Smartwatch Alternatives to the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
Late last year, Samsung released the latest iteration of their smartwatch, the Gear S3 under two separate styles: Classic, and Frontier. The S3 has quickly become one of, if not the flagship smartwatch of the year to get, with Samsung baking in as many features as possible into a sturdy, yet attractive design.
All those features come at a steep price, however, with both the Classic and Frontier versions of the S3 retailing for 349.99.
The good news is that budget-minded consumers can rejoice in knowing that there are competitor devices on the market that can offer an uncompromised experience, providing many of those same features, but for a lower price.
Before we look at those other devices, let’s start by looking at what the S3 offers.
both the Classic and the Frontier models are identical, differing only in exterior styling
From a feature standpoint, both the Classic and the Frontier models are identical, differing only in exterior styling. The Classic has a more traditional look with a prominent silver bezel and crowns. The Frontier, on the other hand, has a more rugged look, appearing more hardened and thicker thanks to the use of darker colored metals used in lieu of the silver from the Classic.
An LTE-enabled version of the Frontier is available through some carriers, offered at the same price point as the non-LTE versions.
The first thing most people will notice about the Gear S3 is the build quality. The watch is made with premium materials, and as per the IP68 certification is both water and dust resistant. Even the included silicone strap feels premium and can still be swapped out with any 22mm standard strap.
The 360×360 Super AMOLED screen is both bright and sharp, and the 1.3-inch screen is large enough that function is not sacrificed in lieu of form. The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass SR, which provides a hardened, and more scratch resistant display and the casing itself if made of stainless steel.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Why Not Galaxy Watch?
The 1.3-inch screen is large enough that function is not sacrificed in lieu of form.
Make no mistake, the S3 is a big watch in terms of size, coming in at 46mm, but oddly enough if you’re accustomed to wearing a watch, which thanks to the advent of the smartphone, many of us aren’t anymore, this is neither too large or too heavy, weighing just 63g, or 2.2oz.
One area where Samsung has really impressed with the Gear S3 is on battery life. The 380mah battery means you can get two, or even three full days of moderate to heavy usage out of the watch before needing to charge it in the included dock. The charging process itself is simple; just drop the watch into the included dock and magnets will ensure that the watch is lined up and charges wirelessly.
Under the hood, Samsung packed a lot into the Gear S3. The device is powered by an Exynos 7270, coupled with 768mb of RAM and 4GB of storage. Samsung managed to fit an array of sensors into the watch, including a heart rate monitor, NFC, MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission, which in conjunction with NFC let’s you use the S3 to make purchases), GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, altimeter, barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, as well as both a microphone and speaker.
When it’s time to recharge, the wireless charger lets you power up without slowing down.
The microphone and speaker work great, allowing a user to utilize voice controls to accomplish tasks, or even make and receive calls when connected to a phone. Using Samsung’s S Voice is a breeze to accomplish quick tasks, such as calling or texting a contact, setting a reminder, checking the weather, reading messages, or generally performing any number of tasks that would normally require stopping what you are doing and getting your phone out.
The watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen operating system, which has matured into an efficient and simple to use operating system. While this means a smaller catalog of applications over Android Wear, Tizen is more than up to the task. Navigating menus is a breeze, thanks to the rotating bezel that Samsung first introduced in the previous generation of Gear wearables.
The watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen operating system which is simple and efficient to use
The recent announcement and release of Android Wear 2.0 may leave some speculating over whether a Tizen-based device is a good option, considering some of the new features of Android Wear 2.0. The truth of the matter, however, is that Tizen is very efficient, and has all of the features a mobile user needs. Similarly, Android Wear doesn’t have any feature that a Tizen user would be enviable of, perhaps save for a larger app catalog. To put it another way, Android Wear 2.0 was more about leveling the playing field with Tizen, as opposed to surpassing it.
So how exactly does Samsung’s current flagship stack up against some of the competition? Let’s look at some great alternatives from LG, Asus, and Huawei.
