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A Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review: Should You Buy One. Samsung Galaxy s3 frontier

Samsung Gear S3 review: Samsung tries to throw it all on a watch, but it doesn’t all stick

The Gear S3 has tons of features, and it’s even a phone. But it isn’t the best.

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.

  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps

Smartwatches are experiments. For a taste of the future, you’ve got to live with compromise on your wrist. But for a lot of people, connected watches are best kept simple. Battery life wins out over tons of features, and ease of use over feature bloat. After all, that’s what phones are for. Watches are where we check things quickly.

Samsung Gear S3

The Good

Well-constructed; attractive design; clever spinning bezel interface. GPS, speakerphone, optional stand-alone LTE phone service and work-anywhere Samsung Pay. Spotify app streams music on the go. Works with most Android phones, and even iPhones to a degree.

The Bad

It’s big. Tizen-based software has less app support than Apple Watch or Android Wear. iOS connection works, but it’s very buggy. Few killer apps take advantage of stand-alone LTE services.

The Bottom Line

The problem is that the Gear S3 still feels like an experiment, when, in its second iteration (the S2 was the first major redesign), it should really start feeling like a more mature, polished product. If you’re looking to see where watches will go next, Samsung’s exploring the ideas now. Stand-alone cellular LTE connection without a phone? Check. Spotify on-wrist? Check. Use-anywhere wrist payments that are even more versatile than Apple Pay? Yes.

samsung, gear, frontier, review, galaxy

The Gear S3 is an insanely feature-rich smartwatch with a big, bold design. But unlike the latest Apple Watch and Android’s upcoming 2.0 software update, Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear S3 doesn’t do enough to improve the experience or support more apps. And few of those apps actually use the Gear S3’s standalone LTE. In terms of hardware, it’s a better watch than last year’s bold, clever Gear S2. And yet, it fails to take enough leaps forward in its software. Last year’s S2 was innovative, but it needed polishing. And it really, really needed more apps.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

I used the Gear S3 for over a month paired to a Samsung Galaxy S7 (read my initial impressions here) and then recently via the iPhone 7, using Samsung’s new iOS smartwatch-pairing app. Read on for everything that Gear S3 does right, and where it stumbles.

Basically, know this: For 300 (the basic cost of the Classic or Frontier models of the watch, which both look sleek and classy), you’re getting a solid and complex watch. But it’s really not any better, in terms of software, than last year. Meanwhile, the LTE-equipped Frontier model I reviewed has full cellular and phone functions, but probably isn’t worth the cost. It’s roughly 350, £350 or AU589, but US carriers are offering a discount of 100 on a two-year data contract, which I probably wouldn’t do. It also requires adding an extra monthly data charge to your phone plan.

Android Wear 2.0 is just around the corner, and new Android watches could be everywhere. Samsung’s concept makes some successful executions, and some notable hardware improvements, but not enough of them to be the ultimate watch for everyone. And it hasn’t gotten any easier to use.

What’s interesting

Samsung Pay: Adding Samsung Pay to the Gear S3 doesn’t just enable tap-to-pay at the same places that usually accept Apple Pay or Android Pay. It has MST, a magnetic technology that’s also on Samsung’s Galaxy phones since the Note 5 and S6, and it works at any credit card terminal. It’s essentially a use-anywhere virtual credit card, accessible with a double-click of a button. It works by sending a timed ping that works at vending machines, terminals or anywhere close to the credit card reader. (The Gear S2 added Samsung Pay, but only the NFC kind.)

Spotify: Samsung finally made good on offering a Spotify app on the Gear S3 (and S2), and it works. There are caveats: It can stream over Wi-Fi or LTE (if you bought a Gear S3 that has LTE, like my review model), but it can’t download tracks. And its interface is bad. And, streaming for an hour and a half nearly depleted my entire watch battery. But. it works! (It also requires a paid Spotify subscription.) I connected Airpods and listened on the go, and it was pretty fun. But I’d rather download tracks and save data.

