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Honor Band 7 review: Budget-friendly fitness tracker with great features
5:20 pm | April 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Honor Band 7: One minute review

If you're after a budget-friendly fitness tracker then look no further than the Honor Band 7. It's remarkably similar to the Huawei Band 8 and the Xiaomi Smart Band 7 and, with similar prices, it's difficult to set them apart.

The Honor Band 7 boasts an incredible 1.47-inch AMOLED display which is lovely to look at and engage with. Color graphics are displayed with clarity and brightness, even when outside in the bright sun. The display itself is large enough to present enough health and fitness data so you can avoid needing to launch the app too often.

Tracking data seems pretty reliable across the board, although if you want the most accurate results then you'll need to invest in one of the more expensive trackers that you can find in our best fitness trackers guide. If you'd just like to keep track of steps, heart rate and Sp02 levels, then the Honor Band 7 has everything you need.

I knew there wasn't going to be the luxury of onboard GPS, but I was disappointed to find that tethered GPS could only be activated from a connected phone rather than from the tracker itself. This unnecessary additional step proved to be rather annoying especially when I wanted to just get up and go without getting my phone out of my bag or pocket. 

Despite this, I actually really enjoyed using the tracker. It was a pleasure to interact with and I'm not sure you'll find anything better for the price.

Honor Band 7: Price and availability

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • $59.99 US
  • £49.99 UK
  • Around AU$96.50 

The Honor Band 7 is available for $59.99 in the US and £49.99 in the UK, which equates to around AU$96.50 in Australia. This is priced very similarly to other budget fitness trackers, such as the Huawei Band 8 and the Xiaomi Smart Band 8 Pro.

The only customization in terms of colorways on offer is the color of the bands, with the three options being: Meteorite Black, Pink, and Emerald Green. Make sure you choose wisely, because the band is not removable.

For the price, you'll get a large AMOLED screen, 96 workout modes, and 14 days of battery life. 

  • Value score: 4.5 / 5

Honor Band 7: Design

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • 1.47-inch AMOLED screen
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) not metal
  • Three band colours

The design of the Honor Band 7 is almost identical to that of the Band 6. Considering Honor is releasing a new version every two years, it's disappointing not to see some level of upgrade in the size and design of the screen.

The standout feature of the Band 7 is its 1.47-inch AMOLED screen. It's big, bright, and beautifully responsive. The fact that the screen is full-color rather than mono means all the extra details and interface graphics Honor has taken the time to include really pop. I had no issues with fingerprint marks, and the interface transitions were smooth and reliable.

The tracker itself is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with a spray coating applied to make it look metallic. Despite it looking great, there's no getting away from the fact that it is still of plastic construction, especially when you touch it or get up close to it. 

The band comes in three different colors including Meteorite Black, Pink, and Emerald Green. The version I was testing is the pink one, although it's more of a rose gold color in reality. The silicone band is unfortunately non-removable, which is admittedly common for budget fitness trackers like this. It's usually used as a feature to set more premium alternatives apart, although some cheaper trackers like Fitbit Inspire 3 can also detach from their bands.

At 29 grams, it is double the weight of the Huawei Band 8, but it is still comfy and light to wear. I had it on all day and all night for a couple of weeks and had no problems whatsoever with it feeling uncomfortable.

The software interface is where the tracker excels. The graphics are beautifully designed, with just the right amount of data included on each screen. The homescreen can be customized using a range of watch faces, with each one displaying different stats.

The design ethos is replicated in the Honor app, which enables users to see a significant extra level of detail and reports on heart rate, oxygen levels, and activities tracked.

  • Design Score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Features

  • Detailed heart rate and step count info
  • Optical heart rate and SpO2 sensor
  • GPS tethered from phone only

One of the most used features of any fitness tracker is the step count. The Band 7 tracks these while displaying the results in a graphic that shows how much progress has been made. The number of steps is tracked with accuracy and presented alongside the number of exercise minutes and active calories burned. Considering most users only want tracked steps as a guide, the accuracy level is more than sufficient.

The optical sensor tracks both heart rate and Sp02 levels. These are available on most fitness trackers, and, even though the results were far from inaccurate on the Band 7, you'll definitely find more reliable results on more expensive trackers such as the Garmin Vívoactive 5.

The stress tracking feature is calculated using heart rate variability collected during manually-activated stress tests, while automatic sleep tracking also uses heart health data to collect information. 

Aside from health tracking, the Honor Band 7 can also record data when exercising. By picking from a range of different workout modes, including running, cycling, and rowing, users are presented with a set of analytics, including the time, heart rate, and steps. 

GPS tracking can be activated by tethering it to your smart phone. My biggest issue with this fitness tracker is that this GPS functionality can't be activated from the tracker, even if it is close to the connected phone. Workouts that require GPS tracking must be launched from a phone instead. This is an annoying and unnecessary step that makes the process of launching workouts more involved than it needs to be. Nevertheless, a good chunk of features for a band at this price. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Performance

Honor Band 7

(Image credit: Future)
  • Quick and responsive
  • Generally accurate tracking data 
  • 14 days of battery life, 10-12 days for heavy usage

The 180mAh battery on the Honor Band 7 is really good, and I was surprised given how much the device costs. The advertised length of battery life is 14 days, an amount of time that very much matched my experience, especially during weeks in which I wasn't doing much exercise.

As soon as I started using it for my daily commute alongside other exercise activities, I found the battery draining more quickly. No surprises there. Even though Honor promises 10 days for heavy usage, I actually found it to be nearer to 12. It's always nice when the reality is better than expected.

Charging a watch like this every couple of weeks is no trouble at all, especially considering it takes less than an hour to go from empty to full charge. You'll want to keep it within the magic 20-80% to maximize the life of the battery but that's easily done by keeping an eye on the battery life through the watch interface.

When it comes to metrics, I ran stress tests at different times of the day and during different events in my everyday life. I generally found the Band 7 would report my stress levels as normal even at times when I felt noticeably stressed and could tell that my heart rate was raised. I certainly didn't feel like I could trust it.

Automatic sleep tracking provides data that is broken down into sleep stages and the duration of each stage. It's almost impossible to verify the reliability of this data, and fitness trackers are not renowned for being the most reliable anyway. That being said, during my testing period, I was up numerous times during the night and I did find that the tracker was able to identify every one of them.

The tracker itself has a waterproof rating of 5ATM, which means the Honor Band 7 is theoretically able to withstand pressures up to 50m depth, an industry standard among smart wearables these days. I never made it this deep, but had absolutely no problems wearing it in the shower or submerging it in water.

  • Performance score: 4/5

Honor Band 7: Scorecard

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the Honor Band 7

I wore the Honor Band 7 non-stop for two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. During this time, I used every single feature and carried out a range of different exercise workouts, including running, swimming, and cycling. Throughout all of this I kept track of my heart rate, my stress levels, and my oxygen levels, amongst other similar health measureables.

I used the app to control the device as well as run a number of more advanced tests that were not possible with the watch on its own. 

First reviewed: April 2024

G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000 review: the smart Casio G-Shock to do it all
12:00 pm | April 1, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Two minute review

The Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000 will stand out on any wrist thanks to its bold, angular design – and, in this model's case, punchy yellow finish. This watch screams tough at first glance and Casio is selling on that basis. It might be big enough to get knocked as you wear it, but it's built to take every hit, making it a contender for the best running watches.

It comes with an optical heart rate sensor and full GPS to place it in the running against even the best Garmin watches out there. In fact, this has the Garmin Enduro 2 squarely fixed in its sights, competing on the more extreme tracking with a thermometer, barometer, pressure sensor, altimeter and more onboard. While the Casio tracks well, it doesn't offer maps. This makes it a little limited as a true adventure companion.

However, the Rangeman does pack in solar charging, which will enable you to continue using basic functionality even once the bulk of battery life has been consumed. Although note that with a battery life that lasts up to two months and up to 19 hours in GPS tracking mode, the watch has you covered.

Despite looking chunky, a soft urethane band and double-pin buckle actually mean the Rangeman is comfortable to wear and effortless to find the right fit – presuming your wrist is large enough to pull off this over-sized statement watch.

G-Shock Rangeman: Price and availability

The G-Shock Rangeman is available now worldwide, priced at $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$999.99.

There are two versions available, the yellow GPR-H1000-9 model reviewed here, and a black variant named the GPR-H1000-1. Other than color differences, they're essentially the same model and share an identical price.

Since launch, both models have been available on various third-party websites at a reduced price. At time of publishing, the Rangeman can be bought for as low as £375 / $480 / AU$725.

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)
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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

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Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Design

  • Comfortable strap and accurate clasp
  • Rugged exterior
  • Too chunky for some

The G-Shock Rangeman is all about that chunky, rugged design and bold looks, which makes it both unique and attractive. But it's worth saying right from the outset that if you have a smaller wrist then this watch might feel a little bulky and heavy. That said, its super comfy strap and very accurate clasp system – plus relatively low weight at 92g – ensure it's as comfortable as a statement watch of this kind can be.

Primarily, this is a button-based beast, so you won't have to suffer touchscreen fingerprints or difficulty controlling screens while taking part in sport or activity. But the flip-side is that you have to scroll through the menus to get to what you want. That said, G-Shock menus are very intuitive, having been developed over many generations of watch, and since the buttons are all mud- and water-protected, they work well. If I have one gripe here it's that the up and down options are on the left, which means you need to use your thumb, rather than fingers, which I found a little awkward or at least took some getting used to.

The display is a negative MIPS, which is a far cry from the color displays on other watches of this kind – and a shock, if you're moving from an AMOLED. That said, it's super clear in daylight, gets you a long battery life, and also offers high contrast so that even underwater it's very clear to read – which was actually helpful when swimming.

The Rangeman has a waterproof rating of 200 metres, yet after a half-hour pool swim the watch's screen appeared to fill with a bubble of some sort that was visible across the screen, and remains still now. The watch works fine, but is now showing this odd line that's definitely worrying. In reality, we'd hope that you could send this back to Casio for a replacement if you suffered the same.

The companion app from Casio is decent and allows you a way to control the watch without all those menus. So if you want to re-order the sports available or setup the data screens, for example, you can do that far more easily through the app, which makes it genuinely helpful. The app is also a better, clearer way to view any data –sleep scores and daily steps metrics, for example.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Features

  • Tracks many sports
  • Offers so many sensors
  • Lacks music

The G-Shock Rangeman is absolutely crammed full of features and sensors, delivering the ability to track nine activity types: trekking, running, biking, gym workout, interval timer, pool swimming, open-water swimming, trail running, and walking. And while taking part in an activity, you have access to data such as distance, direction, altitude, climbing speed, time, pace, heart rate, and burned calories.

Swimming offers stroke count, distance and heart rate, as well as a timer with the option to record splits – so all you could want from a swimming watch then. This works both indoors in a pool as well as outdoors for open water swimming, where the GPS can also help with your data readouts. The screen is fantastically clear above and underwater, and I found the stroke count accurate when compared with the Garmin Forerunner 965.

The lack of onboard music, available with most Garmin watches now, was certainly missed here; there's no option to connect headphones and enjoy music during activities. While it isn't a deal breaker, it certainly would have been a welcome feature at this price point.

Solar charging is a great addition here, since it helps to keep the watch function going for pretty much forever. While the GPS and heart rate tracking might leave you out of battery for the sports modes, you'll still have access to the G-Shock time and date basics. The features the watch part offers include a stopwatch, a 60-minute countdown timer, world times, four different alarms, power saving, and a full auto backlight that illuminates for either 1.5 or five seconds, depending on your preference.

While this doesn't pack all the dedicated surf smarts of the G-Shock G-Lide surf watch, you do still get helpful tide data such as 3,300 points for the tide graph. You also have phone notifications – although, on this screen they're a faff to read. I found myself simply using them as an alert before reaching for my phone – helpful, if you want the phone on silent.

  • Features score: 4/5 

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

Left: Garmin Forerunner 955. Right: Garmin Instinct Crossover. (Image credit: Future)

G-Shock Rangeman: Performance

  • Accurate GPS and health tracking
  • Excellent battery performance
  • Quite bulky for daily wear

It soon became clear while testing the G-Shock Rangman that wearing it to bed for sleep tracking was not the most comfortable. I did get used to it, but it was never what I'd call a comfortable experience – but this would apply to all brands of "oversize" watch. During the day, there was no slipping this under a sleeve either. As such, the watch was on show constantly, clearly getting attention with that bright yellow finish.

To be clear, this is a comfy watch, and that strap fits perfectly. It's just chunky, and if you find yourself knocking it on things at first, don't be surprised. This shouldn't worry you, however; that tough exterior appears to be able to handle more than a knock or six. That said, there was an issue with the display on this test unit. 

After swimming, it looked like half the screen was filled with water; I pressed down and this moved about under the surface of the screen's top-cover. The watch continues to work just fine, only the screen has this half-filled finish. You can see it in the picture below, where it looks like a trick of the light showing the top third as lighter; but this is  water or, perhaps, air inside? Either way, it's disappointing when Casio claims that the G-Shock Rangeman is good for a 200m of diving depth – double that of most Garmins.

Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-H1000

(Image credit: Future)

In use, the watch performed well. Heart rate was a little on the high side, and quick to jump when compared to a Garmin and chest strap, but this generally levelled out after a while. For cycling, the Rangeman was helpful, where adjustments appeared quickly; but for running , where pure accuracy is ideal, this could have been a little smoother. GPS worked well, with the watch adapting quickly and recording metrics such as speed, pace and distance accurately.

While the menus are dense, the watch is intuitive to navigate, meaning you can access lots of data relatively easily while exercising. It's only really the smaller screen that limits you here, with it often far easier to wait and view the dive data once it had synched.

  • Performance score: 3.5/5

G-Shock Rangeman: Battery Life

  • Two months standby
  • 19 hours with GPS
  • Solar powered extras

Casio has certainly used all that chunky G-Shock frame space well when it comes to batteries, since the Rangeman offers up to two months off a single charge. For use just as a watch, that time is extended further thanks to the solar charging smarts, which sees the watch keep going for basics such as time telling.

As you'd expect, it's with GPS use that a smartwatch battery is really tested, and in this regard the Rangeman achieved 19 hours in GPS mode – although that's with intermittent location acquisition. In reality, with it left turned on, battery is nearer to 14 hours. Still, that's plenty for most exercise sessions, while an easy to attach bespoke clip-on charger that uses USB, will bring the Rangeman back to full charge in just a few hours.

One of the great things about this watch is that you can keep using the Rangeman as a watch alone for months, without charging – say , if you're injured and don't need GPS tracking – topping it back up once you're back to activities.

  • Battery life score: 4.5/5

G-Shock Rangeman: Buy it if…

G-Shock Rangeman: Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed: March 2024

Polar Vantage V3 review: This incredible GPS watch would have been 2023’s best all-round fitness watch, beating Garmin and Apple, if it wasn’t for one small detail
6:30 pm | December 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Polar Vantage V3: One minute review

The Polar Vantage V3 is the update to Polar’s flagship premium multisports watch, which launched back in 2020. So we’ve waited a few years for its successor and Polar has rewarded that wait with some big features.

The headline addition might be the new AMOLED screen, but Polar has also introduced its new Elixir biosensor that can now deliver blood oxygen, skin temperature and heart rate via ECG to arm you with more metrics. It’s also adding offline maps and dual-frequency GPS to deliver more accurate outdoor data.

While the Vantage V2 was a solid offering from Polar, the Vantage V3 sees things step up a notch and it now feels like a better match for the competition. It's meriting an inclusion in our best running watch guide. 

I’m still not entirely convinced its core heart rate powers are the best, but the Vantage V3 is definitely a multisports watch that stands out for all the right reasons.

Polar Vantage V3: Specifications

Polar Vantage V3: Price and availability

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • $599.90 in the US
  • £519 in the UK
  • $899 in Australia

The Polar Vantage V3 was announced in October 2023 and is available to buy now directly from Polar and a small collection of retailers currently. It has a current RRP of £519 in the UK, $599.90 in the US and $899 when purchasing it in Australia, around the same asking price as the Garmin Forerunner 965.

  • Value score: 4/5

Polar Vantage V3: Design and screen

  • New AMOLED touchscreen
  • Heavier than Vantage V2
  • Nicely textured buttons

The Vantage V3 is Polar’s performance watch, so unlike its Grit series, it’s offering high grade materials, all while keeping things relatively light and comfortable to wear day and night.

It still measures in with a 47mm case like the V2 but is now thicker at 14.5mm compared to the 13mm thick case on the Vantage V2. It’s also got heavier, jumping from 52g to 57g. Those changes ultimately don’t alter the experience of strapping the V3 on. It’s still a pretty sleek-looking watch with aluminium in the case and the bezel to give it an attractive metallic frame.

The strap attached to that case is a workout-friendly silicone one, though you wouldn’t think it at first glance as Polar has clearly tried to give it the appearance of a traditional watch strap. I’m not sure I entirely love the feel of it though as it sits very snug towards and can pull at hairs. Both strap and watch case are waterproof up to 50 metres depth, which does mean you can use it in water but is a downgrade on the stronger 100 metre waterproofing available on the V2.

Around that aluminium case lies five physical buttons and they still have that nicely textured finish that makes them nice to press, even with sweaty or wet fingers. That surrounds a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 resolution AMOLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass on top to protect it against scratches. Along with the added pop of colour it’s a bigger display, and while there is a thin black bezel around the edge it’s well hidden by Polar’s predominantly black coloured watch faces.

It's a great AMOLED panel, with deep blacks, good max brightness and I’ve had no issues viewing it indoors, outdoors or in a swimming pool. The screen can be kept always-on with the raise to wake gesture support not as responsive as I’d have liked. What is nicely responsive is the software running on the V3. It’s slick, doesn’t lag and is a massive improvement on the experience of interacting with its predecessor.

When you need to charge it Polar includes a proprietary charging cable that clips into the port just below that new sensor array. It’s not the most secure of charging setups, and you just need to be mindful it’s out of the way of anything that might knock it out of place.

  •  Design score: 4.5/5 

Polar Vantage V3: Features

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Dual-frequency GPS
  • Free offline maps
  • Elixir sensor array

The Vantage V3 takes everything that was good on the V2 and aims to make improvements in some pretty important departments.

On the tracking front, Polar’s introduced dual-frequency GPS to enhance outdoor tracking accuracy for activities like running, when using the watch near tall buildings, in bad weather or densely forested areas. It’s now also adding free offline maps to join the existing turn-by-turn guidance offered by the Komoot app support.

There’s still over 150 sports profiles offered and Polar is bolstering one sport in particular, promising additional swim metrics including automatically detecting swimming style.

Around the back of the watch is where you’ll find Polar’s new Elixir sensor array, which sees a change in the design of the optical setup that’s now capable of capturing blood oxygen, skin temperature, take ECG heart rate measurements, with the upgraded Gen 4 version of Polar’s optical heart rate sensor also in tow.

Polar continues to offer rich sleep and training features, so you’re still getting access to its Training Load Pro and Recovery Pro insights, with Polar’s FitSpark suggested daily workouts and FuelWise fueling reminders for endurance athletes also still on board. It’s added the voice guidance support from the Ignite 3 along with the Work-Rest-Guide, which uses heart rate data to dictate when you should rest between workout sets.

On the smartwatch front, Polar still keeps things simple once again, offering the ability to view your notifications, change watch faces and control music playback on your paired smartphone. The added AMOLED screen and boost in CPU performance certainly makes these features much nicer to use day-to-day.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Polar Vantage V3: Performance

Polar Vantage V3

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Welcome dual-frequency GPS accuracy boost
  • Heart rate still so-so
  • Delivers good battery life and overall performance

The V3 is Polar’s premium multisports watch, so it’s giving you the best the company has to offer in watch features. It’s bringing in the dual-band GPS support it debuted on the Polar Ignite 3, it’s boosting the mapping and navigation features it introduced on its Grit outdoor watch and the new Elixir sensor aims to offer boost in accuracy to improve the reliability of sports, wellness and sleep tracking.

Polar’s dual frequency GPS, which like Apple, Garmin and Suunto among others, means the V3 can use the L1 and L5 frequency bands to enhance positioning tracking accuracy. I wasn’t massively impressed with it on the Ignite 3 where Polar first introduced it, but it’s certainly more reliable here on the V3. I’ve been using it alongside Garmin and Suunto’s similar modes and while just slightly off on the distance tracking compared to the Garmin and Suunto, it wasn’t enough to cause any concern. Mapped routes inside the Polar Flow app didn’t raise any alarms either.

Polar says it’s also boosted the swimming metrics on offer, so I hit the pool along with the Form Swim Goggles and Garmin Forerunner 965, two swim trackers I know deliver good tracking accuracy in the water. Despite delivering good core swim data, I can’t say I saw anything particularly groundbreaking here. You’ll get quickest pace and average pace stats along with average and max cadence metrics and that’s really about it.

Then there’s the reliability of that new Elixir sensor, which promises an upgraded optical heart rate sensor, though I can’t say the accuracy has been massively upgraded for me. Even on steady paced workouts I found the optical heart rate sensor tended to report lower average heart rate readings and maximum heart rate readings seemed higher against a heart rate monitor chest strap. It’s not a terrible performer, but it’s also not the best performance I’ve seen from a wrist-based heart rate monitor. If in doubt, pair up an external heart rate monitor.

Polar’s Elixr sensor array also brings new blood oxygen tracking, skin temperature tracking at night, and ECG measurements when you hold your finger on the top physical button for 30 seconds. All of these new metrics place the onus on your simply tracking and analyzing trends, which can help you decide whether you should be taking it easy or you’re in good shape to have a strenuous day. 

That insight also works in tandem with Polar’s rich sleep tracking, something that does separate it from the sports watch competition. Along with core sleep tracking stats, it’s offering you nightly recharge measurements, nightly skin temperature and the boost from sleep insights, which feels similar to Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor. Crucially, the sleep data is some of the most reliable I’ve come across on a watch and it held up well against the Oura Ring Gen 3’s great sleep tracking.

Another big positive is that unlike previous Polar watches, comprehensive sleep tracking doesn't show a huge drain on battery, which on the whole, is a big improvement on the Vantage V2. There’s now a bigger 488mAh capacity battery, which Polar says can last for up to 12 days in its daily watch mode and 61 hours in training mode, up from 40 hours. I found the Vantage V3 could last a week with regular tracking using the top GPS accuracy mode. When you opt to keep the screen set to always-on, you’re going to get less than 5 days, and using features like GPS will see a further dent too.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Polar Vantage V3: Scorecard

Polar Vantage V3: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Garmin Forerunner 965

Garmin's top-tier running watch, now with an AMOLED screen.

Read our Garmin Forerunner 965 review hereView Deal

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best running and adventuring watch for Apple users and weekend warriors.

Read our Apple Watch Ultra 2 review hereView Deal

Sony Xperia 1 V review: think different (again)
2:07 pm | August 3, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Sony Xperia 1 V: one-minute review

The Sony Xperia 1 V is the best Sony phone for 2023. It’s a great example of how Sony’s approach to phone design is a little different to that of the competition. And a big part of this approach is keeping a lot of older things the same as they always were. 

This handset is a lot like the Xperia 1 IV, but with a new processor and some other tweaks. If you bought last year’s model, you should feel pretty good about that. But is it dynamic enough to compete with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max

That part is a little less clear. It doesn’t drip in that sense of “newness” that propels a lot of shiny, expensive tech, which may lead you to question if it is really worth the high asking price. However, it is going to appeal to a key kind of tech traditionalist. 

Who’s that? The person who wants a top-tier phone with a headphone jack. The Sony Xperia 1 V has one. 

Its camera software is also inspired by Sony’s dedicated cameras, offering a completely different feel to most of the best camera phones. Is it better? Again, that’s up for debate and not everyone will love how it feels. But the way Sony does not blindly follow the pack remains refreshing.

Sony Xperia 1 V review: price and availability

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the front

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Out now
  • Starts at $1,399 / £1,299 / AU$2,099

The Sony Xperia 1 V launched in June 2023, a year after the similar Xperia 1 IV. These are expensive phones. You can expect to pay $1,399/£1,299/ AU$2,099, matching the pricing for the last model. 

It has 256GB storage. In some territories there’s as 512GB version too. However, it is less appealing an upgrade than it would be in an iPhone, as the Xperia 1 V has microSD memory card support.

  • Value score: 3 / 5

Sony Xperia 1 V review: Specs

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(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Sony Xperia 1 V review: design

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Dimpled glass Gorilla Glass Victus rear
  • Classic Sony boxy design
  • Has a headphone socket

The Sony Xperia 1 V adopts the same design style as all the previous Sony Xperia flagships: the monolith. It’s a squared off-slab. And while it means this phone doesn’t exactly scream “new”, it is recognizably Sony in a way other manufacturers, other than Apple, can’t quite achieve. 

I find this design makes the Xperia 1 V and its predecessors seem a little chunky, relative to their actual specs. This phone is just 71mm wide and 8.3mm thick, very similar to last year’s Sony Xperia 1 IV. 

This year, though, we get some new textures. The Sony Xperia 1 V’s back is textured glass, with an embossed dot pattern that, well, makes it feel much less like glass. Its aluminium mid-frame has a series of embossed lines running along it too. This is Sony trying to make the Xperia 1 V stand out from its predecessors, but in that classic low-key Sony way.

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A Sony Xperia 1 V from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It continues to reject a few newer conventions of flagship phone design too. The Sony Xperia 1 V has a 3.5mm headphone jack socket, now a true rarity in all but the cheapest phones. It uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, not an in-screen one. This is a notably poor scanner, though. Slower, less responsive and less reliable than the norm, it lets the phone down and the reliability (or lack thereof) is inexcusable, even if this phone cost half as much. We felt the same about the sensor on the Sony Xperia 1 IV too. 

Build quality is otherwise excellent, though. The Sony Xperia 1 V has Gorilla Glass panels on front and back, using second-generation Victus series glass up front, original Victus on the back, and it boasts IP68-certified resistance against dust and water. The Xperia 1 V can handle submersion in water to a depth of 1.5m. 

As usual, Sony uses a SIM tray you can prise out with a fingernail, and on the other side of this tray there’s room for a microSD slot. This is another unusual touch in a top-tier phone. A fairly good set of stereo speakers finish off the outer hardware. 