LG Watch Style vs Samsung Gear S3 – The bare-bones competitor
In terms of design, the Watch Style is a smaller, and a less pronounced device
LG announced two new smartwatches last month, effectively starting of a new generation of smartwatches set to run on Google’s Android Wear 2.0. The two versions of the LG Watch available include the smaller sized Style, and the larger, more feature-packed, and expensive, Watch Sport.
In terms of design, the Watch Style is a smaller, less pronounced device, which may work well for those looking for a smaller, and lighter package. Admittedly, the included 18mm watch Band provided from MODE may seem a little too narrow for most.
The device is enclosed in an attractive stainless steel casing, and the 1.2-inch 360×360 screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 3. A single crown emerges from the side of the device, which can be used for navigation and selection in lieu of the touchscreen by either rotating the crown or pressing it inwards.
Unfortunately, the backside of the Watch Style lacks that same attractiveness, with just a plastic cover gracing the underside. The Watch Style also has an IP67 rating for both dust and water, which is thankfully becoming commonplace with newer devices.
The Snapdragon Wear 2100 from Qualcomm powers the Watch Style and LG outfitted the Style with 512mb of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. While this is more than ample to power the device efficiently, the Watch Style comes up short with respect to connectivity and sensor options.
Snapdragon Wear 2100 from Qualcomm powers the Watch Style
The Watch Style lacks NFC, GPS, and Heart-rate measuring functionality. The only sensors present in the device are an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, and gyroscope. The Watch Style also lacks a speaker but includes a microphone, which translates into being able to record, but not playback an audio message.
Moving on to the battery, the Watch Style has a smaller 240mAh battery, which despite claims to last an entire day, could leave heavy power users needing to charge up before the end of the workday.
The LG Watch Style is best suited as a barebones smartwatch that has limited functionality. The lack of NFC functionality is questionable, especially given the latest push to bring mobile payments into the smartwatch sector. Similarly, the lack of any fitness-specific sensors or even GPS may be a showstopper for many would-be adopters.
Asus Zenwatch 3 – Premium build with a great mix of features
Asus has opted for a circular design that has a certain air of sophistication to it
The Zenwatch 3 from Asus was announced earlier this year. Gone is the rectangular display and massive bezel that the previous generations were known for, and instead Asus has opted for a circular design that has a certain air of sophistication to it.
The watch itself is gorgeous, and between the three user-customizable crown buttons, rose gold trim and the premium leather Band, the Zenwatch 3 could easily be mistaken for a luxury-branded analog watch. Even better, at just 9.5mm thin, the watch should have no problem fitting nicely under a shirt cuff – something that most other wearables such as the S3 still struggle with.
Unfortunately, that premium strap could be a little thin for some, and proprietary straps are never well received.
Turning to the internals, the Zenwatch 3 has 1.39-inch AMOLED display that pushes out an impressive 400 x 400 resolution at 287-pixels per inch density, that works well under a variety of lighting conditions. The Zenwatch 3 uses the Snapdragon Wear 2100 from Qualcomm, which like the LG Watch Style offers efficient operation without the need for a massive battery.
Asus still however managed to provide a respectable 341mAh battery into the Zenwatch 3, which can provide nearly two full days of use for most users. The included charging dock can impressively provide a 60% charge within 15 minutes, something that Asus touts as Hypercharge.
The Zenwatch 3 comes with 4GB of storage, and 512mb of RAM. Unfortunately, connectivity options seem to end at Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, however, as the watch lacks a GPS sensor, heart-rate monitor or NFC radios. Asus die however add a microphone and speaker to the Zenwatch 3, allowing both voice control and calls to be taken from the device when connected to a paired phone.
Asus gave the Zenwatch an IP67 rating for water resistance, which should be more than ample for most users that need to be around water, but keep in mind that the included strap is made of leather and may not handle water as nicely as the watch itself.
With a cost of just 229.99, the Asus Zenwatch 3 is a viable choice for smartwatch shoppers that are looking for a premium look, solid build quality, a great screen and acceptable battery life. The trade off from the lower price point is the lack of GPS, NFC, and a heart rate monitor, which may be a deal-breaker for some.
