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A Run Through London with the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Xperia Z3 Compact

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Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London (peabay.xyz) @peabay
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I was kindly asked by Time Out if I’d like to take part in their running tour of London and try out the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Xperia Z3 Compact to see how they do covered in sweat.

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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

The Xperia Z3 Compact is designed for durability. The kind of phone a sloppy drunk would appreciate. It’s toilet proof, it lasts from 9pm to 9am, and the camera will work even in the poor lighting of XOYO.

Key Features

  • Waterproof
  • 2 Day Battery life
  • Camera with ISO 12800 (i.e. it’s great in low light)
  • 4K Ultra High-Definition Video Recording
  • Quad-Core Qualcomm® Snapdragon 801 Processor

Sony Smartwatch 3

Rugged rubber means this watch will last forever. You’ll be handing this watch down to your grandkids. In the context of running, the watch runs Android Wear and a load of fitness apps.

Have you used a Garmin watch? Have you suffered its controls? You may like this then – Android Wear is voice controlled. Tapping the screen and saying “Start Run” will open your running app, in my case Strava, and show you how you’re doing.

Key Features

  • Android Wear
  • Ambient light sensors, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyro, GPS
  • 2 Days Battery Life
  • NFC
  • Micro USB Charging
  • 320 x 320 Display

The Training

I set off on my run around Regent’s Park, phone in hand and watch on wrist. Strava would be my coach, Google Maps my guide.

I’ve spent many minutes standing at the gates of Regent’s Park waiting for my Garmin watch to find signal, so having a watch that gets up and running within seconds was a dream. If talking to your watch isn’t your thing Strava can be started with a few taps.

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My first stop was London Zoo and the penguins. The penguins weren’t home so I visited the llamas. Llamas do not like to wait for photos. Luckily the Xperia Z3 can be quickly unlocked by the presence of a smartwatch and the camera opened by a physical button on the side. After a rather wonky photo I was off again.

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A quick look at Google Maps showed that I was on track to Primrose Hill. It’s basically a local mountain that looks out over London. A beautiful hell for runners.

I’d picked the worst day to take a picture of an otherwise awe inspiring landscape. None-the-less I was happy with the overall quality of the photo. I’d usually touch up the photos but for the purpose of the tests I’ve left them untouched.

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Strava reminded me that I’d started slowing down, so I kicked it up a gear for the last leg. Then I ran out of steam and took a picture of a duck. Here is said duck. Duck was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the photograph. He especially liked his colours despite the horribly gloomy lighting.

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The Run – “Icon to Icon”

Sixty eager runners met in Shoreditch and were greeted by Run Dem Crew (One of London’s great running groups) who were to lead us through the chilly streets of London. Charlie Dark, leader of RDC, injected some crew mentality before guiding us to our first stop. “Away away away!”

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I learned quickly from the Z3 that being able to take pictures without touching the screen is a massive life saver. Holding down the physical camera button opens the camera, holding it again takes a photo. Sweaty hands and gloves make the screens of smartphones virtually unusable. Then again, the Z3 does have a glove mode which somehow senses your finger’s presence without it physically touching the screen. It’s amazing. It’s probably witchcraft.

We were told that the camera on the Z3 was especially good in low light. And as light dwindled it became pretty obvious that this wasn’t just a claim.

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Dozens of us headed out through the roads of Liverpool Street, down narrow ally ways, dodging bollards and people. Yesterday’s bleak sky was swept away and replaced by a crisp winter blue.

We arrived at the Tower of London as the Shard glowed in the background. I’ve taken pictures of this shot before with other phones and been left with horribly grainy pictures. The Z3 nailed it. Crisp lines and soft colours.

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Tower Bridge was our second landmark. Even in winter this thing is rammed with tourists. Our pack of runners swept through them, stopping occasionally to grab a photo of the incredible Thames sunset.

Shakespeare’s Globe and Tate Modern were our last stops before whisking over the Millennium Bridge, through Liverpool Street Station and back into Shoreditch.

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Note: These photos have been compressed so quality will be lost.

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Roundup

If you’re going to buy running gear you really don’t want to go basic – seriously. Hard to use gadgets will destroy your motivation like a kick in the shin. If you want something easy to use, able to track every detail of your run, and be able to take great photos without fumbling around and ruining your time, you will probably like the Sony Xperia Z3 and Smartwatch 3.

In hindsight Strava probably wasn’t the best app to use. Their watch app was only capable of showing how long I’d been running, which isn’t amazingly useful. On the plus side there are hundreds of other running apps I could use.

More Runs Coming Up

Time Out have two more of these runs planned in the next few weeks and I really recommend them. Speeds range from 0 to very fast and you see all that London has to offer.

Apply Here

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Photo by Ash Narod

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Photo by Ash Narod

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Photo by Ash Narod

Posted 15th Feb 2015
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