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'Review: Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smart watch'

Mon 09/01/17 at 10:26:
pb
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,909
Samsungís newest watch, the Gear S3 is a great looking smartwatch, in either the classicís chrome look or the Frontierís black, though I certainly prefer the latter. Itís slightly bigger than the S2 at 1.3 inches, giving the AMOLED display both a clearer feel and making it easier to choose the correct app or option.

The beauty of the Samsung watches, though, is in the rotating bezel, which takes the place of fiddly icons and lots of taps on the back button, though these are still available if you prefer to control your watch this way. The S3 Classic and Frontier both support a more tactile bezel than previous models, with a cog style design to help with grip.

The bezel can be easily rotated left and right and this controls the icons on the screen. Itís an alternative to Appleís crown idea that, I think, works better. For instance, answering a call or ignoring it involves a simple twist to the right or left. This can be done with one hand and with gloves on, something that is still an issue for touchscreens.

Moving through the menu, reached by a single press of the lower right button, is just as simple. The icons are spread around the outside of the face and the bezel controls which icon is highlighted. Tapping on an icon will enter the app or setting (unfortunately, thereís still no alternative to using the touchscreen for this).

Unlike other Android watches, the S3 uses Samsungís own Tizen OS, purpose built for the S range. It means the watch hardware is always designed to work well with the software and developers of third party apps can access the bezel commands for their own uses.

As with all Smartwatches, there a number of watch faces to choose from, digital, analogue and a mixture of the two. Famous names from both watchmakers and major companies (such as the McLaren one on the left) can be found on the easy to search menu via the Gear app on Samsung or Android phones and these can also include extras such as steps taken, battery life, weather and heartbeat/pulse measurement. Thereís even a very good Pipboy watch face for Fallout fans.

You can even design your own watch faces with Samsungís watch designer tool on PC or the Facer App and tool. This allows for infinite possibilities.

The watch even works with iOS if you can find the beta app and download it via iTunes on a PC. Samsung have promised that the fully released iOS app will be available very soon from the App Store. There are some compromises in the beta, only free apps and watch faces are showing up at the moment and those apps which require a companion app on the phone still arenít supported, but hopefully some of this will be addressed for the official release. notifications, phone and other features work perfectly well from an iPhone and Iíve been running my watch from an iPhone 6 for the past 4 days without any issues.

Charging the watch is done by simply placing it on the magnetic stand, where it then rotates the watch face, turning it into a nightstand clock (though by default the screen is set to time out after a few minutes). A small charging indicator light shows whether the watch is charging or fully charged. Battery life depends greatly on how you use the watch, whether GPS and WIFI are turned on all the time or not and, most importantly, whether you set the watch face to always display the time or not.

When Always On is selected, watch faces have a lower power mode to display the time when youíre not looking at the watch. This does cut down on battery usage a little, but the mode takes a lot out of the battery life all the same. The battery drained in a typical day to around 50% with the face on and average usage (WIFI and GPS both on), while having the watch displaying the time only when you bring your wrist up or press the button gave me 80% on average after a full dayís use. 3-4 days without the watchface always on is certainly achievable, but youíre looking at 2 days otherwise.

My own experience with the Gear S3 watch has been great so far, the built in GPS being especially useful for mapping out walks and runs, even when I donít have the phone with me. It doesnít record split times, however, which is more an issue with the Samsung S-Health app itself than the watch. Hopefully future improvements to the app can add more functionality.

The 4GB onboard memory means that I can store music directly on the phone, playing it through the built in speaker or connected bluetooth headphones. The speaker and microphone also allow calls to be made and taken on the watch, which feels a little Dick Tracey at first but is actually pretty useful when youíre walking home in the rain and donít want to remove your phone. Apps like Spotify extend the use of the watch as a media device.

Is the Gear S3 perfect? Not quite, due to the purpose built Tizen OS, there still arenít quite enough apps to compete with the Android OS watches, but they are growing in number by the week. Since December 2016, Uber, Hive support and other major apps have been added

Itís also far too easy to scratch the black bezel, not great for a watch sold as something for those who are active. Itís worth noting that the screen itself is pretty hard wearing, though, and the watch has IP68 waterproofing, which can take a dip in a bath or shower without incident.

Other than that, though, Iíd happily recommend this watch to anyone looking for a good Smartwatch that doesnít look out of place on your arm but has all the functionality youíd expect from this device.