Huawei Watch 2 – A new Premium offering
In terms of first impressions, the Watch 2 fits the bill as a wearable that is sturdy enough to take to the gym, or to wear to the office
Huawei announced the second generation Watch 2 smartwatch recently during MWC 2017. Huawei unveiled two devices in the Watch 2 line: The rugged looking Watch 2, and the thinner, more elegant Watch 2 Classic. Both versions of the device come equally equipped with a full array of sensors and features, and both run Google’s new Android Wear 2.0 operating system.
In terms of first impressions, the Watch 2 fits the bill as a wearable that is sturdy enough to take to the gym or to wear to the office. The included silicone strap and ceramic bezel look neither too flashy nor too delicate, which is a breath of fresh air for those that want a smartwatch that can be used as a daily driver, without worrying about scratches. To the side of the watch are two configurable crowns, which while a great addition, lack any rotating ability seen on many other devices with larger crowns.
The bezel, while contributing to overall ruggedness of the device, may seem a little larger to many, especially as it cannot rotate. By way of comparison, the S3 Frontier has a bezel that is nearly as defined, but it doubles up as a navigational aid.
As an aside, if the raised sport-like bezel is not your thing, Huawei’s other smartwatch, the Watch 2 Classic may be more to your liking. The Classic sports a stainless-steel bezel that is smaller and less defined.
The 20mm strap that is included is of a standard size that allows near limitless possibilities for replacement, depending on your taste.
In terms of connectivity, Huawei Watch 2 supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC
As with the other smartwatches mentioned, the Watch 2 is both water and dust resistant, carrying an IP68 rating which translates into the device surviving up to 30 minutes in 1.5m of water.
Huawei packed a 1.2 inch AMOLED screen into the Watch 2, with a resolution of 390 x 390 that provides a very dense 326 pixels per inch. While this does make the screen crisp and bright, the fact remains that the Watch 2 has a smaller screen than most watches, and especially among the wearables that pack as much as Huawei did into this sleek package. As with most other smartwatches, Gorilla Glass 3 is protecting the small screen from any form of scratching.
Huawei also opted for the Snapdragon Wear 2100 to power the Watch 2, pairing the processor with 4GB of internal storage and 768MB of RAM. In terms of connectivity, Huawei Watch 2 supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC. The smartwatch also includes heart-rate monitoring, and unlike most other smartwatches, the Watch 2 includes an LTE radio.
Battery life on the Huawei Watch 2 is estimated to be around two days between charges with moderate use, which is more than adequate to get people through a busy day or two. Charging the phone is done with the included charging dock, which connects easily to juice up the 420mAh battery.
The Huawei Watch 2 is a noteworthy upgrade over the previous generation but falls short in terms of the smaller screen and non-functional crowns and bezel. Huawei managed to incorporate far more connectivity and sensory options into the device, which make it a great all-in-one device for a user that is looking for a smartwatch that can double as a fitness tracker.
The Watch 2 was announced at MWC and is set to be released in April with pricing likely to be over 300.
Finding a smartwatch to counter the Gear S3 on price is relatively easy. Finding a smartwatch that can beat the S3 on price and function is another story altogether.
If connectivity concerns are a non-issue, and you just want a smartwatch to wear for a few hours a day, the LG Watch Style may be for you.
Similarly, if you looking more into the fitness side of a smartwatch, the Huawei Watch 2 may be more up your alley.
Ultimately, it comes down to how you intend to use the device, and what features you value.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Leaving the phone behind: Running with the Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
Samsung smartwatches have had LTE connectivity for years, but with the release of Apple’s first truly wireless Apple Watch it was time to take the two best smartwatches out on the road without a phone.
How the evolution of wearables has changed security requirements
As wearables have evolved to standalone IOT devices, and as different enterprise use cases have emerged, security demands have changed, explains Samsung‘s Eric McCarty.