The design: The Gear S3 comes in two designs, both far more “regular watch” than the futuristic but excellent-looking Gear S2. It’s a step forward and a step back. The big (and I mean big) design feels like a massive sports watch on my thick, hairy wrist. But that design isn’t for a lot of people, and loses universal appeal as a result. But at least it feels really well built and looks high-end. The LTE-equipped model is like a tank. But damn, if you like large watches, this is an eye-catching look.

It’s a full stand-alone phone with LTE: If you buy the LTE model, it can take calls and even connect apps on the go (via ATT or T-Mobile in the US). If you want a phone on your wrist, here it is. And it’s probably the best phone-on-wrist watch that exists. With ATT, for instance, the watch can share a number with your Android/Samsung phone. Add Bluetooth headphones, and discreet calls can be taken. Would I need that? No. Some might, though. But to use this as an LTE phone, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to add it to your phone plan.

Samsung’s S Health fitness features are surprisingly good: S Health is the required baked-in way to track fitness on the Gear S, but it does heart rate and automatic activity tracking, can log water and coffee intake, and reminds me when I’ve stayed still too long. It even recommends stretching exercises when I stand again. I like that the S Health encourages activity streaks.- walk for a while, and it shows me how long I’ve been walking for.- and sometimes it borders on fitness coaching.

On iOS you can connect and even install apps: Samsung’s iOS app is not good, but it’s more versatile than a basic Android Wear conduit. Samsung S Health connects for fitness tracking, and a handful of apps and watch faces can be downloaded. Just not all of them.- Spotify and Uber don’t make the cut, for example.

Samsung S-Voice works. pretty well: Google’s upcoming Assistant improvements to Android Wear, and Siri on Apple Watch, offer more connections to phone functions. S-Voice still works OK, though, and can do more than you’d expect (setting alarms, calling a contact, getting weather, asking what an aardvark is). It can retrieve brief entries from sources such as Wikipedia.

What’s not so hot

Tizen (and its app deficit): Samsung’s watch makes yet another bet on Tizen, its own software and app ecosystem. And no one else has. The amount of apps for Gear watches has trickled to a near standstill. And while there are some clever games and watch faces, and a few brand-name apps like a CNN or Bloomberg or ESPN watch face, or Uber or Spotify, these apps are so few and far between that you’ll hunger for any new one just to justify your Gear purchase. There are technically thousands of Gear S3-compatible apps. but few of them are anything recognizable, or anything most people would want to use.

The interface: Last year, the Gear S2’s novel spinning wheel design for navigation was eye-popping and fun. But it’s also time-consuming, and I can’t get to what I need as fast as I can on an Apple Watch. Too much dial-spinning, and two buttons to push instead of one, add up to a lot of wasted time fiddling around. At-a-glance info isn’t always easy because most Samsung Gear watch faces are light on customization. I can’t pack on shortcuts or quick readout info like on the Apple Watch.- say, to music or weather or calendar.

A more efficient design is needed. It’s definitely better than Android Wear right now, but it’s not another leap forward. And getting some apps to work requires a mix of Samsung apps, conduit apps and maybe even double log-ins. (Spotify required another log-in once my phone was out of reach.)

LTE model can drain the battery fast: I did get two days of battery life on average using the S3 Frontier LTE model when paired to the phone, but if I used LTE to connect to the watch away from the phone, battery life slipped away fast. Depending on what I did, my watch could drain before I got home for dinner (and my watch charger). A day on LTE standby was typical.- but not guaranteed. What’s the use of a smartwatch that has such a wide range of battery endurance depending on performance?

It’s water resistant, but not swim proof: IP68 means dust and dunk-friendly, but unlike the Apple Watch Series 2, you’re not meant to go swimming.

Would I buy one?

Would I recommend the Samsung Gear S3 to an iPhone owner? Absolutely not. But with Android phone owners, the decision is harder. There is no perfect watch right now, just a field of inferior products. Android Wear isn’t a good answer now, although Android Wear 2.0 could provide some promise starting in the next few months. Pebble has been absorbed by Fitbit. Samsung offers some interesting options with the Gear S3, and its ability to be a full phone if you spring for the LTE model could appeal to some people.

