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Many people have no truck with fitness trackers and smartwatches for the simple fact that they take up valuable real estate on their wrist. Real estate that they prefer to dedicate to a stylish analogue watch, because no matter how good-looking trackers get, they can’t hold a candle to a premium watch face.
Many brands have aimed to fill this void by hiding some smart features away in the body of an analogue watch – the Withings Steel and Garmin Vivomove HR have both adopted that tactic. Sony has taken a different approach by adding fitness tracking to its new Wena strap, a strap that can accommodate any face with 18mm, 20mm or 22mm lugs.
There are two different Wena straps to pick between: the metal Wena Wrist Pro is designed for everyday activity tracking, while the silicone Wena Wrist Active is meant for more sporty types. Both straps will record details like steps taken and calories burned, and deliver notifications from your phone to the thin screen on the underside of your wrist, which is more private than a standard smartwatch and easier to sneak a glance at.
Both Wena straps can also make NFC payments using .boon, an iOS and Android app which works just like a pre-paid contactless Mastercard. It means Sony can deftly sidestep the problems Fitbit and Garmin have had recruiting banks to their respective platforms.
The Wena Wrist Active adds a built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor, making it a far more attractive choice for sporty types. The silicone band is also far lighter than the Wena Wrist Pro, tipping the scales at 40.9g compared with 85g. Sony lists the battery life at a week for both the Wena Active and the Wena Pro, though we’d expect the latter to last for less time if you’re regularly firing up the GPS.
The Wena’s feature set matches up well to what you get from most fitness tracker bands, though the small screen means you’ll have to spend a lot of time on the partner app to dive into the details of your activities. It’s clearly not as useful to very keen runners or sportspeople as a watch with a screen dedicated to tracking, but the Wena does offer a compelling solution to people who have so far rejected the fitness tracker trend because they don’t want to stop wearing their current watch.
Sony is also launching a range of stylish faces that fit with the Wena straps, though we reckon people are less likely to want these than simply to add smarts to their beloved timepiece. The price may be a sticking point: the straps alone cost a hefty £399 for the Wena Wrist Pro and £349 for the Wena Wrist Active, and there are some pretty amazing fitness trackers and smartwatches available for that price. But perhaps being able to stick with the watch you’ve always worn while adding activity tracking is priceless.
Pre-order from Sony | £349-£399
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.