Dubai: Samsung’s new smartwatch — Gear S3 — builds on the success of Gear S2 and is working hard to reap the potential benefits of being different from the crowd, I mean Tizen operating system.
It launched two models — the Classic and the Frontier but I got the Classic one for review.
The watch has a 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED display with 360 x 360 resolution (278 pixels per inch density) and is powered by home-grown Exynos dual 1.0GHz processor with 768MB RAM and 4GB of internal storage capacity. It runs on Tizen operating system version 2.3.2.
The panel on S3 is 0.1-inches bigger than on the Gear S2.
Unlike its predecessor, the stainless steel Gear S3 is bulky and weighs 57 grams without the strap. Gear S2 weighs 51 grams. Samsung has matured its round design and now S3 looks like a regular watch.
Even though Gear S2 was even meant for ladies, Gear S3 is more masculine and bigger for some wrist. It will not look great on a lady’s hand either, unlike the Samsung Gear S2 from last year. It is compatible with standard 22mm straps.
The box comes with two bands. It has the same design, but a smaller size.
The advantage of S3 is that it has a built-in speaker for taking or making calls, stand-alone GPS, water resistant up to 1.5 metres, Corning Gorilla SR+, which is designed specifically for wearables, altimeter and barometer.
There are two buttons on the right side — top one is the back button and the second one is for the home button. There are plenty of watch face customisations (including UAE flag, Dubai and Abu Dhabi logos), and the widgets approach is good.
The microphone pinhole is slightly below the two buttons and the speaker is on the left side.
With the always-on display, the screen dims down after a timeout period configurable between 15 seconds to 5 minutes. This does have a serious impact on battery life, but it makes the watch feel more like a watch.
The real highlight that makes S3 stand out from the crowd is the same rotating bezel as in S2. Users can quickly scroll through anything on the interface. Rotating to the right will show you the notifications and rotating will show widgets and users can add more widgets.
Samsung’s voice search service — S Voice — has been improved and can make calls, open apps, send messages but I found it strange by talking to the watch in public. It works well but it is not as fast as Siri or Google Now. S voice works only with phone’s WiFi and it is a hit and miss.
The S Voice does get better with training and some misbehaviour is to be expected in the beginning. You can reply to various notifications from a number of apps — messages, email and so on — using many different input methods.
The only disadvantage with the Tizen OS is the limited apps. There’s really a dearth of must-download apps.
It works with some Android apps but not all. It works well with Samsung phones but does not connect to some Android phones and not with iPhones yet. Applications from the Galaxy store can be downloaded directly onto the Gear S3.
The call quality is good on S3 and volume can be bumped up depending on users’ need. You can listen to music but I would recommend a Bluetooth earbuds as a better option.
Gear S3 also supports Samsung Pay but not available in the region as Samsung Pay is not yet launched in the region.
The fitness tracking options have been improved in S3. The S Health app is simple and can track your steps, stairs climbed, monitor your heart rate, sleep patterns and more.
The app can automatically track specific activities such as walking, running, cycling, elliptical training, rowing machines, and a dynamic workout mode that should cover general activities without notifying it.
The app also lets you add how much water and caffeinated drinks you’re consuming. It collects the data and displays them in a clean interface on the app.
The heart-rate monitor tracks your pulse at relatively frequent intervals. The level of integration is truly impressive.
Regarding connectivity, it has WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and A-GPS/Glonass.
Samsung claims that 380mAh battery can last up to 4 days on a single charge; I got two days with regular use and without listening to music. With the always-on mode and WiFi switched off, it gives close to three days. It hardly loses power in standby mode.
Samsung has packed a wireless magnetic charging cradle with the box and the green LED indicates when it is fully charged. It takes around two hours to fully charge the watch. It is priced at Dh1,399.
• Excellent display
• Easily replaceable bands
• Excellent battery life
• Simple interface with rotating bezel
• Tizen OS very intuitive and smooth
• Big and bulky for some
• Not enough apps
• Limited compatibility with non-Samsung phones
• No support for iPhones yet
• S Voice needs improvement