After more than a year since the Gear S2, the S3 amounts to a lateral move. Improved hardware, but not improved software. And no matter how clever the S3’s design is, it needs to be better at delivering information fast. That being said, right now, I’d prefer the S3 over any current Android Wear watch. or any other Android-connected watch. That statement will probably change sooner rather than later. But the older Gear S2 is still available, and at around 230 it’s far more of an impulse purchase. It lacks a speakerphone, though. And if you care about adding phone service, the Gear S3 LTE is far better than the S2 3G.

Samsung’s watch is absolutely attractive. Its looks catch the eye of people I show it to, and while it’s big, it’s definitely good-looking. But it’s not the best info-on-my-wrist remote way to quickly check in on my life. Maybe that’s a problem with all smartwatches. But it’s definitely a problem with this one.

A Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review: Should You Buy One?

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier was first released to the smartwatch market on November 18th, 2016. To this day, it remains the #1 best selling smartwatch on Amazon.

There are good reasons for this. Not the least of which is the fact that unlike most bulky, square smartwatches, the Samsung Gear S3 has a circular face that looks like a regular watch.

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier in particular is especially popular because of its innovative rotating bezel for interfacing with the OS, the impressive watch faces you can download, and features that’ll make you feel like you’re James Bond.

In this Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review, you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier, and why you probably should own one.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Design and Specs

The Gear S3’s 1.3-inch super AMOLED display has more room for apps than you might expect, when compared to square smartwatches.

The circular bezel lets you quickly navigate through apps, scroll through messages, and even answer calls. One twist left shows you all notifications, and one twist right lets you switch quickly to multiple widgets.

samsung, gear, frontier, review, galaxy

The body, bezel, and buttons are made of stainless steel, which means it’s a watch that’s durable enough to last you for years.

samsung, gear, frontier, review, galaxy

One charge of the 380 mAH Li-Ion battery will typically last you a couple of days, and you can purchase a Qi wireless charger so that you can charge at home, the office, or while you’re traveling.

  • IP68 rated to withstand dust, dirt, and submersion into up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes.
  • Gorilla Glass 1.3 inch touchscreen face offering 16 million colors
  • Tizen-based OS running on a dual-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53 processor
  • 768MB flash RAM with 4GB of internal storage
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Embedded GLONASS GPS receiver
  • Sensors include accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, and barometer

The watch weighs in at 64 grams (2.22 oz), which feels slightly heavier than a large men’s Casio watch.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Watch Faces

The watch faces that are available for the Samsung Gear S3 family of watches are remarkable. The most stylish and beautiful ones are usually offered at a price ranging from 1 up to 5. Most are very much worth the price.

samsung, gear, frontier, review, galaxy

Although, there’s also a wide selection of excellent free watch faces as well.

Watch face range from health focused or classy and stylish to military style or comic book and animated. There’s a Samsung Gear S3 watch face for just about anyone out there.

The worst thing about the selection is that you’re going to have a hard time deciding which one to use. One option is to use a different watch face every day of the week!

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier GPS Apps

All of this hardware offers you some of the coolest features to support all of your adventures.

Is THIS the BEST smartwatch? | Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review

To install apps and watch faces onto your watch, you’ll need to install the Galaxy Wearable app onto your Android from Google Play or your iPhone from the Apple Store (yes the watch is compatible with both).

The embedded GPS receiver is one of the most useful features of the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.

MapMyRun

For example, if you install the MapMyRun app on your Android or on your iPhone, you can install the companion Samsung Gear MapMyRun app to log your walk or run even if you leave your phone in the car.

Navigation Pro

If you install Navigation Pro: Google Maps Navi on your Android or your iPhone, you can install the companion Navigation Pro app on your Samsung Gear to display navigational directions right on your wrist.

This means you can put your phone away while you’re driving and just glance at your wrist for directions.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Health Apps

When it comes to health, the Samsung Gear S3 doesn’t look like other sleek and stylish sports smartwatches. But when it comes to functionality, it does offer everything you might need.

