with built-in heart rate monitor for under £100, but the SmartBand 2's tracking accuracy could be improved

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Specifications

Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: No, Battery life: 2 days / 5 days in Stamina Mode

Fitness bands seem ten-a-penny these days, but the Sony SmartBand 2 is one of the few wearables under £100 that comes with a built-in heart rate monitor - making it an enticing prospect for those who don't want to splash out on the latest FitBit or Jawbone.

What's more, Sony claims it can also measure your stress and recovery levels by tracking your heart rate variability (the time difference between two consecutive heart beats), adding an extra layer of data to the mix alongside its continuous pulse tracking, step counting, calorie counting and sleep monitoring.

Sony SmartBand 2 band

It's a well-rounded fitness band, although the lack of physical display will no doubt be a bit of a deal breaker for some. Instead, Sony leaves all the data analysis to its SmartBand 2 and Sony Life Log apps on Android (4.4 and above), or the Smart Band 2 and Apple Health apps on iOS (8.2 and above).

That's not too much of a problem, though, as the band itself is pleasingly minimal. Made out of soft, silicon rubber, the SmartBand 2 is very comfortable to wear and its meagre 25g weight means you can more or less forget about it entirely. This is crucial if you're going to wear it at night, as the last thing you want when you're trying to get to sleep is to be reminded that you've got something strapped round your arm.

With IP68 ingress protection as well, you can easily wear it in the shower, while you're running in the rain, or even in the pool up to 3m for 30 minutes as long as you rinse it off in fresh water afterwards. The metal clasp is also very easy to fasten, but the latch sometimes doesn't lift up correctly when you want to take it off, so you'll occasionally need to get your fingernails in there to make sure the strap doesn't get caught.

Sony SmartBand 2 core

However, the band is merely an empty shell, as all the main tracking hardware is housed inside a tiny removable module which you can easily pop in and out when you need to charge it. With a battery life of around two days with the heart tracker enabled (or five if you switch it off and put it in Stamina mode), the SmartBand 2 isn't quite as enduring as other fitness trackers, but it's extremely quick to charge over micro USB, taking around 30-60 minutes to get back up to 100%.

The only type of control on the SmartBand 2 is its single button on the side, which turns it on or off, and snoozes alarms. There are also three multi-coloured LEDs which indicate charge and can change colour to alert you to different types of notification from your phone.

The smart alarm is an excellent feature, as it uses the SmartBand 2's accelerometer to detect and when you're in light sleep as opposed to deep sleep, waking you gently with a continuous series of pulse vibrations to help you feel less groggy when you get up. It works extremely well, and it certainly beats having to wake up to a blaring alarm clock every morning.

Sony SmartBand 2 side on

However, one of the SmartBand 2's biggest weaknesses is that its automatic activity tracking isn't as accurate as it could be. While it's great that you don't have to set each activity manually, it can often get quite confused about what you're doing, as there were numerous occasions when it logged me as sleeping when I was actually watching a film in the cinema, cycling when I've been driving, or running when I've simply been walking quite briskly to catch a train.

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