9/10
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Mon 09/01/17 at 10:26:
pb
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,909
Samsungís newest watch, the Gear S3 is a great looking smartwatch, in either the classicís chrome look or the Frontierís black, though I certainly prefer the latter. Itís slightly bigger than the S2 at 1.3 inches, giving the AMOLED display both a clearer feel and making it easier to choose the correct app or option.

The beauty of the Samsung watches, though, is in the rotating bezel, which takes the place of fiddly icons and lots of taps on the back button, though these are still available if you prefer to control your watch this way. The S3 Classic and Frontier both support a more tactile bezel than previous models, with a cog style design to help with grip.

The bezel can be easily rotated left and right and this controls the icons on the screen. Itís an alternative to Appleís crown idea that, I think, works better. For instance, answering a call or ignoring it involves a simple twist to the right or left. This can be done with one hand and with gloves on, something that is still an issue for touchscreens.

Moving through the menu, reached by a single press of the lower right button, is just as simple. The icons are spread around the outside of the face and the bezel controls which icon is highlighted. Tapping on an icon will enter the app or setting (unfortunately, thereís still no alternative to using the touchscreen for this).

Unlike other Android watches, the S3 uses Samsungís own Tizen OS, purpose built for the S range. It means the watch hardware is always designed to work well with the software and developers of third party apps can access the bezel commands for their own uses.

As with all Smartwatches, there a number of watch faces to choose from, digital, analogue and a mixture of the two. Famous names from both watchmakers and major companies (such as the McLaren one on the left) can be found on the easy to search menu via the Gear app on Samsung or Android phones and these can also include extras such as steps taken, battery life, weather and heartbeat/pulse measurement. Thereís even a very good Pipboy watch face for Fallout fans.

You can even design your own watch faces with Samsungís watch designer tool on PC or the Facer App and tool. This allows for infinite possibilities.

The watch even works with iOS if you can find the beta app and download it via iTunes on a PC. Samsung have promised that the fully released iOS app will be available very soon from the App Store. There are some compromises in the beta, only free apps and watch faces are showing up at the moment and those apps which require a companion app on the phone still arenít supported, but hopefully some of this will be addressed for the official release. notifications, phone and other features work perfectly well from an iPhone and Iíve been running my watch from an iPhone 6 for the past 4 days without any issues.

Charging the watch is done by simply placing it on the magnetic stand, where it then rotates the watch face, turning it into a nightstand clock (though by default the screen is set to time out after a few minutes). A small charging indicator light shows whether the watch is charging or fully charged. Battery life depends greatly on how you use the watch, whether GPS and WIFI are turned on all the time or not and, most importantly, whether you set the watch face to always display the time or not.

When Always On is selected, watch faces have a lower power mode to display the time when youíre not looking at the watch. This does cut down on battery usage a little, but the mode takes a lot out of the battery life all the same. The battery drained in a typical day to around 50% with the face on and average usage (WIFI and GPS both on), while having the watch displaying the time only when you bring your wrist up or press the button gave me 80% on average after a full dayís use. 3-4 days without the watchface always on is certainly achievable, but youíre looking at 2 days otherwise.

My own experience with the Gear S3 watch has been great so far, the built in GPS being especially useful for mapping out walks and runs, even when I donít have the phone with me. It doesnít record split times, however, which is more an issue with the Samsung S-Health app itself than the watch. Hopefully future improvements to the app can add more functionality.

The 4GB onboard memory means that I can store music directly on the phone, playing it through the built in speaker or connected bluetooth headphones. The speaker and microphone also allow calls to be made and taken on the watch, which feels a little Dick Tracey at first but is actually pretty useful when youíre walking home in the rain and donít want to remove your phone. Apps like Spotify extend the use of the watch as a media device.

Is the Gear S3 perfect? Not quite, due to the purpose built Tizen OS, there still arenít quite enough apps to compete with the Android OS watches, but they are growing in number by the week. Since December 2016, Uber, Hive support and other major apps have been added

Itís also far too easy to scratch the black bezel, not great for a watch sold as something for those who are active. Itís worth noting that the screen itself is pretty hard wearing, though, and the watch has IP68 waterproofing, which can take a dip in a bath or shower without incident.

Other than that, though, Iíd happily recommend this watch to anyone looking for a good Smartwatch that doesnít look out of place on your arm but has all the functionality youíd expect from this device.

9/10

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