Samsung Health

When it comes to monitoring your health, the Samsung Gear Health app uses the accelerometer, gyro, and heart rate monitor to log your movements, exercise, and heart rate.

These are all logged and synced with the Samsung Health app on your phone. The Samsung Health app is central to all of the tracking features available on your phone:

Many watch faces will display your current steps, calories burned, and heart rate as well.

GymRun

You can also use the GymRun Workout app on your Samsung Gear S3 to track your workouts without having to carry your smartphone around the gym.

Use the custom workouts you’ve designed from your phone app to track your exercise using your phone while you’re in the gym.

Keep in mind that the Premium version of GymRun is required in order for the Samsung Gear S3 companion app to work.

Download GymRun for Android. This app is not available for iPhone.

G’night Sleep Tracker

Another important aspect of health is how well you sleep, and yes there’s an app for that. The G’Night sleep tracking app is one of the best. This is a standalone app that runs in the background and senses every small movement you make during the night.

It’s a little more detailed than the Samsung Health app in the details it provides about your movements and how long you spent in REM sleep.

Other Useful Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Apps

If you really want to impress people around you, when it comes time to pay at the grocery store, just hold your phone up to the card reader and pay with your Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review. Is It Worth It In 2018?

Samsung Pay

This technology is made possible thanks to the Samsung Pay app. The app uses your Gear’s ability to transmit an NFC signal to the pay terminal. The Pay terminal recognizes this signal just the same as if you’d swiped your bank card.

All you have to do to set it up is install the Samsung Pay app on your Smart watch and on your Android smartphone (not yet available on iPhone). Then configure your bank cards using the instructions in the app.

Forget your wallet or purse at home? No problem!

Make and Receive Phone Calls

One of the coolest features available with your Samsung Gear S3 is the ability to make or receive phone calls right from your watch.

This is because the watch hardware includes both a speaker and a microphone.

This feature includes full access to all of your phone contacts, the ability to dial out from your watch, and the ability to decline calls as well.

Tap the green phone button when receiving an incoming call, and you can carry out a full conversation with the person talking directly into your watch.

You may get some curious glances from people around you, but don’t let that stop you.

Plus, if you don’t want people hearing your conversation, just pair your bluetooth earphones with your Samsung Gear S3 and you can use the earbuds to have the conversation instead.

Barometer and Altitude

The barometer sensor in your Samsung Gear S3 means you get access to two useful readings for your environment.

Since air pressure at sea level is roughly 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level, and since the watch’s GPS knows your location, it can calibrate the watch to detect your altitude above sea level.

You can also keep an eye on the barometer reading to see if it’s rising or falling and predict coming storms.

Should You Buy A Samsung Gear S3 Frontier?

This smartwatch is ideal for people who are going for a more rugged watch look. Since it’s a bit heavier than something like a Fitbit, it may not be idea for runners or people with a smaller body frame.

However, if you enjoy hiking or exploring and are looking for an “adventure” smartwatch that’ll track your health, monitor your location and altitude, and let you make and receive calls while keeping your phone in your. then this is the smartwatch for you.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs S3 Classic: What’s the difference?

It was hardly a secret that Samsung was going to unveil the Gear S3 smartwatch at its Berlin Unpacked event on 31 August. But two watches? It was rumoured, and now it’s official: the Gear S3 will arrive in Frontier and Classic variants. How, then, do they differ?

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs Gear S3 Classic: Design differences

On paper the Frontier and Classic don’t sound very different: they both measure the same (46.1 x 49.1 x 12.9mm), while the Frontier is a shade weightier at 62g to the Classic’s 57g.

The real difference is who these watches are pitched at: the Frontier is the more rugged looking and comes with a rubberised strap as standard, while the more classic looking Classic (clue’s in the name, eh?) comes with a black leather strap as standard. However, both models can accept any 22mm standard watch strap. not just those provided by Samsung.