LTE on a smartwatch will kill the small battery quickly, but runners appreciate the safety net that allows them to call for help while running without a phone.
Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier launched in November 2016 and has been my near constant companion while running and fishing. T-Mobile DIGITS made the Gear S3 even more valuable with my own number present when calling or texting from the watch.
I was not planning to buy a new Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE, but happened to be close to an Apple Store last Saturday and couldn’t resist. I’ve taken it and my Gear S3 Frontier out running a couple of times and offer the following experiences.
The Gear S3 Frontier requires a Samsung Galaxy or other Android smartphone or an iPhone to set up. The Apple Watch Series 3 requires an iPhone to set it up. Neither smartwatch can be taken out of the box and used without first connecting to a phone. With that out of the way, let’s see how these two smartwatches perform with no phone connected.
After testing several functions and tasks on both the Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 Frontier, here is how these two stack up in capability without a direct phone Bluetooth connection.
I currently have both of these smartwatches connected to my account as T-Mobile DIGITS devices and my phone number showed up when calling and texting from both so the T-Mobile DIGITS functionality works perfectly.
|Apple Watch Series 3||Samsung Galaxy S3 Frontier|
|Calls from/to watch||Works with iPhone on and off||Works with Note 8 on and off|
|Text from/to watch||Only works if iPhone on||Works with Note 8 on and off|
|Music playing||On board with BT headset||On board and Spotify streaming with headset or speaker|
|Battery performance||Burned 15 percent in 27 minutes||Burned 20 percent in 27 minutes|
|Buy snacks while running||Apple Pay||Samsung Pay with MST|
|App notifications||Works on LTE||Works on LTE|
|Emergency notification||Hold side button, slide to call emergency services||Three quick presses of bottom button to call/text designated contacts|
Apple stated that streaming Apple Music content will be coming with an updated this fall. You cannot play music via the speaker on the Apple Watch as a Bluetooth headset is required. It’s nice to have the ability to play music with the watch speaker on my Gear S3 late at night when I want both ears listening for my own safety. The speaker is adequate for running.
While on my latest test run, I ran for just over 15 minutes and performed test calls and texts for about 12 minutes, approximately 5 minutes of calling on each watch. Audio was fine on both watches and my wife said I sounded fine, but the clarity was a bit better on the Gear S3. I was in a very weak T-Mobile coverage area so it was actually a bit surprising to have both watches initiate and receive calls too.
Both watches perform well for calling without a phone. The Apple Watch requires your iPhone to be on and connected in order for text messaging and iMessage to work, which it likely is at home charging if it is not on your run with you. You can text and call with the Samsung Gear S3, whether your phone is on or not.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review for Women
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There really aren’t many choices out there for smartwatches catered to women. So far the biggest contender is the Apple Hermes Series 2 Watch but the form factor is a few years old now and if you’re not a huge fan of the pebble shape then you’re out of luck. I have been looking for a smartwatch for a while and own a Samsung S7 so I’ve lately been looking at Android Wear watches. I had the opportunity to test out the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and here’s my mini review of the smartwatch so far.
On first glance the 46mm body is quite large especially on a dainty female wrist. I’ve worn it for a few weeks now and it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would since its not that heavy and I don’t find it extremely thick on my wrist. The straps are removable and fit standard 22mm off-market straps unlike the Gear S2. In comparison, the Michael Kors Access watches is only slightly smaller at 44.5mm. I think I would have liked the silver version better as the look is a little less masculine with the all black body.
Day to Day Functions
I think I’m most impressed with the watch’s battery life, so far it lasts me over three days without having “Always On” mode set to on. If you’ve never used a smartwatch before the Gear series watches differ from other smartwatches as they use the bezel in addition to the touch screen to navigate basic controls. Some functions that are extremely useful include:
- Receiving calls on the phone and sending messages;
- Clearing notifications using a swipe or rotating bezel;
- Checking and being reminded of health status during the day; and
- Long battery life.