They do come with a silly extra, though, called dynamic vibration. It fires off the vibration motor in time with any sound played. This works well enough for gaming but doesn't really have a function anywhere else.

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

Sony Xperia 1 V review: display

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the front

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • High-quality, flat 4K OLED display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • No notch, but extended screen surrounds

The Sony Xperia 1 V has a 6.5-inch OLED screen that mines the same excesses as the previous models in the series: a very tall shape and ultra-high resolution. This is a 4K screen, with a 3840 x 1644-pixel count. 

According to a hardware scraper app, its default render resolution is 2560 x 1096 pixels, but the real-world effect is a complete absence of pixelation, even if you get your eye as close to the screen as you can, it's worth noting that true 4K resolution only kicks in when compatible content is detected.

Color and maximum brightness are great, and the OLED panel has effectively perfect contrast by design. The display's refresh rate also peaks at 120Hz. 

There’s little to criticize here, if also little to significantly separate the Sony Xperia 1 V from its peers, other than one typically quirky Sony trait. This screen has no notch, no punch hole. Instead, the front camera sits in a little blank expanse of bezel above the screen. Phone makers tend to try to eliminate as much of this surround as possible, but Sony isn’t like everyone else.

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the front

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As you can probably tell from a glance, the Sony Xperia 1 V’s display is completely flat. There are no curves here, bar the very slight rounding-off of the corners of the display panel. 

Sony does not offer loads of ways to customize how the Sony Xperia 1 V screen looks. You can either use the Creator Mode or Standard mode. The latter is described as being more vivid, but there’s no grand shift in saturation to be seen here, and both modes look tasteful. There’s no way to drastically cut down color pop to reserved sRGB levels, but we can’t imagine many doing so these days anyway.  

There is a separate section that lets you alter the color temperature. This changes how “warm” or “cool” the Sony Xperia 1 V display appears.

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Sony Xperia 1 V review: software and performance

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the front

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Has some “pro” style apps
  • Good performance, but some thermal throttling
  • Gets warm when doing very little at times

The Sony Xperia 1 V runs Android 13 with a light Sony-made interface and a bunch of wallpapers that bring the software that signature Sony look. However, there’s little to offend or annoy here. 

Sony uses a conventional Android layout, and the standard approach to the drop-down notifications bar. There are a few little Sony tweaks, though. 

You can, for example, create folders in the app drawer, and choose the order of your apps rather than just arranging them in alphabetical order. Of course, it’s all optional and you can just leave the Sony Xperia 1 V to sort out the order too. 

Sony’s value-adding strategy is more about preinstalled apps than anything to do with the interface. 

Music Pro is a multi-track recorder app, a very stripped-back take on a DAW (digital audio workstation) app like Reason or Logic. External Monitor, another app, lets you use the Sony Xperia 1 V as a USB-connected display. The prime use case is as an external monitor for one of Sony’s mirrorless cameras. But it’s not limited to that. 

We’ll cover the Cinema Pro, Video Pro and Photo Pro apps in the camera section of this review, but Sony’s pitch is clear. It wants us to consider the Xperia 1 V a professional tool as well as a normal phone.

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Sony Xperia 1 V has the best chipset you could hope for at the time of its launch, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This is a flagship processor that addresses one of the key issues of the Gen 1 version: throttling. 

Last-generation phones were capable of some amazing benchmark results. But they often weren’t indicative of real-world performance, as you could lose 50% or more power after just a couple of minutes thanks to heat build-up. 

Is the Sony Xperia 1 V much better in this respect? We can’t use our usual methods to tell, as Sony has blocked certain apps – including 3DMark – on review devices. 

However, we did dig out an app called CPU Throttling Test, which shows you how much performance is lost over time. Performance loss starts at the two-minute mark, and by eight minutes or so the Sony Xperia 1 V is reduced to around 60-65% of its original power. The minimum recorded over a 15-minute test was 59%, which happened in both runs we tried. 

It’s not ideal, but we saw drops to 46% performance in the Sony Xperia 1 IV. 

Sony has had its own issues with heat in its phones over the years and, unfortunately, we’ve had some of this with the Sony Xperia 1 V, in another sense. We’re not talking about overheating here, just the phone getting hotter than it should when performing light activities. This does not happen consistently, but we have felt the phone often get warm when streaming audio. 

However, we’ve had zero obvious performance issues in real-world use. And games run very well on the phone.

  • Software score: 4 / 5
  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Sony Xperia 1 V review: cameras

A close up of the cameras on a Sony Xperia 1 V

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Has a multitude of cameras apps
  • Good general image quality
  • Doesn’t match the best in extreme situations
  • Impressive-sounding zoom is optically soft

The Sony Xperia 1 V has three rear cameras. It’s an unusual and high-end array, the most eye-catching of the three being a 3.5-5.2x 12MP zoom with a true optical zoom lens. Lens elements visibly move as you move between those two focal lengths. Such a zoom has only been seen in a handful of phones since smartphones became a thing. 

Our other two lenses are a 12MP ultra-wide and a 48MP (technically 52MP with an effective 48MP area) primary wide camera. All three of these, and the selfie camera up front, use Sony sensors. Skip on a few paragraphs if you just want to know what the photos the Sony Xperia 1 V are like, as we have to touch on Sony’s photography ethos first. 

Sony doesn’t approach photography like the other phone makers, in a repeat of what we’ve seen throughout this review. It still uses a two-stage shutter button on the side of the Sony Xperia 1 V. You half depress this button to focus, and push all the way down to capture an image. 

Don’t want to do so? No problem. There’s a Basic mode that feels much more like the standard way of shooting with a phone, using the touchscreen. It’s how I used the Sony Xperia 1 V, most of the time. 

And if you like to think the old ways are the best, you can switch to other Program, and Manual modes, designed to offer a layout comparable to one of Sony’s Alpha-series cameras.

A close up of the cameras on a Sony Xperia 1 V

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Good idea? Yes and no. It makes doing things like switching between the focal lengths feel clunky. The real value here is in putting the options that you can’t change after the shoot at your fingertips, and these aren’t always as useful as you might think. 

The top ones are shutter speed and exposure. And, sure, ISO sensitivity, but you should want the lowest ISO you can get away with, given phone camera grain and noise aren’t exactly pretty. If you’re not shooting with a tripod, the amount the manual style of control actually adds is limited because you’re dealing with a fixed aperture lens. 

And even if the Sony Xperia 1 V did have a variable aperture lens – like on the likes of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra – it still would not give you that much additional creative control, thanks to the crop factor of these cameras. A change in setting is going to be at most a switch from a very small aperture to a very, very small one. 

The Sony approach makes a lot more sense with video, in the Cinema Pro and Video Pro apps. One of the clear giveaways you’re an amateur shooting with a phone is the way the exposure and focus switch too rapidly. The phone approach to video is to constantly check if it’s in focus, and exposed correctly. And if not, to sort that out as soon as possible. However, you don’t want that for a pro-looking shoot where ideally you’d have a focus puller and controlled lighting. In Cinema Pro, you lock in your settings before you start shooting, to avoid all that jittering about. 

Sony Xperia 1 V camera samples

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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

A zoom camera alters the foreground’s relationship with the background, often with pleasing results. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

Extended zoom modes make it much easier to get closer to insects without the risk of getting stung. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

A true triple camera array is ideal for holiday shooting, when you can’t always get that close to your subject. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

We can’t help but notice the optical zoom’s lens is a bit soft next to the prime lenses seen in the competition. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

Here’s a duck, shot with a more extreme zoom setting. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

The Sony Xperia 1 V typically has good color handling. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

Low-light images are good, but not best-in-class. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

This shot gives you an idea of the quality of the ultra-wide camera, and its lens distortion. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

An extended zoom is always useful when shooting pictures of animals. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

You’ll occasionally see some epic lens flare when shooting bright light sources at night, as seen here. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

This is an image shot at 2x zoom, which we don’t actually recommend as it’s fairly easy to let it’s a digitally zoomed picture. (Image credit: TechRadar)
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A Sony Xperia 1 V camera sample

We like how the Sony Xperia 1 V doesn’t tend to oversaturate greens in the way many phone cameras do. (Image credit: TechRadar)

How are the Sony Xperia 1 V’s photos? Excellent, but at this level they fall down in some important areas that can’t be explained away by saying the Sony approach just leans towards a more “pro” style. 

That said, this camera still avoids all the issues of the much earlier models in the series. They had processing that looked bad up close, with coarse, jagged or strangulated detail. All of that is gone, and the Sony Xperia 1 V now has a more relaxed approach to detail rendering in most cases than, for example, the Huawei P60 Pro

Color is respectable too, lacking the kind of obvious oversaturation that makes nature scenes look a little unreal. 

The ultra-wide uses a quality 12MP sensor, one that sports a less zoomed-out field of view than some. Sony typically manages to keep the color tone and image character between the wide and ultra-wide cameras consistent; largely avoiding the sense you’re slumming it with the ultra-wide, during the day at least.

The zoom camera is easily the most catchy-sounding of the three rear sensors, though. It can move smoothly between 3.5x and 5.2x zoom, using a genuine optical zoom lens; a true rarity in the smartphone space.

As with any capable zoom camera, the Xperia 1 V’s is going to seem like a revolution in fun for your mobile photography, if this is to be your first time with a periscope zoom. Long-range photos that would once have been total mush will now look sharp. Or, well, sharp-ish. The phone's zoom camera is a reminder that prime lenses (that are those with a fixed focal length) are typically much sharper than optical zoom ones like this.

The 5.2x mode is lossless in theory, but in reality it looks very soft. You can see this when you look down at a per-pixel level, but it also even more obvious when shooting images with very high light contrast, causing a slight smearing effect.

A close up of the cameras on a Sony Xperia 1 V

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We compared its 10x results to those of the Huawei P60 Pro. The Huawei results were significantly sharper, and not just because of more advanced processing. There is genuinely more detail there. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is going to do even better at 10x, thanks to its dedicated 10x camera too. 

The ability to compare one ultra-zoom camera phone to another is a rare privilege. However, any keen photographer may notice the Xperia 1 V has an unfortunate tendency to leave parts of the image overexposed in high contrast scenes at times.  This might be where part of the scene is covered by trees, but the rest is bright-but-cloudy sky, for example. The Sony Xperia 1 V just doesn’t try quite as hard as the competition to retain highlights in these high light contrast scenarios. 

Similarly, low-light results, while good, are also a cut below the best from Samsung, Huawei and Google. There’s more noise, less detail, and a tendency to record more motion-blurred images despite the use of OIS in both the wide and zoom cameras. A lot of this stuff, bar the occasional notably-overexposed image, only becomes obvious in direct comparison with another top-tier phone. There is another factor to consider, though. 

The Sony Xperia 1 V’s preview image is quite poor too. What you see in the camera app as you compose your picture doesn’t look all that much like the final image, because it does not properly estimate what effect dynamic range processing will have. 

This also means your subject is typically much less visible on the screen too, as it will look darker and dimmer than it will in the final picture. That matters when shooting outdoors on a very bright day. 

Are things looking bad for the Sony Xperia 1 V camera? Not at all. It’s still largely a blast to use in its Basic mode, has a very high hit rate of shots and top-tier image quality. We’re just not sure it competes particularly at $1,399/£1,299 in all areas. 

For video, the Sony Xperia 1 V can shoot at up to 4K resolution, 120 frames per second. And there are three different apps you can use to capture.

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The camera interface on a Sony Xperia 1 V

(Image credit: Future)
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The camera interface on a Sony Xperia 1 V

(Image credit: Future)

There’s the normal route, just using the camera app. Then Video Pro has an interface based on Sony camcorders, offering much better control over manual focus and manual zoom. This can be a fun one to use. 

Cinematography Pro is based on the experience of Sony pro-grade video cameras, and may be slightly intimidating to some because it puts a lot of stuff, and numbers, in front of your eyeballs.  However, this one is ideal for times when you want to manually set, for example, your shutter speed and ISO manually before you hit the shutter button. You can also see the area outside of the actual frame in the preview image, which is neat. 

Would we use it for casual video capture? Probably not. But if you want to make a short film, you’ll want to use Cinematography Pro, or Video Pro. 

Care about selfies? The Sony Xperia 1 V has a 12MP selfie camera. We are fairly happy with its results. It can reproduce a good amount of detail, and holds up well in poor lighting, even if you don’t use the screen as a fill flash. 

However, it doesn’t compare all that well with the selfie camera of the Huawei P60 Pro one modern-day photography champ. That selfie cam renders lots more detail in good lighting, and has more powerful dynamic range optimization.

  • Camera score: 4 / 5

Sony Xperia 1 V review: battery

A Sony Xperia 1 V from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Poor charging speed
  • Good, reliable one-day-plus battery life
  • Supports wireless charging

The Sony Xperia 1 V has a 5,000mAh battery, just like the Sony Xperia 1 IV. While the mysterious occasional heating up of this phone is never going to be a good indicator of battery life, I was entirely happy with how long it lasted in the day-to-day. 

The phone tended to last around 1.5 days of moderate use during review, and can be relied on for fairly heavy days of use. 

At one point during testing I had to trek across the country, from a 7am start to getting home at just before 11pm. Despite lots of audio streaming, some YouTube streaming, a bit of tethering to a laptop, and route planning using the phone, the Xperia 1 V still had about 25% charge by the time I got home. 

