THE past year was not that great for smartwatches. While the Apple Watch made its comeback in Q4, it continues to dominate the segment with over 80% share, if you go by the latest Canalys numbers.
THE past year was not that great for smartwatches. While the Apple Watch made its comeback in Q4, it continues to dominate the segment with over 80% share, if you go by the latest Canalys numbers. We have not seen any new Android Wear watches, though the new versions are expected soon. But one player that’s been consistent in the space is Samsung with its Tizen-based Gear watches. The latest Gear S3 is finally in India after being launched in September at IFA 2016. The Gear S3 now comes with GPS, though India is not getting the LTE version. It comes in two variants: Frontier and Classic. The Frontier is slightly more bulky, and rugged in design; the classic minimalist and closer to a real watch. Personally, I would prefer the latter, but I have reviewed the Frontier here.
I have used the Gear S2 in the past, and it was a watch I really liked.
The new Gear S3 Frontier, though a bulkier version, comes with IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. This is good news, but that doesn’t mean you can take this for a swim just yet.
The Gear S3 Frontier has the famil-iar circular design we saw with the older version. There’s a rotating bezel on top, which can be used to control applications on the watch. For Android users, the Gear S3 now supports the capability of taking calls from the device itself. It has a built-in heart-rate monitor, and can record a number of fitness functions.
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So what’s good?
For Android users, especially those on Samsung phones, Gear S3 has enhanced functionality. Given that smartwatches still are a niche product, with people wondering what’s the overall purpose, this ability to take calls is a welcome addition.
Just swipe on the green call symbol, and you can take the call from the watch—or reject the call. The call feature works nicely, provided the watch isn’t too far from the phone.
If you obsess about the weather, the watch lets you set your city, location. Once you give access to the Gear app on the phone, the daily weather updates will appear. There’s an option to use the voice function for replies, in case you don’t want to type, which on a watch is still a tedious task. The voice function was surprisingly accurate, though the text takes a couple of extra seconds to appear on the screen.
On the sleep data front, I found the Gear S3 to be pretty accurate. Just make sure you are syncing the watch data with the app on the phone as well. For daily steps, Gear S3 is also much more in line, though a little on the higher side compared to my iPhone, (which I trust) or the Apple Watch. Of course, the watch will prompt you if you’ve been idle for more than an hour.
The Gear S3 works well for ‘real exercise’ sessions. I used Gear S3 along with the Strava app on my iPhone for a couple of cycling sessions, and in most cases the data (distance) matched up. But you need to make sure before starting an outdoor activity that the watch has a GPS signal, else it will stay stuck at 0.00 km as it happened with me.
So what’s not good?
On the battery front, the Gear S3 is an improvement but it has a long way to go. It will last on a single charge for two to two and a half days, and this is if you’re not highly active during the week. But this is still better than the Apple Watch. The other issue is with recording activity data, like I mentioned earlier.
Samsung Gear S3 has a lot of features going for it. The Watch has more functionality, fitness bit works well and the multiple options in this category should appeal to most people. It remains a really simple watch to use. But the app functionality is far from perfect, and battery is still a pain point.
Estimated street price: Rs 28,500