IFA: Sony joins rivals with smartwatch launch

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Manufacturer joins Samsung and LG who launched devices earlier this week

Sony has released the third generation of its smartwatch at IFA 2014, as competition in the sector intensifies.

The Sony Smartwatch 3 SWR50, joins the Samsung Gear S and the LG G Watch R, which were announced earlier this week.

Sony’s latest effort has a quad-core 1.2Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM and 420mAH battery.

Bluetooth connectivity is used to allows users to take calls from their smartphone, as well as view notifications and reminders from their handset, on the 1.6-inch display. An accelerometer has also be included to work with fitness apps.

It is the first Sony smartwatch to run on Google’s recently announced Android Wear OS and requires a handset running Android 4.3, or later, to allow pairing. It can be controlled by voice, touch and gestures.

The watch is available in black or yellow and will be released in the UK this autumn. It will be priced at around €229 (£181).

Samsung and LG announced smartwatches earlier this week, as the industry awaits the iWatch, which has been widely tipped to appear at the launch of the iPhone 6 next week.

The Samsung Gear S features a two-inch screen, 512MB RAM, 4GB memory and 3G connectivity, meaning that calls can be taken independent of a smartphone. It is the first time the latter feature has been included on a smartwatch. It can also use the 3G connectivity to send texts.

Also included is an accelerometer, as well as a heart rate monitor, in an effort to appeal to sport types. It runs on Samsung’s own Tizen OS.

LG chose to base its 1.3-inch screen, G Watch R, on Android Wear. It features a 1.2GHz processor, 4GB memory and 512MB of RAM. An accelerometer and heart rate monitor is also included.

While most smartwatches go for a square design, the G Watch R goes for a classic circular watch look.

The iWatch is expected to ignite the smartwatch sector in the way that Apple sparked the smartphone industry to life in 2007. Almost two million smartwatches were sold, according to research firm Canalys in the first six months of 2014.

CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood praised Sony’s decision to plump for the Android Wear OS but says the manufacturer faces an increasing challenge from smartphone market leader, Samsung, in the smartwatch segment.

“Sony’s decision to use Android Wear for its new smartwatch is a good move as it is quickly emerging as the defacto software platform for smartwatches beyond whatever Apple eventually announces,” he said.

“Sony has no room for complacency. A year ago it was the leader in smartwatches having announced its first product back in 2006. Samsung’s rapid development cycles have subsequently seen it announce more smartwatches in 12 months than Sony has in eight years.”

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