Small details in the finish help define one watch from the other too: the Frontier has larger, textured buttons, which resemble more the sportswatch-like design compared to the more protruding metal buttons of the Classic.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs S3 Classic: Features are a near mirror

But just because the Frontier looks the sportier model, doesn’t mean it comes with a sportier feature set. Indeed both Gear S3 models are IP68 dust-proof and water-resistant, and both feature built-in gyro, accelerometer, barometer, GPS and optical heart-rate monitor.

So both Frontier and Classic are capable of fitness and tracking. a feature Samsung is keen to push with its S Health app.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs Gear S3 Classic: To LTE or not LTE?

In some territories a second version of the Frontier will come equipped with LTE/3G for on-the-go connectivity.

But that’s not the case in the UK. “Samsung are not planning to launch the LTE variant in Europe at this time”, the company told us, when quizzing the appearance of the “LTE/3G” mention of the official product spreadsheet.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs Gear S3 Classic: Battery life

Both Frontier and Classic have a 380mAh capacity battery, which is a jump over the previous Gear S2, said to deliver three to four days of use per charge. That’s yet to be seen in the real-world, but here’s hoping.

The LTE model, however, is unlikely to last nearly as long. Not that we need to worry about that in the UK.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier vs Gear S3 Classic: Tizen OS

Core to the Gear S3 is its Tizen operating system. Both the Frontier and Classic models shun Android Wear, just as the earlier Gear S2 did. which will also remain in the line-up.

Both Gear S3 models are controlled by a combination of rotational bezel, twin buttons and touchscreen. we actually find it more intuitive and neater to use than Android Wear, which isn’t something we would have said of Tizen a couple of years ago.

In its latest form there are more apps then ever before too, including Spotify. So whether you want health, music, social, notifications and other content. or just for the Gear S3 to be your main watch. then both models will have you covered.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review: Outclassing most smartwatches in the market

Samsung completely rethought its smartwatch strategy last year starting with the Gear S2. Unlike the company’s earlier watches, the Gear S2 looked more like mechanical timepieces rather than a screen slapped onto a wrist. The Gear S2 looked beautiful, and it came with a completely new interaction tool – a rotatable bezel – which impressed even Samsung’s toughest critics. This year, Samsung is upping its game with the Gear S3. While Apple focused on improving existing features with its second-generation smartwatch, Samsung chose to go all guns blazing with features. The company understands its smartwatches not only compete with other smartwatches but also with fitness trackers from the likes of Fitbit, so it added GPS for improved fitness and activity tracking. Other new features include a loudspeaker (in all variants), Full Color Always On Display mode, compatibility with a wider range of smartphones, and a larger battery. We have already reviewed the Gear S3 classic, which we found to be a very classy smartwatch. What does the Gear S3 Frontier fare? Let’s dive into the review to find out.

Design and Build Quality

One thing you’ll immediately notice is that the Gear S3 Frontier is a big watch. Not only is the screen larger, but even the case is thicker than that of the Gear S2. The Gear S3 Frontier is designed for sports and fitness enthusiasts, so it has a considerably more rugged look than the classic variant. Its 46mm case is made of 316L stainless steel and the Band is made of silicon. It’s IP68-certified for dust and water resistance. Since the watch is compatible with standard 22mm bands, there’s scope for endless customization options. The build quality has improved a lot over last year’s Gear S2. The signature rotating bezel now comes with added grooves, which makes for easier rotation. There are two buttons (Back and Home) on the right side, both of which are very easy to locate and press. The supplied Band is quite rugged and chunky, but it sometimes rubs with the skin to cause rashes. There’s a heart rate monitor on its glass back, while the loudspeaker is on the left side of the casing. It is MIL-STD 810G certified as well, so there’s added protection from cold, heat, and shock.

Overall, the Gear S3 Frontier looks quite nice and blends well with various types of clothing. However, the watch can be too big for some users, and people with smaller wrists would definitely miss the compact design of the Gear S2. It’s surprising that Samsung didn’t consider releasing a smaller sized variant of its latest smartwatch, and the Gear S3 classic is the one to get if you must have the latest iteration of Samsung’s smartwatch in a more compact form factor.