It’s a phone I've not had to worry about dying early in the day. Apart from one particularly bad day when the Xperia 1 V seemed to spend almost the entire day borderline hot — something definitely was awry there. An hour of streamed video took 6% off the battery, suggesting it’s good for up to around 16.5 hours. 

Sony does not offer particularly good charging, though. We’ve been spoilt by companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus, which offer charging up to a stupendous 150W. The Sony Xperia 1 V is stuck on 30W, the least you’ll find in any of the top-tier Androids. 

Our Sony Xperia 1 V did not include a charger, but we have plenty of compatible 30W-plus chargers about. So does it get to the old silver standard of 50% in one hour, as Sony claims? Charging from a completely flat battery, the Sony Xperia 1 V reached 43% charge after 30 minutes with charger one. And 47% with charger two. 

If you start charging the phone when it’s at 1% rather than dead, reaching 50% in 30 minutes may be feasible. Still, this is very poor charging speed for an Android this expensive. After 45 minutes, it had reached 60%. 

It does support 15W wireless charging, though, and reverse wireless charging, which are convenient extras that don't necessarily crop up on every flagship.

  • Battery score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the Sony Xperia 1 V?

Buy it if...

You want to use wired headphones
This is one of the few high-end phones that has a headphone jack socket, making it ideal for the audiophiles out there who still like to use cabled earphones and earbuds.

You want a unique camera
The Sony Xperia 1 V has a powerful, an unusual, camera array. As well as a real optical zoom that slides between 3.5x and 5.2x, it has pro-style camera apps inspired by Sony’s dedicated cameras.

You don't want something too big
Like the iPhone 14 Pro, this is a top-spec phone that isn’t a pocket-filler. It is only 71mm wide. And while it is quite tall and boxy, a lot of other phones feel large by comparison.

Don't buy it if...

You want speedy charging
If you like the idea of a phone that charges in minutes, don’t get the Xperia 1 V. We couldn’t even get its 30W charging to reach to the original fast charge standard of 50% in 30 minutes.

You want a fast fingerprint sensor
The fingerprint sensor is surprisingly tetchy, as we found in last year’s Sony Xperia 1 IV. It’s the kind of issue we don’t typically see in much cheaper mobiles, making it a head-scratcher in a phone this expensive.

You want the best camera for night or zoom shots
Don’t buy into the hype of this phone’s camera too much. While great, the image preview is weak, and the Samsung and Huawei rivals at this price perform better at night and in extreme zoom scenarios.

Sony Xperia 1 V review: Also consider

The Sony Xperia 1 V is fairly similar to its predecessor. It doesn’t shake things up too much in this series, but as such does feel quite distinct from the competition. Even when placed next to phones with some of the same specs. Here are some other key models to consider.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
This phone may not have a motorised optical zoom camera but it is still the king of the zoom. It has separate 10x and 3x zoom lenses, for unbeatable results when your subject is miles away. This phone also supports, and incudes, an S-Pen stylus. However, it’s significantly bigger and heavier than the Sony.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro
If you like the idea of a smaller flagship phone, it’s the iPhone 14 Pro rather than the Pro Max, you need to look at. The camera is a bit more forgiving than Sony’s, with fool-proof processing.

However, with a photographer’s eye the Sony can at times look more natural, for the same reason. We still prefer the iPhone as an all-rounder for video capture, though.

How I tested the Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V angled arrangement

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Review test period = 2 weeks
  • Testing included = Everyday use as my main phone, web browsing, GPS navigation, video streaming, gaming, calls, podcast and music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 5, Geekbench 6, 3D Mark, multiple power adapters

My time with the Sony Xperia 1 V coincided with some notable events. I got to take it across the country, to a wedding in the lake district, for example.

As well as an opportunity to take some unusual photos, this sort of trip is great for assessing battery life in a more challenging scenario. However, much of my observations in this area come from using the Sony as my one and only phone, which is the norm throughout a review period.

I also had the chance to test drive the Xperia 1 V’s zoom camera in a truly challenging situation, watching Blur at Wembley Stadium from the cheap seats, right at the back of this 80,000-plus visitor venue.

The Sony Xperia 1 V and I have been places, and this also means you tend to get to see what other people feel about its design, how good they think the pictures it takes look. However, the boring stuff matters too. Can its speakers make a podcast audible while you’re cooking? How bright does the screen look while you’re outdoors? These are elements I always pay attention to.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed: July 2023

Motive fleet management review
9:48 am | June 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Formerly known as Keep Truckin’, in 2022, this company changed its name to Motive after building the company with the former name for the prior 9 years. The reason for the name change was that they wanted to apply the services they could provide, namely connectivity and automation, across more than just the trucking industry, such as to agriculture, energy and field service. The goal was to be able to scale these businesses via an integrated platform for managing the physical operations.

Motive is a larger player in fleet management operations, with over 120,000 customers served, covering the whole spectrum from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, with everything in between. Among its clients, Motive can count Flying Star Transport, Kansas City Limousine, Sierra Mountain Express, and West Coast Distributing. Motive claims that its customers through its technology have a 22% reduction in accidents, a 20% improvement in utilization, and an impressive 25% reduction in insurance premiums.

Motive fleet management: Pricing

Motive is unfortunately yet another example of opaque pricing in this area of fleet management. On their website, we were not able to find any specific prices, nor were we able to discern the pricing structure or tiers available of plans. Rather, the company expects potential customers to be in touch for a custom quote. While we respect the process of pricing the plan once you understand the needs, and that a new customer may not even be aware of what the options are, we still think that some more information upfront to potential customers would benefit everyone.

Searching around the internet, we are able to glean some info, although it may not be the latest prices. Still, at least it gives a ballpark of what to expect.

The Motive ELD runs a one-time cost of approximately $150 for the device, with subscription fees starting at about $25 each month. Electronic logs can range in price from free on up to $50 per month. Overall, these prices look to be affordable among fleet management plans, and with the insurance and accident reduction benefits indicated, can easily pay for themselves over time.

Motive fleet management: Features

Motive Fleet Management is a comprehensive solution designed to help businesses efficiently manage their vehicle fleets. Here are some key features typically associated with Motive Fleet Management:

Vehicle Tracking and GPS: Fleet management systems typically include GPS technology to track and monitor the location of vehicles in real-time. This feature enables businesses to have a clear overview of their fleet's movements, optimize routes, and improve overall efficiency.

Asset and Maintenance Management: Fleet management systems often offer tools to track and manage the maintenance and servicing schedules of vehicles. This feature helps businesses ensure that vehicles are properly maintained, reducing the risk of breakdowns and maximizing their lifespan.

Fuel Management: Effective fuel management is critical for fleet operations. Fleet management software may include features that help monitor fuel consumption, identify inefficient driving patterns, and detect instances of fuel theft or unauthorized usage. These capabilities enable businesses to reduce fuel costs and improve overall fuel efficiency.

Driver Behavior Monitoring: Many fleet management systems incorporate driver behavior monitoring to encourage safe and responsible driving. These systems can provide insights into factors such as speeding, harsh braking, and aggressive acceleration. By monitoring and addressing poor driving habits, businesses can enhance safety, reduce accidents, and minimize vehicle wear and tear.

Route Planning and Optimization: Optimizing routes is essential for fleet efficiency. Fleet management systems can analyze traffic patterns, road conditions, and other factors to suggest the most efficient routes for drivers. This feature helps minimize fuel consumption, reduce travel time, and enhance customer service by ensuring timely deliveries.

Vehicle Diagnostics: Fleet management solutions may integrate with the vehicle's onboard diagnostics system to monitor the health and performance of individual vehicles. This allows businesses to proactively identify maintenance issues, schedule repairs, and avoid costly breakdowns.

Reporting and Analytics: Fleet management systems often provide comprehensive reporting and analytics tools. These features enable businesses to generate customized reports, analyze fleet performance metrics, and gain valuable insights into areas for improvement. Data-driven decision-making helps optimize fleet operations, reduce costs, and increase overall productivity.

Integration and Scalability: Fleet management solutions can integrate with other business systems, such as accounting or dispatching software, to streamline operations and improve data accuracy. Additionally, these systems are often scalable, allowing businesses to easily add or remove vehicles and adapt to changing fleet sizes and requirements.

It's important to note that specific features may vary depending on the fleet management software provider and the needs of the business.

Motive fleet management: Support

The support for Motive is decent. There is 24/7 direct support available with a toll free number listed. There is also the option for a chat that starts with a bot, and can transition to support as needed. Finally, there is a direct email address. This is pretty complete, with the only options missing ones that are less used these days, such as snail mail and fax. While we appreciate that the hours are listed as 24/7, there is no turnaround time indicated.

There is also a Help Center for those that want the resources to deal with the problem themselves, which includes a search bar. It consists of a series of FAQ’s, organized around multiple categories including Dispatch & Workflow, Tracking & Telematics and Maintenance. We did not find any webinars, or video content.

Motive fleet management: Final verdict

Motive has an overall C- rating with the Better Business Bureau, and the 1 star rating, almost 100 complaints in the last year and that it is not accredited back this up. Aside from that, we like the feature set, and the 24/7 phone support, but would like to see some more pricing info upfront.

We've listed the best GPS fleet tracking solution.

DJI Mini 3 Review
7:43 pm | February 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

When DJI released the Mini 3 Pro in 2022, it felt like the company was turning its back on true beginner-friendly drone models. Sure, the Mini 3 Pro is small, highly portable, and sits within the regulator-friendly sub 250g category, but some of the features on offer—and indeed the price—are geared more for advanced users and professionals.

It made sense commercially that the Mini 3 Pro was launched first, but with the release of the Mini 3, beginner drone enthusiasts now have a more affordable option to consider. 

From the outside, DJI’s two Mini 3 models look almost identical – the main difference is the absence of obstacle avoidance sensors on the Mini 3, which is one of the main limitations of this less expensive model.

DJI Mini 3 specs

Sensor: 12MP 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor
Equivalent focal length: 24mm
Video: 4K up to 30fps, 2.7K at up to 60fps, FHD at up to 60fps
Stabilization: 3-axis mechanical gimbal
Collision avoidance: No
GPS: GPS, Glonass and Galileo
Flight Times: Up to 38 minutes
Maximum flight speed: 35.8mph
Size: 148×90×62 mm folded / 251×362×72 mm unfolded
Weight: 248g (with battery & microSD card)

Collision avoidance is incredibly useful whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced pilot, but it is something you can live without. Neither the Mini 2 nor the original Mavic Mini had obstacle avoidance and both dominated the entry-level drone market. Other key downgrades include lower video specs, no 48MP photos and no subject tracking (Follow Me).

It’s not surprising that the Mini 3’s features have been pared back, but on the whole, it’s still a high-quality portable drone capable of capturing photos and videos in both landscape and portrait format. 12MP photos can be captured in both raw and JPEG, while video can be captured at up to 4K and 30fps. And despite not having collision avoidance, you can still enjoy Quickshots automated flight patterns.

DJI Mini 3 folded next to its controller

(Image credit: Future)

DJI Mini 3: release date and price

  • Released December 2022 
  • Available in five main kit options 
  • Basic RC-N1 kit costs just $559 | £519 | AU$829 

Touted as a less expensive and more basic version of the Mini 3 Pro, the DJI Mini 3 was both announced and released in December 2022. Since many of the main features are conserved between the two models, users can select the option that best suits their individual needs and, of course, their budget. 

The Mini 3 is available in five main kit options: drone only, for those who already own a compatible controller, which costs $469 | £439 | AU$699 ; the RC-N1 controller kit for $559 | £519 | AU$829; the DJI RC (smart controller) kit for $699 | £669 | AU$1019; the RC-N1 Fly More Combo at $718 | £678; and the DJI RC Fly More Combo for $858 | £828. In Australia, the Fly More Combo Plus bundle costs AU$1188 and add the remote controller to that bundle the costs is AU$1378. The bundles include two Intelligent Flight Batteries Plus (47 min max flight time), but these take the weight of the drone above 249g.

  • Price Score: 4/5

DJI Mini 3 on a table with propellers folded and camera protector on

(Image credit: Future)

DJI Mini 3: Design and controller

  • Lightweight 249g folding design 
  • Two controller options 
  • Increased flight time over Mini 3 Pro

If you’ve seen the Mini 3 Pro, you already have a good idea of what the Mini 3 looks like since the two are nearly identical. The main visual difference is that the Mini 3 doesn’t have collision avoidance sensors. But like all Mini models, the Mini 3 sports a folding design where the propeller arms fold in for convenient storage and transportation. Folded dimensions are 148×90×62 mm and unfolded are 251×362×72 mm, and the drone including battery and microSD card weighs just 248g. 

The Mini 3 offers a slightly longer flight time than the Mini 3 Pro using the same 2453mAh Intelligent Flight Battery. The maximum advertised flight time is 38 minutes compared to the Pro’s 34 minutes, but taking into consideration environmental factors as well as the default charge level of 25% when Return to Home is initiated, flight time in reality is around 25 minutes. These numbers come from winter testing and we think flight times will improve during the warmer summer months.