I’ve never used a fitness tracker before so I found it really handy when the watch would notify me when I needed to get moving if it found I was slacking during the day. It not only has a handy pedometer but it counts the steps I’ve climbed and my heart rate. The S Health will also let me enter into challenges with other people to further motivate me towards my fitness goals. Also, it includes the ability to track sleep so it lets me know how efficient my sleeping is and can map my progress over time.
I’m really enjoying the Gear S3 Frontier; however, for the overall look I think I would go with the classic version as it is more girly in my opinion. In terms of function I think for a smartwatch it pretty much does what I need to do with looking great at the same time. I do like that the I can change the straps easily, which makes it easier to style with what I’m currently wearing. If you’re like me and own a Samsung Smartphone then it makes sense to go with a watch like this as its directly compatible. The unit retails for 349.99USD for both the Frontier and Classic Versions at Samsung.com Disclosure: I was provided a unit to test out by Samsung
Samsung Gear S3 review
Bigger, bolder and more feature-rich than ever, this is a brilliant smartwatch in many ways. It just depends on whether you actually want a digital timepiece. and if you’re prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege.
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Update: You can still buy the Samsung Gear S3, but it’s a similar price to the more recently unveiled Samsung Gear Sport and Samsung Galaxy Watch. We’d recommend looking at the reviews for the Galaxy Watch and Gear Sport before deciding to buy the Gear S3 at a similar price.
The Samsung Gear S3 is a watch that went big in a bid to match the success of the Apple Watch 2 (and subsequently the Apple Watch 3 and 4). and we mean that literally.
This is a huge timepiece that offers all the features you’d expect from a smartwatch, including GPS, a heart rate monitor, water resistance, NFC, activity tracking, an altimeter and in some cases even LTE.
It pairs them with a great screen, a long-lasting battery and. similar to Apple. a high price, all wrapped up in either a sporty ‘Frontier’ finish or a smarter ‘Classic’ look.
That price, and the fact that the Gear S3 runs Tizen rather than Wear OS (and has far fewer apps as a result), could hold it back. That’s especially since there are watches on the market like the LG Watch Sport, Fitbit Ionic and the Huawei Watch 2.
These feature-packed watches can even match the high-resolution, circular OLED screen of the Gear S3, and not all of them are as chunky on the wrist.
Samsung galaxy watch 5 pro vs gear s3 frontier обзор и сравнение умных часов
Weight: 59g Dimensions: 49 x 46 x 12.9 mm OS: Tizen Storage: 4GB Screen size: 1.3-inch Resolution: 360 x 360 Screen type: Super AMOLED Battery: 380mAh Processor: Exynos 7270 RAM: 768MB IP rating: IP68
So what’s Samsung doing here? Is there really space for a third smartwatch operating system? Especially when it’s on a device that charges a premium?
One of the key selling points is the fact the Gear S3 is compatible with the latest Samsung phones, but also with most other Android phones running version 4.4 of the OS or later, as long as they have at least 1.5GB of RAM.
After launch, the company also announced support for iOS devices, from the iPhone 5 onwards, as long as they’re running at least iOS 9 software. The chances are that your current phone will work with the Samsung Gear S3, and, crucially, that you won’t be locked in to a particular smartphone operating system or brand down the line.
There’s also now the more recent Samsung Gear Sport watch that has a smaller design, but is otherwise very similar to the Gear S3. On top of that, the company has even replaced the Gear S3 with the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
When it comes to using the Gear S3 with non-Galaxy phones, for the purpose of this review we tested it with the Sony Xperia XZ and it performed just fine (apart from needing to install a million Samsung-specific apps to make it work. Come on, do we really need the Samsung timer app just to count how many minutes until food is cooked?)
So the Gear S3 has the right credentials, but is that enough? Or, with a number of functionally similar rivals on the market, is it too little too late for one of the biggest brands in phones, trying to convince us that we all need another Smart device?
Samsung Gear S3 price and release date
The Gear S3 started life at 349/£349/AU399, which is expensive for a Smart timepiece. We’ve now seen the price drop to around 280 / £250, which isn’t a huge discount considering it has since been replaced by the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch.