Display

The 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED display on the Gear S3 Frontier is slightly bigger than the Gear S2’s, and this time it is hidden beneath a stronger Gorilla Glass SR protection panel. It has a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels. Thanks to a pixel density of 278 ppi, it looks quite sharp from a standard viewing distance. It is not only colorful, but quite bright, too. At 1000 nits, the screen is far brighter than the screen on its predecessor (the Gear S2 had a screen with up to 600 nits brightness). There’s an ambient light sensor, too, so the screen on the Gear S3 Frontier adjusts the brightness automatically to more clearly display content depending on the surrounding light. Another useful addition to the Gear S3’s excellent screen is its Full Color Always On Display (AOD) mode. This feature allows the smartwatch to showcase a full watch face at all times. What’s more, it can even display a rotating seconds hand at all times, à la a real watch. This brings the Gear S3 even closer to a mechanical watch in resemblance. Samsung has designed a good amount of attractive watch faces which make use of the new Full Color AOD mode on the Gear S3. Samsung recently released a newer version of its Gear Watch Designer software so that developers can make more complex AOD watch faces to go with the beautiful display. There’s a special mode that you can activate to make the screen more sensitive to touches so that you can use the Gear S3 while wearing gloves.

Performance

The Gear S3 is equipped with a 1GHZ Exynos 7270 processor, 768MB RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. As opposed to last year’s Exynos 3250 processor, the new Exynos 7270 is based on 14nm FinFET architecture, so it is relatively smaller in size and more power efficient. The watch performs every task swiftly, and you will never notice a hint of lag. Notifications are mirrored fast, animations are smooth, and apps launch fast. The loudspeaker isn’t loud enough, and the sound crackles at its highest setting. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections were generally stable. However, there was one instance when the Gear S3 wasn’t able to connect to the paired smartphone, so I had to disable the Bluetooth connection and then enable it again, which solved the problem. I was able to store music tracks on the watch’s 4GB internal storage and listen to them on Bluetooth earphones connected to the Gear S3, and it was a really useful feature as I could leave my smartphone in my bag when needed.

Software and User Interface

The Gear S3 runs Tizen v2.3.2.1, which comes with some new features and a more refined UI. If you are a Gear S2 owner, you’ll feel right at home with the Gear S3’s software. Even if you have never used Samsung’s recent smartwatches, you’ll be able to quickly and easily pick up and use the Gear S3. The Gear Manager app, which is used to pair and manage the Gear S3, has received a huge upgrade in terms of user interface and design. It is now compatible even with Android smartphones from manufacturers other than Samsung. The Gear Manager app can be used to arrange apps, disable or enable app-level notification mirroring, and set and edit watch faces. The app now shows battery life as well as RAM and storage used. It even shows estimated battery life based on remaining battery charge. You can also add pictures and music tracks from your smartphone to your Gear S3 to consume them on the watch at a later time. It can also be used to find the smartwatch should you forget where you left it, send SOS requests, and install latest software updates.

You can interact with notifications and reply to mails or messages using a T9 keyboard, preset responses, emojis, or a voice dictation system. The reply mechanism on the Gear S3 is compatible with most of the widely used apps such as Messenger, Gmail, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and even Slack. I frankly didn’t miss Android Wear. Samsung is also working with watch face designers such as WatchMaster and Facer to bring popular watch faces from Android Wear. S Voice, Samsung’s voice recognition and Smart digital assistant, still can’t match Apple’s and Google’s offerings. The company needs to do a lot more work if it wants to defeat or match its rivals in this aspect. Maybe Samsung’s latest acquisition of Viv will help it it achieve the feat. It is rumored that Samsung will bring a voice/digital assistant called Bixby to its upcoming devices, and we hope it will make its way to the company’s smartwatches as well. Also, while the catalog of apps is growing slowly, at this pace it won’t ever reach the breadth and depth of apps available for the Apple Watch.

The rotating bezel is still the best interaction tool on any smartwatch. It’s a unique feature that differentiates Samsung’s smartwatches from its rivals’ offerings. The combination of a touchscreen, a rotating bezel, two physical buttons, and a user interface that’s arranged around the circular display makes the Gear S3’s user interface the most intuitive on the market.