DJI Mini 3 RC-N1 controller with screen turned on, on top of a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)

 There are two controllers available and the less expensive option is the standard kit that comes with the DJI RC-N1. This is the same controller that you get with Mavic 3 models, Mavic Air 2S, Mavic Air 2, and the Mini 2. At the top, this controller has a phone holder where you can store the phone connector cable when not in use. 

The other controller option is the DJI RC Smart Controller, which features a 5.5-inch touchscreen with 700-NIT brightness. The DJI RC is faster to set up and much more convenient – plus the screen is clearer in sunlight than some mobile phone screens 

  • Design 5/5

Back of DJI RC-N1 showing triggers and joysticks

(Image credit: Future)

DJI Mini 3: Features and flight

  • 12MP 1/1.3-inch sensor 
  • Level 5 wind resistance 
  •  Quickshots flight patterns 

DJI drones are well-known for their ease of use, and the Mini 3 is no exception. Set up is incredibly easy with controls providing a generally positive flight experience with no perceptible lag between input and execution. There are three main flight modes available: Cine, Normal and Sport. Cine is the slowest with reduced control sensitivity for capturing smoother video footage; Normal is the most commonly used mode; and Sport is the fastest of the three with a top speed of 35.8mph.

Wind resistance up to Level 5 (up to 24 mph) is as advertised, and the Mini 3 can fly in these conditions with the flight mode set to Sport. It’s a small and lightweight drone, but nowhere near as powerful as a Mavic 3. Against 24 mph winds, it can drift, and controls become less responsive as the drone fights against wind gusts.

In terms of features, the main point of interest for most people will be the camera, which can be rotated 90° between landscape and portrait format. All photo and video functionality is available in both orientations. The camera houses a 12MP 1/1.3-inch sensor and provides a 24mm equivalent focal length alongside a fixed f/1.7 aperture with a focus range between 1m and infinity. Shooting modes include Single Shot, Timed, Auto Exposure Bracketing, Panorama Sphere, 180°, Wide Angle and HDR. 

DJI Mini 3 upside-down showing under collision sensors

(Image credit: Future)

The camera is the same as the one on the Mini 3 Pro, but 48MP shooting in Raw and JPEG is not available on the Mini 3. However, you can easily increase the size of the 12MP Raw files using Adobe’s Super Resolution in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. When we tested the Mini 3 Pro, the in-camera interpolation of Raw files was pretty much identical to Adobe’s Super Resolution, so despite the absence of the feature in the drone, you can still achieve similar results in post-production and essentially, the only cost is time.

A time-saving feature that beginners will welcome is the inclusion of Quickshots. These are automated flight patterns that allow you to capture interesting video footage with ease. There are five options available and all can be shot with the camera set horizontally or vertically. One thing to bear in mind here is that the Mini 3 doesn’t have obstacle avoidance sensors, so you have to be sure that there are no obstacles nearby that the drone could potentially crash into while performing Quickshots.

Collision avoidance is a useful feature, but one that has been omitted, presumably to help reduce cost and differentiate the two Mini 3 models. There are downward vision sensors that help with hovering accuracy and work in tandem with GPS, Glonass and Galileo global satellite positioning. This keeps the drone in position as it is hovering when the controls are released. Then there are several Return to Home functions that automatically fly the drone back to the take-off point in various scenarios including when the battery is low and when the connection between the controller and drone is weak or dropped. Some RTH functions need to be initiated by the pilot, while others, like low battery RTH, are initiated by the drone.

  • Features and performance 4/5

Showing top of DJI Mini 3 and battery compartment

(Image credit: Future)

DJI Min 3: Image quality

  • Raw and JPEG photo capture 
  • Video up to 4K at 30fps 
  • Excellent image quality overall 

Overall image quality is excellent considering the small size of the camera and sensor, which is incidentally larger than the sensor used in the Mini 2. Images are sharpest in the center, with a drop-off in sharpness as you move towards the edges of the photo frame, but this isn’t the same case for video footage. 

ISO handling is also excellent across the ISO 100-3200 range, with natural color present and little to no color or luminance noise visible. This is thanks to DJI’s dual native ISO technology, first seen in the Mini 3 Pro, which helps these tiny drones to produce better image quality at higher ISO settings than some more expensive drones with larger sensors. So, combined with the fast f/1.7 aperture, 2.4 μm size pixels and DJI’s chip-level HDR technology, photos and videos can be captured in low light conditions with fantastic results.

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DJI Mini 3

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mini 3

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mini 3

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mini 3

(Image credit: Future)

Photos can be captured in JPEG and raw, with the former providing decent results straight out of the camera, and the latter providing more advanced users increased editing control. Video is slightly more limited than with the Mini 3 Pro, but you can shoot in 4K at up to 30fps, 2.7K at up to 60fps, and FHD at up to 60fps. And when shooting at 24/25/30fps, HDR video is captured.

There’s only one video profile option of Normal, with no Log profiles available, and the maximum video bitrate is 100Mbps – so not ideal for a professional workflow. Enthusiasts, however, may prefer the Normal profile anyway since this kind of footage is easier to handle than Log footage and doesn’t require color grading.

If you intend to shoot video, even at a basic level, it’s recommended that you use ND filters to achieve the correct shutter speed for natural-looking movement. An ND filter set is available separately from DJI and in a nutshell, the 180-degree rule for video suggests that the shutter speed used should be roughly double the frame rate of the video being captured. So, if you shoot at 30fps, the ideal shutter speed is 1/60 sec – easy. 

  • Image and video quality 4/5

DJI Mini 3 on top of wooden table with propeller out ready for flight

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the DJI Mini 3?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our DJI Mini 3 review has you wondering about alternatives, here are two rivals to consider:

DJI Mini 3: testing scorecard

First reviewed: January 2023

Garmin Instinct Crossover review: The smart Casio G-Shock of my dreams
3:56 pm | January 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Two minute review

The Garmin Instinct Crossover is a Garmin Instinct 2 with an upgraded chipset and analog hands, and I love it. It’s one of my favorite activity watches of 2022 based on the novelty factor alone, although the fact it uses the excellent Garmin Instinct 2 as a base means it’s a very capable adventure watch, not just a one-and-done gimmick. It's definitely one of the best Garmin watches out there and the best hybrid outdoor watch I've tried, although it falls slightly short of perfect as it's overpriced for what you get.

The hands are based on a technology Garmin calls ‘RevoDrive technology’. Revodrive ensures that if the watch takes a big knock, moves into a different timezone, or undergoes any other event which would cause an ordinary analog watch to display inaccurate time, RevoDrive will automatically calibrate the watch using its satellite technology. 

This technology is also what allows users to actually make the most of the Garmin Instinct 2’s smarts. A simple press of any of the function buttons (other than the light) will stop the watch’s analog timekeeping and swivel the analog hands to form a horizontal line between the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. 

Information and workout statistics are generally presented in list form, so you can scroll through the info and see it clearly, even though the analog hands are in the way. When you’re done, return to the home screen, and RevoDrive will return the analog hands back to the correct time. 

Overall, there are a few improvements in the Instinct 2’s hardware, which we’ll cover later, and all the usual Garmin stuff is as good as ever, including Body Battery functionality, route tracking with TracBack, excellent running metrics, and all the usual health-tracking features, such as heart rate variability. 

The only issues preventing the watch from earning an elusive five stars is the increase in price as a result of the analog hands, which pushes it into the same territory as Garmin watches with more functionality, such as the Forerunner 955

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Price and availability

 The Garmin Instinct Crossover is available pretty much everywhere you can get Garmin watches, including at Amazon and direct from the Garmin website. It’s priced at US$499.99 / £479.99 / AU$999.99 for the base version, although the solar-charging model costs $549.99 / £529.99 / AU$1,049.99. A tactical version of the Solar, with stealth mode and a kill switch to clear all user data instantly, is also available at an additional premium, although the extra features are unlikely to appeal to anyone outside of the military or those with a love of 'tacticool' gear.  

Garmin Instinct Crossover

(Image credit: Garmin )

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Design

  • Great integration of analog elements
  • Rugged exterior
  • Very thick – maybe too thick?

The Instinct 2 was already one of the best-designed rugged watches available at its price point. It’s cheap enough to feel like you can throw it around without worrying about spoiling a four-figure watch, yet expensive enough to carry lots of Garmin’s best features and use premium materials in its construction. Garmin hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, with chemically strengthened glass on the non-solar version (the solar version gets Garmin’s Power Glass), and the fiber-reinforced polymer/stainless steel case and bezel that are also present on the Instinct 2. Garmin has also swapped chipsets, from the Instinct 2’s Sony to an Airoha, which expands the watch’s GPS options.

It’s still a 45mm watch, but slightly deeper at 16mm compared to the 14mm Instinct. This adds additional wrist protrusion to an already very chunky watch, but it’s easy to see why: Garmin has added the analog hands, which have a super-Luminova glow-in-the-dark coating, inside the case of the Instinct. This requires that extra 2mm of space, although we imagine future iterations will be able to streamline the tech somewhat, and bring it down to 14mm or even 12mm. As is, thanks to the rugged bezel, thick silicone strap and analog hands, the whole thing gives off real Casio G-Shock vibes. 

Until, that is, you press one of those function buttons and the watch bursts into life. Considering that it’s built like a tank, the way the hands are designed to interact with the smart elements of the watch – rotating with the touch of a button to be as unobtrusive as possible when reading the information on the screen – is surprisingly elegant. In the words of Futurama’s Zapp Brannigan, it’s built like a steakhouse but handles like a bistro. 

The satisfying whirr of the motor as the hands buzz around to form a straight line doesn’t really get old. I’ve been using the Instinct Crossover for around a month, and I’m still not tired of showing people. It’s like I said when reviewing the blood-pressure strap on the Huawei Watch D: I love that innovations in smartwatches are getting physical again. Tech should be fun as well as functional, and it needs to look good. Despite the depth of this watch, face-on it’s a really attractive beast, as good-looking as any other analog adventure watch I’ve come across. It’s like a Garmin had a baby with a G-Shock Mudmaster, and I wholeheartedly love the design. 

I’m a longtime Garmin user, so I already love the design of the Garmin Connect companion app. It’s easy on the eye, and intuitive to navigate for the most part, although I’m still using my thumb to hit the wrong portion of the screen occasionally after a workout, slamming my thumb directly below the stat I want to expand rather than switching tabs. I love the heat map the app generates after a run, with different colors depending on my speed and exertion during particular parts of the course – it’s one of Garmin’s most useful features, and an example of beautifully-presented data. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover watch

(Image credit: Matt Evans)

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Features

  • Great health and fitness tracking
  • Good adventure credentials
  • Lack of screen space means certain features are missing

There are tons of functions and features here, pretty much all of which have already featured on the Instinct 2. Activity tracking features abound, providing notifications on floors climbed, distance traveled and steps taken, as well as other health metrics, such as a sleep score and Garmin’s very useful Body Battery score, which monitors your recovery and tells you how prepared you are for your next adventure. There’s no Training Readiness though, which is essentially a more advanced version. 

The Instinct Crossover measures your heart rate 24/7. It also offers a heart rate variability measurement (which watches for irregularities while you sleep), and an estimated respiration rate to help monitor your exertion during exercise. It’s a really terrific watch for the outdoors in particular, offering environmental information such as sunrise and sunset from the watch face, as well as GPS coordinates, elevation information, and your distance from a designated destination, which you can set up in the app. 

The sports profile I use the most often is running, and I’ve given that an extensive go with the Crossover up to around 14 miles. There’s great GPS integration, on-wrist running power, and TracBack, which can help you return to the start of a route.  The autolap feature works well whenever I pass the kilometer marker, as Garmin Connect provides an update in my earbuds with a few stats such as time and average pace, just like most conventional running apps. 

The cycling and swimming profiles offer similar functionality, with speed, cadence, lengths and stroke counts replacing granular running information like stride length. Like the Instinct 2, this is a perfectly good triathlon watch, and if you’re looking for something a bit stylish and quirky that’ll still give you all the info you need, the Crossover might be an ideal fit. 

There’s no onboard music on the watch, just music control, which is disappointing at this price point. In fact, there are a few features here that are missing. The Garmin Forerunner 955, which you can get for around the same price, offers onboard music storage, a Training Readiness score, a daily Morning Report push-notification digest, Pace Pro advanced pacing tools, and topographical maps. I can appreciate that it’s hard to include maps with the analog hands, but it’s a feature that’s really missed here, especially as so many of the Instinct Crossover’s features are geared towards the great outdoors. 

In its haste to raise prices, Garmin has done the Crossover a disservice by placing it above the Instinct. It’s now in the ballpark of the premium Forerunner and Fenix ranges, all of which specialize with topographical map functionality and dedicated sporting features. The Instinct 2 is a phenomenal watch at its current price, and the Crossover is a wonderful alternative to it, but it can’t compete with Garmin’s other watches in the $500 / £500 / AU$1,000 space. 

  • Features score: 4/5 

Garmin Instinct Crossover and Forerunner 955 watches

Left: Garmin Forerunner 955. Right: Garmin Instinct Crossover. (Image credit: Matt Evans)

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Performance

  • Accurate GPS and health tracking
  • RevoDrive works a treat
  • Quite bulky for everyday wear

During my tests, the GPS was highly accurate, and comparable to the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra, when it came to measuring my overall speed in time per kilometers covered, and comparable heart rate measurements. I’m completely satisfied with its accuracy, having tested it alongside other high-standard watches, and I’d have no qualms about using it as an everyday running watch. 

