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sony smartband triplicate

Fitness bands are all the rage at the moment – it seems every tech company has a way to keep tabs on how active you’re being. The Sony SmartBand, however, aims to do more, and log your life’s activities too.

The Samsung Gear Fit also dreams of bigger things, with some smartwatch functionality thrown in. But which wins the race?

First impressions

sony smartband review 3

Take the Sony SmartBand out of the box, and you’ll see the actual device is about the size of a USB key. It has a power button, a microUSB port for charging, three lights, and that’s it.

sony smartband review 2

Slot the device into the wristband, and it becomes wearable. The wristband has a nubbin you depress to use the button, and you can see the lights through indentations in the side.

samsung gear fit clock

The Samsung Gear Fit looks more like a smartwatch than a fitness tracker, thanks to the curved screen. But the strap feels a bit flimsy and cheap compared to Sony’s stretchy number.

Sony SmartBand: 8/10

Samsung Gear Fit: 7/10

Design

sony smartband review 4

We’re big fans of the Sony’s minimalist styling – it looks just like a black band, which makes it nice and discreet.

There’s no screen, which limits its functionality somewhat – it can’t tell the time, for example – but build quality is impressive.

It’s waterproof up to 1m too, as is the Gear Fit. So whether you want to go swimming or just running in the rain, they’ll come along for the ride.

samsung galaxy fit review 1

The Gear Fit’s curved AMOLED screen gives you way more features straight from the wrist.

It only has one button, for switching it on and off. You use the screen for everything else.

It’s not all rosy in the design department though. If you want to juice up the Gear Fit, you have to dock it in the supplied charging cradle – which is one step too many for us – and plug that into the mains.

The cradle is small enough to fit in a pocket, but that also makes it very easy to lose.

Sony SmartBand: 7/10

Samsung Gear Fit: 6/10

Features

sony smartband official

Because it doesn’t have a screen, the SmartBand does pretty much everything through two companion apps: SmartBand and Lifelog.

The SmartBand app lets you choose how you interact with your SmartBand. You can set auto night mode to activate at a certain time each evening, for example. This turns off notifications and starts tracking your sleep.

You can also set the SmartBand to vibrate at a certain time in the morning, which will wake you up without disturbing your partner.

And it can let you know when you have notifications, or an incoming call.

Lifelog is a bit more ambitious. Like most fitness apps, it counts your steps and calories burned when walking and running. But it also records other activities through the day.

Go for a stroll, for example, and it’ll log how long you spent on the phone, sending text messages, and browsing the web, and any photographs that you took.

It’ll also record time spent playing games, watching films, listening to music, and reading. The idea is to give you a picture of how you spent your day.

It’s all a bit overwhelming, and, to be honest, a bit useless. What are you supposed to do with all that information?

samsung galaxy fit review 3

The Gear Fit has all the usual fitness skills like a pedometer and heart rate monitor, but also some smartwatch bells and whistles.

You can read texts and emails on it, check the time, and control music services like Spotify.

Sony SmartBand: 7/10

Samsung Gear Fit: 7/10

Software

sony smartband lifelog

The Sony SmartBand doesn’t run its own software, as the phone does all the grunt. But its apps won’t work with every Android smartie around.

Sony says they’re “optimised” for its Xperia smartphones, and that “functionality may not be optimal” if you use them with other devices. Your device will need Android 4.4 KitKat, and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

From our testing, Sony’s apps were compatible with the Sony Xperia Z2, Nexus 4 and 5, LG G3, Motorola Moto E, HTC Desire 610, HTC One mini 2, HTC Desire 816, Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and Motorola Moto X.

They wouldn’t work with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Motorola Moto G, LG G2, or the Samsung Galaxy Express 2.

This list isn’t exhaustive, they’re only the phones from our vault, so best check before you buy.

samsung galaxy fit triplicate

Samsung may have opted for Tizen for its Gear 2 smartwatch, but it’s made its own operating system for the Gear Fit. This means it can’t run third-party apps, which really limits what it can do.

It only works with certain Samsung devices too, which makes it even more restrictive than the SmartBand.

Sony SmartBand: 7/10

Samsung Gear Fit: 6/10

Ease of use

sony smartband ring

Sony has overstretched itself. Having to use two apps is confusing. It’d be far easier if they were consolidated into one.

We’re also not convinced of the SmartBand’s accuracy.

One day, Lifelog told us we’d burned 1,347 calories without taking a single step. Quite how we managed that is beyond us, but if we could bottle it we’d make a fortune.

It also vastly underestimated how much sleep we’d had compared to the Misfit Shine, which we’ve found to be pretty accurate as a sleep tracker.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit

The Gear Fit’s screen is both a blessing and a curse. It’s very responsive, and flicking through menus is very intuitive indeed. But reading more than a sentence on it quickly becomes a chore. Text is too cramped, and breaks awkwardly over lines.

You also can’t reply through the Gear Fit, so you have to reach for your phone. Either do a screen well on a device like this, or leave it out altogether.

Results were just as sporadic as the SmartBand’s, while on occasion, the heart rate monitor flat out didn’t work. Disappointing.

Both Sony and Samsung need to spend more time training before they’re ready to compete in public.

Sony SmartBand: 6/10

Samsung Gear Fit: 5/10

Specifications

Sony SmartBand SWR10

  • Requires Android 4.4, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, Lifelog app, Smart Connect app and SmartBand app
  • 3 LEDs
  • Wrist straps in nine colours
  • IP58 rated
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
  • NFC
  • microUSB port
  • £79.99

Samsung Gear Fit

  • 1.84-inch curved AMOLED screen, 128x432 pixels
  • Black
  • IP67 rated
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
  • £169

Sony SmartBand overall mark: 7/10

Samsung Gear Fit overall mark: 6/10

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