Fitness and Activity Tracking

Moving onto fitness and activity tracking aspects of the Gear S3, Samsung has equipped it with GPS, something that was missing on the Gear S2. This makes the watch more accurate for tracking activity. Other sensors such as accelerometer and gyro are present as well. GPS took quite some time to lock my position, so it’s best to wait a few minutes before starting outdoor activities like running, jogging, walking, or cycling. Activity tracking is quite accurate most of the time. It was able to accurately detect that I was using an elliptical machine at the gym and had then run on the treadmill for a bit, complete with an accurate duration count.

Since there’s a loudspeaker on the watch, you can hear a virtual assistant read out vital information such as calories burnt and elapsed time during workouts. Heart rate monitoring was as accurate as it can get on optical heart rate monitors, which aren’t as accurate as some chest strap monitors, especially when there’s a lot of movement. Sleep tracking on the smartwatch missed its mark sometimes, and there was no option to edit sleep timings as it would deem them “out of range”. But at other times, the Gear S3 was able to accurately track my mid-afternoon naps. Overall, sleep tracking was more of a hit and miss affair. Even though it’s IP68-certified for water and dust resistance, we wouldn’t recommend you to go swim with the Gear S3 since it is not as resistant to water as the Apple Watch Series 2 (which can sustain up to 50 meters deep under water). However, dunking your watch in standing water, washing your hands with your Gear S3 on your wrist, or using it out in light rain should do no harm to the watch.

Battery Life

The main reason behind the increase in the physical size of the Gear S3 is the large battery inside. Samsung managed to fit a 400mAh battery inside the smartwatch, and the company claims that it can last up to four days after a single charge. Samsung has thrown in wireless charging and a magnetic charging dock that attaches to a plastic base plate, making the whole setup look great while it charges the watch. In my experience with the watch over ten days, the watch lasted me 2 days with the Always On Display mode active. If you’re someone who gets a lot of notifications, expect the watch to last a day and a half on a single charge. If you disable the Always On Display mode, you can achieve more than three days with a single charge. Four days might not be possible, however, unless you keep the watch on power saving mode at all times. We did see battery life of four days on the Gear S3 classic, but that might have been more of a fluke than something permanent. Overall, all is well except that it takes 2.5 hours to charge the device, that too if the smartwatch is turned off while charging. In comparison, the Gear S2 takes around two hours to charge its 300mAh battery, which means that Samsung hasn’t implemented any kind of Rapid charging. There’s a power saving mode that can be activated to keep the watch running till you get home or work, especially when the battery is about to die.

Conclusion

So, did the Gear S3 managed to impress us? Well, mostly. Apart from a few downsides, such as being too big for some wrists and a quiet loudspeaker, the watch managed to tick most important check boxes. It looks great and it can be customized using beautiful third-party watch faces and standard 22 mm watch bands. It has a bright and colorful screen. The Full Color AOD feature makes it look as close to a mechanical watch as it can get. Samsung’s combination of Tizen and the iconic rotatable bezel makes the Gear S3 the best smartwatch when it comes to the software experience. It even has GPS for accurate activity tracking, a loudspeaker for taking calls, and excellent battery life. Well, the app catalog isn’t as big as that for Apple’s watchOS or Android Wear, but it’s improving slowly and steadily. All things considered, the Gear S3 gets a hearty recommendation, and the Gear S3 Frontier is the variant you should choose if you prefer a sporty and rugged look for your smartwatch.

Pros Cons
Excellent design Size could be too big for some wrists
Immense customizability options Sleep tracking is a hit or miss affair
Big, bright, and colourful screen Loudspeaker is not clear
Great watch faces S Voice can’t match Siri or Google’s voice recognition
Full Colour Always On Display is excellent App support still can’t match Android Wear or Apple Watch
Rotating bezel is still the best interaction tool for smartwatches
GPS and loudspeaker are added advantages
Excellent battery life

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