As mentioned above, I love the heat-map design of the routes shown in the app, and as usual, the watch fed my data into Strava and uploaded my runs automatically. LiveTrack, the feature which allows friends and family to monitor your runs remotely, works a treat.

I personally don’t need onboard music and maps, as I generally use Spotify, stick to the roads, and keep my phone on me, but habitual trail runners might like to make use of both features, in which case they’d be better off with a Forerunner. I can see why people might need these features, but I’ll be keeping my phone on me as a matter of course – as a runner with asthma, I may one day need to stop and call my wife to pick me up, although that’s not happened yet.

The watch was big and bulky, and took a little getting used to. As good as it looked, its extra thickness was very noticeable, bulging under my sleeve when I wore it during the day, and it’s big enough to feel obtrusive when worn at night. However, it wasn’t an uncomfortable wear; Garmin’s silicone straps are generally very good, and this watch was no exception. It’s just big. 

It provided me with a good selection of Garmin’s baseline health metrics, with all the detail I’ve come to expect, from daily stress scores broken down into minutes of rest, low, medium and high energy, to continuous heart rate monitoring and an HRV score. 

You can pick your watch face configuration to show the information you want, and although the 176 x 176px monochrome display is quite basic, that’s part of the charm: the idea of having an analog watch is to make sure you’re not as connected as you would be with a full smartwatch, and the hybrid offers you the best of both worlds by limiting your interactions with yet another screen. The Crossover’s display reminds me of a Casio LCD screen, which is just another part of its retro charm – I really did fall in love with it, and the RevoDrive technology never showed me an inaccurate time despite my constant flitting between modes. 

  • Performance score: 4/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Battery Life

  • 28 days in smartwatch mode
  • 25 hours in GPS mode
  • 70 days for solar-extended unit

Garmin claims the battery life for the standard Instinct Crossover is up to 28 days in smartwatch mode, or up to 25 hours in GPS mode. On average, with moderate GPS usage, that will take you down to a hair under three weeks, which is pretty much exactly what I found – I used my Instinct Crossover for around 18 days before the battery depleted, and charged it up in a little under an hour. 

The Solar version offers a longer battery life, with 70 days of solar-extended use provided that you spend around three hours a day outside to make the most of its Power Glass technology. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Solar version (or 70 days) to test it. 

  • Battery life score: 4.5/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Buy it if…

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed: January 2023

Suunto 9 Peak Pro review
2:07 pm | January 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro has been given a powerful upgrade internally when compared to its almost identical-looking predecessor, the Suunto 9 Peak. There’s a new processor, new GPS, new optical heart rate sensor, and way more battery life. In terms of looks, though, not much has changed aside from a slimmer 10.8mm thick chassis and lighter 64g weight. 

The biggest drawback here is the fact that Suunto decided not to upgrade the watch’s screen. Measuring 1.2 inches, the monochrome sapphire crystal display has a relatively low 240 x 240 pixel display. While there is an LED backlight, it can sometimes prove difficult to read in some instances as the text isn’t as crisp as you’d expect on a smartwatch - especially one of this price.

On the plus side, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro is super comfortable to wear for longer workouts across all types of activities. It’s also made more sustainably than most other wearables on the market, as it claims to have been built from 100% renewable energy with a 7.5kg CO2e carbon footprint. 

When it comes to features, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro is teeming with fitness-tracking tech, boasting 95 trackable activities - from the more popular running, cycling, and swimming to the more obscure, such as snorkeling mode. As you’d expect from a sports watch of this caliber, there’s way more included than activity or step tracking. You’ll also find insightful training tools such as peak training effect, training load, and recovery time recommendations. All of your data is presented clearly in the connected Suunto app, which offers you heaps of post-workout data to sift through ideal for measuring your performance and helping you to track improvements over time. Although it has to be said - the suite of fitness and recovery insights on offer here, while comprehensive, doesn’t live it to those you’ll find on Garmin or Polar devices. 

Performance-wise, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro ticks most boxes as a premium activity-tracking smartwatch. Despite a few instances where the interface feels sluggish - especially when you’re asking a lot of it - it can handle commands with ease while providing decent accuracy. 

As for battery life, the 9 Peak Pro easily outperforms its predecessor. In our tests, the device lasted just over two weeks before needing a recharge. That was using it to track some kind of workout activity almost every day, sometimes with GPS monitoring enabled and sometimes not, alongside smartphone notifications.

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Price and availability

  • Out now in the UK, US and Australia 
  • Priced from £419 RRP in the UK, $549 in the US and AU$759 in AUS
  • Also comes in a more expensive but lighter titanium model

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is available to buy now in the UK, US and Australia, with a starting price of £419, US$549 and AU$759, respectively. That’s a “starting” price because the 9 Peak Pro comes in two models. There’s the cheaper non-titanium offering, which we are reviewing in this article, and a more expensive but lighter and more durable Suunto 9 Peak Pro Titanium. The latter retails for £110 / US$150 / AU$200 more than the standard model at £529 / US$699 / AU$959.

In most instances, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro comes in at just a bit pricer than its predecessor, the Suunto 9 Peak, which currently retails for £349 / US$469 / AU$999. (Yup, for reasons unknown, the older, less feature-rich model costs more Down Under.)

When it comes to colorways, there are four options available for the standard Suunto 9 Peak Pro model: black, blue, gold and green, and sand or slate options for the titanium version. 

Suunto 9 Peak Pro smartwatch

(Image credit: Lee Bell)

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Design and screen

  • Slim and lightweight for a rugged sports watch
  • Planet-friendly design and manufacturing process
  • Disappointing display 

If you’re already familiar with the Suunto Peak range, you’ll probably be aware that the 9 Peak Pro is almost identical in physical design to its predecessor, the Suunto 9 Peak. In fact, side-by-side, you’d struggle to tell them apart. The real update is reflected in the sports watch’s innards, where it packs an array of significant improvements over the 9 Peak, including a new processor, new GPS, new optical heart rate sensor, and bigger battery life.

While it is slimmer and lighter than Suunto’s last Peak release, measuring just 10.8mm thick and weighing a super light 64g (which is pretty slender for a rugged smartwatch), those unfamiliar with the Suunto 9 family’s design should be aware that it doesn’t boast anything particularly inspiring in terms of aesthetics. It’s handsome enough, sure, but as a rugged sports watch designed for the super active, fitness enthusiasts and athletes, it’s a bog-standard design that won’t get you excitedly showing it off to your mates. Those less fussed about looks will be pleased to know it touts military-grade durability, and so has been designed to withstand all manner of knocks.

The biggest downside for us is the Suunto 9 Peak Pro’s display. Measuring 1.2 inches, the monochrome display is a 240 x 240-pixel display made from sapphire crystal glass. While it does offer an LED backlight, it can sometimes prove difficult to read as the text isn’t as sharp as you’d expect from a watch of this class. The display is touch-enabled, though, so can be controlled by either tapping your fingers or via the physical buttons on the side, which is a nice touch (literally). 

However, it goes without saying that the lack of color and brightness in this display makes the Suunto 9 Peak Pro a no-go for those looking for an attractive- or expensive-looking smartwatch that can be worn every day, especially outside of fitness. 

Plus points? It’s super comfortable. We wore it for several hours during longer workouts, across all types of activities, from yoga to squash and running, and we hardly noticed it was there. It’s also made more sustainably than most other smartwatches on the market, thanks to its green energy claims. A great step forward for the wearables market. 

Overall, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro is a robust and fairly decent-looking design let down by a disappointingly cheap-looking display.

  • Design and screen rating: 2.5/5

Suunto 9 Peak Pro smartwatch

(Image credit: Lee Bell)

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Features

  • Tracking for 95 sports activities
  • A comprehensive suite of training tools 
  • Easy-to-use and insightful app

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro is teeming with fitness-tracking tech. Take, for instance, how it boasts a whopping 95 supported sports activities, from the major ones like running, cycling, and swimming (as well as a multisport triathlon mode, which is always nice to see) to the more “exotic” shall we say, such as snorkeling mode, which offers up metrics including depth and dive time, although not quite to the same extent as Apple Watch Ultra's Oceanic+ app. We also found a mode for Squash, which Garmin doesn’t have, although Polar does. 

The core sports tracking experience is overall very good and works well most times, but this is hampered somewhat by a sluggish interface and the watch’s relatively small, monochromatic display, which can often put a damper on things. Still, the suite of training tools, fitness, and recovery insights on the Suunto 9 Peak Pro is fairly comprehensive, but still not on par with the likes of Garmin or Polar, though. 

As you’d expect from a sports watch of this caliber, there’s way more included than just tracking your workouts or steps and telling you how many calories you’ve burned. You’ll also find insightful training tools such as peak training effect, training load and recovery time recommendations. It’s also possible to let it monitor your daily stress levels, find out your estimated fitness age and check out what your VO2 Max fitness level estimates are. Bundled in with this is a built-in SPO2 sensor so you can keep tabs on your blood oxygen levels and as well as acclimation. 

All of your data is presented clearly and immersively in the Suunto partner app, which has seen some vast improvements over the years, with heaps of post-workout data to sift through—ideal for measuring your performance and tracking improvements over time. 

Those who are looking to use the Suunto 9 Peak Pro as a navigation tool will be able to take advantage of its ability to plan, upload and follow routes using breadcrumb-style and turn-by-turn navigation. Although we found the watch’s low-quality display made this tricky to make use of when running. 

Other features include sleep tracking, which is pretty standard on smartwatches these days. Although the accuracy of this on the Suunto 9 Peak Pro doesn't quite seem to be quite on par with dedicated sleep trackers, such as the Withings Sleep Analyzer tracking mat.

As with most modern smartwatches, the Suunto Peak Pro 9 is able to feed notifications to your wrist straight from your smartphone. There’s also a stopwatch, an alarm clock, automatic daylight saving updates, calendar sync, and weather information. You can also control the music of a paired phone, but there is no offline music for apps like Spotify or Deezer, nor are there contactless pay features - both of which you’ll find with most modern Garmin smartwatches. 

  • Features rating: 4/5

Suunto 9 Peak Pro smartwatch

(Image credit: Lee Bell)

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Performance

  • Super easy to use 
  • Somewhat sluggish interface 
  • Decent battery life 

So how does the Suunto 9 Peak Pro stack up performance-wise? Well, one thing we loved about using the watch was how easy it was to use. Even as a complete Suunto newbie, we can imagine it’s really easy for anyone to pick up and watch and start tracking activities right away. 

When using it for fitness, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro does exactly what you’d expect it to as a more premium activity-tracking smartwatch. Despite a few instances where the interface feels sluggish—especially when you’re asking a lot of it, for example, controlling music while activity tracking and using GPS—it can handle most commands with ease while providing decent accuracy. 

Take GPS performance, for example, which seemed decent for the most part despite taking a little longer than we’d like to find a satellite signal. You can expect it to lock onto a signal within about 15-20 seconds or so but that really depends on your location. This is by no means slow, just not on par with the best the industry has to offer, like the German Fenix 7. The 9 Peak Pro’s optical heart rate performance seems pretty solid, too. 

  •  Performance rating: 4/5 

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Battery life

  • 21 days in smartwatch mode
  • 40 hours in GPS mode
  • 300 hours in battery-friendly GPS

So what about the 9 Peak Pro’s battery life? Suunto has certainly given it a boost in this regard, especially when comparing it to its predecessor, the 9 Peak. In smartwatch mode, which is basic activity tracking and receiving phone notifications, Suunto claims the 9 Peak Pro will offer 21 days as opposed to the 9 Peak’s seven days. GPS mode is now 40 hours, up from 25 hours, and in the battery-friendly GPS mode, you’ll get 300 hours as opposed to 170 hours. While these are some impressive improvements on paper, do they stack up in the real world?

In practice, we found the 9 Peak Pro just about lives it to its claims. Using the device to track some kind of workout activity almost every day, sometimes with GPS monitoring enabled and sometimes not, alongside smartphone notifications, lasted us just over two weeks before needing a recharge. 

It’s also pretty quick at re-juicing itself, too, powering up from 0-100% in just over an hour.

  • Battery life rating: 4/5

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Buy it if…

Suunto 9 Peak Pro: Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed January 2023

How we test

We test all our smartwatches in real, sweaty conditions. We wear them for multiple workouts, testing functions such as the heart rate monitoring and calorie counting functionalities and comparing them to other market leaders. We'll wear them while we sleep, eat and train to wear down the battery, ensuring the watch lasts as long as it claims. For example, we wore the Suunto 9 Peak Pro for over three weeks to check it lives up to those 300 hours.  

When it comes to GPS tracking, we'll often run or cycle while wearing another watch, and use the GPS tracking on a phone-based app to check for discrepancies. 

Garmin Vivosmart 5 review
2:39 pm | April 27, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Trackers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

January 2024

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 was reviewed in October 2022, and the Vivosmart range hasn't been updated since then. However, it's still the cheapest tracker in Garmin's stable, and band-based fitness trackers haven't moved forward all that much as a category since its release. For our money, it's still a good buy for budding runners, cyclists, and generally active people especially as it can be found quite cheaply now. It provides access to the very sophisticated Garmin Connect app, which can help you comprehensively plan your training and recovery for specific events. 

