When smartwatches were first introduced they were clunky, low on functionality, poor on reliability and just downright ugly. 2016 proved to be a big year for smart devices with a huge jumps in quality. It comes as no surprise that Samsung have continued this trend into 2017.
Queue the launch of the Samsung Gear S3 range…
Samsung were kind enough to lend me their prototype of the Gear S3 Frontier. The first thing that struck me was the design and build of the watch – luxury with a rugged soul – the Bear Grylls of smart watches.
Departing from the futuristic aesthetic of most competitors, Samsung have given the Gear S3 an authentic or conventional watch look.
A huge selling point for me is the rotating bezel an improved carry over from the previous Gear 2. For anyone with long nails, big fingers or glove wearers a quick turn of the bezel in any direction can get you access to your apps, contacts or pretty much any other function. The ease of navigation with the bezel is invaluable!
Although not fully waterproof like the new Apple watch, the Gear S3 is IP68 certified – handy when used for exercise, caught in the rain or thrown in the pool. The Corning Gorilla Glass gives the Samsung Gear S3 a military grade durability. There are customisable “digital” faces available and the watch supports conventional watch straps.
Design aside, the features and capability of the Samsung Gear S3 are great.
The clarity and size of the 1.3” AMOLED screen makes it easy to see and operate. Pre-installed functions include the alarm, altitude barometer, step counter, SMS functionality and contacts and e-mail.
The sound from such a small device is impressively crisp and clear. I was surprised when I hit the music button and the watch intuitively linked to my phone playlist and started playing. The smartwatch also boasts 4GB of internal memory for apps, music and photos.
For the fitness fundi out there, the Gear S3 will not disappoint. It tracks a wide range of activities including running, elliptical training and squats. On the running front, the Gear S3 also comes with GPS. I must be honest though, I found the GPS feature to be a little more tricky to use than I would have liked. To be fair, my test model was the Bluetooth version, meaning it had to be tethered to my phone to work. But with my phone present, I preferred using my phone’s own GPS app. This will still be a compelling feature on the e-SIM version of the Gear S3.
The Gear S3 has a few peace of mind safety features built in; an SOS feature alerting pre-determined contacts of your last location; A security PIN so should you lose your watch nobody will have access to it and a locate function to find your watch if lost.
It is important to note that SA we will only be getting the Bluetooth. This is a little disappointing as the idea behind the Gear S3 is to use it as a standalone device independent of your phone.
Until e-SIM technology (see e-SIM article) is fully supported in South Africa the Gear 3 will not hit its full potential. Still, it excites and is without doubt the best smartwatch I have tested in terms of quality and features.
For a tech crazy person like myself I honestly tell you – I want one.