At the end of the Sony press conference at IFA 2015 in Berlin, Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s CEO announced.. no, not the Sony SmartWatch 4 that I was so much hoping for but a brand new smartwatch called Sony WENA. Yes, WENA.
Sony WENA, stands for “Wear Electronics Naturally” and this makes me wonder if one could wear electronics unnaturally but it must be a reason there is that saying “there’s no smoke without fire”. Ummhh… Anyway, Sony WENA… was launched at the beginning of this week on Sony’s First Flight crowdfunding platform and it is part of the SAP – Seed Acceleration Program – alongside other interesting projects.
The SA Program allows Sony’s employees to promote ideas through the platform, where backers can support, reserve and purchase the ideas. Sony’s version of Kickstarter.
Sony WENA is not a smartwatch but a watch. The smartness comes from the strap and as innovative as it might seem, this is actually not a new idea. Urban Speed e-Strap by Montblanc or the activity tracker IWC Connect but in all fairness, this has to be the most elegant implementation to date.
Sony WENA – Design, Specs And Price
The Sony WENA smartwatch was designed with the main features in mind: To deliver notifications through LED lighs and smart vibration. To work as an activity tracking, and finally to act as a NFC compatible wallet , with the Japanese Felica standard.
The LED is strip like in the clasp of the bracelet and the vibrations are delivered via an intelligent vibration motor able to deliver custom vibrations lengths and intensities. Did I hear you say unnatural? One observation here, the watch must be connected to a smartphone at all times.
There are four different versions of the Sony WENA on First Flight. All four variants work on quartz electronic oscillators and the main difference is not in specs but in look (different dial colours) and price. Two simple models, back and silver and two premium models, again silver and black.
Let’s start with the simpler models. The silver dial one is called Sony WENA Three Hands and it is priced at £210. Parentheses if I may: (Can’t stop thinking of how “wearing electronics unnaturally” might work and three hands smartwatch fired up my imagination again. Scary thoughts…)
The next model is similar but not. It has a black dial and for that is priced at £270. Don’t ask why is the black more expensive and finally, the premium version. This one has a chronograph and will cost £325 for the silver models and £375 for the black models.
From distance, Sony WENA looks just like a traditional watch, a very good looking one actually. Big credit goes to the Japanese watchmaker Citizen, which helped with the design of the watch.
I’d say that Sony WENA is a rather masculine pice of time and those with smaller wrists might find the 42mm face a little too big but saying that, it seems that 42mm is the screen size norm for most Android SmartWatches on the market now.
Speaking about Android, Sony WENA can be paired – at least for the time being – only with iOS based phones. As explained above, the face watch does one thing compared to smartwatches: it tells the time. There are some basic watch functions, too, but the smartness of WENA’s functionality is hidden in the bracelet.
You might say, “this is so basic” but basic is what made Pebble the king of smartwatches.
Sony WENA: Battery And Availability
Sony WENA battery will last around three years in the watch face for the standard model while for the chronograph will last five years – remember, the watch is just a quartz watch – but the smart band needs charging once a week via the supplied charging cradle.
Update: WENA team wants to launch the device in 2016 starting with Japan, most likely March and once Android compatibility is achieved to make it an international hit. I wish them the best in the world and so looking fwd to a Four Hands one.