The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Two-minute review

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is a lightweight fitness tracker that takes the fight directly to Fitbit – and fares well. It's certainly not as attractive as devices like the Fitbit Charge 5 and Fitbit Luxe thanks to its rather utilitarian design and monochrome screen, but it's practical and puts a huge amount of data right at your fingertips.

Key specs

Size: 19.5 x 10.7 x 217mm (small), 19.5 x 10.7 x 255mm (large)
Weight with strap: 24.5g (small), 26.5g (large)
Display type: grayscale OLED
Sports modes: 14 total, 10 available on watch at a time
Operating system: Garmin Watch OS

The most obvious upgrade from the Vivosmart 4 is the larger, higher resolution screen. Garmin makes good use of all that extra space to cram in an impressive array of data – including graphs and charts to show trends, which is something you don't get on many fitness trackers this size. Despite the lack of color to differentiate different pieces of data, it's all clear and easy to interpret at a glance.

Unlike the Fitbit Charge 5, the Vivosmart 5 lacks on-board GPS, meaning it's dependent on a Bluetooth connection to your phone for monitoring your route and pace during outdoor activities. It can also use its on-board accelerometer to estimate distance and pace, but it's only a rough guide and shouldn't be relied upon if you're training for an event.

While some of Fitbit's best features (including advanced sleep and stress insights) are only available if you have a Fitbit Premium subscription, all of Garmin's data and stats are yours to browse free of charge in the excellent Garmin Connect app. You'll also find a selection of guided workouts to follow, plus adaptive training plans for cycling and running. You won't get the vast library of videos that you do with Fitbit's premium service, but Garmin doesn't lock anything behind a paywall.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 watch with black band

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 looks very similar to the Vivosmart 4 at first glance, but there are several notable differences, including a new interchangeable band (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 isn't quite as beginner-friendly as an entry-level Fitbit, putting statistics front and center, but if you're a bit of a data nerd then that approach will definitely appeal.

The Vivosmart 5 could also be a smart choice if you already own a full-fat Garmin sports watch but find it cumbersome for everyday wear in between training sessions. The Garmin Connect app supports multiple devices, and all your data is pooled together, regardless of which watch you were wearing.

Price and release date

  • Released April 2022
  • Cost $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$229 at launch

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 was released on 20 April, 2022 – four years after the Vivosmart 4 – with a recommended retail price of $149.99 / £129.99 / AU$229.

That's a standard price for a higher-end fitness tracker, but if you're starting to get serious about running and are looking for a watch with GPS that'll give you guidance on your training, you can currently pick up the excellent Garmin Forerunner 55 for only a little more. 

Woman's wrist wearing Garmin Vivosmart 5

The Vivosmart 5 is controlled using a physical button and a touchscreen (Image credit: Future)

Battery life

  • Seven days in smartwatch mode
  • Four days with all sensors and sleep tracking enabled

The Vivosmart 5 offers the same battery life as the Vivosmart 4. Garmin quotes a maximum runtime of seven days in smartwatch mode, but enabling SpO2 monitoring will cut that significantly. In our tests, the watch lasted four days and nights with 24-hour SpO2 monitoring enabled, and tracking one workout per day. We were able to recharge the battery from flat in a little over two hours. 

Garmin Vivosmart 5 connected to charging cable

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 uses the same proprietary charging cable as all the company's recent watches (Image credit: Future)

Design and display

  • Larger display than Vivosmart 4
  • Available in two sizes
  • New physical button on face

First of all, it's worth noting that the Garmin Vivosmart 5 comes in two sizes: small/medium (for wrists with a circumference between 122mm and 188mm), and large (for wrists with a circumference between 148mm and 228mm).

At first glance, both versions look very similar to the Vivosmart 4. The tracker itself has a slim build, and sits in a soft silicone band/case. This time around though, the band is replaceable; just bend the band back a little to pop the tracking unit out, then push it into the new strap – no tools necessary.

The Vivomove 5 lacks the aluminum bezel of its predecessor – a decision that makes it look a little less stylish, but almost certainly helped Garmin's designers save a few precious grams. The small/medium version we tested is just 24.5g including its band, while the large model is 26.5g, making it seriously lightweight.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 side profile

Garmin has replaced the capacitive button of the Vivosmart 4 with a physical button that's easier to operate while wearing gloves (Image credit: Future)

Garmin has also swapped the capacitive button at the bottom of the watch's face for a physical one. This might seem like a strange choice as it interrupts the device's sleek lines, but it's a decision we welcome because it makes the Vivosmart 5 much easier to operate when you're wearing gloves, or have wet hands (the device is water resistant for swimming, though not for diving or fast watersports).

On the reverse, you'll find the optical heart rate and SpO2 sensors, plus the charging socket. The Vivosmart 5 uses the same proprietary charging cable as all other Garmin devices used in recent years, and it plugs in securely.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the Vivosmart 5 and its predecessor is its new, larger OLED screen. The Vivosmart 5 has a higher resolution display than its predecessor, but it's still monochrome rather than color. This makes it less striking than the Fitbit Luxe, but Garmin's designers have used the limited space and palette in a smart way, conveying an impressive amount of of data on each screen. Rather than being cut off (as was sometimes the case with the Vivosmart 4), longer snippets of text scroll, and you can see at least three stats on screen at any one time.

Closeup of Garmin Vivosmart 5 display

The Vivosmart 5 has a significantly larger display than its predecessor, though it's still monochrome rather than color (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 also has an ambient light sensor, which adjusts the brightness of the screen dynamically to suit the current conditions. We found it worked well, but it's also possible to pick a brightness level manually, adjust the timeout period before the screen goes to sleep, or even choose always-on mode (though all of these will have an impact on battery life).

Everyday health tracking

  • Excellent sleep tracking
  • SpO2 monitoring drains battery rapidly
  • All-day stress monitoring works well

The Vivosmart 5 monitors sleep automatically, and in our tests it accurately detected when we fell asleep and woke – and its sleep stage tracking largely aligned with that recorded by our Withings Sleep Analyzer. Each morning you'll be presented with a mini report, including a sleep score (based on your sleep duration and time spent in each stage), a tiny weather forecast for the day ahead, and a quick overview of your upcoming calendar eventes. You can explore your sleep data in more detail using the Garmin Connect app. 

The only downside is that Garmin's sleep tracking doesn't account for naps, and if you grab 40 winks in the evening, it can throw out your nightly data. Naps are something Amazfit devices track well, and we've got our fingers crossed that Garmin will update its sleep and recovery algorithms to accommodate them soon.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 tracks sleep automatically, measuring heart rate, movement, respiration, and stress (Image credit: Future)

You can also choose to enable SpO2 monitoring overnight, or 24 hours a day, but as mentioned earlier, this has a huge impact on battery life. Unless you're particularly concerned about oxygen saturation (if you suspect you may suffer from sleep apnea, or are training at altitude for example), leaving it off may be a sensible compromise.

Garmin combines data from your sleep and daily activities to generate a Body Battery score. Much like Fitbit's readiness score, this is an estimate of how much energy you have to tackle tasks throughout the day, but unlike Fitbit's metric, Garmin devices like the Vivosmart 5 allow you to see changes in real time and adapt your plans on the fly. If you were planning a tough training session but your body battery is running low, it might be wise to take it easier with a more gentle recovery session.

It's a useful tool, and your current Body Battery score is only a tap away on the Vivosmart 5. There's also a handy line graph showing how your score has changed over the last four hours, and a note to inform you whether your Body Battery is 'charging' or 'draining'. It's a lot of data to cram into such a small space, and reduces the need to open the app on your phone for more data.

Garmin Vivosmart 5 menu

The Vivosmart 5 displays your current Body Battery score, and tapping this will allow you to see a chart of your energy level over the last four hours (Image credit: Future)

All-day stress monitoring is another helpful feature. Unlike the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5, which measure stress by checking for changes in the electrical conductivity of your stress, the Vivosmart 5 uses an algorithm called Firstbeat Analytics that's based on heart rate variability.

It can't always determine the difference between physical and emotional stress, but is suspended during tracked workouts, so should give you a good general idea of your mental state. If you are starting to feel the tension, the Vivosmart 5 (like all recent Garmin watches) can lead you through a very basic but effective square breathing exercise to lower your heart rate.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Vivosmart 5 will track your energy level throughout the day, with live updates on the watch itself, and measure stress via heartrate variability (Image credit: Future)

Workout tracking

  • Can store 10 workout tracking modes
  • No on-board GPS
  • Responsive heart rate monitor

First, it's important to note that (like last year's Garmin Lily) the Garmin Vivosmart 5 doesn't have an on-board GPS module. Instead, it uses your phone's GPS chip to track your pace and route during outdoor activities, so if you choose to run or cycle without your handset, you'll only see basic workout stats at the end.

There's a huge range of different sports profiles to choose from, but the little Vivosmart 5 can only store 10 at a time, so you'll need to take a moment to set up your preferred activities in the Garmin Connect app before hitting the pavement, the pool, or the gym. Once that's done, just press the button on the tracker's face, select Activities, and you're ready to get started.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Vivosmart 5 doesn't have the same heart rate monitor as Garmin's recent sports watches, but it's responsive nonetheless, and its readings largely align with those recorded by the company's pricier wearables (Image credit: Future)

Automatic activity tracking also works well, and you can choose how long the Vivosmart 5 should wait before beginning to record.

However, bear in mind that the device won't connect to your phone's GPS unless you begin monitoring your workout manually. You'll still get distance measured using the device's accelerometer, but it won't be as accurate. In a measured 5km run, it was 150m short, and pace was quite dramatically off during an interval training session.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosmart 5 doesn't have on-board GPS, so if your phone isn't within Bluetooth range it can only estimate your pace and distance using its accelerometer (Image credit: Future)

The Vivosmart 5 doesn't use the same heart rate monitor as recent watches like the Fenix 7 and Forerunner 55, but nevertheless it proved accurate and responsive in our interval training tests. You can also choose to broadcast your heart rate to a paired device via ANT+ compatible devices like treadmills (look for the ANT+ logo on your machine or check its manual to find out if yours will play along).

Once your workout is over, data is shared with the Garmin Connect app almost immediately provided your phone is within Bluetooth range. The watch can store data from seven timed activities, so don't worry if you can't sync it straight away.

Other tools

  • No on-board music storage
  • App and call notifications

The Vivosmart 5 has no on-board music storage, but that's to be expected for a device this small. You can, however, use it as a remote control for your phone's media player, meaning you don't have to dig your handset out of a pocket or armband mid-run when you want to switch tracks.

You can't use it to take calls either (you'll need the Garmin Venu 2 Plus for that). You will, however, be alerted to incoming calls and texts via customizable vibration on your wrist, and you can see small snippets of SMS, email, and app notifications by tapping them when they appear on the Vivosmart 5's display.

Another handy feature is the ability to find your phone using the Vivosmart 5 or vice versa – even if your phone is on silent. It's very loud, and very effective if you're disorganized.

Companion app

  • Data syncs almost instantly
  • Well organized and easy to understand
  • Nothing behind a paywall

Like all Garmin fitness trackers and sports watches, the Vivosmart 5 syncs data with Garmin Connect. The app supports multiple devices, so if you own a chunky GPS watch and are thinking of picking up a Vivosmart to wear in between workouts, you'll have no trouble doing so – all your health and workout data will be collected together, regardless of which device was used to record it.

Garmin Connect is one of the best apps of its type, presenting a huge amount of data in a way that's clear and easy to understand. The app's homescreen is a dashboard containing stats for the current day such as heart rate, stress level, Body Battery (Garmin's name for your energy level), menstrual cycle, and recent workouts. You can add, remove, and rearrange these at will.

Tap any stat or dive into the app's menu, and you can drill down through increasingly detailed data on your health, fitness, and training.

Data in Garmin Connect app collected using Garmin Vivosmart 5 fitness tracker

There's no need to pay a subscription fee to see historic data in the Garmin Connect app (Image credit: Future)

Everything in Garmin Connect is free, but if you're thinking of trading in your Fitbit, you should be aware that there are far fewer instructor-led workouts on offer here. If you're a runner or a cyclist then you'll appreciate the adaptive training plans that are designed to help you hit a particular goal (like completing a sportive or setting a new half marathon personal best), but you don't get the huge catalog of video tutorials you do with Fitbit Premium membership.

Which fitness tracker suits you best will depend on the type of experience you're looking for. If you're already happily settled into a workout routine, then the data-rich Vivosmart 5 may be the device for you, but if you want inspiration and more of a community experience then it's worth considering whether Fitbit membership will fit into your monthly budget.

Also consider

Buy it if

Don't buy it if

Fitbit Versa 3 review
6:02 pm | June 4, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Smartwatches | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • First reviewed: July 2022
  • Launch price: $229 / £199 / AU$399
  • New official price:  $169 / £169.99 / AU$299.99

Updated: January 2024: We reviewed the Fitbit Sense 3 in 2022, during which we praised it and called it the best Fitbit watch device overall. Since then, quite a few Fitbit devices have come and gone, including the Fitbit Versa 4: but due to the removal of some community and music features, we didn't rate the Versa 4 as highly as the Versa 3. Therefore, we still think the Versa 3 is a great buy, and although the official price has gone down, you can find deals on the Versa 3 even cheaper with third parties. 