We’d recommend looking at both the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch before deciding to buy the Gear S3 as the price is similar but this is an older device.
You can also get the TUMI-designed Frontier Gear S3 in the US, with a strap that comes in a “signature Earl Grey colorway and is constructed from an Italian canvas, which features a stainless-steel buckle and stitched edge detailing, is durable enough to resist water, dust, or rough conditions you may encounter on your adventures.”
At 59g the Gear S3 Classic might not sound heavy, but it certainly feels it. And that makes sense when you consider that the Apple Watch 3 weighs anywhere between 26.7g and 52.8g and the Samsung Gear S2 is even lighter at 42g.
It’s big on the wrist too, but it’s undeniably a high-quality and well put together watch, with some of that weight likely coming from the 1.3-inch screen and the metal frame around it. It’s also built to last, with IP68 certification for dust and water resistance.
Samsung has also put some thought into how you should operate the Gear S3, giving you a rotating bezel and two buttons that you can use as well as the dinky touchscreen.
The bezel is the main method of navigation, and one of the standout features of Samsung’s recent smartwatches.
It’s essentially a dial that you can twist left or right to scroll through screens and lists, or select apps. Weirdly, there’s no confirm key though, so to actually launch an app once you’ve highlighted it you’ll have to tap the screen, which is odd when so many of your interactions with the Gear S3 are button-based.
It’s not the most fluid way of doing things. although you can set up the Gear S3 to be able to open an app if you hover the dot over the software you fancy.
Of the two actual buttons, both of which are on the side, one takes you to the home screen and your apps, while the other is a back button, and while remembering which is which can take a while, over time you’ll get the hang of them.
Flip the Gear S3 over and you’ll find the heart rate monitor, which can track your heart beats throughout the day.
This makes it far more viable as a fitness tracker than some smartwatches, and makes it especially appealing to anyone who wants to monitor changes in their resting heart rate.
The Samsung Gear S3 Classic comes with a leather strap in the box. The leather is decent quality, but quite stiff at first, so you’ll need to wear it in before it becomes nice and flexible.
The strap connects via a standard 22mm pin, which is a double-edged sword, as although it means there are plenty of alternative strap options, it also makes them a pain to switch over.
That won’t be a problem for everyone, but it will be if you’re planning to use the Gear S3 as a fitness tracker, since you’ll probably have to stick with a sportier, sweat-resistant strap, somewhat ruining the ‘Classic’ look. You’ll also need to invest in a new strap.
If you are looking for something that’s as much fitness tracker as smartwatch, you might be better off just buying the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier, as this comes with a slightly more rugged design and a rubberized strap as standard.
It’s slightly heavier, weighing in at 62g, but apart from the look and strap of the device there aren’t many other differences to the Gear S3 Classic. You can even use the same straps as the Gear S3 Classic if you ever want to go for a slightly more formal look.
In the US you’ll also be able to buy an LTE version of the Gear S3 Frontier, and soon of the Gear S3 Classic as well, but mobile data isn’t available on either in the UK currently.
The 1.3-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Gear S3 is, unsurprisingly, one of the best on the market. Samsung consistently makes some of the best smartphone screens, and it’s using exactly the same technology here, for bright, clear visuals.
Samsung is also hyping up the fact that the Gear S3 uses an Always On Display, the same used in the Galaxy S8 smartphone range. This optionally keeps the screen partially lit up at all times, so you can always see the time, but as you might expect, it’s not kind on the battery.
Still, you’ll want the screen on as much as possible, because it’s beautifully bright and vivid. The circular design is also great aesthetically, though makes reading text at the bottom of the screen trickier than on a square smartwatch face.
It’s not that tough to read really, but it looks a bit messy. It would also be good if there was an automatic ‘do not disturb’ (DND) mode here, which you could turn on when you’re in bed or the cinema, so you’re not constantly flashing like the world’s smallest lighthouse with every slight movement.