Apple has been known to dominate the smartwatch field with its popular Apple Watch series, but that does not mean Samsung can’t try to compete in that category. In fact, out of all the smartwatches, Samsung’s Gear S series ranks amongst one of the best must-have in the market. Its unique design bundled with nice software features make it a must have for someone who is too busy to pull out his/her phone and check regularly. These are my impressions of the Samsung Gear S3 Classic edition.
The Gear S3 sports many features that indeed make it “smart.” It has a heart rate monitor that periodically measures your heart rate and records in the S Health app. It is water resistant, so you do not have to worry about covering it up with your sleeves when it rains outside, and also has an NFC chip which can allow you to make transactions in a store that support e-wallet. The electronic payment through NFC is something that I did not try because I do not like to store my sensitive information on my phone, and no way was I going to share it with my smartwatch then. Water resistant works well, except when the screen is wet or has drops of water, it becomes less responsive, asking you to practically wipe of all the droplets before you can make any essential functions on it. A GPS is also on the watch that can help you navigate if you are walking; however, it is not an ideal replacement for Google Maps when you are driving. In my usage, I found it to be accurate and is an excellent add-on to a feature which I didn’t think I needed. LTE is there for anyone who does not want to rely on their phone’s data for Wifi connectivity.
The design of the Samsung Gear S3 is familiar; it looks like any other watch. The device does not feel heavy on wrists when wearing it. However, it is bulky compared to the Apple Watch. It sticks out on my wrist and is a bit of an annoyance, though not a deal breaker. The screen is 1.3-inch super AMOLED display, with a resolution of 360 x 360. It is also durable, as I have accidentally it hit multiple times on things just walls, tables, etc., yet there was no scratch or visible damage to the device.
The most innovative thing about this smartwatch is its turn-dial. Rather than using your fingers to navigate across apps and covering your screen, you can rotate the dial to access whatever apps you need. It works effortlessly and still gives you the maximum screen space. The dial can rotate in both directions and is the primary way of navigating through the watch. There are also two buttons on the side, which serve as a “back” button and a “home” button. To confirm an action, you will have to tap on the screen.
Samsung made sure to make this compatible not only with your Samsung devices but also with iPhones. I own an iPhone X, but before that, I owned a Samsung Galaxy S5. The Gear S3 worked flawlessly on the S5. It was always paired with the watch and gave me all the notifications I wanted right on my wrist. However, when I tried to pair the Gear S3 with my iPhone X, it wasn’t able to find the watch. After countless tries of deleting and re-installing, it was still never able to find the watch in the initial paring step
This was just my experience and one that almost turned me off from the device. However, I decided to use the device only by itself, without being paired up a phone.
Next, we have the apps. The most basic apps such as timer or music come pre-installed. The work well and are highly optimized to be fast and responsive. I found myself using the music app quite often. You can even place an app on the home screen as a widget to access it faster by merely scrolling through the screens. My top apps were Music, Health, and CNN. There are not a whole lot of apps to browse from the app store from, most of them are just poorly designed bloatware. To download an app, you need your smartphone to access the app store; you cannot do it directly through the watch.
The Gear S3 is a great watch that is designed to be sleek and stylish. If you have a Samsung smartphone, this is probably the best smartwatch for you. Having the notifications right there on your wrist without having to pull out your phone is fantastic. Some apps work better than others, and some entirely get rid of the necessity to have it on your smartphone. The watch has enough battery life to last me an entire day. However, I did need to put on charge every night so that I could use it the next day. It has a unique design factor regarding the rotating dial. However, I found it to be quite bulky for my wrist.
In the end, this watch worked well when I had the Galaxy S5, however after I switched to the iPhone, the only thing the watch was useful for was telling the time, something that you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on. Currently, I wear it every day, but I am on the lookout for the next smartwatch revolution.