The rest of the review remains as previously published.

Two-minute review

The Fitbit Versa 3 has finally fixed our biggest gripe about the Versa line of smartwatches, and we can recommend it as a great buy. Depending on price, we've even ranked it above the Fitbit Sense in our list of the Best Fitbits, earning the top spot. The Versa 3 now comes with integrated GPS to track – in real time – the pace and distance of your walks, runs, bike rides or hikes if you choose to leave your phone behind.

While that’s definitely a step up from the Versa 2, as is the larger and truly gorgeous display, there are still little things about the Versa 3 that make it oh-so-frustratingly-close to being one of the best wearables on the market.

Key stats

Price: $229 / £199 / AU$399
Case size: 40.48mm x 40.48mm 
Display tech: AMOLED
On-board GPS: Yes
Max battery life: 6 days

Don’t get us wrong – the Versa 3 is a serious contender to be the best fitness tracker on the market, especially given its relatively affordable price tag and the plethora of fitness tracking capabilities it has, which also includes an SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen levels while you sleep. However, a lot more useful information is locked behind the Fitbit Premium paywall, and the redesign of the side button has made it frustrating to use.

Instead of a physical button, like there is on the Versa 2, there’s now an indent on the left side of the chassis that’s similar to the inductive button that debuted on the Fitbit Charge 3. Unfortunately, it’s not as well implemented on the Versa 3, and it takes a few tries to find the exact spot you need to press to bring up apps and sub-menus.

Other than that, though, the Versa 3 is a beautiful wearable that does a lot of what the Fitbit Sense can do, with the exception of stress management and advanced heart monitoring. That means it’s cheaper than the Sense, although it is slightly more expensive than the Versa 2 in some markets (it costs the same £199 in the UK as its predecessor). However, built-in GPS, a larger 1.58-inch AMOLED display (the same as the one on the Sense) and an SpO2 sensor more than justifies the slightly higher launch price of $229 / AU$399.

There’s also a lot more fitness monitoring features on the Versa 3, making the on-device interface a lot busier than what was available on the Versa 2 at launch. There are ways to manage them all, but they do take time to get used to.

Despite that, performance is excellent, as we've come to expect from Fitbit devices. Battery life is about six days on a dim screen setting, but it drops to half that if you have the display set to always-on. GPS isn't as pinpoint accurate as on some other bands we've reviewed, but for the average user that won’t matter very much. The heart rate monitor is now a bit more precise than the Versa 2, but without a chest strap to compare, it’s hard to judge exactly how accurate it is.

Alexa is, of course, on board to help you answer some questions that are displayed on the device, and with Google buying Fitbit, a firmware update some time in the future will add Google Assistant to the wearable as well.

There’s still a dearth of productivity apps for Fitbit’s smartwatches but, as we said in our Versa 2 review, these are first and foremost fitness trackers that have  a few smartwatch perks.

Fitbit Versa 3 settings screen

One of the Fitbit Versa 3's best features is its high-resolution AMOLED display (Image credit: TechRadar)

Fitbit Versa 3 price and availability

  • Cheaper than Fitbit Sense
  • Pricier than Fitbit Versa 2 in some markets
  • Available in three color options

Fitbit announced the Versa 3, along with the Sense and the Fitbit Inspire 2, at a virtual conference in August 2020. It went up for pre-order the following day and began shipping by late September. The Versa 3 is currently available to buy directly from Fitbit and from major retailers around the world.

Interestingly, in the UK, both the Versa 2 and the Versa 3 are listed for the same price of £199. In the US and Australia, though, the Versa 3 carries a higher price tag than its predecessor, retailing for $229 and AU$399 respectively. That makes the Versa 3 the middle child – it’s no longer the flagship, with the Fitbit Sense taking over that role and costing a lot more at $329 / £299 / AU$499.

Unlike the Versa 2, which had a more expensive Special Edition version available, the Versa 3 comes in just the standard issue in three different colors – two soft gold cases with a Pink Gold and Midnight Blue strap, and a black chassis with a black band.

Fitbit Versa 3 on woman's wrist

The Fitbit Versa 3 has essentially the same design as the Fitbit Sense, with a large square display and rounded corners (Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

  • 40mm AMOLED display
  • Easy strap removal mechanism
  • Redesigned side button

At first glance the Versa 3 looks identical to its predecessors, but a closer look reveals a few design tweaks that make the new device a bit sleeker. In fact, a change in the color of the aluminum chassis makes the Versa 3 look rather elegant. The ‘soft gold’ case is neutral, but a black option keeps the Versa 3’s universal charm. 

The change in chassis color isn’t the biggest design change though; it’s the size of the screen. The display is now a larger 40mm AMOLED panel as compared to the 39mm on the Versa 2, with a higher resolution of 336 x 336 pixels (the Versa 2 is 300 x 300). It’s a bright, crisp and very clear display that looks absolutely stunning even at its ‘dim’ setting at pretty much any viewing angle. The bezels, though, still remain quite thick, similar to the Versa 2.

Navigating through the menus and apps via the screen is also a walk in the park – not once did the screen lag during our testing period, and swiping to bring up different functions works remarkably well.

Another design change is the side button, or rather the lack thereof – and it’s perhaps our biggest complaint about the Versa 3. Instead of a physical button, there’s a capacitive indent on the left side of the watch that, when pressed correctly, sends a short vibration to indicate you’ve activated the smartwatch. It’s located below the lip of the chassis, so you need to feel for it, and finding the exact spot to press is not especially easy. We've been using the Versa 3 for over a month now and we still need a few tries to find the exact spot. Thankfully, you don’t always need to use this “inductive” button to interact with the watch – you can set the watch to wake with a tap on the screen, then swipe to bring up whichever menu you need. That said, there are ‘shortcuts’ (like bringing up Alexa) that can be set on the watch, and these require either a tap-and-hold or double-tap-and-hold action to activate them. And they can be frustrating to bring up due to that button inconsistency.

Fitbit Versa 3 showing button on side of case

The Fitbit Versa 3 has a redesigned side button that's easier to operate (Image credit: TechRadar)

On the right edge of the watch chassis is a tiny mic and a speaker which, in theory, should allow you to take calls.

Fitbit has also changed the strap mechanism – the same as in the Fitbit Sense – and we think it’s better than the mechanism on the Versa 2. A small button acts as a latch, which when pulled slightly down releases the clasp. It gives the watch a much more streamlined look and makes it remarkably easy to swap out the default sporty strap it comes with.

This silicone strap is also different to the one that comes with the standard edition of the Versa 2. Fitbit calls this new model the "Infinity Band", as it lacks a buckle – it’s the same one that ships with the Sense as well.

Another major difference between the Versa 2 and the new iteration is the charger. Instead of the older box-like USB charger, there’s a small magnetic dock that tops up the juice extremely quickly – we went from 64% battery to 100% in under 15 minutes.

The Versa 3, like its predecessor, is also water resistant to 50m/164ft – meaning you can wear it in the shower or head out for a swim with it on your wrist. It can even survive a dip in salt water, although Fitbit recommends you not wear it in a hot tub or sauna.

Fitbit Versa 3 showing main menu

The large screen makes menus easy to scroll through (Image credit: TechRadar)

Smartwatch features

  • Alexa support, with Google Assistant coming in the future
  • Limited productivity apps
  • Phone call support

As a smartwatch, the Versa 3 functions exactly the same as its predecessor. It’s still a pared-back, no-frills experience as compared to something like an Apple Watch, but there should still be enough apps to keep many users happy. For example, a Philips Hue app is available to control smart lights, and there's a map app as well. That said, some apps are geo-specific to the US, UK or other regions, so the range of apps available to you will vary depending on your location. Fitbit Pay, though, should be a convenient option for most countries, with many banks around the world now supporting the cashless payment method.

It's worth reiterating that many of the better Fitbit apps are paid, just as they are on Apple Watch or Android Wear OS devices, so you'll need to pony up if you want some of the expanded functionality they provide.

Fitbit has a decent range of clock faces to choose from, so it should be easy to find something you like... although strangely, switching to a new face takes a while to apply. Amazon's Alexa is also on board to help with quick questions and, if you set up the Alexa app on your phone and sync your Amazon account, you can do a lot more, like set reminders and control your smart home devices. With Google set to buy Fitbit, Google Assistant support is also due to be added, but there's no firm timeline on when that is due to occur yet. 

As before, there's Deezer and Spotify music-streaming support available, but if you’re leaving your phone behind when on a workout, the only way to get access to your tunes offline is via Deezer. There’s still no offline Spotify feature, which is certainly quite disappointing.

Alarm app on Fitbit Versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 comes with various handy tools, including an alarm that can wake you up without disturbing your partner (Image credit: TechRadar)

With a built-in mic and speaker, you should, in theory, be able to take calls, although at the time of writing we were unable to test this functionality. We were able to answer an incoming call, but it seems Fitbit needs to enable this feature so users can use the device’s Bluetooth connection to their phone to speak to a caller (and hear them) by just raising their wrist close to their mouth. Fitbit lists this feature as "coming soon" on its website, so we’ll update this review when the company rolls out a firmware update to fully enable it.

As before, you’ll get all your phone notifications on your wrist, and you can choose which apps can push notifications to the Versa 3 in the Fitbit app. Most commonly used messaging apps are supported, including Slack and WhatsApp, along with emails and Uber.

Android users can reply to text via the Versa 3 with a handful of preset messages, but iPhone users don’t have that option. If you're an iOS user and keen on more smartphone functionality from a wearable, then you could consider opting for the Apple Watch SE. Unfortunately, having an onboard mic doesn’t mean you’re able to dictate messages and send them on any platform.

Fitbit Versa 3 fitness tracking modes

The Fitbit Versa 3 has a wide range of tracking modes for indoor and outdoor activities (Image credit: TechRadar)

Fitness and health tracking

  • SpO2 monitoring
  • GPS enabled
  • Several workout options

Like the previous iteration, fitness and health are the areas where the Versa 3 shines. Admittedly, it doesn’t have as many health tracking features as the Sense does, but there’s enough here for the average user to stay on top of things, thanks to 24/7 activity and heart monitoring.

There are guided breathing exercises available now, with ways to track your mindfulness and the ability to listen to meditation tracks on the Fitbit app. You can set up hourly reminders to move around a little, set your fitness goals and keep tabs on your sleep quality. The Versa 3 will also monitor your blood oxygen level while you sleep (provided you wear the device to bed), and this can be important in detecting disorders like sleep apnea. 

Fitness tracking stats in the Fitbit mobile app

The Fitbit mobile app is available for both iOS and Android devices (Image credit: TechRadar)

Your daily activities are broken down into step counts, steps taken, calories burned and zone minutes. You can get a pretty good picture on how you’re tracking, but if you want to delve deeper, you’ll need to be a subscriber to the Fitbit Premium service, which costs $9.99/£7.99/AU$15.49 per month. This gives you access to the new Health Metrics dashboard that offers advanced statistics on breathing rate, oxygen saturation and heart rate variability. While you won’t get notifications when your heart rate spikes (like on the Sense), there will be a record of it in case you’re monitoring yourself closely. Like the Sense, the Versa 3 vibrates when you’re moving between heart rate zones – useful when you’re working out and can’t keep looking at the clock face to check your pulse.

There are several workout options to choose from, including circuit training and interval workouts, covering most people’s needs. As mentioned earlier, you can even wear the Versa 3 during a swim, either in the pool or the sea.

Run tracking stats in the Fitbit mobile app

The Fitbit Versa 3's on-board GPS means it can track your route on runs and walks even if you leave your phone at home (Image credit: TechRadar)

And now, thanks to the Versa 3’s onboard GPS, all your outdoor activities can be mapped in real time. The GPS isn’t always very precise and does momentarily drop out, but despite that it’s a huge step up from the Versa 2. Keep in mind that the GPS only gets activated when you select a workout mode manually. Fitbit’s SmartTrack feature – which automatically detects and records movement that’s 15 minutes or longer as exercise – will not activate the GPS. Maps are available on the Fitbit app almost immediately after you’ve ended the exercise, with pace, heart rate and calories burnt graphically denoted as well.

Fitbit Versa 3 case back

The Fitbit Versa 3 features an SpO2 sensor on the rear to track blood oxygen saturation (Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life

  • Up to 6 days of battery
  • 2-day battery with always-on display
  • Charges quickly

Battery life is another thing Fitbit does really well, far better than Apple or Samsung. Like the Versa 2 before it, the Versa 3 offers up to 6 days of juice on a full charge, with the display set at normal brightness and the GPS being used no more than 2-3 times a week. The more you use the GPS, though, the quicker the battery drains; we measured a roughly 8% drop for 30 minutes of GPS use.

Keeping the screen always-on, though, drains the battery significantly, giving you no more than two days on a full charge. And if you use the GPS combined with the always-on display, you’ll need to charge the battery every day.

When the Versa 3’s battery needs some juice, topping it up is thankfully very quick. As we mentioned earlier, a 15-minute stint on the new USB charger gave us 36% more power. 

First reviewed October 2020

Fitbit Versa 3 with weather app on screen

The Fitbit Versa 3 comes with a handy weather app preinstalled (Image credit: TechRadar)

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